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“What must I do to be saved?” Acts 16:30
The strange phenomenon in our day is that preachers are busy debating over the answer to this question before anyone asks it; for it is becoming increasingly harder for anyone to ask, “What must I do to be saved?” It has never been easy to convict man of his lost and hopeless condition, but now the difficulty is compounded by his insistence on thinking collectively. His guilt is put off on society, and consequently the solution also is left to society. The I is left out of it. The individual is absorbed in the crowd. But this not only relieves him of the burden of an isolated decision, it also robs him of the personal joy of salvation. For God saves man individually. If a man does not see himself as the one needing salvation, neither can he be himself the one saved.
When Jesus returns, He will give immortality to His own and remove them from the scene of destruction which is due the rest. One will be taken and one left. In that hour nothing will matter but the individual. You will not have your gaze fixed upon the trend or the fashion or the latest Gallup poll. You will see only One and feel only His eyes upon you.
What God demands is that we ask the question. Not as a piece of conversation nor for the purpose of debate, but out of a sincere heart which at last comes to grips with its own private condition. I am the one. Whether others live or die, my condition remains my own. Something must be done and I must stand alone to decide. Here, dear Reader, is the beginning of faith. For there is no such thing as faith until one cuts himself off from every other source of support, isolates himself from all others, even from those of his own flesh, and steps off the deep end with only God to catch him. He then asks, “What must I do to be saved?” He asks not, “What will You do with others?” or “What will the majority do?” Answers to these questions will not help him. He doesn’t speculate with his own life. Have you considered your own self, as the one who must do something to be saved? Have you asked the Creator, the Saviour? Have you sincerely asked what you, the only you in all the world, must do? Ask, and you shall receive. But the question must be yours. God knows whether or not you really want the answer!
PRAYER: Loving Father, thank You for making salvation personal, so that I can be saved through Christ. Grant that I may be the person You want me to be, now and forever. I pray in the name of Jesus my Lord. Amen.
“Strive to enter in by the narrow door.” Luke 13:24
Why by the narrow door? Why should we crowd in at the narrow door when there are so many other ways? That’s just it: there is only one door to salvation and it is narrow. There are other doors, beautiful doors, wide doors, doors of easy access, which require hardly any effort at all. But it is the narrow door that opens to eternal life.
“One said unto him, Lord, are they few that are saved?” Jesus gives no answer as to the number. He will not have anyone figuring his chances for eternal life on a percentage basis. He simply answers, “Strive to enter in by the narrow door: for many, I say unto you, shall seek to enter in, and shall not be able.” Whether there are many or few, for each one the door is narrow. What is Jesus teaching us but that we cannot judge the way by the numbers that follow it? What if the trend in your church is in a certain direction? Do not think that it is safe to follow that trend simply because the majority have fallen into step with it. Perhaps they have found a broader door! It is always easier to follow the crowd. Doors are widened for larger numbers. Doctrines are softened; stern commands are rounded off; conflict with the world is stalemated; for the crowd does not relish striving. Make the door wider and the striving ceases. But Jesus speaks of only one door, a narrow door which is entered only by making a great effort.
It is not hard to join a church. With very little effort one can hear preaching, and give consent to the general purpose of Christianity. But to enter into the door is something else. It is a lifetime pursuit. In a thousand ways one can live out his days and at judgment be cast into the lake of fire. All roads lead to eternal destruction, but one, and it is the straight road, which means difficult, and it is entered by a narrow door. We do not enter it in groups, nor arm in arm, nor laden with the world’s valuables. We enter it alone, stripped, repentant and in humility. Are there many? Who knows? The question is: Are you striving to enter? When Jesus appears, will you be ready to enter into Life Eternal?
PRAYER: Father, show me what must yet be laid aside for the sake of the Kingdom, that I may not be hindered in the faith. Give me courage to strive faithfully against sin and Satan, for the glory of Jesus, in whose name I pray. Amen.
“I go to prepare a place for you.” John 14:2
Many are the promises Jesus made that dark night of His betrayal, and they serve to help us better understand our place in the world now and our hope for the world to come. “In my Father’s house," He said, “are many mansions; if it were not so I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.” The many mansions do not refer to palaces. The word means abiding-places, and Jesus has gone to prepare a place for each Christian. We are not to think that He is somewhere with a carpenter’s hammer building homes!
Jesus was about to fulfill His purpose on earth: to assume man’s sin, then die in man’s place to meet the just penalty for sin for all believers. In doing so He removed the second death, and made it possible for us to become citizens of the eternal kingdom. (Phil. 3:20-21). Whenever the believer repents and is baptized he enters into fellowship with the Godhead. This is the place Jesus promised to prepare. After His resurrection He ascended to the Father’s right hand and now is our Mediator, so He continues to make a place available to us. In a sense God has already “raised us up with Him, and made us to sit with him in heavenly places, in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:6). So we can go with boldness and confidence to the throne of God because Jesus has prepared us a place wherein we dwell in Him, and He in us.
Someday Jesus will return to complete the eternal purpose of God. “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I come again, and will receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” (V. 3). When He returns He will raise the dead, and receive those whom He has saved by His own death. Then all things will be made new: we shall have new and glorified bodies and there will be a new heaven and a new earth where all is perfect for our dwelling. The whole work of God from the beginning centers in this eternal purpose—to prepare such a place and to prepare us for it. If we will refuse to be side-tracked from this preparation, we will be able to realize the exhortation of Jesus: “Let not your hearts be troubled.”
PRAYER: Thank You, Heavenly Father, for redemption in Jesus, my Saviour and Lord, and for the glorious new home promised to us your children. Help me to be faithful, that I may be ready when Jesus comes to receive me. In His name I pray. Amen.
“I would thou wert cold or hot. So because thou art lukewarm . . . ” Revelation 3:15, 16
Why does it seem easier to worship where there are stained glass windows, soft music, a uniformed choir, and all the paraphernalia of the modern church? Why, it’s easy. You don’t have to worship at all. The environment does it for you. The atmosphere itself fairly breathes a prayer—you don’t have the painful experience of being left boldly before God, in the stark silence and bare-faced presence of the One you came to worship. How can anyone sit in the cushioned pew, with ribbons of psychedelic light streaming through the windows, effused with the haunting strains of a melody from some unseen alcove, relaxed and tranquilized by the calculated and highly organized efforts of a staff of specialists—how can he say “God be merciful to me a sinner”? We have devised streamlined programs which move with clock-like precision from this hymn to that response, to that choral number, to the building fund report, with hardly a moment for reflection. The result is a mechanical program which we call worship, but which often breeds lukewarmness instead of serious commitment.
To worship is to worship in truth. Truth requires the brain to be engaged in order to think, to weigh one matter over against another. Beauty in worship is appropriate, as the One we worship is altogether lovely. But mental apathy is to be despised like the plague. Peace and tranquility in corporate worship is strengthening to the troubled soul, but it must come from an inner faith born of a fully conscious understanding, and not simulated by psychological skills of the ministry.
What we need is not more comfort but compulsion. We do not want our minds lulled to sleep, but awakened to reality. We need our consciences sharpened, not softened. We are to overcome the world, not co-exist with it. Jesus abhors the lukewarm: “Because thou art lukewarm . . . I will spew thee out of my mouth”. He gives this commandment, “Be zealous therefore and repent”. Preachers and elders, it is our duty to help the saints guard against lukewarmness, not to create the climate in which it is encouraged. “I would thou wert cold or hot.”
PRAYER: O God, awaken the church to the great purpose for which she is called. Open our eyes to the issue of righteousness and eternal life. Chasten us in love lest we lose sight of Your purpose, and give us boldness to proclaim the gospel of Jesus, in Whose name I pray. Amen.
“For the living know that they shall die.” Ecclesiastes 9:5
These words from the wise Solomon are not written, as some suppose, in pessimism. To the man of faith death is not a morbid subject, for he knows that through Christ death is a conquered enemy. It is only the unbeliever, the one who rejects the only means of immortality, who flees from the thought of death, who speaks of it in whispers, and evades any consideration of it. Jesus told a parable of a rich man who gave all his attention to building bigger barns until he thought he had enough to last him many years. He would now take it easy, eat, drink and enjoy life. But God said, “Thou fool, this night shall thy life be required of thee . . .” With all his ability and wisdom to get gain he had failed to recognize one thing: that he would die.
Death is part of the curse that fell upon the whole world at Adam’s sin. The whole creation was subjected to vanity (Romans 8:20) and man’s life was limited in this world. No one has learned wisdom until he has learned this basic fact, that he is subject to death. It is against the background of this knowledge that Jesus comes with His promise of eternal life to those who are redeemed from sin. I know that I shall die. What then? So I commit my life to God through Jesus Christ that He may raise me up as an immortal man. The fool disregards both death and immortality, against the false hope that somehow, some way, he will escape these realities.
But since we do know that we shall die, we logically conclude that we must place the proper value upon life. I must measure each act and each decision against this fact: I know that I shall die. So Solomon proceeds to teach us wisdom: “Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy . . . let thy garments be always white . . . live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest . . . whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in Sheol.” (Verses 7-10). When a man is told that he has only 6 months to live, what care he takes in living; how values change! Suddenly he realizes what is of true worth. When he is prepared to die, then he finds peace and joy in living! But we all know that we shall die: therefore let us take care how we live.
PRAYER: Loving Father, I thank You for life, for health and strength, and for each day and its blessings. Give me wisdom to use my life and my days in keeping with Your purpose, that I may be ready when Jesus comes. In His name, I pray. Amen.
“I will raise him up at the last day.” John 6:40
The word resurrection in itself means a raising from the dead, a return from the dead. There is an idea abroad that Jesus’ resurrection means that since He was God, He simply did not die, but went on living. This is carried over to the pagan idea that men simply do not die, but go on living on another plane. But this would not be resurrection at all. Wilbur Smith says, in “Therefore Stand”, “If death affects the body and the body is not raised, death is the conqueror; if Christ can be said to have conquered death then His own body must have been delivered from death’s power.” Such is also true of the Christian. What Christ promises is to resurrect the whole person, to restore him to life in a deathless body, not as a disembodied spirit, but with the body made incorruptible.
The resurrection was the burden of the message of the apostles. Without it there is no hope. Yet, to the worldly-minded, it is absolutely incredible. Their reaction is to politely smile and walk away, as they did when Paul preached in Athens: “When they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter.” Paul had no other message: “So Paul departed from among them.” (Acts 17:32, 33). To King Agrippa he asked, “Why is it judged incredible with you if God doth raise the dead?” (Acts 26:8). The same doubt prevails in the world today, so it substitutes ethical teachings for the gospel. Such ethics have their purpose, but offer no hope. The purpose of God is to have man restored to life, as man, through the breath-taking miracle of resurrection, living in a new creation prepared for just such a purpose. If you are one of the many involved in the “search for personal identity”, this is it! You do not lose your identity somewhere in the great beyond. If you belong to Christ He will raise you up at the last day as the glorious creature God designed to be in His image. The resurrection of Jesus is sufficient proof that the dead are raised, and also the demonstration of a person being restored to his identity after death. Commit your life to Jesus, and He will raise you up at the last day!
PRAYER: O God, I praise You for the mighty power and love manifested in Jesus, the resurrected Lord. I pray that You will never let me waver in faith, nor lose sight of the glorious hope. In His name I pray. Amen.
“If any man willeth to do His will, he shall know of the teaching . . .” John 7:17
The text assumes that each man has power to will. It is Jesus, the creator, who speaks the text; He knows about man’s will. Each man has the privilege to will the thing which God desires. But from the first, since Adam allowed another to influence his will, it has become increasingly difficult to exercise the individual will. We have been nourished on the idea of Democracy—the will of the people. The idea has permeated all of society, so that gross sins are excused because they are willed by the public. Nudity becomes the accepted fashion, when enough people approve it. A mob may burn down a city when an individual would be jailed for littering if he dropped a candy wrapper from his car. Religious leaders threaten God by a majority vote, as if to coerce Him by sheer numbers.
But to will to do God’s will is an individual affair. One does not face God as a part of the group, but as one’s self, as a solitary individual. The “togetherness” concept has all but destroyed the power of individual will. It is easier to conform to the crowd. One’s voice may be raised to a shout without his being embarrassed or self-conscious, when his voice is lost with other voices. He is hidden in the crowd. That is exactly what he seeks—to hide from God, to hide from self, to evade the pain of willing to do God’s will. In the crowd he forgets himself, and forgets God. The majority opinion becomes his conscience. But the one thing God demands is that he use his individual will, that he be himself before God, that he probe his personal conscience.
“And God created man in His own image”, as an individual. This individual—with no crowd, no majority—stood perfect before God. So in judgment a man must stand for what he is individually. No mob. No public pressure. No crowd to help. “Each one of us shall give account of himself to God.” (Romans 14:12). And that is the way it is right now. The real knowledge of God is not in merely belonging to the group. It is not a feeling. It is individually obeying. It is doing His will, because you privately, personally, will to do it, in spite of the crowd. When you will to do His will, then you will know the teaching.
PRAYER: O God, strengthen my will and give me grace to follow Jesus rather than the world. Help me to apply your teaching by doing it. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
“Whatsoever ye do, work heartily, as unto the Lord, and not unto men.” Colossians 3:23
In his book, “Dare to Live Now,” Bruce Larson tells of a redcap named Ralston Young who despised his menial job which seemed to him degrading. Then he heard Christ’s challenge and responded. He continued in the same old job, but the purpose of life had changed, and his job took on an entirely different aspect. For years God used Mr. Young to conduct a noon prayer meeting on Track 13 three times a week. Thousands were touched. The environment and heredity of this redcap had not changed. He was not given a different job. But the purpose of it all had changed: he now worked “heartily, as unto the Lord, and not unto men.” In the sermon on the Mount Jesus did not tell the people to change their occupations, but to change their attitude toward them, to be absolutely honest and to seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness in everything they did. The difference between the children of God and the children of the devil is not in skill or environment but in the Master for whom we work. The idea that education and skill will eliminate crime and deterioration of the nation is false. It will take a change of purpose in the mind and heart of the individuals.
Your work is not merely the means of earning bread. It is a work God gives you for honoring Him, for growing in His grace and for reaching others with His truth. Begin to work at it “as unto the Lord,” and see the great change that takes place in the way you feel about it and the way God uses you for the accomplishment of His work, both in you and in those around you. Remember that the final wage for our labor will come from God.
PRAYER: Teach me, Father, how to do my best in all things, and how to make all my work pleasing to You, whether the task may be small or great. This I ask in the name of Jesus, Amen.
“That the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God.” Romans 8:21
The scripture goes on to say that the “whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.” The idea is that of a woman in birth pains, anxiously and painfully hoping to be delivered, thus fulfilling her purpose and bringing joy through the giving of new life. But what is it that she shall bring forth? Nothing less than a new heaven and the new earth “wherein dwelleth righteousness.” Such was the purpose of God, for the Kingdom that becomes the home of the saints is one “prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” (Matthew 25:34). Then all the longings of the children of God will be fulfilled, as will the mute prayers of the entire universe and the great purpose of the Creator will at last become a finished product. That which ultimately is to be the crowning glory of God and of man, is the very thing that the Creator designed from the first. It has been the object of His desire and the thing upon which He has labored these thousands of years. It is easy for men to become so entangled in the devices of the world, which are strewn before him as a snare of Satan, that he is completely oblivious to the gradual development of God’s plan. Each crisis is seen as disconnected from purpose, and as crisis mounts upon crisis men lose sight of all order and purpose until the world, taken all together, appears a torrent of confusion. But increasing travail and pain indicates that the hour of deliverance is drawing near. And, like the world, the believer now passes through travail and pain, in anticipation of his deliverance into the liberty and glory of God. As the mother considers her offspring worth all the pain of deliverance, so we “reckon that the suffering of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed toward us.” (Romans 8:18).
PRAYER: Father, thank you for including me in your eternal plan. Give me strength and patience, until deliverance comes at the return of Jesus. In His name, Amen.
“O Lord our God, other lords beside thee have had dominion over us.” Isaiah 26:13
To make such a confession is to recognize the true Lordship of Jesus. This does not mean merely to recognize Jesus as the Saviour of Christians. It means to see Him as the lord of all. He announced: “All authority has been given unto me in heaven and on earth.” We often use this statement to show that He has authority in the church, but He was not talking about the church. He claimed authority over the whole world. This is what Peter said on the Day of Pentecost: “God hath made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom ye crucified.” It doesn’t mean that He is my personal Lord and not necessarily the other person’s. It is to declare that He is Sovereign Lord over all things in heaven and earth, whether men believe it or not. The unbelief of men does not dethrone Him nor remove Him from power. Nor is His sovereignty something to be established in the future at His coming. It is His now. When He comes He will judge humanity, and those who refused to recognize His Lordship will be condemned to death. “But these . . . that would not that I should reign over them, bring hither and slay them before me.” (Luke 19:27). When we “confess Jesus is Lord” we confess that He has dominion over all. The implications of this are both shocking and thrilling. To think that I have allowed other lords to have dominion! Paul writes that “sin shall not have dominion over you,” but there are times when it does! Hence we must confess with Isaiah that other lords beside Jesus have had dominion over us. When we allow ourselves to be dominated by fashion, worldly ambition or pride; when we bow to other influence but Christ’s, we are submitting to other lords. The thrill is in knowing that Christ has conquered all. Our Lord has won the victory, and we who are His will share in that victory. We renounce all other lords and submit to His authority.
PRAYER: O Lord, forgive me for my waywardness. Rule in my heart and mind and help me to be your loyal subject. Have dominion over me now and forever, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
“Such confidence have we through Christ to God-ward.” II Corinthians 3:4
A popular musical picture has the heroine singing, “I have confidence in me.” The impression is given that one’s victory over obstacles is simply a matter of self-confidence. But I have no such confidence. “For I know” said Paul, “that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing.” There isn’t a word of scripture to inspire self-confidence. It was self-confidence that caused Adam and Eve to think that they could get by with disobeying God. In effect, Satan said, “Do not depend on what God said. Have confidence in yourselves and your own wisdom. Go ahead, eat, and become wise to make your own rules as to what is right and wrong.” Man’s confidence in man has never failed to bring disaster. My own experience teaches me that when I put confidence in myself, I am walking on eggshells.
But confidence in God—that’s another matter. When I think of God’s faithfulness to keep His promises, and the tremendous promises He has made, then I am amazed at myself, how I can worry and fear for even a moment. He has never failed in one promise. His word to Adam was true: “Thou shalt surely die.” It wasn’t a threat, but a simple statement. But Adam had no confidence in it, so he ate, disbelieving. His disbelief did not diminish the fact, and he died. God urges us to trust Him. Jesus said, “You believe in God, believe also in me.” His life was an example that God can and will overcome all obstacles for those who have confidence in Him. It is inevitable that the Creator should accomplish His purpose and it is only logical that we have confidence in Him to do so in us. Don’t labor trying to gain self-confidence. Labor to know Him, “who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think.” Such confidence have we through Christ to God-ward.
PRAYER: Almighty Father, and Faithful Lord, I offer my praise and thanksgiving for your love and steadfast mercy, and the assurance you give of victory. Help me to share this confidence with the weak and discouraged, for Christ’s sake, Amen.
“The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.” Psalm 24:1
Thousands of religious papers are sent through the mail each month. Some of them are supported by regular subscription while many of them depend on voluntary contributions of the readers for their financial necessities. Sometimes we get tired of the “begging” letters asking for help for such papers, so it was refreshing to read in one of them the following: “Some are still waiting for a bill. If not a bill, at least a pitch for money. But GOOD NEWS, in its 11 year history has never come to its subscribers with either. You see, it’s like this: we have a good God who supplies all our needs according to His riches in glory. (Phil. 4:19). This small venture called GOOD NEWS hardly taxes the resources of Him who owns the cattle on a thousand hills, and the wealth in every mine . . .” Indeed, all our ventures together could hardly tax the resources of the One who is able to speak into existence the heavens and the earth and all contained therein. Jesus calls our attention to the birds of the air and the way God is able to care for their needs, reminding us that we are of much more value than they. How is it then that we keep back our resources from the work of God? How is it that we fail to publish the good news and broadcast it from pole to pole to every living creature through every possible means? How is it that our witness should be marred by so often calling attention to our anxiety over a few material things instead of calling attention to the Creator of all things? This is one of the most obvious tests of our faith, that we use our resources for God, believing that He will supply our needs according to His riches. Such is faith, that we live and give, not according to our riches, but according to Him who owns the earth, and the fullness thereof.
PRAYER: Forgive me, Lord, for allowing my own poverty of faith to limit my service to you. Increase my faith in your supply of all my needs, through Jesus. Amen.
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1
The simple-minded have a way of storing everything in two bins marked “good” and “bad”. This is the easy way out. Soon they are placing in the “good” bin some things that often are very bad, and throwing into the “bad” bin things that could have been used for good. For example as Ecclesiastes (the Preacher) goes on to say, “there is a time to plant and a time to pluck up . . . a time to kill, and a time to heal . . . a time to weep and a time to laugh . . .” Planting is good in its season, but one cannot plant always; he must also work in the harvest. There is a time to weep, but one who is always melancholy and depressed is considered sick. Christians seeking to find a formula for quick and easy answers to all daily problems are tempted to set up the “good” and “bad” bins for convenience only to find that this too often proves inconsistent with the common sense God gave them, and detrimental to their growth. The answers are not always so automatic. Some things have relative value. Sleep is good, but not when the house is on fire!
This is not to be confused with what the rebels are saying, that there is no absolute law of right and wrong, that truth is relative, that morals are to be based on the situation. There is never a season for disobeying God’s law; never a time to violate His purpose to have man in His own image. Ah, there is the solution. The questions ARE settled, after all. We settle them in our minds when we repent and turn to God, for God has given commands and laws and examples all to the end that we might “be like Him.” He gives a season and time for everything, but we must discriminate as to what fits His purpose at any given time, for though times change, the purpose of God is eternal.
PRAYER: Loving Father, help me to apply your laws to these times, and to my activities, that I may be found pleasing in your sight at all seasons. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
“And Jehovah God planted a garden east-ward, in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.” Genesis 2:8
Christ himself guarantees the authenticity of the first few chapters of Genesis. When He quoted from them as proof-texts for His own teaching He refuted the idea that the story of the creation is only an allegory. The story is given as history that we can have confidence in a future history for ourselves under God. What God will do in the future must be in keeping with His nature and His nature is reflected by what He has done in the past. So we read that man, in his innocence, was set on the earth in a garden, in Eden. “Eden” means “pleasure land, loveliness”. Here is a glimpse of the way God must feel about the creature He formed to be in His own likeness. For him He created the Garden where the flowers must have bloomed with unimaginable luster and where the trees bore such fruit as man has never tasted since. Man was given dominion there, where there was peace and perfect harmony between him and all that was under his rule. God Himself blessed it with His own presence, until Adam and Eve wrenched themselves from His fellowship by refusing to abide under the law He had set. Still, the Garden serves as the example of the majestic purpose to be fulfilled by man when restored to perfect innocence and immortality. What we see in the world today is, in a sense, the opposite of God’s plan, for we see not the harmonious beauty of the Garden, but disharmony and chaos. That which is ugly, corrupted and dying is contrary to the nature of the Eternal One. Neither is it in harmony with the nature of His children. We are “in the world”, but He does not desire us to be “of the world”, for He has His mind set on a Garden for us. His purpose does not change. Knowing this, we may set our own purpose, that it may be in harmony with His.
PRAYER: O Lord, and Creator of all things, cleanse me of all worldly ambition, that I may have my heart fixed upon your own glorious design, through Jesus my Saviour. Amen.
“Bury the truth and sell it not.” Proverb 23:23
Truth comes only to those who care enough to seek it. Even in the physical world about us the facts have been gathered by the painstaking care and sacrifice of men who devoted their lives to unravelling the threads of truth. George Washington Carver is remembered as the man who devoted his life to the development of the peanut. Such technical treasures as the radio, electric light, refrigeration and scores of valuable conveniences which we take for granted have required the grueling labor of thousands of the best minds. They have bought the truth by such labor. How is it, then, that some should think that they can arrive at God’s deepest truths by a casual glance at the Bible, a hasty reading of the quarterly or the occasional listening to a sermon? God’s book is a composite of the wisdom and the knowledge of the ages. Into it has been compressed the revelation which God has made to some forty of His specially chosen messengers. It contains all that is known to man about his origin and his destiny. It is complete guide for life, covering every possible exigency for every human being. Obviously this deep well of truth cannot be drunk by an occasional swallow. But one will say, “I just don’t understand the Bible. When I read it, it doesn’t make sense . . .” I ask: “Are you willing to buy the truth?” Do you want to know God’s revelation bad enough to pay for it. Would you give a new car for it? Would you give evenings of entertainment for it? Would you give sleep for it? In short, would you buy it at the price of precious time, money and sacrifice? God’s truth is the greatest treasure in this world, but as in the day of Hosea, the “people are destroyed for lack of knowledge”. (Hosea 4:6). Truth is freedom and salvation. The wise will “buy” it, whatever the cost.
PRAYER: Thank you, Father, for the Scriptures which contain your word. Help me to know them, to understand them, and to obey them. In the name of the living Word, Christ Jesus, Amen.
“Come ye . . . apart into a desert place and rest awhile.” Mark 6:31
Entering the stream of human life, Jesus found the need for rest. This is another of the marks of His participation in human suffering, that He grew weary and needed to turn aside for rest. But the rest of which He speaks is not merely idleness nor sleep. Inviting the disciples to come apart and rest was an invitation to His teaching and meditation upon the truths of God. This is our need. Not more sleep, nor to sit in the recliner and view the television program. Just as rest for the body is found in a diversion from routine labor to relaxed movement, so rest for the mind is found in diverting it from a view of the world and its satanic complications to God and His righteousness. The mind will not be void. As soon as we take it off the pressing affairs of the day it will set itself upon a host of other problems, real or imaginary, whether our own or someone’s else. Hence we need to separate ourselves for the purpose of thinking on the thoughts of God. I once asked an audience if anyone present had spent ten minutes that day thinking exclusively about Christ or God, and out of the entire church not one could answer yes. The din of spiritual warfare is all about us. We are apt to fall under the strain of battle fatigue unless we take time to draw aside with the Lord, and rest. I said, “aside with the Lord”, because true rest is found in answering His invitation—“come unto me, and I will give you rest”. A few minutes in prayer and Bible reading will refresh you and fit you for the next battle.
PRAYER: Thank you, Father, for this moment of rest and meditation. Give me strength for this hour and this day, that I may obey your will. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
“I lay down my life . . . I lay it down of myself.” John 10:17, 18
Christ was not dragged off to the cross, complaining and struggling, as one forced to act against His will. He freely gave Himself, because it was the will of the Father. In the garden He struggled with the awful question of His death, but once He had committed Himself to the Father’s will, He was under a divine compulsion to obey. From the moment He said, “Not my will, but thine, be done,” He subjected Himself to the command of those who would put Him to death, for He said that they would have no power over Him “except it were given (them) from above.” To every man He gives the challenge: “If any man hear my voice, and will come after me . . .” Once I settle the “if,” and choose to follow Him, the die is cast, and I am under divine compulsion to obey Him. A million questions are settled. I don’t have to debate and consider on which side to fight when the battle between God and Satan flares. Having become a part of God’s forces by voluntary enlistment, my exercise of private authority ends. I can no more set my own rules and form my own code than a private can write his own manual and issue his own orders. Yet this is not a bleak and terrible prospect, as it may sound. For just as the enemies of Jesus could do nothing except it be granted from Above, neither can they do anything to me without the permission of the Commander-in-Chief. The One who gives the command to enter into the thick of the fight and suffer the blows of the enemy has also promised, “And lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” To follow the example of Jesus is to voluntarily lay one’s life at His disposal, and never again complain about where He leads.
PRAYER: Lord, teach me to fight and not to complain about the wounds: to follow where You lead, without seeking for an easier route. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
“My times are in thy hands.” Psalm 31:15
In 1947 some scientists originated a “Clock of Doom” as a symbol of the peril confronting man in the atomic age. Until 1963 its hands were fixed at twelve minutes to midnight, then moved ahead to seven minutes to midnight. One scientist said, “The past five years have brought (mankind) farther down the road to disaster.” Most people have their own built-in “clock of doom.” It may be a deadline for a large payment, the date a move is to be made, a daughter or son is to be married, or simply the dread of growing old. Millions live in fear of some event or development of the future which they think spells disaster.
But there is a solution to this deadening dread. It is to recognize the real clock of doom—the clock of God. God has appointed a day for judgment and the end of the world. Life is not to be lived under the dread of man’s timing, but in the fear of God. Time is under His control, and not man’s, hence our lives are to be lived under the hands of God’s clock. Not that we are to fear the judgment, for “he that believeth shall not be judged.” As believers we are released from “doom” because Christ has paid sin’s penalty. The end of time means the end of all that hinders peace and joy to God’s people. In the meanwhile we are not in the hands of time, but our times are in the hands of God! Jesus said, “Be not therefore anxious for the morrow . . .” Tomorrow is in God’s hands, just as today is. Don’t worry about what may happen, for if you are in God’s hand, so will the events of your life be under His control. Our concern is not with man’s evil forebodings because of his own severance from God, but with God’s eternal purpose because of our relation to Him. Don’t watch the clock. Watch for Christ!
PRAYER: Almighty God, keep me alert to the approaching advent of Jesus; strengthen my faith against the distracting events of man, that I may be found faithfully serving you. Amen.
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.” Colossians 3:15
It isn’t possible to always keep smiling in the middle of life’s battles. People who think that the Christian is a failure or hypocrite because he doesn’t always wear a gay countenance and maintain a cheerful spirit simply do not understand what the Christian faith is. Indeed, it would be playing the part of the hypocrite to appear happy when sad or gay when under sobering tension. We do not imagine Jesus as one Who always wore a smile. Often there were times of severe rebuke, and sometimes wrath. I doubt if He was wearing a smile when He drove the money-changers from the temple, and certainly he had no air of gaiety at the times of death at which He was present. He was called a “man of sorrows” and was acquainted with grief. No, Christianity is not necessarily the religion of smiles. Its Gethsemene is never far away.
Yet we are told to let Christ’s peace rule in our hearts. Christ’s peace. Not that which men seek by material security nor by virtue of having their business problems under control. His peace is possible under all circumstance. It is a peace that comes from knowing where you stand with God, and this knowledge is the product of Christ’s atonement and our faith in it. It is a peace produced by the knowledge of the ultimate outcome, and this, too, is guaranteed by Christ who has already gained the victory over death and the grave and now has immortality. The events of the day may bring sadness and grief, so that a smile is impossible. But the heart that is fixed on Christ is still at peace. One’s brow may be wrinkled by baffling problems and his lips may be set in grim pain, but faith in the purpose of God stabilizes him, and he has peace in his heart through Christ.
PRAYER: God, in the midst of affliction I thank you for the peace of Christ. May it rule my heart and undergird my mind until the victory is won in the name of Jesus. Amen.
“Finally, be strong in the Lord.” Ephesians 6:10
No sooner do we start out to follow Christ than we find that we have entered into a battle zone, into grim conflict with an enemy that seems capable of defeating us at every move. We haven’t gone three steps until, like Peter, we have denied Him three times. Instead of peace we run smack into war, war in ourselves with old habits, with the world that tries to squeeze us into its own mold, and everywhere war with Satan. We are to stand, to resist sin, to conquer, to press on to perfection, to overcome; but we are weak, and the enemy is mighty. How can we stand? How can we go up against so mighty a foe?
The answer is in a tiny preposition: “in.” Ruth Paxton writes, “In—the biggest, little word in Ephesians, a preposition denoting position; the simplest of words, yet it introduces the mightiest of thoughts.” We are “chosen in him . . . in whom we have our redemption.” Over and over God tells us that everything depends on our being in Him. In the world we are lost and condemned, but in Christ there is no condemnation. We believe in Him, are baptized into Him, have our hope in Him, abide in Him, and if we fall asleep in Him, we shall be resurrected in His likeness. You say you have no strength? Then be strong in the Lord. Surely God knows how weak we are, that before Satan we are less than the shepherd boy who stood before Goliath. And like David, we do not stand before our Goliath in our own strength, but in His strength. It is Christ who has gone before us to conquer Satan. He doesn’t send us out to fight the battle all over again. Fight we must, for there are no spiritual pacifists in the kingdom of Christ, but it is the strength of our King that prevails. Remember the words of Jesus, “Without me ye can do nothing.” But in Him there is strength to do everything. Ours is to be in the Lord, to stand in Him, to depend upon Him, and it is His to supply the strength. Do not worry about your own strength. In the Lord is all the power in the universe. “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.”
PRAYER: Father, I thank You for the Victory that Jesus has won. Grant that I may lay hold of that victory and count on His strength in the daily struggle. In His name I pray, Amen.
“. . . be ye not foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” Ephesians 5:17
Millions are asking, “What is the meaning of life?” It is in the songs, in the literature, in the news, and written in the faces of people you meet. Men spend their time, their money, their energy and their very lives in useless pursuits, then despair and grow cynical, wasting out their last years with only darkness ahead. If the evolutionists were right, if man is only an accident, if there is no blueprint for his life and no ultimate goal to which he may arrive, then we might say that the one who experiments with his life is doing the best he can. But if man is created for a purpose and if he has access to the Creator’s plans, wouldn’t a man be foolish to experiment around with other possibilities? The fact is that God does have a purpose and has revealed it in no uncertain terms. We are created in His image. Jesus is the revelation of that image and the Bible is the blueprint. It has never changed, for God does not change. In the final consummation of all things, God will have his man, or race of men, those who turned their minds to God, believed Him, obeyed Him and desired to be like Him. Thus we have the alternatives: to be foolish, or to understand what the will of the Lord is. Life is no “sweet mystery”, nor need one be ever searching for some panacea that will give him security and peace. Neither are we to be always asking God for some special miracle to show us individually His will. Were this God’s method, much of the Bible would be unnecessary. His will has been revealed and unfolded to us in His Word. To understand the will of the Lord requires us to study the whole word of God. It is filled with examples, principles, warnings, commandments and exhortations so that we need not mistake His desire. We are not told to pray for His will, but to understand it! We do not have to go out into the world to find it, but into His scriptures which are able to make us wise unto salvation. If we seek it from the source of truth we will find it. Do you understand it? Do you deliberately search the scriptures and purposefully study God’s word, to understand His will. It is His command: “Be ye not foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”
PRAYER: O God, not my will but thine be done. Give me wisdom to understand it rightly and the help I need to pursue it faithfully, for I ask it in the name of the Lord, Jesus, Amen.
“Put on the whole armor of God.” Ephesians 6:11
When David finally convinced his skeptical brethren that he actually intended to go into battle against Goliath, they insisted that he put on Saul’s armor, but he found that it was a hindrance instead of a help. So he went into battle with only God’s armor, and prevailed. The world is always ready to offer advice as to how we can arm ourselves to meet the difficulties that lie in the path. But we are going up against a supernatural enemy, the ancient foe of God, against spiritual hosts of wickedness, and we need superior armor, fashioned by the hand of God. It is not the armor of our own good works, nor our intellect, nor superior ability to forge ahead as a great success in the world. Those who are mighty, who are wise in the world’s wisdom and rich in luxury, find it hard to trust in God’s armor. Paul said that it was when he was weak that he was strong, the reason being that in his weakness he trusted more in the strength of God. Possibly as he wrote this passage he was gazing upon the Roman soldier who guarded him, for he was a prisoner. As one of the elite guard, the Roman soldier was a powerful man with muscular arms and legs, trained in hand-to-hand combat. Carefully fitted over his strong frame was the famous Roman armor; the heavy girdle about his middle, the metal breastplate, the interlaced sandals, the shield, the helmet and the sword. Here was a striking contrast; the mighty warrior with his heavy armor, and the humble Paul, worn with pain and physical trouble from all his travels and beatings and persecutions. And yet it is Paul whom we remember as the mighty warrior; it was Paul’s armor that proved the toughest in the final showdown, for it was forged by the hand of God. It is the armor of God that we are to put on, the whole armor, all six pieces. Do not think you can go into battle without the girdle, or without the shield, or with just some part of the armor. If you fight the good fight of faith, first “put on the whole armor of God.” It is God who provides it, but we must put it on and keep it on all the time. Christian, were our great Commander to call for an inspection, would He find you in proper uniform and fully armed?
PRAYER: Dear God, I have underestimated the strength of the enemy and his stratagems. Give me the armor and the faith to stand in it against all the power of the enemy, to the glory of Jesus the Lord. Amen.
“To whom shall we go?” John 6:68
Multitudes had been following Jesus “because they beheld the signs which he did on them that were sick . . .” They followed Him up on the mountainside, and there he fed thousands from five loaves and two fishes. Now, with even greater enthusiasm, they were ready to take him by force and make him king. The following day a great crowd eagerly awaited his preaching. Then he suddenly began to drive home the truth concerning himself as the bread of life, exposed their own motives of greed for free bread, and claimed that there was no way to have eternal life except through Him. Immediately the Jews set upon him, bitterly defied His statements and began to plot his murder. The multitudes wavered, then began to thin out. “Many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.” Then Jesus turned to the apostles and asked, “Would you also go away?” Simon Peter answered him. “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life.”
When the way of Christ grows difficult, when it is made plain that the cost is heavy, then we look around for alternatives. But what alternatives are there? We can ignore God’s commandments, live for pleasure, live carelessly, take what we can from life and ignore the rest, but to what end? Life is too soon over to have wasted it in pursuing that which will end with the world. Peter knew the value of life, and even if he was tempted to turn from Jesus when His popularity waned, even if following Jesus would bring the wrath and persecution of the Jews upon his own head, he would stick by Him because there was no other one to follow who could give life. When we see the mobs following the revolutionaries, and hear of the various cults that attract the youth, we are reminded of the alternatives to following Jesus. Usually they follow them only for a while, find they are leading nowhere and leave to follow some other person or movement. But none of them can give life. What a waste! If for any reason you are tempted to “go away” from the Lord’s discipline, to find an easier and more popular fellowship, ask first, “To whom shall I go? Only Jesus has the words of eternal life.”
PRAYER: O God, keep me loyal to Jesus; I want no other leadership than His. Give me strength to walk in His steps daily. I pray in His great name. Amen.
“But one thing is needful.” Luke 10:42
Handel was so obsessed by the desire to compose great music that he fingered the keys of his harpsichord until they became the shape of spoons! Michael Angelo was so enthusiastic in his art that frequently he didn’t undress for a week at a time! To achieve in any pursuit one must give himself up to it with all his power and passion. No one becomes a famous composer by attending the concert now and then. Neither can one be a great artist by dabbling in paints and also dabbling in numerous other efforts. Jesus was at the home of Mary and Martha. While Mary gave attention to the Lord’s teaching, “Martha was cumbered about much serving” and insisted that Mary help her. Jesus said, “Martha, Martha, thou art anxious and troubled about many things: but one thing is needful: for Mary hath chosen the good part . . .”
Many things are useful; many things are good; many things add to our daily comfort. But the Christian must ask this question: are they needful in fulfilling God’s purpose? Many things are desirable; they fill us with covetousness and draw us into a frenzy of activity devoted to acquiring them. The worst part is that many things—and it matters not whether these things are good or bad, the pursuit of them has the same result—create an anxiety in the minds of their pursuers. They keep us from sitting at the feet of Jesus and hearing His word. And this, after all, is what Jesus considered the good part. It is the one thing needful. God does not have a multiplicity of purposes from which we can pick and choose. He has only one destiny for man, to be like Him. That purpose is not achieved by concerning ourselves with a thousand and one things on the chance that somehow we will by accident lit upon the means to His image. The way is in His word. Of what value, then, are all these other things that trouble you? Why be anxious over many things that are of no consequence to God and eternity? Think, dear Christian, what progress you could make toward the goal of God were you to cease being anxious over the many things, and devote the greater effort to this one thing: to sit at Jesus’ feet, and hear His word.
PRAYER: Loving Father, teach me how to sit down in the world’s turmoil and learn; help me to put aside things that are not needful, so that Your will may be done, in the name of Jesus the Lord. Amen.
“This mortal must put on immortality.” I Corinthians 15:53
Gregory Zilboorg tells us that the fear of death is present in our mental functioning at all times. Melanie Klein, the British psychologist, adds that the fear of death is at the root of all human anxiety. Yet we seem to do everything possible to avoid any confronting of the subject. It is the forbidden subject in our generation. The dying are sealed off in intensive care units, drugged to unconsciousness and surrounded with lifesaving instruments. Few people actually witness death, and families are robbed of the last few hours or minutes with their loved ones because of science’s last ditch effort to cheat death for only a few more minutes. Death becomes impersonal, until it is too late to think about it.
Yet we are all mortal, and unless Jesus comes in our generation we know that we shall go the way of “dusty death”. It is upon this background of fear and anxiety that the good news is written: we must put on immortality! We are now dying creatures. It is wrong to run away from the fact or to live in the dream of finding some fountain of youth. It is worse to place hope in some of the materialists who suggest quick-freezing a person until a cure for all disease has been found, then thawing him out so he can go on living. As long as this earth stands the curse of death will stand with it. God does not desire to have sinful man living forever. But He has promised the Christian that in the resurrection day he will “put on” immortality. He will be resurrected from the dust, restored as a human personality without the curse of death, no longer subject to the things that cause death, but with a body that will live forever. Therefore the Christian has no fear of death, nor is he anxious about it. After Christ has destroyed the present earth and the wicked (II Peter 3:7) there will be a new heaven and a new earth (II Peter 3:13) wherein dwelleth righteousness. In this new world we shall live as immortal children of God. This is the end purpose of Christianity, that we might be saved from sin and its consequence, death, in order to live forever. What a hope! What a victory Christ has won. What a future! Is it yours?
PRAYER: Thank You, Father, for the debt Christ paid to release me from sin and death. Hasten the day of His coming and the realization of immortality. In His name I pray. Amen.
“I know whom I have believed.” II Timothy 1:12
Following the directions that had been given me, I had driven several miles in a desolate area of the Arizona desert, with the dusty road becoming more rugged with every mile. After more than an hour without having seen another living soul and with the road becoming less passable all the time, I was ready to give up the search and turn back. Yet, I had confidence in the one who had directed me, and I had seen no other possible roads. So, with what might be called grim determination, I drove on and after another fifteen miles came to the mining settlement.
After one has turned his life to God, having realized the forgiveness of sin and opened his mind to the marvelous purpose of the Creator, having started out to walk in the steps of Jesus, he is soon beset by a host of doubts and fears. Instead of getting smoother the road gets rougher. The more he learns of the ultimate goal, the perfection and holiness of God in whose image we are to be fashioned, the more he finds in his own life that is of the opposite nature. He doubts that he is truly headed in the right direction. He fears that he has some irremediable defect because with every step he discovers more sins and faults than he ever dreamed he had. There is a danger that he will finally conclude that his goal is too idealistic and relax in the very sins which he needs to cast off, or even give up the journey because he seems so slow in arriving. It is then that he must put his confidence in the one who gave him the instructions. Our directions do not derive from human philosophy nor our own experience, but from Jesus the Lord. He has forewarned us of the obstacles, emphasizing that the road is narrow, that few travel on it, and that it is strait, or difficult. As Kierkegaard says, “it is the narrowness that is the way.” Jesus has instructed us to a narrow way, and the very narrowness, the seeming impassability of it, is not evidence that we are on the wrong road but the very opposite. Do not turn back. Jesus would not direct us to the wrong destiny. Have faith in the one in whom you have believed!
PRAYER: Loving Father, give me wisdom to read aright Your word, and keep me aware of Your promise in all the difficult ways of life. Help me to keep going, and in the right direction. I pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.
“Everyone that is of the truth heareth my voice.” John 18:37
A healthy mind is like a well-ordered house with doors through which people may pass in and out, and windows through which light may shine and fresh air may enter. But the doors you can shut against an unwelcome intruder and the windows may be shut against the wintry blast. Pity the person whose house has no ventilation, no light; how stuffy and foul it must become. But pity also the person whose house is wide open, with no walls at all, so that he is never really “at home” and is exposed to all kinds of weather. So a good mind is open to truth: it has windows for light and doors for the admission of new ideas, but it isn’t open at both ends. Some truth it must capture and make its own, and that truth helps to shape the mind and becomes a permanent fixture in it. It hears the voice of Jesus, and believes it, and makes His truth a permanent part of itself.
There is a fear abroad, like a disease, infecting people with the fear of a bias, insulating them against making a truth their very own for fear of being accused of prejudice or bigotry. Like those of whom Paul wrote, they “are ever learning, and never able to come to a knowledge of the truth”. They can come to no conclusion on any subject. Such a lack of conviction leaves them open to every wind of doctrine and eventually they are questioning the very existence of God. The voice of Jesus settles nothing for them, because they are not of the truth.
It is the truth which God reveals that forms the bridge of communication between God and man. We are to worship in spirit and in truth, meaning that we know the truth about this God we worship. Jesus said that we are sanctified in the truth; it is just to the extent that we know God’s truth that we can align our lives with it and with Him, and be set apart, for His purpose. The truth shall make you free, but you cannot have truth and be free of bias, for the truth is a bias in relation to the world. We need convictions, not consensus of opinions. Let us have no fear of the world’s slander, and establish our convictions upon the truth of Christ.
PRAYER: Loving Father of Lights, with whom there is no variation, help me to know the truth, and then give me boldness to publish it abroad to the glory of Jesus, in whose name I pray. Amen.
“They therefore that were scattered abroad went about preaching the word.” Acts 8:4
After Stephen was slain by the Jews there arose a great persecution against the whole church. Men and women were dragged off to prison for confessing the name of Jesus. Christians gave up their jobs and their homes and fled Jerusalem to avoid being imprisoned. But in spite of this great price they had to pay, they still went about preaching the word. Where did these believers acquire such zeal and boldness? How did they become so fearless?
Their excitement began the day they found the empty tomb.
Here was proof of God’s purpose to actually restore men to a never-dying, immortal, transcendent life as Jesus had promised. He was a living demonstration of it. From that day forth the apostles and early Christians ceased to hold anything dear except this great message. They did not fear dying for they knew God would raise them up again. They did not fear the collapse of nations, for they knew they belonged to a kingdom that has no end. They were unashamed before the pride and sophistry of men because they knew that all men must answer to God and they would rather be scandalized before men than before God. They were not bound by time and energy—consuming social appointments for the sake of prestige and worldly success, for they knew that this world and all within it is destined for destruction, and that only “he that doeth the will of God abideth forever”. Their daring faith was a product of an understanding of the final things; the second coming, the judgment and the inheritance of immortality. If this had been made the theme of the 20th Century church, perhaps today we would see men turning to God instead of to materialism and science for the fulfillment of their needs.
Should it require persecution for Christians to go abroad preaching the word of God? What is there to keep you from taking the truth of the gospel to some other person? Never has there been such opportunity; never has there been such a need for the simple and true message of God. The example of the early Christians is recorded for our benefit, that we, too, might scatter abroad, preaching the word.
PRAYER: Father, I pray for more earnest men and women to speak up for the gospel, for more laborers in the vineyard, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
“Can God prepare a table in the wilderness?” Psalm 78:19
This question characterized the attitude of Israel after being delivered from slavery in Egypt and led by God’s hand in the Wilderness on the way to Canaan. They recognized that God could perform staggering miracles in Egypt, the familiar land which had been their home. Perhaps He could do so again when they arrived in Canaan. But in the wilderness! What there? The land was barren; nothing to eat and not even streams for water. What can God do in such a land? After Moses struck the rock and the water gushed out, they then said, “Can he give bread also? Will he provide flesh for his people?” Do not think that these people were specialists at doubting God. Paul writes: “Now these things happened unto them by way of example; and they were written for our admonition . . .” (I Cor. 10:11). Are we not often guilty of the same doubt? For it is nothing less than a mighty miracle that enables us to pass through the water of baptism and escape the bondage to sin and the plague of death. Then we enter into the wilderness of the world to begin a journey to our Canaan, the promised mansions in the new heaven and new earth. We readily accept the miracle of salvation, and we do not question God’s power to fulfill His promise with respect to the hope of immortality. But what about this trek through the wilderness? If I am to forsake the mammon of the world, if I am to renounce the familiar means of finding pleasure, if I am to cut the ties with the world by which men “get ahead” and find success; if I am to leave all and follow Jesus until the day of His coming, can God take care of me in the meantime? Can he sustain me in the wild business world where I earn a living? If I quit seeking to possess things in order to possess the Kingdom, can God give me security? If I resist the idolatry of the world and refuse to cooperate with anti-christ pressure groups, can I survive? To all these doubts, God answers, “Yes”. In the wilderness He gave them manna from heaven, birds from the air and water from the rock. Do not hesitate to leave all for God. He can make you happy without anything else. He prepares for you a table in the wilderness.
PRAYER: Father, I thank You for Your good and perfect gifts, that You withhold nothing good from those who are committed to You in faith and obedience. Sustain me day by day, and lead me according to Your purpose, I pray in the name of the Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.
“Work out your own salvation . . .” Philippians 2:12
In “The Fellowship of the Ring” by J. R. R. Tolkien a company of nine start out on a dangerous mission, but in the course of events they are separated into three groups. Each group despairs of ever seeing the others again, and yet each group goes on its separate way, fighting its own battle against the enemy while at the same time grieving over the loss of the other companions. Later on they discover to their insurmountable joy that all, save one, have been carrying on a useful part of the mission and come out safely.
That is the secret of the great Christian army, that in spite of seeming loses each one carries on his particular task, and is true to his own duty. Whatever his difficulty he goes on working it out because that is the mission; it is just what Christ did, and just what He expects of each servant, to carry on until He comes. There are losses; there are defeats; it appears that all others have left the field, and we may never know what happened to a colleague until the mission is ended. But there are responsibilities and obligations. The Christian who pauses to mourn over the circumstances and apparent hopelessness of his plight will diminish his usefulness in the over-all mission, while the one who holds his duty dear to his heart and foremost in his plans will finally recoup all the losses.
Although hidden from our eyes other work is being done by Christ’s servants and that which we often think to be loss to ourselves is gain to Christ. Many a soldier has been separated from his company and without knowing whether or not his outfit was still in the war, he has gone on fighting alone, and often has been the means of saving a battle. Of course we are not called to be heroes, nor to save the whole regiment. But we are called to carry our own burden and to do our own duty, wherever we are and under all circumstances. You can not do my work, but you can be obedient to God and “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”
PRAYER: Thank You, Father, for giving me a place of service in Your vineyard. I pray that You will give me the strength and courage to discharge my responsibility as Your servant, in Jesus’ name. Amen.