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“Behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to render to each man according to his works.” Revelation 22:12
The rebel’s clamor for “equality” has drowned out the old-fashioned Biblical concept of reward for good deeds. They confuse equal salvation with equal rewards, and then try to apply this corrupted idea of equality to earthly things, saying that all men are to have the same reward in terms of food, shelter, clothing, luxury, leadership and anything they want. It is true that all men who are saved have equal salvation. Eternity is just as long for one as for the other! This also means equal justice, for the same just penalty was paid by Christ for all. But social leaders today reject equal justice and instead demand an equal reward. This idea is so prevalent that it penetrates into Christian thinking, and we are tempted to measure our worth as the world does, in relation to earthly rewards: food, housing, clothing, power and prestige among men. Many a believer gets discouraged and thinks he isn’t getting his share of reward.
But Jesus declares that the reward will be brought when He comes. Notice two things. First, the reward is not an equal one, but “to each man according to his works.” The one who is faithful and who has worked the hardest for the Master will get the greater reward. Second, the reward is not given at the end of the day, nor the month, nor even at death, but when Jesus comes. Even Abraham, Moses, David and the great faithful men of old have not yet received their reward. “And these . . . received not the promise, God having provided some better thing concerning us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.” (Heb. 11:40). It will be at the resurrection when all saints are equally resurrected and given equal eternal life that the rewards will be given. Augustine suggests, “Through diversity of attainments the saints will shine, some more, some less.”
We should not allow the false religion of socialism to turn our eyes from the true reward to the material goods which they covet. We labor for Christ’s reward, not man’s.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help me to concentrate on pleasing You and doing your work that I may receive a reward when Jesus comes. In His name I pray, Amen.
“If any stumbleth not in word, the same is a perfect man . . .” James 3:2
James writes that the tongue is the hardest thing for man to control. With a bridle he can control a horse, and with a rudder he can control a great ship, “but the tongue can no man tame.”
As I drove to my office today I saw a good example of self-control. A young man stopped at a corner to wait for a passenger just as the signal turned green. A line of cars were strung out behind him, including a city bus, but none of them could move until the passenger arrived and the waiting car moved on. I, too, was delayed and I expected any moment to hear a dozen horns blaring out the impatience of all those who were waiting on this one car. Some of them would miss the green light and would have to wait through another signal before going their busy way. But there were no horn blasts. Each driver patiently bridled his hand and kept it from the horn button. When traffic began to move and this young man passed me I could see the look of embarrassment on his face, but without a doubt he was appreciative of the patience of others. By controlling themselves the drivers had at least relieved this one of further embarrassment and frustration.
I wondered if each of these drivers exercised the same self-control over their tongues. Would they be as patient at home when some member of the family was inconsiderate enough to cause them delay and inconvenience? Could they bridle their tongues as fully as they had their hands and withhold the expression which might embarrass or discourage a colleague? It was not too hard for us each to stay off the horn, even though we were all delayed by one who had no right to do so. Probably we were all a bit impatient and wanted to move on instead of sitting idly at an intersection. But no one gave in to the impatience. James says that we ought to control the tongue also. We are not expected to bridle our minds. We are inconvenienced, we see room for criticism, we get disgusted and thoughts crop up; but we do not have to press the horn-button of our tongues! Control It! “If any man stumbleth not in word, the same is a perfect man able to bridle the whole body also.”
PRAYER: Loving Father, may there be no idle nor hasty words pass from my lips. Purify my tongue that I may speak that which brings honor and glory to the name of Jesus. Amen.
“Seek and ye shall find.” Matthew 7:7
For several weeks I had tried to interest a man in the purpose of God, and, although he would talk about life and death and God, he always ended the conversation by raising the question as to how one is to know the truth from all the various opinions about it. He indicated that he really would like to know the truth but that it somehow continued to evade him. Then one day I visited in his home, and saw immediately why he could not find truth in relation to God. There on a wall of his living room were bookshelves filled with books on how to grow rich, how to succeed in business, how to gain personal power, and how to do any number of things for pleasure and profit. One shelf was filled with best selling fiction, books that were notorious for pornographic language and shocking sequences of narration. He boasted that he had read them all. He was seeking, and finding. He was finding vicarious enjoyment in the erotic experiences of wicked heroes and heroines. He was finding ways and means to give himself fully to this world and gain its mammon. But he was not seeking truth from God, and therefore he was not finding it. Paul writes of men perishing “because they received not the love of the truth that they might be saved” (II Thess. 2:10). If a person loves money he will seek it, and if he really seeks it diligently and with all his heart, chances are he’ll get it. If he loves pleasure, he’ll find some way to engage in the pleasures that he loves most. I have known of people who loved alcohol so dearly that even when they were deeply in debt and didn’t have a dime to their name, they would seek and find a drink somewhere. So it is with God’s truth. Jesus said that the truth will make you free. Do you love freedom? Do you love truth? Do you want to know what the Creator of the universe has planned for mankind? Do you want to know how YOU can have His purpose fulfilled in your life? Then seek it. If you love truth, you will seek it in His word, and you will find it. It’s a promise of Jesus: seek and ye shall find.
PRAYER: Father in Heaven, I long to know Your truth and to walk in it. Help me to erase all opinions that are not in harmony with it, and then grant me the power to walk in truth. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
“My eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land . . .” Psalm 101:6
Violence, injustice and lewdness are not peculiar to our own generation and land. David was surrounded and pressed on all sides by immorality and idolatry. The Israelites had not been completely weaned from pagan practices learned in Egypt. The unspeakable corruption of the Caananites had left its mark on the land and in the people. David had seen more than his share of war, and had participated in his share of sin. Now he declares, “I will behave myself wisely in a perfect way . . . I will walk within my house with a perfect heart.” (Verse 2). These are high resolutions, but no different from the commitment we each make when we confess Christ. If we are to follow Christ we should expect nothing less than to behave ourselves, just as He did, and to walk with a perfect heart; that is, with a pure and unadulterated purpose to be like Him.
But it is hard to follow the way of Christ when all about us are the distractions of Satan. The newspaper, the radio, the television and the people whom we meet each day keep everlastingly stirring the caldron of wickedness in the world. How is one to keep his heart perfect under such pressure? David gives the answer: “My eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me: He that walketh in a perfect way, he shall minister unto me.” David was not blind to evil. He said, “Morning by morning, will I destroy all the wicked of the land . . .” He recognized the duty of each faithful citizen to uphold law and justice. But he never let his eyes rest and linger upon the wicked. He sought out the faithful of the land. They do not make the headlines and the ten o’clock news, nor appear in the slick magazines, but you know who they are. You find them at home, quietly bringing up their children; at work, rendering an honest days labor for their wages; and at church, lifting voices in praise and prayer. They should receive our attention and our fellowship and our prayers. Let your eyes be upon the faithful and they shall minister unto you.
PRAYER: Thank You Father, for the faithful souls that have ministered to me by Your grace. Show me the faithful and help me to minister to them, as they do to me. I pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.
“Thy will be done, as in heaven, so on earth.” Matthew 6:10
It is not for us to know the commands given in Heaven for God’s heavenly creatures. But one thing we may know of a certainty, and that is that in Heaven every creature does God’s will. We may be sure also that in the Heavenly city there will be allowed no one but those who desire His will. Therefore we must begin now to know it and to do it. If we do not desire God’s will during our earthly pilgrimage, we would not enjoy it in that new creation where nothing is done except in harmony with Him.
Note that it is God’s will which is to be done in both heaven and earth, not that the same things are to be done. What He wills for Heaven may not be the same thing that He wills for earth. It is a grave mistake to go panting after a “heaven on earth” as the socialists, who clamor for a tree of life, nourished by “government”, from which they may eat without labor. This is to distort the will of God, not accomplish it. The curse that man must live by the sweat of his brow shall not be removed from the present earth. We are not to confuse our work in this present world with the order of things in the next. What Jesus taught us to pray is that we may be as obedient to God as are the angels, and that we may be as ready to accomplish His will on this earth as the heavenly beings accomplish it in Heaven. It is a strange thing that one will sing about heaven and speak of his hope to some day go there and live there forever, yet all the while remaining aloof from the King of Heaven and doing as little as possible to please Him. He who has authority in Heaven also has authority on earth. If we desire to live under that authority, we will manifest it now. There would be no point in creating a new heavens and a new earth then placing into that new creation those who have no desire to do the will of God. What God seeks are those who in this sin-cursed world are willing to do His will, even as Jesus did. It is not “heaven on earth” that He proposes, but to rescue from the world all those who desire His will more than anything else on earth!
PRAYER: O God, Creator of Heaven and Earth and all things, rule in my life, that Your will may be done in me, here and now. I thank You for the assurance of life in a new creation, not because of my virtue, but because of Jesus, Who gave Himself for me. In His name I pray. Amen.
“. . . children of God, and such we are . . .” I John 3:1
John goes on to say, “for this cause the world knoweth us not, because it knew Him not.” When the world considers Christianity it only sees the problem of ethics and morals. It sees an ideal of life, a “way of life”, an example set by Jesus. Then it sees us who are Christians as grasping for this ideal but never reaching it. The world has its own interpretation of the kind of life Jesus lived. Having no genuine faith in His person, as sovereign Lord and only Saviour, it fails to see the meaning of His teaching and actions, thinking that He came to reform society, to establish a kind of Heaven on Earth. Plainly, “the world knew him not” and is bound to misunderstand the purpose of His disciples.
What does the Christian see that the world does not? He sees the marvelous love of God expressed in His justice which removes us from sin and makes us God’s own children. “Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed on us that we should be called children of God; and such we are!” The Christian is not one who is striving to be like a child of God, or hoping to be a child of God. He is a child of God. He is not laboring to please God in order to be made His child, but is trying to be like Him because he is already God’s child. The world talks of the “Fatherhood” of God and the “brotherhood” of man, deliberately ignoring all those who actually are God’s children! Only through Christ can one be a true child of God, the Father. Why doesn’t the world recognize this fact? John says it is because it knows Him not. The chief business of the world has been to deny God in its affairs while claiming His Fatherhood with their lips. If you claim to be truly a child of God, the world will accuse you of bigotry and self-righteousness. “The world knoweth us not, because it knew him not”. This faith is between you and God, not between you and the world and God. Therefore don’t let the world cast a shadow over your life and draw you into its sphere of sophisticated arrogance. By the love of God we are called children of God, “and such we are”. The world’s failure to recognize us makes us no less His children!
PRAYER: Father, help me to rest in the assurance of Your salvation, and never fear the slander and spite of unbelieving men. Make me an obedient and faithful child, to the honor of the name of Jesus. Amen.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins . . .” I John 1:9
Macarius of Alexandria slept in a swamp and carried about his body eighty pounds of iron in the hope that his self-imposed suffering would help to appease God. Simeon Stylites lived with a rugged rope bound about his waste, cutting into his skin. He slept in a vermin-ridden well until finally he took himself to a high pillar among the ruins of the ancient world, and spent the remaining thirty years of his life fearfully exposed to the weather, bowing continually in penitence.
Such self-punishment is due to a lack of faith in the gospel of God. Although we seldom see such cases of outward penitence, all about us are those who go on torturing their minds with fear and anxiety, living in gloom and darkness when they could be enjoying God’s sunlight. Even those who would rationalize and argue away sin, pretending that guilt does not exist except in the mass-conscience of society—whatever that may be—even they live under an un-named dread, a question mark, a fear rooted in unforgiven sin.
Forgiveness is not found in self-punishment. Sin is dealt with in only one way: by death. Notice that God is “faithful and righteous to forgive us”. Not merciful, but righteous! The righteous punishment for sin is death, and that death was suffered by Jesus. Therefore, to deal with our sin, we confess it, and believe in the faithfulness and righteousness of God. God does not forgive out of tolerance nor out of pity for our suffering. He forgives because He is just, and has exacted the just penalty for sin from Christ on the cross. Man, on his part, has no assurance of forgiveness on the basis of his own suffering, nor on the basis of his goodness, but on the basis of God’s justice and faithfulness, the fact that the Sacrifice for sin has been made by Jesus and accepted by God the Father. If we confess our sins! Come into the light. Bring the sin before God, lay it upon the cross. God is faithful and just to forgive, and you can be free!
PRAYER: Loving Father, let Your light shine into my heart that there be no unconfessed sin hiding in some corner there. Give me insight and awareness at all times of the forgiveness I have through Jesus the Lord. In His name, I pray. Amen.
“If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another . . .” I John 1:7
The light is total illumination from God “the Father of lights with whom can be no variation, neither shadow that is cast by turning.” (James 1:17). Jesus, in that perfect light, is seen to be without error, without sin, without the slightest blemish, and with nothing to be further exposed, nothing to be corrected. To walk in that light is to expose ourselves openly to God and the world, that our lives may be seen in relation to Christ. The light does not erase our imperfections, but rather highlights them, so that if we are not sincerely seeking the purpose of God we may find it easier to walk in the shadows, in the darkness so that our sin may be unnoticed. “If we say that we have fellowship with Him and walk in the darkness, we lie, and do not the truth”. God’s will is for us to renounce sin and be wholly cleansed from it. Therefore if we desire His will we walk in the light, in all the brilliance of it, that every sin, every flaw and every imperfection may be exposed and abolished.
Coming into this light is a painfully humbling experience, as when Isaiah was permitted a view of the Heavenly Throne, and cried out, “Woe is me for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips . . .” One’s first thought may be to flee the light, to hide himself and his naked sin back in the darkness of the world. But we have come to the light just for this purpose, to be cleansed and to have fellowship with God. And if we remain in the light, and walk in the light, we soon find that we are not alone, for other souls are undergoing the same treatment. So we “have fellowship one with another”. Christian fellowship is not based on the idea of “mutual aid” nor community improvement, as is commonly thought. It is based on the common purpose of walking in the light. Of course there is aid in sharing mutual problems and there is improvement, too. But true fellowship is produced by the purely personal objective of each individual to live in and by the light. Come into the light, where there is true fellowship.
PRAYER: Father, help me to walk in Your marvelous light. Drive out the darkness of sin, doubt and fear, for You have forgiven me through Christ; only help me to live as free from sin as the blood of Christ has made me. In the name of Jesus, my Lord. Amen.
“I can do all things in him that strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13
This sounds like a daring, egotistical boast, and had it not come from the pen of the inspired apostle, we might discount it immediately. Perhaps we need to remember that it was written when the author was in prison with no release in sight. So there was at least one thing he couldn’t do—get out of prison—which in turn meant that he was quite restricted. So it appears that he didn’t really mean what he was saying.
Paul is not writing about such things as breaking a track record. There are many things in which Christ will not help at all. If you have the desire to rob a bank, but just lack the strength and courage, you cannot expect to get these from Christ. If you should have the desire to satisfy your lust, but only lack the nerve, Christ will not strengthen you in that capacity. James writes that when you pray for things only for the gratification of sinful pleasure, you will get no answer from Heaven. Those who quote the scripture as an aid to gaining the treasures and glories of the world are making merchandise of the things of God and misapplying His word.
God gives us the strength to do the things He wants us to do. It takes strength to resist the devil. But you can do it in Him. He will give you strength to do it if you really want to do it and if you start in to do it. I would compare this strength with the power-steering in my car. This “power” does not drive the car nor direct it. It only adds strength to the guiding of it, and it only does that when someone actually starts turning the wheel. Then, at the slightest touch, there is added power, power to turn the wheels in the direction I desire them to be turned. Christ does the same thing for us. All the things that He wants us to do are within our reach, by the strength He will give whenever we start doing them. If you have no strength now, it is because you aren’t doing anything now. You may sit forever wishing you had the strength to overcome some habit, or to give your testimony for Christ, or to be the head of your house. You can never do it until you begin doing it. Then—and not until then—Christ will strengthen you.
PRAYER: Father, thank You for this promise, that You will give me strength as it is needed. I know I’ve failed many times because I relied on my own power instead of Yours. Now give me strength to do just what You want me to do. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
“So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and increased in number daily.” Acts 16:5
At the close of summer many churches have to make a drive to re-enlist the members who became so bent on pleasure that they deserted the assembly during the summer months. One church bulletin listed several reasons why members would be returning to church: some to get their children started in Sunday School, some to pay up their tithes, some to renew their commitment and so on. Then it gave this reason, “. . . and some will want to come to keep up their attendance record.” Imagine Paul risking his neck to establish a church so that some people could make a good record in attending it! There are those who are so intent on winning attendance medals in Sunday School that they will move every obstacle in order to keep from missing the Sunday School hour, but will not bother to even remain at the building for the worship hour!
Paul and Silas traveled through the cities preaching and teaching the eternal truth of God to people who were often persecuted for meeting in the name of Jesus. “So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and increased in number daily.” Theirs was not an attendance campaign, but a faith campaign. The increase came on the heels of the faith. It was a daily increase, as the individual Christians moved about in their daily work and shared the faith with others, who in turn were added to the number.
Some friends who were involved in establishing a new congregation wrote enthusiastically to report that the group was growing by leaps and bounds, with additions every week. Then after about eighteen months they wrote in desperation to describe how the church was divided, indifferent and worldly. They had increased in number, but had not been strengthened in the faith. Where there is no strength of faith, great numbers are a liability.
Are you enthusiastic about the faith? Do you exercise your faith and build it up through the word and practice? It is when each member is established and strengthened in faith that the church will truly grow.
PRAYER: Father in Heaven, strengthen my faith that I in turn may help to establish the faith in others. May Your church deepen her faith, and reach out to others daily, in the name of Jesus. Amen.
“So that thou art no longer a bond servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.” Galatians 4:7
There is an Indian legend about a crown prince who was to be murdered by a man desiring to usurp the throne. The plot became known to some loyal subjects, who kidnapped the prince and reported to the conspirators that he was dead. They took the child into the mountains, where he was adopted by the wife of a herdsman. They reared him as a peasant, and he grew up in that humble atmosphere. Thinking the herdsman and his wife were his real parents, he thought himself to be a peasant. He knew nothing of his royal birth and the fact that it was his right to live in the palace and his responsibility to rule. Then one day it was discovered that he bore the peculiar birthmark of the Prince. Suddenly he realized that he was not a poor herdsman, but the heir of royalty, and that the palace and kingly estate were his.
This is the picture of many Christians who have never discovered the birthmark, here in Galatians 4:7 which tells them that they are sons and heirs of God. In the Roman letter we are told that if we are children, “then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified with him.” Romans 8:17. I once knew a young man whose mother had left him a small fortune, but he was not to receive it until he was twenty-one years of age, so he had only what he could earn to live on. He drove an old beat-up car and dressed somewhat below the fashion, but it didn’t bother him. He never apologized for being poor and wore an air of confidence. Why not? He was an heir! I don’t know if he ever received the fortune or not, but anyway he lived and acted like an heir.
We Christians have not reached that age where we receive the inheritance. But we know we are heirs because God said so, and when the time comes we shall inherit, right along with Jesus: “joint heirs with Christ.” Christian, do not live like an orphan. You are a child of the King, an heir of God.
PRAYER: Father, thank You for making me Your son, and giving me the privilege of calling on You as my Father. Help me to live as a son, to Your honor, until the return of Jesus my Lord. In His name I pray. Amen.
“A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another.” John 13:34
In those last few hours Jesus spent with the apostles before going out into Gethsemane, and then on to the cross, He reminded them several times that they must love one another. He said, “Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek me, and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come; so now I say unto you, A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; even as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” “Little children” is the tender way He showed His affection for these men. “Our Lord saw before Him an immature Peter, a doubting Thomas, a slow-learning Philip and a temperamental James.” He knew also the prophecy that when God should strike the Shepherd, the flock would scatter. Carefully He explained that they would be like sheep in the midst of wolves, that they would be hated by the world and treated by it as He was about to be treated. They were a “little flock”, and could always expect to be in the minority. So now He speaks the words that instructs them, and us in the twentieth century, as to our relationship in the Kingdom.
Note that this commandment is given to tell us how we are to feel about each other as Christians. It was not uttered until immediately after Judas, the betrayer, had left the room. It has nothing to do with the kind of love we manifest to those outside the fold. That’s quite a different matter. It is addressed to those who are “children” of God, who are to be in but not of the world, in brief, it is addressed to the church. Later on Peter wrote of it: “Be ye all likeminded, compassionate, loving as brethren, tenderhearted, humble minded. . .” (I Peter 3:8). In that early church, just as in the church today, there were those whose personalities grated against their brethren, those whose manners and habits would set them apart, but for their common desire to do God’s will. We each come to Christ, with a great bundle of faults, invisible to ourselves, but boldly striking to the eyes of our brethren. But God, in love, accepts us. How much more should we, in love, accept each other? Christian, does it need to be repeated to you, “love one another”?
PRAYER: Father, help me to accept my brethren in love as You do. Forgive me of petty fault-finding and show me how to build up others in love. And make me easier to be loved by my brethren, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
“Oh that I had in the wilderness a lodging-place of wayfaring men; that I might leave my people and go from them . . .” Jeremiah 9:2
Jeremiah was discouraged and heart-broken by the sin of his people. Everywhere there was treachery, idolatry, deceit and corruption until Jeremiah longed to escape, to find some place of refuge in the wilderness. In answer to his request, God said, “I loose thee this day from the chains which are upon thy hand,” He gave Jeremiah a choice, to go find his refuge, to make his escape, or to accept his responsibility, and Jeremiah chose the way of duty. When the way of escape was open, he refused to take it.
We all sometimes feel this longing to find a refuge, to escape from the monotony of the task, and be relieved of the weight of the daily burden. Or we would get far away from the unintelligible world about us, the general confusion and meaningless noise of rush and hurry and action that is without purpose. We long for rest in a place unmolested by sin. There are many who would escape from themselves. They have found no purpose in life and have so given themselves to wrong causes and bent their minds so far from the intended Image that they cannot bear to be alone with their personal reflections. So they give themselves to pleasure, craving excitement, seeking escape in a wilderness of other lost souls in a frenzy of activity. Still others would escape life in the theories and ideals of philosophy. Many disciples of Communism are recruited from the intellectuals who resort to socialism as a means of escape from reality.
But escape was not really what Jeremiah wanted and when it became his opportunity, he rejected it. Such is the example of Christ, Who prayed, “Father, if it be possible let this cup pass from me”. It was possible. But in the same breath came “Not my will but thine be done”. And that is the choice for each Christian: not escape, but a cross. We are here to do the Father’s will, not to find refuge in a wilderness lodging-place. God is our strength and our comfort. When Christ comes He will give us perfect rest in His eternal lodging-place. The day of escape is not yet. This is the day of duty: the day to pray, “Not my will, but Thine be done.”
PRAYER: Father, I confess my longing for rest and escape from this decaying world, but I pray that Your will be done. Give me strength to do my duty, to crush wrong desires, and to be faithful to You until Jesus comes, in whose name I pray, Amen.
“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief . . .” I Timothy 1:15
Paul goes on to say that it was for this cause that he received mercy, that through him as chief, Jesus might show other sinners an example of belief “unto eternal life.” Claude Lorts used to say of this verse, “If He can save the Chief, He can save the whole tribe.” I heard him use this expression so often that I came to feel that it had a special significance for me, and with the passing of time I have become convinced of it. Many years ago at a time when a crisis had been reached in my own life, I was in the depths of despair, unable to see any possible way of continuing in the ministry. Not only was I unfit in my own eyes, but I was convinced that God could not use me, that there was nothing to do but resign my pastorate, quit the ministry and take a seat on the sidelines as a failure. But a kind Christian woman, whose own life had undoubtedly led through some valley of shadows, called me aside and said, “Who knows but what God has led you to these depths of trouble so that you may better appreciate His love and mercy? Do not give up, for God uses men who have been over the path of sin and suffering, to show others the way.” I don’t recall ever hearing this woman say anything else, but these words—perhaps prompted by the Lord Himself—were the words that gave me the incentive and encouragement to keep my commitment to preach. Then I came to realize what Paul meant. I deserve nothing but death for my sin, but Christ Jesus came into the world to die that death. The same penalty applies to all: death as the wages of sin! If he would die for me, he would die for anybody. If His death meets the penalty for my sin, certainly it meets the penalty for yours. If God can use me as a vessel for His truth, He can use any one.
Have you been excusing yourself from God’s grace on the grounds that you are too great a sinner? But Jesus died for the worst! Have you been excusing yourself from God’s service because of your past? But God chose the chief of sinners to be His special apostle! Do not sin further by withholding your life from God. He desires to save sinners. Let him have His way!
PRAYER: O Loving and merciful Father, thank You for the all-embracing gift of Jesus who came to save me. Give me faith and boldness to resist Satan, and to bear a testimony for Christ to every one who is still in the sinner’s tribe. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
“Had ye believed Moses ye would have believed Me.” John 5:46
The Jews claimed to believe Moses, claimed to be obedient to the law he delivered, and accepted Moses as a prophet. But Moses had prophesied concerning Christ, and these Jews refused to believe Christ when He came. This was proof that they didn’t believe Moses and were hypocrites. This is a picture of millions who claim to believe in God, or in the Bible or in some facet of Christianity, but who refuse to obey the gospel. Joseph Parker writes, “A man does not believe his own creed until he is prepared to add to it. The creed must be of the quality of the man . . . Man changes, creed changes, but changes by enlargement . . . ever-increasing light and adequacy and tenderness; . . . it moves in a great sequence of expansion . . . A right belief at the beginning compels a man to add to that belief everything that is kindred and cognate to its own quality and its own purpose.” How often we hear someone say, “My belief is the golden rule” or “. . . the sermon on the mount” or some other particular truth of the Bible. Then they proceed to explain that this one facet of faith is ALL they believe. They reject baptism and the church, and do not even bother with reading the commandments of both Old and New Testaments. But if one believes in God he will believe in sin, for if God is, then we must be sinners. If one believes in sin he must believe in the atonement, for what kind of a God would allow sin with no means for atonement? And if he believes in atonement for sin he must believe in Christ for He is the One who makes atonement for sin. Then he must believe in the gospel, the good news of that atonement; and if he believes in the gospel, he must believe in obeying the gospel, and so on and on, to the second coming, the resurrection, the new creation and on to the Throne of the King.
Do you believe? Allow that belief to claim all the realm of truth belonging to it, to expand and grow, that you may grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
PRAYER: O Lord, increase my faith and give me greater understanding of that which I believe. Give me a better vision of Your majesty and righteousness, that my desire for Your likeness may be sharpened and my zeal brightened, in the name of Jesus. Amen.
“Be thou an example.” I Timothy 4:12
“No man is an island.” Or, as Paul put it, “For none of us liveth unto himself.” (Romans 14:7). There is a sense in which we are alone: we are individuals, we personally believe and have faith, we personally die and give account to God. But still we are not alone. We cannot avoid being an influence, either for good or for bad. There is an idea abroad that one can be neutral where God is concerned, that the schools, for example, can evade the religious question by simply not mentioning God. But this is having great influence upon our youth by example. It tells them that one can learn of life and have an education without knowing of God, that he can be successful and pursue worthy goals with total indifference to God. There is no such thing as neutrality, especially where example is concerned, and especially where Christianity is concerned. We have this command: “Be thou an example”. But, do I hear someone say, “I try to be a Christian, but I wouldn’t set myself up as an example”? On the face of it this sounds like a humble confession. There are only two things wrong with it. First, it is not humility, but pride which prompts us to say “I try to be a Christian”. We are not told to “try” to be Christian. One doesn’t become a Christian “trying” to attain a level or standard of living. We are Christians by grace—by virtue of the redemption of Jesus, and it isn’t a matter of trying, at all, but of believing and obeying the gospel. This makes you Christian, and then you try to attain the stature of Christ. This is exactly the example Paul is talking about: “You are a Christian, now set an example by walking in the light of Christ and trying to be like Him.” If you are trying to be like Him, you are already setting the right example, for that is exactly what He would have us each do. Secondly, to refuse to set ourselves as examples is disobedience. It is true humility that prompts a man to say to another, “Be a Christian, as I am. Surrender your life to God, as I do. Trust in Him, as I do. Come, walk in the light, as I am walking.” Try this, and learn humility. Then you will be obeying the command: Be thou an example.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father help me to keep my feet steadily treading in the direction of Your holy light, that I might be an example according to Your command. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
“These all died in faith . . . having confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.” Hebrews 11:13
Several years ago I received a kind letter from a devout Christian who said that she was praying for me and the other ministers of the gospel “who are trying to make this world a better place to live in.” Of course, we certainly hope that the world is better because of our ministry, but this is not our object. This concept, that our purpose is to make the world a better place in which to live, is detrimental to our purpose. Like Abraham, we confess that we are but strangers and pilgrims on this earth. Paul wrote that Christ “gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us out of this present evil world . . .” (Galatians 1:4). The purpose of God is to rescue His people from this world, for it is condemned and doomed to destruction by fire in the day of judgment. The examples He gives us should sweep away all doubt as to our position in regard to the world. Noah, instead of working toward reformation of the world, built an ark to save himself and his household from the judgment upon the world. Abraham built no permanent dwelling place, gave his name to no institutions, and kept himself unentangled from world affairs. Jesus had nothing to do with the world except to confront it, giving sin a chance to manifest itself, then make possible the escape from it by the gospel.
It is a clever and subtle trick of Satan to get believers involved in all the improvement projects of the world, fixing it up and dressing it all up and trying to make it appear like a heaven on earth. In doing so, men leave off the real rescue work of God, which requires that we reveal the true nature of things, the ultimate end, and the only possible solution: choosing Christ in preference to the world. It is ironic that many have left the gospel to carry placards and march in the streets leaving behind the rubble of further destruction while announcing their intention to improve the world. No thank you. Let us confess with Abraham that we are pilgrims. Our citizenship is in another world, to which we are going someday. It is to prepare man for that one that we serve, and not to make him more fond of this one!
PRAYER: Loving Father, give me the mind of a pilgrim, that I may keep my heart set on Your purpose and manifest it in this world. Through Jesus, I pray. Amen.
“. . . that ye may know that ye have eternal life . . .” I John 5:13
Do you have some doubts about whether or not you are totally forgiven? This is of paramount importance, because it is on the basis of sinlessness that we have eternal life. For the wages of sin is death—any sin, all sin. Then in view of this terrible fact, “God . . . sent His son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (I John 4:10). Our sins, yours and mine, each particular sin, and all sin in general. Jesus made full payment; that is, He died the full death that is required of a sinner. What is faith but to believe that Jesus did just what He said He did: bore my sins in His body upon the tree? The trouble is, we are not humble enough to admit that He had to do the whole job. We like to take a little credit for ourselves and maintain that by our own works, by our own virtues, we will come in for a bit of justification on our own. It is then that the anxiety begins: for as soon as we start measuring our forgiveness by our own virtues—weighing our sins against our non-sin—the balance of the scale becomes elusive. We keep uncovering sins which we hadn’t noticed before. Old sins we though we had balanced out keep cropping up where they appear ten times worse now than when first committed. We are still pretty big sinners, after all! The rug of confidence in our own goodness is pulled right out from under us, and we are wallowing in guilt again. Finally, if we have the courage to do so, we bow before Jesus and confess that He must pay the full price. We can’t help at all. So He dies for us, pays the penalty of death! Then we stand sinless before God, and eternal life is ours by the righteous and just act of God Himself. To doubt it is not humility, but rank pride—as if somehow you had power to gain it by yourself, and were just not sure you had quite done so! True humility is to believe God. Listen: “God gave unto us eternal life and this life is in His Son. He that hath the Son hath the life; he that hath not the Son of God hath not the life.” Then John writes, “These things have I written unto you, that ye may know . . .”
PRAYER: O God, thank you for the victory over sin and death which Jesus won for me on Calvary. Give me grace to submit myself more fully to His power. In His mighty name I pray. Amen.
"He that is faithful in a very little, is faithful also in much . . ." Luke 16:10
From our finite position, looking from the pinprick of earth in the vastness of the universe to the infinite Creator of all things, we think of the action of God as being very big. It was so with Naaman, the leper, who was sent to Elisha for healing. A celebrated commander of the Syrian army, Naaman expected a miracle of God to be accompanied with great show and spectacular display. "So Naaman came with his horses and with his chariots, and stood at the door of the house of Elisha." He was laden with ten talents of silver, six thousand pieces of gold and ten changes of raiment, no small amount with which to add to the glory of the event. But Elisha, numb to the pressure of the world's weighty pomposity, failed to bring off the spectacle. Instead he sent a servant with the brisk message to Naaman: "Go and wash in the Jordan seven times . . ." Naaman was furious! "Behold," he said, "I thought He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of Jehovah his God, and wave his hand over the place, and recover the leper." But before Naaman was carried away with his indignation, his servant said, "My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? How much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?" When Naaman was faithful in obeying the simple order to wash in the Jordan, he was cured.
How often we hear someone speak of the things they would do if they only had a great talent or a great deal of money. In the meantime, they refuse to so much as speak the name of Jesus in casual conversation, and their money, even the little bit, goes for useless luxuries or to satisfy their foolish and evil habits. The man who would not join in a joyful song of praise to Jesus in the congregation, would not sing praises to Jesus if he had the voice of a Caruso. One who wastes dimes would also waste dollars, if he had them. It is obeying the simple orders, doing common things according to God's command and trusting Him that proves one to be faithful. It isn't the size of the task, but the desire of the laborer that determines faithfulness.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, forgive me the neglect of the little things You have given me to do. Make me aware of each duty and each opportunity and help me to be faithful in doing them. In Jesus' name, Amen.
“. . . in nothing shall I be put to shame, but with all boldness . . . Christ shall be magnified in my body.” Philippians 1:20
The Bible class teacher asked the small children to draw any scene from the life of Jesus which they had been studying. One boy presented a crude drawing of an airplane, with three people in the back and one in the front seat. He explained, “It’s the flight into Egypt, and there is Joseph and Mary and Jesus in the back seat.” The teacher asked, "But who is that in the front?” The child replied, “Oh, that is Pontius, the Pilot.” This is about as close as many people get to seeing a true picture of Jesus.
The usual paintings that are supposed to portray the head of Jesus picture Him in first century clothes, long hair and a far-away expression on His face. Any time you see such a picture hanging on the wall, you know immediately that it is supposed to portray Jesus, even though no one knows what He actually looked like. When He does appear, it certainly will not be in first century clothing! The trouble with all such paintings is that they actually take our attention away from the Living Christ and from the means by which He is honored. The true image of Jesus is to be shown in the lives of the saints. Paul said, “Christ shall be magnified in my body.” This is really the only way we can present any kind of picture of Jesus to the world, by how we live, how we act and what we say. Now, right away we are tempted to confess that we are so far from measuring up to Christ that we are unfit to even attempt to portray Him by our lives. It is true; we have all sinned and fail to measure up to His glory. This was true of Paul, too. That’s why He said, “in nothing shall I be put to shame, but with all boldness . . . Christ shall be magnified in my body.” Paul would not let his imperfections keep him from showing Christ to the world. It is false modesty to hide behind your sins. It is pride of the worst sort to call attention to your sin, rather than to Christ Who cleanses you. Let the world see Christ living and moving, forgiving and purifying you, and He shall be magnified in you.
PRAYER: Father, forgive me for the pride which has hindered me from glorying in Jesus my Lord. Make me bold to claim Him and to proclaim Him as Saviour and King of my life. In His name, I pray. Amen.
“Ye that fear Jehovah, praise Him.” Psalm 22:23
When Job learned that all his wealth had been destroyed and that his sons were dead, his first act was to worship God, attribute to Him what had happened and to say, “Blessed be the name of Jehovah.” It is a perfect example of how the believer is to meet trouble and tragedy, by first praising God. Praise turns our faces from the grave to the Living Lord, from defeat to the victory that Christ has already won and for which we patiently wait. It lifts our eyes from the battlefield to the Triumph, for Christ is already Lord and King and we are more than conquerors through Him. When Gideon went to battle with only 300 men against thousands, armed only with torch and trumpet, the battle cry was one of praise to God: “The sword of Jehovah and of Gideon”. Judah went into battle under Jehoshaphat singing praises to God.
Too often we think of praise only as part of corporate worship, or as being appropriate only when things turn out well. But Christian faith is to believe in the sovereignty of God, that our lives are in His care—every hair of your head is numbered—and that all things work together for good to all who are called according to His purpose. Therefore the Hebrew writer reminds us that we must bear the reproach of Christ in this world, looking for the city of God that is to come, and in view of this, “then let us offer up a sacrifice of praise to God continually . . .” (Heb. 13:14, 15). Such praise is individual, personal, daily and in all circumstances. At times it may be with tears in our eyes, when we can only say with Job: “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.” But such is the sweet sacrifice which binds us close to God, and will speedily bring His comfort and blessing. Praise kindles faith and puts it to work under the mighty hand of God’s power. Praise penetrates through the barriers of fear and routs Satan, giving him notice that we serve the Lord Jesus Christ, the mighty Redeemer and King. Look up just now and praise Him, for He is worthy of all praise.
PRAYER: Father in Heaven, I praise You for your great power, and righteousness and love, and for Jesus Who purchased my salvation. May my life and my lips show forth Your praise, now and forever, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
“The creation waiteth for the revealing of the sons of God.” Romans 8:19
We live in a world in convulsion! 2,000,000 suicides in one year. It is a world of people seeking; searching the skies, space, the microbe, the atom, the mind; seeking peace, joy, satisfaction and something else that it cannot even name but which we know can only be found in God. It will be found, finally, in the day of the “revealing of the sons of God.” In this same passage of scripture Paul claims that the sons of God are they who are led by the spirit of God. He is speaking to Christians, and writes, “we are the children of God, and if children, then heirs; heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified with Him.” And one day these true sons of God will be glorified with Him. If we are joint heirs with Christ this can only mean that we shall inherit equally with Christ. This was the plan of God to begin with, but was interrupted by man’s sin and rebellion. Now, one by one, here and there, unrecognized by the world, quietly and steadily proceeding day by day, men are being restored to this plan of sonship and immortality. The day will come when all the sons and daughters of God will be glorified, and then it will be revealed just what all the world is seeking. Then, and not until then, the chaos, bloodshed and convulsion will end. What God wants is obedient children who reflect the parental image. What He will reveal is not mammoth church buildings that knock your eyes out because of their size and expensive trimmings and the prestige personnel, but the personal glorification of individuals in His very likeness, patterned after the resurrected and glorified Christ. Then it will be revealed who these “sons” really are. The question then will not be “Are you a member of this or that church?” The question then and NOW is “Are you a son?” Of course if you are a son you will be in the Son’s church, obeying His commandments and following in His steps—willing to suffer with Him—and looking for His return. Make sure, NOW, that you are “in the Son”, and a joint heir with Him.
PRAYER: Father, I thank you that I may be called a son, through the redemption of Jesus the Lord. Discipline me as a son, that I may learn obedience, and suffer with Jesus that I may be glorified with Him too. In His name. Amen.
“And Jehovah God called unto the man, and said . . . ‘Where art thou?’” Genesis 3:9
The sin of Adam which caused him to lose his deathless quality as well as the paradise in which God had placed him is usually called the “Fall,” because he fell from the high estate of continuous life in a glorious and perfect earth to a dying and shameful state in a deteriorating and corrupt world. Not until we are made into the likeness of the glorified Christ in the new creation will we know just how far man plunged in the fall. But it is a bit misleading to call it a fall. Man did not fall so much as he willingly descended. It was not by accident that he rejected God’s truth and deliberately chose that which he thought would give him power to make his own laws and run things his own way. It was a carefully calculated plan, whereby he would leave the control of his Maker and descend to a plane where he would not have to listen to “thou shalts” and “thou shalt nots.” As C. S. Lewis suggests, “They wanted some corner in the universe of which they could say to God, ‘This is our business, not yours.’ But there is no such corner.” When God asked the question, “Where art thou?” it was not because He was ignorant of their whereabouts. It was a simple recognition of the fact which Adam had sought to establish, his independence of God. This is what made the sin so terribly sinful: that man should tear himself away from his Creator, away from his very source! It was a negation of life itself; it was the destruction of the self!
Man has never ceased to imitate the “fall”. When we turn inward, to self-will as opposed to Christ’s way, once again we are seeking that corner to call our own, where we may be independent of God. It is because of this turning from God to self that so many times we feel lost, as if God might be asking, “Where art thou?” Instead of descending to our own independent level of self-will, we are to “abide in Him”, to set our minds on His will and His purpose, to willfully subject ourselves to Him, that He may restore us to the high estate from which we descended.
PRAYER: Mighty Father, forgive my self-will, my stubborn pride and the times when I seek my own way. Keep me from the temptation to walk in this world’s wisdom, and lift me up to walk in Your way, through Jesus my King. Amen.
“and he cried unto the Lord . . .” Exodus 15:25
The people of Israel had come to Marah and found that the water was unfit to drink. It was Moses who had led them there, so they complained to him—“murmured against” as the text puts it. So quickly they had forgotten the great service which he had faithfully rendered and the blessings they so recently enjoyed in being delivered from slavery in Egypt that at the first sign of hardship they began a bitter complaint. This is par for the course. So long as all goes well we accept the dedication and sacrifice of our leaders and take them for granted. But the very first time they lead us into a difficult way, the minute the preacher challenges us to consider some new fact, of truth, we are quick to forget the distance he may have led us and denounce him as an enemy.
What was Moses to do? We can imagine what he might have said! “What do you expect me to do, provide water out of my pocket? How can you be so ungrateful as to blame me? Do you think I have a secret supply of fresh water for myself? You have no idea what I have gone through in order to bring you this far. If you are to treat me this way, then you deserve to thirst!” But Moses said nothing like this. Instead “he cried unto Jehovah.” Then God showed him a tree “and he cast it into the waters and the waters were made sweet.” Moses did not stand on his own dignity, nor on his own strength in order to satisfy the complaint. His responsibility was not primarily to Israel, but to God. There was no thought of retaliation toward these unreasoning and ungrateful people nor was there a moment to consider giving them up. He took his case immediately to the Lord.
The true leader does not resign his position because of the murmuring populace. The faithful parent does not throw up his hands and give up the discipline of his children. He cries unto the Lord for them. The faithful preacher does not resign in retaliation against an unfaithful board of elders and deacons. He takes them to the Lord of the church in prayer. If each husband and each wife, instead of returning complaints to each other would cry unto the Lord, they would find that He can make the bitter waters sweet.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, give me patience, that I may wait on You, and receive the solution of Your wisdom and power, through Jesus my Lord. Amen.
“Come near before Jehovah; for he hath heard your murmurings.” Exodus 16:9
“Ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger,” they said. It was not to God they addressed their grievance, but to Moses and Aaron who had accepted the responsibility of leadership. But it was God who answered: “I will rain bread from heaven.” Then Moses said, “Jehovah heareth your murmurings which ye murmur against him: and what are we? Your murmurings are not against us, but against Jehovah.” This is the common fault of all men; that we cannot see the over-all picture, with God being the designer and the sovereign controller of the whole plan. When things fail to suit us, and we cannot see an easy way out of the situation, we look for someone against whom we can murmur, someone to blame. But the Bible teaches us that “All things work together for good to them that are called according to His purpose.” Complaint against our lot is a complaint against God Who is above all and over all and in all. For this reason we are told to “do all things without murmurings and questionings; that ye may become blameless and harmless, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom ye are seen as lights in the world.” (Phil. 2:14, 15). If we are in the hollow of His hand, then we dare not murmur when that hand carries us into dry thirsty places. If we are the sheep of the Good Shepherd then we should not murmur when He leads us out, and also in. As long as a Christian is faithful to God, as long as he is truly a Christian and not just one in name only, his path is marked and his steps numbered by the Creator. He hears all our murmurings, no matter to whom directed, and in a sense they are all against Him. It is a sobering thought, but a blessed one, too, for it means that He is ever aware of us, and is faithfully guiding in the way he desires.
PRAYER: Father, may Your will be done. I thank You for having led me through the wilderness places into redemption through Jesus. Still lead me on, in His name. Amen.
“. . . we ought to give . . . heed to the things that were heard, lest haply we drift away from them.” Hebrews 2:1
The natural tendency of one in a stream is to drift with the current. If it is his purpose to continue downstream, perhaps to his death, he has to do nothing: he may close his eyes, fold his arms, and put forth no effort at all. But if he should strive to remain where he is, and if the current is swift, he may have to make a vigorous effort just to keep from drifting. This is just what the writer is telling us, that we must “give heed” in order to keep from drifting.
The stream of religious belief—and in fact the whole current of humanity—is swiftly flowing away from God. Whole churches have cut loose their moorings and have plunged deliberately into the main stream and are now jubilantly flowing to destruction, carrying all those who insist on remaining with them. In view of this danger, we are told to anchor our faith to the “things that were heard.” These things are not “hearsay,” but the things heard from men to whom God has revealed the truth, and which have reference to the home port, the dock to which man must moor his faith. They have been heard from the beginning, from the day God said “For in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” These “things” embrace the whole scope of God’s purpose: (1) that man was created in God's image. (2) That he disobeyed God and brought death to himself and his descendants. (3) That he cannot forgive his own sin nor rescue himself from death at the end of this life nor at the day of judgment. (4) That God sent Jesus into the world as man and met that judgment death for mankind. (5) That man is now saved through faith in Christ and obedience to the Gospel. (6) That all who thus obey the gospel must continue faithful unto death; walking in the light of Christ’s commandments. (7) All who refuse to do so will finally be judged and shall suffer the eternal destruction of the second death. Such is a very brief summary of the “things that were heard,” and that are still heard where faithful men preach. The Bible says “we ought to give the more earnest heed” to these things. Are you firmly anchored to God’s shore, or drifting in the mainstream of religion?
PRAYER: Loving Father, give grace to all those who are floundering in the stream of doubt and to those who are being swept downstream in the drifting churches of new movements, that they may give heed to Your truth. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
“Let your light shine . . .” Matthew 5:16
The obvious quality of light is that it shines. Turn it off or put it out and it is no longer light. But as long as it is light it shines. It may be hidden under a bushel, but still it is light, still shining underneath. Remove the bushel and you have the same light. Wherever it is it is shining. And Jesus said that “ye are the light of the world.” Of course we are only reflected lights, reflecting His light. But His light is always shining. “The darkness apprehended it not,” that is, the darkness couldn’t put it out, so it is shining all the time. Therefore, if we are reflections, we are shining all the time also. “Let your light shine.” You do not create light. It is not some new idea, some thought of your own, some new light generated by the changing needs of the day that is to shine. Neither are we to color the light to suit the shade of our own emotions, for this would be a different light, it would be refusing to let the light shine. All the light I have is light Jesus sheds upon me. So all the light that will reflect, I am to “let shine.” I cannot actually make it shine—light does not force itself into nooks and crevices and around corners. It simply shines where it is unobstructed. So are we to “let” the light shine.
This light is the light of truth. Of course it is more than this, for it is the entire person by whose character and works is radiated the fact that he is Christ’s. But such character and works are rooted in his belief in the truth as presented by Christ. So it is the truth that is to shine. It is the truth we have from Christ, which is to be transmitted through us. It is not something we must change to make “relevant” to the blind world about us. Neither are we to try to force it into closed minds, or bend it around corners of skepticism. We simply believe it, let it permeate our being, so that it cannot help but shine when we let it. “Even so let your light shine.”
PRAYER: Loving Father, fill me with Your light, and cleanse me from presumptions and opinions that might hinder that light’s brightness. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
“But the midwives feared God . . .” Exodus 1:17
The orders had been given by the King of Egypt: “If it be a son, then ye shall kill him; but if it be a daughter, then she shall live.” A simple command, and one that should not be too hard to carry out. No doubt, the king was confident that everyone would respect this executive order, that they would be awed by all the power and armed might under his command and out of fear, if not out of respect, would see that the orders were obeyed. Midwives were common people, little more than servants, with no prestige nor political power. But they understood where the true authority lay, and if they feared the king they feared God more. History is highlighted by the common people who have feared God more than the world-rulers and tyrants. They are seldom recognized; they hold no demonstrations; do no picketing nor rioting; form no organizations; and send no lobbyists to Washington. But under the mighty hand of God they go about their business of serving Him and thus actually accomplish more than all the rest. Under the king’s command the midwife would have killed Moses, but under the fear of God she saved him instead, to the saving of a nation.
When Jesus sent out the disciples He warned them of the terrible opposition which would be mounted against them by rulers and powerful men. But He said, “Be not afraid of them that kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matt. 10:28). When Peter and John were warned against preaching the gospel their answer was, “We must obey God rather than men,” proof that they had not forgotten the Master’s advice. F. D. Roosevelt said, “We have nothing to fear but fear.” He was wrong. We have nothing to fear but God. “And God dealt well with the midwives . . . because the midwives feared God, he made them households.” When we serve God we receive God’s care and God’s reward. It may be costly to stand up against Satan and the world, but it would be far more costly to reject God and His commands. It is He and He alone whom we should fear.
PRAYER: Loving Father, instill in me that holy fear whereby I may fear nothing save to displease You. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
“He that is greatest among you shall be your servant.” Matthew 23:11
In describing the grandeur of an eastern potentate a reporter enumerated the scores of servants that waited upon him. Man’s concept is that the greatest person is the one who has the most people serving him, working for him, doing things for him. But Jesus seemed to pay no attention at all to that kind of people. He turned it around the other way and said that the greatest is the one who serves the most. In the upper room the night before His betrayal he demonstrated what He meant by taking the menial task of a slave and washing the feet of the apostles. Here was the very Creator of man, the Son of God, soon to receive all authority in heaven and on earth, humbling himself before each of these men, who a short time earlier had been clamoring for the highest rank, and serving them. This is what He had been doing all the time—serving them. It is what He is doing for us even now, serving us as our Mediator before the throne of God, giving us life and breath and all things to enjoy—if He should cease serving in this way we would cease to be!—and ministering to our needs every time we go to Him in prayer. So even as our King and Lord, He is also our Servant, showing us that the Greatest is indeed the Servant of all.
We ought to remember this every time we get to itching for the highest place and the seat of honor. We need to remember it when we are aggravated at having to do the unseen menial tasks while someone else gets the glory. We certainly need to heed it when we are tempted to take out our frustration and despair on others around us. There are a few who are in the limelight who may render great service in the name of the Lord. But most of the real work of God is done by the servants who seek no recognition, and get none. They go on, quietly, day by day, humbly bowing down to meet the needs of others—the real needs, not the imaginary needs which the socialists want the government to perform. They are among us as servants, but they are truly the great ones, and they shall be greatly rewarded, not by the chamber of commerce, but by God Himself.
PRAYER: O God, forgive me, for I have sought to be served, rather than to serve. Help me to perform each task You lay before me, that I may be Your faithful servant and receive Your reward, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
“And thou shalt take of the blood of the bullock, and put it upon the horns of the altar with thy finger; and thou shalt pour out all the blood at the base of the altar.” Exodus 29:12
What a shocking, revolting thing to do! Isn’t God the God of love? Hasn’t religion to do with life and peace? Isn’t that the purpose of it all? Then why this horrible thing about blood? So the ecumenical leaders would have no mention of blood. It has been removed from many of the modern hymnals and is never mentioned in thousands of pulpits. But let one of them be involved in an accident or in surgery where a great loss of blood occurs, and transfusion is needed. Then see how precious the blood, the right type and at the right time, becomes. You see that in “real life” blood is not an ugly word, but it is life itself. The reason men are revulsed at the thought of blood as central in the worship of God is because they have divorced religion from real life. But it is life that God is interested in. “For the life of the flesh is in the blood; it is the blood; . . . that maketh atonement by reason of the life.” (Lev. 17:11). Those who want a religion without shedding of blood are after a religion that is lifeless. God made life out of flesh and blood, and it is just the importance of life that He would impress upon us: that our lives are forfeit because of sin, and the only way to receive life is through the forfeiting of the sinless One, even Jesus. It is both a revolting thought and a sublime one: revolting because it portrays our mortality and the fact that man has so far descended from the Image of God; but sublime because it is the giving of life, God giving life for man’s life, that we might be redeemed from the eternal death. But in either case it portrays reality, the fact that our lives are delicate things depending upon such things as blood in our veins and breath in our lungs, reminding us at every moment that our lives are in God’s hands, and that the hope of immortal life rests squarely upon the atonement made by Jesus on the cross. Think of that: you are bought with a price; the blood of Christ. Think again, and consider whether or not your whole life is under His control.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, I thank You for the gift of life through Jesus my blessed Lord. May I not be ashamed of the blood He shed, but have the strength and humility to glory in it to all men. In His name I pray. Amen.
“. . . Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross . . .” Hebrews 12:3
“Don’t flee the cross,” writes pastor Richard Wurmbrand, who suffered for 14 years under Communist persecution. The friends of Jesus tried to persuade Him to flee from the cross. “Get thee out, and depart hence; for Herod will kill thee.” (Luke 13:31) When Peter was told of the impending crucifixion of Jesus, he said, “Be it far from thee Lord.” But Jesus set his face “steadfastly toward Jerusalem”, for He knew that the cross was essential; in fact He came into the world to die upon it.
Christianity is becoming less and less popular all over the world. In some places it is outlawed and in many nations one confesses Christ only in the face of direct persecution and even torture and death. And although we may not be beaten or imprisoned, there is still the persecution of ridicule, slander and boycott. There is constant pressure upon the Christian to go along with his business colleagues in unchristian methods and practices.
To be a Christian means to daily bear the cross in following Jesus. Well meaning friends suggest an easier way, a way without sacrifice or suffering, a way without a cross. To the world such a way seems wise. Even the apostles could not understand why Jesus was deliberately choosing the way of suffering and death, but after His triumph over death and His ascension to glory, they knew, and gladly chose the same way. Wurmbrand is right. We must not flee the cross. We are children of God, “and if children, then heirs; heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified with him.” Romans 8:17.
PRAYER: Loving Father, thank you for counting me worthy to follow Christ. May I not rationalize my way around the suffering, but grant me the wisdom, courage and strength to bear the cross of Christ daily, even if alone, as He did. In His great name, Amen.