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“What is that to thee? Follow thou me.” John 21:23
Peter had been given his instructions by the Lord, then seeing John, he asked, “And what shall this man do?” Christ’s answer was, “If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? Follow thou me.” It is easy to become so concerned about the affairs of those about us that we fail to concentrate upon our own responsibilities. This is especially true when other laborers of the Lord do not seem to have such a difficult task, or when it appears that they get all the credit. Why should I be called on for greater effort, for longer hours, for more sacrifice while John takes it easy? When we begin making comparisons we are soon measuring our discipleship by what other imperfect Christians do rather than by the perfect standard to which Christ has called us. Is John to escape years of persecution? What is that to thee? Christ calls you to follow Him in the way of persecution and crucifixion. Is John to remain with his family and friends? What is that to thee? Christ calls you to forsake all and follow Him to Gethsemene. Is John to enjoy the luxury of a home and the accumulation of some of this world’s treasures? What is that to thee? Christ calls you to sell all, to give it up and follow Him. When we first answered the call of Jesus to “Come follow me”, it was with the understanding that we were to deny all, including self, and trust Him completely for direction and for reward. Then when the way begins to appear difficult, we look around for a means of escape, and it is then that we see John, with no visible burden, and with no apparent difficulties and responsibilities. It is easy to forget that we set out to follow Jesus, that it is He that sets our course and gives us or task. We do not follow the law of averages and equality, but the law of discipleship which puts each individual at the disposal of Christ.
The Christian is one who has ceased playing the game of “follow the multitude”, and has committed himself to following One, Christ Jesus. What is all the rest to him?
PRAYER: Gracious Father, thank You for calling me into the fellowship of Your chosen ones, through Jesus my Lord. Keep my eyes open to the way He leads, and give me strength and wisdom to follow. In His name. I pray. Amen.
“Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing.” Romans 15:13
In our efforts to enthuse others with the power of the Christian faith we speak of “how wonderful it is to be a Christian”. But to the unconsecrated eye there is little about it to be called “wonderful”. Jesus and the apostles described the Christian way as one of sacrifice, suffering, tribulation and crucifixion of self. To Paul this world was a battleground in which he suffered the constant agony of war. To Peter the name “Christian” meant suffering, after the example of Jesus. Had they spoken of their lives as “wonderful”, the world would not have understood.
But they did speak of joy and peace, and demonstrated that one can possess these treasures in the midst of great trouble. There was a joy and peace that came from knowing the purpose of God and His power to fulfill that purpose. They believed in a new creation to which this world and this life are only preparation. They believed they were a part of God’s ultimate and eternal purpose, and thus had "joy and peace in believing".
One does not attain joy and peace by seeking them. They come as the by-products of our effort to attain the ultimate goal of God. To the believer who lives for such a goal, there is joy and peace in spite of the frustration, heartaches, failures and opposition. The “wonder” of Christianity is just in this fact, that the believer can have joy without the things the world considers essential to joy, and that he can have peace in the midst of turmoil and war. The believer’s joy is not because he is surrounded by the goodies of the world, but because he believes in a kingdom that is not of this world. He has peace, not because of the absence of conflict, but because he believes in God’s ultimate victory.
PRAYER: Righteous Father, thank you for the great hope that is mine through the Gospel, and for the joy and peace that such a hope gives. Grant me the power to believe absolutely that I may be filled with the joy and peace you give. Through Jesus, Amen.
“Making known unto us the mystery of his will . . .” Ephesians 1:9
Almost daily the newspapers reveal some new theory aimed at solving the “mystery” of life, its purpose and ultimate end. It becomes increasingly obvious that man in his wisdom cannot know the purpose of God, so he keeps inventing new theories, each in turn to be exposed and dethroned by yet a newer one.
But the Christian is in on the secret! God has revealed His mystery (from the Greek, meaning secret). Paul writes of “the revelation of the mystery which hath been kept in silence through times eternal, but now is manifested . . .” (Romans 16:25, 26). The Bible reveals that it is God’s purpose—
To have man in His own image.
To judge and destroy men who sin against Him.
To save from such judgment all who obey the Gospel.
To do this through the substitutionary death of Jesus.
To destroy the evil and create a new heavens and a new earth.
And thus to fulfill His purpose of having man in His own image for eternity.
But this is all a mystery—a secret—to the world, Millions go through life with never an inkling of this marvelous purpose of the Creator. In the schools, children are taught the theories of men and teachers are usually forbidden to present the revelation of God. The world’s business is governed by economics with seldom any reference to our guideline from the revelation God has given. Multitudes meet life with fear and ignorance, because they are unconcerned with the “secret” God has revealed.
The believer lives in serenity and confidence. He knows what it is God is trying to do, what His means of accomplishment are, and what the ultimate outcome will be. He is in the confidence of God. However, such confidence also carries with it a grave responsibility. God has given us the secret to share. “What you hear in the ear, proclaim from the housetops!” It is a secret that we are NOT to keep.
PRAYER: Father in heaven, thank you for revealing your infinite purpose to finite man. Help me to walk this day according to that purpose and give me wisdom to share it with others who as yet walk in darkness. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
“Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice.” Psalm 63:7
The mercy seat was covered with the wings of the cherubim. Underneath the mercy seat, inside the ark of the covenant itself, were the tablets of stone containing the law. Here was the story of God's treatment of man: first the law, which man had broken thus incurring the penalty of death, but over the law, and covering it—standing between the breaking of law and the wrath of God—was the mercy seat shadowed by the cherubim wings. The psalmist found refuge there on the mercy seat, “in the shadow of thy wings.”
Fleeing to God is almost always thought of with solemnity, a kind of sadness, as if a last resort. No wonder, for when we think of approaching God for mercy, we also must think of the accounting for our sins. Account to Him we must, but there is danger that the fear of such an accounting may keep one from approaching Him at all.
If in the presence of God we could do nothing but face the law, the commandment that says, “The wages of sin is death,” a fearful approach it would be, indeed. But there is the mercy seat, where the blood was shed for sin. Christ has already made the accounting for sin—“He who knew no sin was made to be sin on our behalf.” (II Corinthians 5:21). So we come to God, not to view the law, but the mercy seat, in the shadow of His wings. Hence there is rejoicing. Christ has met the penalty for sin! Is not this cause for rejoicing? Whatever the burden, the daily problem and the struggle of the moment, the supreme help has been given, and there is a place for rejoicing in the shadow of His wings.
PRAYER: Thank you, Father, for such boundless mercy and grace which frees me from the guilt and the penalty for my sin. Help me to live today, rejoicing underneath your wings of love. Through Jesus who died in my place. Amen.
“He humbled himself, becoming obedient even unto death.” Philippians 2:8
In a Christmas program which I had written, Christ was portrayed in silhouette, made by casting a light upon a boy or girl behind a sheet. When time came to choose the one to act as Christ many boys and girls were eager to try out, but most of them followed directions poorly; so eager were they to try their own ideas they could not follow the director’s orders. One little girl about 12 years of age was quiet and shy. I asked her to come to the stage and try for the part. She answered my request and quietly, as if she had rehearsed it before, followed each direction almost perfectly. By obeying my directions she was thus fulfilling the author’s intent. Needless to say, she got the part.
How like Christ—who surrendered his own will to the Father, fulfilling every command and desire perfectly so that God’s purpose was fulfilled in Christ’s earthly mission.
And this is our part, too, to obey the Director’s commands. As the author of the human drama, God knows exactly what He wants, and only as we obey His commands can we fulfill the divine design. Like the eager boys and girls who were too intent on their own starring roles to listen to direction, we often spoil God’s work by making our own head-strong desires the aim of our lives. Our greatest accomplishment is the bending of our wills to His, that we become pleasing to Him in everything. The result will be a perfect performance, because we have a perfect Director.
PRAYER: O loving Father, and Divine Creator, thank you for giving me a chance to have a part in the eternal scheme. Forgive me for stubborn self-will, and help me to become obedient to your direction in all of life. Amen.
“Tho He slay me . . . yet will I trust Him.” Job 13:15
Everything hinges on our faith. It will do Satan no good to afflict the body, to bring misery to the mind and keep the believer suspended in agony, if in the end his faith remains intact.
Job is our example. Every visible support was removed from him; his family, his sons, daughters, possessions and finally his health. Even his friends came to accuse him and torment him with the accusation that his sins had brought about his afflictions. But Job knew better. In his heart he knew that he had not been unfaithful to God, and that his afflictions could not be punishment for sins he had committed. Yet, only Job could know this. There was no way to prove it to his accusers. There was one thing he could do, and that was to give a steadfast testimony of his faith. “Tho he slay me, yet will I trust him.” Whatever God’s purpose in the bitter afflictions, Job knew that it was right and best. Even if it were against all reasonable understanding of men, still he would trust that God knew what He was about.
If Satan can separate us from God by raising doubts he has succeeded in his deadly ambition. “Without faith it is impossible to be well-pleasing unto Him.” When Satan fails to lure us into sin, he then tempts us to doubt and question the purposes of God, knowing that our hope of immortality depends upon our fully trusting Him and living by faith in Him. Thus, our relation with God is in faith, from beginning to end. It is begun by believing in Him for salvation, and is carried on by our trusting Him for daily bread and every good and perfect gift. Ultimately, we must trust Him to resurrect the dead and give each of us immortality. Hence, in all circumstance and at all times, the believer trusts that the purpose of God is being carried out in his life.
PRAYER: Wise and Gracious Father, forgive me for the moments of doubt, and the questions that arise in my heart. Fulfill your eternal purpose in my life, and help me to live each moment in complete faith and trust. In the name of Jesus, Amen.
“My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Matthew 27:46
Jesus was on the cross when He uttered this cry, a quotation from the 22nd Psalm. He was bearing our sin, dying in our stead. He was “made to be sin on our behalf” (II Cor. 5:21). Bearing our sin, He became the sinner, the guilty soul, and as such He underwent the extreme penalty for sin: destruction from the face of the Lord. Not only must He die man’s judgmental death, but he must also be cut off from God. Jesus knew this, but in His accepting our role, he was burdened with our distress and cried out as we would cry out, “Why?”
The dark night of sore temptation brings out the cry, “Why?” Why is it that when we trust Him with our lives, giving up all the world for His way, that He would abandon us? Just when we cut loose from all the supports which we had from the world, when we have burned our worldly bridges, venturing all on the way that is the way, why would He abandon us, He for whom we left all to follow? The truth is, He never abandons the Christian. The case with Jesus was a special case, for Christ was dying a special death. But God does not forsake the believer. He may allow us to suffer temptation that we may taste fully the power of faith, but He does not break the union. It is when I feel forsaken that I resort totally to faith, and faith is perfected in the crisis of solitude. God is nowhere manifest to my need, yet I know He is there working out His eternal plan in my life. Even the desperation of loneliness is part of that plan, that I might trust Him without any help for my trust!
No one but Jesus on the cross, or the sinner at Judgment, would ask “Why hast thou forsaken me?” To address such a question to God is self-contradictory, for to ask the question is evidence that He is listening on the other end. While Jesus underwent the terrible pain of being forsaken by God, He promised that He would never forsake the believer. “Lo, I am with thee always.”
PRAYER: Thank you Father for Jesus Who died for my sins, and for your constant care for my life. Help me to be aware of your presence every moment, and to fully trust your promises in all the dark moments of life as in the bright ones. Through Jesus. Amen.
“. . . know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God?” James 4:4
What a contrast is this statement with the general attitude of the world toward religion. The well-meaning worldling measures the success of a Christian by how well he gets along with the world! To be a good Christian means to be well received by those who reject Christ. In fact, we hear it said that the Christian faith is to recognize the “brotherhood” of man.
How hard it is to reject the world’s friendship! It appeals to us on every plain. It says, “How can you impress your faith upon the world until you prove yourself friendly?” It would convince us that we must gain the world’s friendship in order to tell the world that it is on the wrong track. It would make us think that if we want the gospel to be “relevant” to the world, then we must alter it to meet the world’s terms.But what it is really saying is that if we will give up the faith, then we will be like the world, and “the world would love its own”. (John 15:19). This we must firmly resist. Since God has been rejected from His world; since the world “lies in the evil one”; since God has promised to destroy the world with the ungodly (II Peter 3:7); and since this world stands condemned, we cannot become friends of the world without putting ourselves in the camp of God’s enemies. Think of it: an enemy of God! Can anything be more evil or more frightening? Better not to have one friend in the world, and be a friend of God’s than to be the most celebrated among men and be God’s enemy. Better to be labeled by every nation as undesirable and have a price on your head than to be classified as the least of God’s enemies. Of course there are always some Christians in the world, and they, too, stand aloof from the world. This is the requirement, that we discriminate, that we know the difference between friends in the world, and the friendship of the world.
PRAYER: Loving Father, I thank you for the friendship You have manifested through Your Son, Who layed down His life for His friends. Help me to walk in this world without being beguiled by its false offer of friendship, that I may be Your friend. In the name of Jesus, Amen.
“Apart from Me ye can do nothing.” John 15:5
A great deal is done “apart from” Jesus. Nations make decisions, battles are fought, laws are passed in the great legislative bodies of nations, and everywhere men are busy doing. Pick up any newspaper and a glance at the front page will show that tremendous things are being done by men of the world. But if Christ is not in it, it is nothing at all. Think how much nothing is being done these days! Compared to all the bustling activity of the world, the small band of Christians are hardly making any impact at all, so that the world may look on us and say, “Christianity is of no consequence; the great activity of our day has passed it by.” Christians are prone to look at the great activity of the world and feel that something must be wrong with Christian faith and with the church, for God’s work isn’t making near the fuss that the world is making. But they forget the fact that all the world’s activity is nothing; it is but to avail nothing, in the final day it will all be swept aside as if it had been straw in the wind. John the Baptist speaks of it all being cleansed away like the farmer would burn up the chaff that clutters his threshing floor. (Matthew 3:12).
When we view world history we are amazed at how little was accomplished by the vast efforts of the godless greats of the past. Compare the work of Nimrod with the work of Abraham. Nimrod’s was the life of great activity, the building of cities among which was the great city of Nineveh. Abraham’s was the quiet life of faith. He erected no buildings, received no homage and founded no cities. Yet it is Abraham who has left us with a rich heritage, so that he is called the “father of us all” by faith. Nimrod produced nothing that outlasted him except corruption. Abraham’s faith was in God and His promise, that He would send Jesus into the world. So Abraham’s work was done by faith in Jesus, where Nimrod's activities were carried on apart from Him, and therefore amount to nothing.God has a plan for the fulfillment of man’s life. It can be carried out only in Jesus, the One He sent to redeem men from sin. All else will vanish in the day of judgment, so that all that is done outside of that plan of His will amount to nothing. We need to check up and see what all we are doing that is “nothing”.
PRAYER: Loving Father, forgive my wasted work, my wasted energy and wasted time. Fill my mind with your purpose, and my hands with your work. Help me to walk humbly this day in Christ, that I may bear fruit. In His name, Amen.
“For judgment came I into this world, that they that see not may see; and that they that see may become blind.” John 9:39
Jesus had just healed the man “born blind”. Although the miracle was obvious to all, they would not accept it. The Jews put the man out of the synagogue, and even his own parents refused to acknowledge the reality of Christ’s miracle. They had become blind to the actual facts of the case because they did not want to admit Jesus as the Christ.
It is a rather hard saying, that Jesus came into the world that men may become blind! Yet, it is happening all the time. Either we must acknowledge the truth of Jesus, or we must shut our eyes and our minds to it. Paul, in writing of those deceived by Satan, states that they “perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God sendeth them a working of error, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be judged who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” (II Thess. 2:10-12). In a sense it is a terrible responsibility upon us, that we judge between truth and error. But when we look closer we see that the error is not sent because we do not understand truth in its fullness, but because men do not receive the “love of the truth”. The self-centreed, the self-righteous and presumptuous become blind when truth cuts across their path. They were not seeking truth in the first place. They had no love for it. Only the openhearted, the humble, the obedient, can see what Jesus brings to them. Our eyes are opened when we are willing to admit that we want to see but do not. The judgment is upon those who close their eyes rather than admit to the truth!
PRAYER: Thank you Father for revealing your marvelous truth to the world through the Gospel. Remove my blindness that I may be filled with your light. May every shadow of error be rooted from every nook and corner of my mind, that I may know your truth. Through the Lord Jesus, Amen.
“Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy.” Jude 1:24
Deep in the tropical jungle of Mexico we came to a foot bridge, used by the men who gathered coffee beans. It was swung by ropes across a deep gorge, and many of the planks were missing, leaving gaping holes through which one could plunge to the rocky depths below. As my younger daughter hesitated, I said, “Hold on to me, I’ll keep you from falling.” Of course it didn’t occur to me that she would doubt my word, nor did she doubt it.
The Bible portrays God as behaving in the same loving and realistic way toward his creation. He not only is able to keep us from falling, but if we cling to Him in faith, he WILL keep us from falling. The secret is in our holding to Him. I shudder to think of what might have happened had my daughter broken loose from my hold and run down the treacherous bridge alone. I would have been powerless to keep her from falling. God does not hold us against our wills. When we break from His fellowship and insist on going it alone, He allows us to do so, and it is at such times that we experience the bruises from falling. In such perilous times as the present we may look around and feel the terror of evil that surrounds us, and question whether or not we may be able to stand. Many become so frightened at the prospects of the future that they give up in despair. Indeed, were we to stand in our own strength we would do well to be frightened. But we are not on our own, but in the care of Him who is able to keep us from falling. His mighty power and all-sufficient grace can overcome our weaknesses and keep us from falling under the power of Satan.
PRAYER: Father, thank you for holding on to me when my grasp has been weak, for keeping me from falling and for undergirding me when the way is weary. Strengthen my trust and guide my way that I may finally come into your glorious presence. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
“. . . what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy living and godliness.” II Peter 3:11
“The good life” that is suggested to us through modern advertising is made up of the latest luxuries, the things that money buys to make us comfortable, and in brief, the things that satisfy the “lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the vainglory of life”. It is hard for many people to imagine a life without at least some of the things that satiate their jaded appetites. But what Peter tells us is that all these things are to be dissolved, and then life must be measured for what it is, and not for its environment and accoutrements. When the things have gone, then it is one’s own being that is measured, whether he is holy or unholy, whether he is godly or ungodly.
The essence of God is holiness. He has said, “Ye shall be holy: for I the Lord your God am holy”. (Leviticus 19:2). When he created man, he created him holy, because he created him in His own image. When man sinned he lost this holiness, marred the image and became fit only for ultimate death, for he ceased to be that which God had created him to be. Through substitutionary death, the animals at first, in anticipation of Jesus’ death, and finally the death of the Redeemer Himself, the sin is removed, and man is able once again to appear holy before God. “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation . . .” (I Peter 2:10). Hence the purpose of God is eternal: the man in His holy image, which he proposed in the beginning, is the man that He is to have in eternity. It follows, that this is the kind of man He wants even now. It is strange that so many recognize that holiness and godliness is the goal of eternity but look upon the present as a period excluded from God’s purpose, a time where anything goes. The mind and desire of the Creator has not changed. The person God wants for His new creation in eternity, is the kind He wants now and the kind Jesus will look for when He returns. The truly “good life” is one that, when all things are removed, reflects the image of the Father, “in all holy living and godliness.”
PRAYER: Father, I thank you for daily provision, and for the many material blessings that are mine, but help me not to set my heart on any of them, but to concentrate on making my life holy and godly. Through Jesus my Saviour, Amen.
“. . . What manner of persons ought ye to be. . .” II Peter 3:11
It is our being that counts. Before God ever created the first man from the raw dust of the ground and before He ever breathed into him the breath of life, God had already created heavens and an earth and filled this creation with birds and beasts and all manner of living and growing things. God did not need man to “do” things, for He was able to do any or all of it by a word. But when He created man he said, “Let us make man in our own image.” It was what man was intended to be that stands forth from the divine record.
Of course one cannot separate being from doing. I cannot buy the idea of those today who sloganize their religion with such gems as “It is not what you do, but what you are”, and “It is not what you believe, but Who you believe”. Because what one does is the reflection of what he is, unless he is a hypocrite. The person who loves to do evil is evil. And what one believes counts just as much as who he believes, because if he believes on Christ he must believe what Christ teaches. It is the believing that makes him what he is, and the being that causes him to do what he does!
When all else is dissolved, then there will stand man, before God. I imagine the judgment as one’s being forced to face God in his true state; he cannot rely upon his fashionable dress to give him a good appearance; he cannot lean upon his financial worth, it has all been dissolved; he cannot point to the neighborhood in which he lived, his gardens, his medals or awards. Most of us have stored away in some safe place—in the closet, the safety deposit box, the trunk in the attic—the records of past achievements. But in that day, they will have already disappeared. Then there will be one thing that will shine forth before the eyes of the living God, the manner of person that we are!
Think of it! When there is absolutely nothing else that can be claimed by us but just our own being, “what manner of person ought ye to be”!
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, open my eyes that I may see myself as I am seen by you, and then give me the strength of will to make my manner of life pleasing in your sight. Amen.
“Seeing that these things are thus all to be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy living and godliness.” II Peter 3:11
American missionaries in Africa were building their mission station and homes out of stone and brick in contrast to the flimsy native huts of poles and jungle leaves. The Africans remarked, “These foreigners build their houses as if they thought they would live in them forever.” We have a tendency to look on material things as if they were of a permanent nature. But Peter writes explicitly that the day will come when “the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall be dissolved with fervent heat, and the earth and the works that are therein shall be burned up.” (II Peter3:10). The fire of destruction will be total. The greek words used here for elements and dissolved indicate the kind of disintegration resulting from nuclear fission, a total dissolution of the very material elements. That car which we chose so painstakingly, and which in many families is a symbol of status, will totally disappear. The house which we now call home, which has all the appearances of something comparatively permanent, and which gives us that feeling of security—suddenly erased! All the things upon which we lay our hands and say, “This is mine”; from the business firm that may wear our name, to the clothes in the closet upon which we cast our eye and measure as to whether or not they are in accord with the world’s latest fashion; “seeing that these things are thus all to be dissolved. . . .” However sharply the thought contradicts the world view, in spite of how the idea may be shoved far into the background of current thought, there it stands, like a great flashing red light in the middle of the highway, to bring us up to a jarring halt. These things, all these things, they are to be dissolved! How, then, dare we give such preeminence to them that they should rob us of time for prayer and study of the eternal truth of God? How did they—these things that are to disappear—ever gain such a grip upon us to enslave us and bend us and twist us around them so that life becomes motivated and captivated and governed by them? They are only things soon to be dissolved; things given for our temporary use: things that are valuable for fleeting moments, but valuable only for a means to an end, for they cannot be an end in themselves; seeing they are to be dissolved! Put them in their place. When being seen, let them be seen as things to be dissolved. Only then can we see that which is to endure.
PRAYER: Loving Father, give me understanding to see that which is valuable for your eternal purpose. Whatever things that may come between me and that purpose, take from me now, that I may do your will. Through Jesus my Lord. Amen.
“Be he that does the truth cometh to the light, that his works may be made manifest, that they have been wrought in God.” John 3:21
When I was a small boy fruit of any kind was a rare luxury, so when there was a supply of it at our house it had to be rationed out one or two pieces a day, else we children would gobble it up the first day or two. Such was the case when my father brought home a box of delicious apples. After I had eaten my share and received orders not to take any more, I managed to sneak one more outside, but had the misfortune—so it seemed to me—to let it slip out of my hands and roll right to the feet of my father. I was told to put it back, and await my punishment. How I dreaded to go in to face my mother, and how painful the prospect of facing my father whom I had disobeyed. Had it been possible I would have made myself invisible, or hidden from his face, not because he was bad, but because I was.
It is obvious that the world is seeking to hide from God. He is ruled out of the class room, and almost never mentioned by the press. The church is frequented less by the populace and men of office and influence grow more reluctant daily to call Him to witness public affairs. Why? John gives the answer: “everyone that doeth evil hateth the light and cometh not to the light lest his works should be reproved.” Could this also be the reason we often hesitate to read the Bible? Is this the reason it seems so much easier to pick up the newspaper or to turn on the TV? Is there a hesitation on our part to expose ourselves to the penetrating light of God’s truth? Here is a test. Do we run to the Word, anxious to test our deeds by its divine standard? If not, we should examine our deeds, and correct them until they can stand the light.
PRAYER: Thank you, Lord, for the wonderful light of truth. Open my eyes to my own sins, and help me to walk in the light of thy word. Reprove me, and cleanse me, that I too may be light in the world of darkness. Through Jesus, Amen.
“Thou art good, and doest good: teach me thy statutes.” Psalm 119:68
The first step to obedience is faith and the first step in faith is to recognize that God is good. A young man came to Jesus one day and addressed him as “Good Teacher”. Jesus said to him, “Why callest thou me good? None is good save one, even God”. He then told the young man that he should sell his goods and give the money to the poor, and be a follower of Jesus. But the rich young man refused the commandment. Had he actually recognized Jesus as good, as absolutely good, he would have gladly obeyed him, knowing that the One who is perfect Good would not command anything that is not good. This is why Jesus rebuked him for calling him good when he was not willing to recognize the goodness of his command. (Mark 10:17-22).
On the face of it it doesn’t sound like good advice, for one to sell and give away everything. Often it doesn’t seem good judgment to turn the other cheek, or to go the second mile. Many think that the command to be baptized is not a “good” command so they provide substitutes. The command to maintain absolute chastity and sex purity is severely criticized by many psychiatrists and psychologists, and even some so-called theologians. But at the root of all our questioning of God’s commands is the failure to believe in His absolute goodness. Not only is He good, but all that He does is good, therefore, his commandments (statutes) are good. If there is anything we need to know that will make us good, it is the statutes of God. We should read the Bible enough that we know all His statutes, and not only know them by memory, but know them by practicing them. It is then that we “taste of the good word of God”. (Heb. 6:5).
PRAYER: Righteous Father, teach me your commandments, and give me the heart and will to walk in them, for I know that they are good. Through Jesus, my Saviour. Amen.
“For the prince of the world cometh: and he hath nothing in me.” John 14:30
Satan could find no way to break through the breast-plate of righteousness of Jesus. His answer to each temptation was an absolute, NO.
This is where we so often differ from our Lord. We weigh the temptation. We consider whether it might have some beneficial properties after all. We bring it under discussion and attempt to negotiate a settlement. But it is an axiom well established by experience and logic that when one attempts to negotiate with evil, all the benefits accrue to the other side. To even pause for a moment to consider whether or not Satan may have a good point is in itself a momentary defection from the truth of God. It gives the devil a dignity to which he has no right. When he tempted Jesus to end his fast by a miracle of turning stones to bread, there was the hint of a noble gesture: after all Jesus needed food, and as Creator, would it not be to his own glory to create the food by a miracle in answer to Satan? But he refused to consider Satan’s suggestion for a moment. When offered the world’s kingdoms Jesus spent no time in debating the question. Actually Satan is called the god of this world and therefore, in a sense, might make a claim to worship. (We cannot deny that the majority worship him as such.) But he had nothing in Christ. Jesus was tempted to create a spectacle by jumping off the temple tower. We can well imagine many today who would argue that the publicity from such a stunt would give God glory. But Christ turned the idea down flat. In every temptation Jesus refused to bargain or even discuss issues with Satan. Satan has no part in the Kingdom and purpose of God, hence there is nothing he can offer that helps to fulfill that purpose. He is to be resisted always and at every encounter.
The Christian has a King who supplies every need. We abide in Him, and He in us. All of life is from Him, and unto Him, for we are to fulfill His purpose, even as He fulfills ours. We have nothing in Satan, and he has nothing in us.
PRAYER: Father, deliver me from the deception and temptation of Satan. Give me the answer to His lying arguments, and fill my will with determination like steel, that I may resist his craftiness. Through Jesus my conqueror. Amen.
“Ask whatsoever ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” John 15:7
A friend asked me, “Does this really mean everything?” I replied that she needed to look again. The verse says, “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatsoever you will and it shall be done unto you.” It is a big if. Not only must one abide in Christ, but His words must abide in the believer before he can claim this great promise. If one should examine all the requests that have been denied him he might find that either he was not fully abiding in Christ, or he failed to understand fully the words of Christ. We may safely take the promise at face value, which would mean that if one was perfectly abiding in Christ and if Christ’s words were perfectly abiding in the believer, his requests would be granted. James explains it. (James 4:3.) He plainly tells us that we do not receive because we “ask amiss”. Now why would one ask amiss? Obviously because there is something wrong with the relationship with Jesus and/or something lacking in his understanding of the word.
The reason God would answer prayer in the first place is in order to fulfill His eternal purpose; to make us into His image. We could hardly expect Him to do anything for us that would hinder this purpose, and result in our being less like Him. Therefore, in order to ask for those things that are fitting to His purpose, we must not only live in close communion with Christ, but we must allow His word to take root in our minds, to permeate our thinking and influence all our desires. Then, and only then, can we pray as we ought, so that the answer to our prayers will fulfill not only our wills, but the will of our Creator.
PRAYER: Dear God help me to continually abide in you. Hold me fast, that I may not slip away from your presence for a moment, and give me power to concentrate upon your word, until it becomes a part of my very being. In the name of Jesus, Amen.
“And Abraham said, God will provide himself the lamb for a burnt-offering, my son; so they went both of them together.” Genesis 22:8
Isaac said, “Behold, the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt-offering?” He knew the purpose of this trip to the mountains; to worship God with a burnt-offering. But he did not know that he was the one chosen as the victim. How could Abraham tell him? Who can fathom the burden of his heart as he watched his son shoulder the wood and start the climb to where he was to be sacrificed? This final question must have been like a poison dagger thrust into his heart.
His answer is not evasive, but typical of the man of faith. “God will provide himself the lamb for a burnt-offering, my son.” As yet Abraham could not know that a substitute would be provided in the form of a ram, caught in a thicket. He only knew that when God commanded something to be done, God would see that provisions were there for his command to be carried out. His faith was vindicated, of course, for God did provide.
Does God provide in the same way today? Without hesitation we may answer Yes! He provides for all those who lay their lives before him in faith, as Abraham did. If we would have His provision then there are two things we must do. (1) We must obey him, as Abraham obeyed. Abraham did not first seek a substitute, but first sought to offer his son as God commanded. He did not rationalize that the command was so severe that God couldn’t mean it. First we must seek His kingdom and His righteousness, which means to obey all He commands, then he will provide the needs. (2) We must depend upon Him. If we first secure ourselves from all possible needs, then say “we will now trust God”, our so-called trust is empty, for we have first buffeted ourselves against need, as if God couldn’t provide. It was as Abraham walked straight in the direction of the place where he was to slay Isaac, in complete obedience, and with no help from the world about him, that he said, “God will provide”. Not only did he obey God’s seemingly contradictory command, but he did so while depending upon God to provide the solution to the dilemma. God makes complete provision when we have total faith.
PRAYER: Loving Father, thank you for providing all the things necessary for my development as your child, even those things which were hard to bear, for they taught me to depend upon you. Give me courage to put my whole life at your disposal, and to always say, “God will provide”. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
“And take the . . . sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Ephesians 6:17
During some of the big city riots soldiers were sent in to quell the rioters but were denied live ammunition in their guns. Many citizens were incensed over the fact that these men were exposed to rebels and criminals without the means of defending themselves. In China the Nationalist army was unable to defend the country against the Communists, because the ammunition for their weapons, which was manufactured in the United States, was denied them. In this manner a whole nation was surrendered to the enemy because their weapons were useless.
God has given the Christian a powerful weapon against Satan. The “word of God” is the sword of the Spirit, and it is supplied to everyone for his use in the warfare against Satan. It is the only weapon we have. Peter was told to sheath his sword, but later he was to take up the word and with it bring multitudes to the feet of Jesus. The apostle Paul gave up his worldly prestige, his position, his power as a religious leader, his friends and even his freedom, and with only the word of God’s truth faced his enemies and “fought the good fight” with the sword of the Spirit. How foolish he must have appeared before the king and his court, chained and surrounded by soldiers. But when the words poured from his mouth, it was King Agrippa who looked foolish, for the arms of the King could not compare with the sword of the Lord, the truth.
Christians become indignant over soldiers being deprived of their arms, but these same Christians are often guilty of entering the battle without a weapon. They fail to learn the word, to understand it, and when confronted with the deceptions of Satan they stand helpless and foolish with their mouths open, and no ammunition. Since God has given us only one weapon, it is imperative that we take it and learn to use it. Not just the paper and ink of the Bible, safely tucked under an arm, but its message, living and working in our minds, that we may be ready at any moment to call it to memory and boldly use it in “bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ”. (II Cor. 10:6). The way we fare in the battle which is raging about us in the world, may depend upon whether or not we are armed with the sword God provides.
PRAYER: Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the truth that shows me the way. Give me understanding of your word, that I may be thoroughly equipped as a good soldier, and grant me the boldness to speak this word freely. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
“Set your hope perfectly on the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ . . . ” I Peter 1:13
The inexorable day of Judgment draws closer each hour. As a year ends it serves to remind us that time will end, and the world will end in a blazing inferno. “Rebels and sinners shall be destroyed together, and those who forsake the Lord shall be consumed . . . Both of them shall burn together, with none to quench them.” (Isaiah 1:28, 31). Christ came to baptize not only with the Spirit, but with fire. “Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner: but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire”. (Matthew 3:12).
But the marking of time also serves the Christian as a reminder of the victory and the glory that will soon be his. The objective of all our efforts is the resurrection to immortality for life in a new earth under the Kingship of Christ and in the presence of God the Father. Bringing man to this goal is the eternal purpose of God, that which He planned “before the foundation of the world”. It is the hope of all who ever lived and put their faith in God. It is the ultimate aim of all Scripture, all gospel preaching, and all true Christian commitment and service. It is the destiny which furnishes every believer with sufficient motive for every good work. If the Christian is concerned with God’s purpose he needs no one to bribe or beg him to attend church or pray or read the Bible or forsake worldliness. He is willing to give up all else to gain Christ and “the power of His Resurrection.” Each one who aims at this hope “purifies himself as He is pure”. All of life converges in this one purpose: to gain endless, deathless, immortal life in the image of God!
Therefore, Peter says, “Set your hope perfectly” on the goal. Let all of life be dominated by this anticipation. “Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are on the earth . . . When Christ, who is our life, shall be manifested, then shall ye also with Him be manifested in glory”. (Col. 3:2, 4). “Look up, and lift up your heads; because your redemption draweth nigh.” (Luke 21:28). “For now is salvation nearer to us than when we first believed.” (Rom. 13:11). Set your hope on God’s purpose, and commit yourself to the LIFE He is willing to give.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, I thank You for the grace that has brought me to this hour and the hope of eternal life through Jesus my Lord. Hasten the day of His return, and uphold me that I may be faithful until then. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.
“No man can come to me, except the Father that sent me draw him: and I will raise him up in the last day.” John 6:44
Jesus explained the meaning of this in the next verse, “It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught of God. Every one that hath heard from the Father, and hath learned, cometh unto me’.” It is by our learning from the Father that draws us to Jesus. Such learning is available to all men, for God is no respecter of persons. His power and provision are abundantly evident in every facet of life, so that one who is willing to learn, soon hungers and thirsts for more of God’s teaching, and according to His promise, He gives them opportunity. There is no one, no not even in the remote jungle of an undiscovered island, who desires to know Him but that He will give them access to the truth of Christ. And with each additional revelation of His truth, He is drawing that person to the point where he may come to Christ, and if he comes to Christ, He will raise him up in the last day.
Think of it! Among the millions of God’s creatures at this hour, God is busy drawing men to Christ—here one, there another—through all that is revealed either in creation, or in the written word of truth. So perfect and harmonious is the entire working of God that not one soul receives the hope of resurrection unless God has drawn him to it, and yet not one receives it except through Christ. It is even more startling to consider all the drawing power of God that is never heeded by unthinking men, who in spite of it all refuse to hear, to learn and to come to Christ. And even Christians fail to recognize all the power of God that is lavished upon us to bring us to the image of God.
PRAYER: Thank you, Father, for the many manifestations of your Being and your love and your plan. Open my eyes to see all the way you mark for me, that I may hear, learn and be drawn closer. Amen.
“It pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He hath put Him to grief.” Isaiah 53:10
In the midst of our suffering we cry out to question why God allows it; indeed, why there should be suffering at all if God is all powerful. But what the servants of God suffer is not due to any lack of power of God nor to any lack of concern for His own. Jesus, although He was a Son, learned obedience through the things that He suffered (Hebrews 5:8). His suffering was a part of the plan that not only He should be the perfect Son of God, but that through His death He should rescue all believers from death.
It was the fulfillment of the eternal plan of God that “pleased the Lord”, and the suffering was essential to the plan. Suffering, on our part, is not merely a by-product of the evil in the world which rubs against Christians, but is an essential ingredient in the recipe for our ultimate being. Hence our suffering is no indication that God has deserted us, nor that our prayers get no higher than the ceiling. When the suffering brings about our obedience, our repentance, our cleansing and our turning to God in sheer faith, it must be pleasing to the Lord to witness this transformation, and it should likewise please us that we have been counted worthy to suffer under His inexorable care and according to His eternal plan.
It is characteristic of the faithful servants of God that they should be savagely mistreated by the world and endure bitter sufferings during their journey through it. If it pleases the Lord to fulfill His purpose in this manner, it must be the way He designed, and therefore it should please us also.
PRAYER: Thank you, Father, that you love me enough to mold me and teach me through suffering. Give me wisdom, that I too may learn obedience, and fulfill your purpose in my life, by Thy grace, in the name of Jesus. Amen.
“And let us not be weary in well-doing.” Galatians 6:9
It would be easy to give up. What’s the use? It all seems so futile. The world hurls on down the broad way to destruction, hardly noticing the “well-doing” of those who walk the narrow way of life. The way becomes weary. At such times we would like to get away from it all; to find some quiet nook, some hidden valley of peace, and stop doing at all for a while.
But the man who wrote these words was not having an easy time. The apostle Paul was persecuted and isolated, bitterly hated by some and laughed at by others. In the middle of his difficulties he wrote, “Be not weary in well-doing.” He had good reason not to give up from weariness: “for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” Well-doing is the purpose for which God has left us in the world. Life is meant for sowing. To become weary of well-doing is to grow weary of God's purpose and give it up before it is accomplished. One must sow before he reaps, and the sowing is often accompanied with the greatest difficulties. The harvest may yet be a long way off, but we know that it is coming “in due season”. No farmer ever sowed his field with as much assurance of a harvest as the Christian has assurance of the ultimate coming of Christ with the angels of His power, to gather the elect from over the world to receive their reward. Indeed, we shall reap. But the present order of the day is “well-doing”. The best guarantee against weariness is to know that work is the fulfillment of God’s purpose and is therefore sowing for the ultimate harvest.
PRAYER: Teach me, Father, to serve and work with no thought of reward but the fact that it is pleasing to Thee. Amen.
“I and the lad . . . will come again unto you.” Genesis 22:5
It was Abraham, a righteous man, who had been ordered by God to sacrifice his own son, and offer him as a burnt offering. He was obeying that inhuman command, in spite of the fact that it was against all that he had been taught by God and opposed to all that is considered right by man. How could he take the life of his own son? Even if commanded by God, how could he murder his son, that son who was the promise of God and the hope of salvation? We think of Abraham’s faith as something granted to him supernaturally by God. Yet it is a faith which we are to imitate.
Abraham’s faith was possible because he believed all that God had spoken. It was not a “blind faith”, merely a confidence that somehow, some way, things would turn out all right. It was faith in the ultimate promise and purpose of God, the same faith that carried Jesus with joy to the cross: faith in the resurrection. At the foothills, with the grim mountain of sacrifice in view, Abraham instructed the servants to wait, along with the beasts of burden. With Isaac loaded with wood, symbolic of the cross Jesus was to bear, Abraham said, “I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.” The Hebrew letter explains that it was because he believed that God could raise Isaac from the dead (Heb. 11:17, 19) that he went off to slay him, yet saying they would both return. It was not a “spiritual immortality” he was thinking of. Here was the one through whom the Christ should be born, a young lad, yet to be slain on the altar of sacrifice. Abraham believed that God would keep the promise, even if it necessitated a miracle of resurrection! Indeed, God does just that—fulfills His promises by miraculous ways.
This is the secret of believing God: to believe that God’s promises are always true, under every circumstance. Even when seemingly impossible and contradictory, they cannot cancel each other out. The commands of God often appear to be detrimental to our immediate needs, so that we are tempted to rationalize them away, justifying the means because of the end. But such is not faith at all. To believe God is to believe Him all the way, even to death, for He is able to raise the dead!
PRAYER: Loving Father, increase my faith, that I might be totally obedient to your every command. Keep Thy eternal purpose ever before my eyes, that all my actions may focus in that aim. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you, not as the world giveth give I unto you.” John 14:27
It is the Lord’s desire that we have peace and His promise that He will give it. Not only has he stated this intent, but He demonstrated it as he lived among men in a world that was filled with violence and anxiety. In our kind of world can we have this peace? Yes, if only we learn what peace is and from where it comes.
Peace does not mean that lethargy of spirit produced by an attitude of indifference to all about us. We are not to be like the lazy sloth idling away his time in a rocking chair. Nor is it produced by the attitude of the “hail fellow well-met” who simply avoids conflict with sin and sinners. It is a peace with God, an inward peace in one’s own mind, produced by the assurance of who one is, where he is going and how he is to get there. Not to know if one is forgiven of sin is anxiety. To have no knowledge of one’s destiny is fear and confusion. Jesus gives the answer to these questions. Sin is eradicated through His death, for He met the total penalty of sin by dying in our stead. The destiny is life in the new creation, and it is assured by God’s word and power.
Thus peace is given by Jesus, not as something He doles out segment by segment from day to day, but in the perfect assurance of our destiny before God. The world’s philosophies, pleasures and riches offer no such assurance. It is when we believe Jesus, and trust our lives to Him, that we have complete peace.
PRAYER: Thank you, Father, for giving peace in tho midst of the world’s tumult. Guard me from Satan’s dazzling promises and keep my mind fixed on the eternal goal, that this temporal world may not unsettle me. Through Jesus my Lord. Amen.
“And we know that to them that love God all things work together for good, even to them that are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28
This morning I found a butterfly trapped between two panes of glass. Where the lower window had been raised a cage had been formed between the two parallel panes of glass and the butterfly was trying desperately to escape, but, of course, the more he flayed his wings against the glass the more he hurt himself. As I sought to release him I imagined how terrified he must be, thinking that my interference indicated some greater calamity than his imprisonment. The more I tried to shoo him from the window ledge into the lower portion, where the window was open, the more frightened he became, until the opening was discovered and he flew out to freedom.
At the first evidence of “trouble” we rush to the conclusion that things are going bad. When our plans are upset we fight back. But often God is only trying to release us from the trap we have made for ourselves, that we might fulfill His great plan. His interference frightens us, as did my interference with the butterfly, and we only impede God’s progress—and our own—by struggling to force our own way. We are called according to His purpose, and as long as we love Him and earnestly desire His way, all things will work together for our ultimate good. If I were concerned with a butterfly, how much more is God concerned with each of His children, who shalt inherit the world!
PRAYER: Loving Father, forgive my stubborn resistance to Thy firm hand in the affairs of my life. Shut every door against my entering in to sin, and abolish everything I value that is displeasing to Thee. May my only path be the one where I may be led to Thee. In the name of Jesus, my Savior. Amen.
“Who hath blessed us with every spiritual blessing. . . .” Ephesians 1:3
Under pressure from the world we often pray for spiritual blessings, for we need help. But the scripture tells us that blessings are already ours: “Hath blessed”. (1) The first and greatest blessing is forgiveness, for if one is burdened with sin he is not only miserable in this life, but doomed to destruction at judgment. But Christ has already died for sins, so that if we have obeyed the Gospel we are already forgiven. “If we confess our sins he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:9). (2) Being forgiven of sin, we are adopted into the family of God, and have the blessings of Sonship. Now we can pray, “Our Father”, and know that He will treat us as sons and not as strangers. This means that God is careful to provide our needs and will discipline us to see that we grow up as His children. (3) We have the presence of the Holy Spirit, “which is an earnest of our inheritance . . .” (Eph. 1:14). Already the Spirit of God abides with us, a guarantee of the fact that we will eventually be totally redeemed, bodily and spiritually, as immortal persons for God’s eternal fellowship.
The blessings are already ours, if we but claim them, walk in them, and allow them to dominate our lives. Living in this land of the enemy we are too prone to measure our lot by that of those who have no hope. Yet, we are the blessed. It is only up to us to recognize and claim our blessings.
PRAYER: Thank you, Father, for every spiritual blessing. Open my eyes to see such blessings, that I might be strong to live as You desire, and to bring glory to Your name. Through Jesus my Lord. Amen.
“For we are His workmanship . . .” Ephesians 2:10
Someone says, “Let go, and let God”. That is, just let God take over and handle your life. It sounds very simple, very easy. To be rid of the old sin, to be free from every evil thought, every lust, every sickening little greedy element and mean thing in life; what could be simpler and greater? We are glad to have God take over, to work over our lives, to make them after His own design. But when the process begins, and the word of God is taken into our system, it begins to reveal things we didn’t know were there. We discover that before Christ can use us, before our lives can be run under His management, He wants to completely remodel them. He would tear out a partition here and a door there. Down comes the wall behind which we have secreted some life-long sin. He rips up the floor where we have buried some rotten thought. He blocks up a window through which we viewed and coveted some of Satan’s attractive temptations. Out goes the furniture which we acquired when our tastes were fashioned after the world. The more we learn of the Word, the more that penetrating light reveals sin. Instead of smug security and relief, one cries out as Isaiah did, “Woe is me, for I am undone.” The remodeling job is painful, like surgery without an anesthetic. If the believer is not in dead earnest about the whole thing he will shun the Word, turn off the light, hasten back to the old comfortable home he knew. But if he really is committed to LIFE in the New Creation, he will accept the decision of the Master Workman, the Lord Jesus, and will cooperate fully with Him. He will seek the light more and more, even though its blinding rays may be painful to his sin-conditioned eyes. “But he that doeth the truth cometh to the light, that his works may be made manifest, that they have been wrought in God.” (John 3:21).
Therefore the conflict we suffer is not an indication of failure nor cause for anxiety. It is evidence that the work of the Creator is going on, that we are part of it, and that it is nearer to completion each day. “For we are His workmanship.”
PRAYER: O God, take my life and make it after Your likeness. Break down the stubborn barriers of self-will, that Your word may have free course in me. I pray in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
“If any man is in Christ, he is a new creature.” II Corinthians 5:17
All the warfare and conflict that rages in the world is due to its sinful and dying condition, the fact that it is doomed to destruction. John wrote that “The whole world lieth in the evil one”, and that it will ultimately pass away. But in contrast to this God has revealed His plan for a “new heaven and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness.” (II Pet. 3:13). The Christian is one who has broken out of the grasp of the evil one who runs the present establishment. The old life of sin is renounced, the lordship of Satan is repudiated and the believer subjects himself to the true Lord of the universe and begins a new life. Sick of the shambles that Satan has made of the world, the Christian is one who PUTS HIMSELF UNDER A NEW MANAGEMENT. We Christians might even be called “invaders”, in a sense, for we are citizens of a new earth, a Kingdom not of this world. This explains the fierce opposition of Satan and all those who—however sophisticated—support and worship him. With desperate tenacity he tries to hold on to his victims. But each sin is torn away, sometimes not without a bit of tearing of the believer himself. Dying to sin is not easy. Nor is it done over night. One keeps discovering pet sins here and there, cringing in some hidden corner, begging to be left in their old home. One’s life is touched on many points by many people and the complicated roots are hard to untangle. The answers are not always ready at hand, so the transition from Satan’s world to the Kingdom of Christ becomes a hard fought campaign.
But the new has begun. The person who really wants to live in the new creation God offers is one who wants righteousness, who wants the managership, the absolute Lordship, of Jesus. He wants the new life, even if it means crucifying the old. Who manages your life? Are you “run” by the trends, pressures and appeals of this world, or do you yield to Christ as Lord? He will make you a new creature fit for a new creation.
PRAYER: Father, enlighten me that I may see the hidden sins that still lodge in my life. Help me follow Christ that I may be ready when He comes again. In His name I pray. Amen.
“Every branch that beareth fruit, he cleanseth it, that it may bear more fruit.” John 15:2
God’s cleansing sometimes can be rough. It is like the pruning of a tree where a branch has been allowed to grow to enormous size where no branch should be at all. Such a defect in our lives cannot be overlooked, if we are to bear good fruit for God. It will not suffice for us to cover it up, to hide it, to camouflage it. It requires drastic surgery; the whole branch must go. I have often thought that God was inflicting punishment when He was actually only cleansing me of a fruitless branch, one that to me seemed necessary and even beautiful, but which turned out to be only dead timber.
When God’s pruning starts, it may seem to the inexperienced that He is going to ruin the tree entirely; cutting off all those attractive limbs. It will make the tree look thin and disproportionate. Hence many a Christian makes the mistake of turning his back on the Cleanser. He prefers the tree as it is. He goes on through life with lots of branches, beautiful in his own eyes, but disgusting to the eyes of the beholder and useless to God. He has forgotten that his purpose is to bear fruit for God, not to allow his foliage to serve as mere decoration. The fruitful servants of God are usually those who have endured the most severe pruning, and hence the least attractive to the world. What God wants is fruit, not leaves nor mere ornaments. The cleansing may be severe, but there is great joy in knowing that it is God who executes it, and that He does so in order to make us more able to fulfill His eternal purpose. It is the neglected tree that gets no pruning, and bears no fruit.
PRAYER: O Father, cleanse me from every dead and foul thing in my life. May I not harbor anything that is not good and right in your sight. Cleanse me from every sin, and make me fruitful for Your purpose. In Jesus’ name, Amen.