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“In that day ye shall ask me nothing.” John 16:23
“Asking” here may refer to either asking of questions or asking for things, and after Jesus’ resurrection He was asked in both ways, for the apostles questioned Him, and after His ascension continued to ask of Him. But in “that day,” the eternal day that begins with the return of Christ, all needs will be supplied, and we shall ask Him nothing. In the Revelation, where the saints are pictured in the Holy City of the New Creation, they are portrayed as being perfectly provided for, so that there is not a prayer rising to ask God for anything. Instead of asking, there is continual praise to God and to the Lamb for having provided salvation, immortality, and everything pertaining to life. There will be no asking for daily bread, for the tree of life will be available to all. The usual requests for healing of the infirmities of our bodies will be absent. We shall have immortal bodies, powerful, glorious and incorruptible, for we shall be like Jesus who already has immortality. (I Tim. 6:16). There will be nothing for which a saint could ask, for the abundant provision of God will be so ample that we will not be able to think of anything more for which to ask. As Paul writes, He is “able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think.”
Not only will we have all things, but we shall have such knowledge that we will ask no questions. Now we know in part, but then we shall know as we are known, so Paul informs us. We shall be in company with the creator of all things; we shall see Him; we shall be like Him; we shall enjoy and share in His knowledge of things! And then someone asks, “Will we know each other in Heaven?” The answer is “Yes”. Not in so many words, but in this fact that we shall know all that we want to know, more than we now know, even as we are known by Jesus! We shall be people, redeemed and never dying people, a race chosen, cleansed and given an eternal dwelling place in the fellowship of God. Such is the glory and the joy that is to be realized when Jesus returns. “A little while and ye shall see me . . . and in that day ye shall ask me nothing.” O what a day that will be!
PRAYER: Father in Heaven, thank You for hearing my prayers, and providing the needs of life in this world, and for the assurance of the abundant life yet to be realized. Grant that I may be faithful until that day, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
“Your joy no one taketh away from You.” John 16:22
How soon the hard won joys of this world are snatched away by the force of Satan’s grip which lays upon society like a cat’s paw upon a wounded mouse. The desperation of the world, in seeking for even a simulated joy, is revealed in the phrase we hear; “trying to have a little fun”. The world makes a business of it, of trying to find some joy. It works at it. For the one whose purpose is fixed on God there is a certain peace and joy in believing. But Jesus was known as the suffering saviour. His joy was the “joy that was set before Him”, the joy which He anticipated AFTER the ordeal of this earth was over. “In the world,” He said, “Ye have tribulation”. The history of the church from the apostles forward is marked by blood and tears. Paul wrote that “If we have only hoped in Christ in this life, we are of all men most pitiable”. (I Cor. 15:19). Why did Paul say that? It was because he recognized that joys are short-lived in the world where sin abounds. No sooner do we get things settled to where we think, “Now everything is moving along smoothly” but something arises to unsettle us again. Satan, like a roaring lion, is going about, doing his best to keep the Christian from having any peace and joy, in hopes that he will give up the faith. Joy does not just disappear of its own accord. It is taken away from you by the arch-enemy of God. The church is like a woman in travail, whose child is not yet delivered. It suffers pain and confinement. It is mocked and persecuted, while the world goes its merry way. While there is a certain joy in having peace with God, a joy in knowing our purpose and our destiny, such joy is mingled with sorrow over our weaknesses, moral and physical, and the suffering inflicted from without.
When Jesus comes it will mean the end of all sorrow and suffering for His saints. It will be joy unmixed with any sorrow at all. We shall not even remember the suffering! It will be “joy that no one taketh away from you”, no, not even after a thousand years! It is a promise Jesus has given for our encouragement now. Lift up your weary head and quicken your pace; hear His words, “I will see you again . . . and your joy no one taketh away from you.”
PRAYER: Father, I thank you for the degree of joy that is already mine in being, Yours. Enlarge my vision of the true joy that Jesus will bring; help me to be steadfast, and to share the great good news of His coming. I pray in His name. Amen.
“A little while, and ye behold me no more; and again a little while, and ye shall see me.” John 16:16
This “little while” puzzled the apostles. Jesus had been very definite about the time He would be in the grave; it was to be three days. No problem there. But they said, “What is this that he saith, a little while?” Then He explained that it would be a time when the world would rejoice, but his followers would weep and lament, as a woman in travail before delivering a child, has pain, but afterwards no longer remembers it. “Your heart shall rejoice,” He said, “and your joy no one taketh away from you.” So it becomes clear that the little while began with His ascension to the Father and the sending of the Holy Spirit. It is a time of travail for the church, with persecutions beginning soon after Pentecost and continuing even until today, with Christians killed in some countries and with enemies of the Gospel in our own land taking delight in their attempt to destroy the faith and demoralize the believers. The world rejoices. Its philosophy of “eat, drink and be merry” is preached and exemplified everywhere. “We never had it so good”, they say. The Christian is moved to tears as he sees the multitudes, including loved ones, recklessly going to their destruction.
But after a little while “your sorrow shall be turned to joy”. Such joy we anticipate when we see Jesus. When that day comes all the grief and the struggle to overcome sin will be forgotten in the everlasting joy of eternal life. What now seems to stretch forward, almost endlessly, to the prospect of His coming, will then be seen as only a little while. Even now we look back on the distant past and say “It seemed only yesterday”. John speaks of the last age, from Christ’s ascension until His return, as the “last hour”. The Hebrew writer speaks of the judgment as something to happen after “a little while”, quoting the prophet, Haggai. So we do not know when Jesus will return, but each individual has only a lifetime, which is a “little while” compared to eternity. Signs would indicate that He may return very soon! So you are not required to endure for centuries—just for a lifetime, or until He comes. Then what joy! “And again a little while, and you shall see me.” Pray that it may be soon.
PRAYER: O Lord, give me patience, and help me to use the little time I have to prepare for that great day when Jesus returns, that I may be found doing His will. In His name I pray. Amen.
“. . . faith, if it have not works, is dead in itself.” James 2:17
Volumes have been written in the great debate of “Faith versus Works”. There are those who claim to have a faith and that they are saved by that faith, without doing anything at all about it. Then there are others who believe that they will be saved because they have done certain works, or because of the great amount of good they accomplish. Still others say that we are saved by faith IF we add certain works. We know that the Word teaches that works do not save us, that all the good we do cannot erase one sin; that we remain sinners unless cleansed by the atoning death of Jesus. Then what of works? The dilemma is solved when we see what James has written. “Faith, if it has not works, is dead in itself.” That is, it is a dead faith, and a dead faith is no faith at all, only a profession of faith. Faith that is real always acts. It produces. It works. Paul writes that “neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith working through love.” (Gal. 5:6). That’s genuine faith because it is working. In trying to illustrate this point, I once said to a young woman, very solemnly and as menacingly as possible, “Betty, I have a gun in my pocket, aimed at your heart. If you do not get up and move from that chair by the time I count to three. I’m going to pull the trigger, and shoot right where you are sitting.” Slowly I counted, but all the time she sat there smiling. Of course she knew that I could never do such a thing even if I had the gun. I said, “So you didn’t believe me.” “I knew you were only doing it to make a point,” she answered. “I knew you didn’t mean it”. Nevertheless, had she had faith in what I said, she certainly would have acted. Many think of God’s warnings and commands in the same way, that He is only trying to make a point, but doesn’t actually mean it. The faith they claim is dead, non-existent, only a statement of their lips. If one believes, he will obey, but if he refuses to obey, his is not faith. Therefore we are saved by faith, faith which works and produces obedience. What of your faith? Is it working through love to accomplish God’s purpose?
PRAYER: Loving Father, increase my faith and help me to see the work that You would have me do. Then, O Lord, let me not rest until it is done. Through Christ I pray, Amen.
“I am thy shield and thy exceeding great reward.” Genesis 15:1
There was no false modesty about Abraham, to whom God spoke these words. He knew that he had earned a reward. In a daring raid he had risked his life, and all that he had to rescue the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah in order to deliver Lot from the enemy. In gratitude the king of Sodom offered him all the spoils, but Abraham refused, saying, “I have lifted up my hand unto Jehovah, God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth, that I will not take a thread nor a shoe-latchet nor aught that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich . . .” There might still be revenge in the hearts of the defeated rulers and Abraham would certainly be their target. But, even if he needed allies, he would not obligate himself to the wicked cities, by accepting their reward. “No, thank you. God is the possessor of heaven and earth, and if I’m to receive a reward, I’ll let Him give it.” Then God came to him in a vision and said, “Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield and thy exceeding great reward.”
Do you need protection? God is your shield. Have you taken up the good fight of faith against a host of evil? Do you even now tremble to think of what might happen to your business, to your job, to your prestige, to your future, because of the stand that you have taken. Fear not! God will be your protection! And what of the sacrifice you have made? What of the alms you have given in secret, when others were being lauded for their philanthropy? Have you faithfully paid the tithe all these years while another gets his name on the stained glass window for a lump sum given out of his abundance? Have you wrestled with the enemy and finally subdued him for the sake of some young man or woman, in a manner unknown to the world? Then look to Heaven. God will be your exceeding great reward. There is a battle raging. Do not fear to risk your life for the truth of God and the honor of Jesus, nor hesitate because man will not reward you. God is your shield, and He will be your reward.
PRAYER: O Mighty God, receive my praise for Your glory and power and everlasting mercy, by which I am saved through Christ. I pray that You will remember not my sins, but my feeble efforts to do Your will, in the name of Jesus. Amen.
“. . . called according to His purpose . . .” Romans 8:28
Each Saturday the newspaper contains a full page advertisement, sponsored by business men, to encourage church attendance. The brief message often suggests that Sunday church attendance will give you support and help in whatever you are trying to accomplish in life. This is a common fallacy, that one may choose whatever purpose he desires in life, and then embrace faith in Christ as a means of helping him attain that purpose. He devotes his energy and life to that vocation, and makes his faith merely another tool in building toward the chosen purpose.
Obviously this is getting the whole thing backwards. To go along pursuing one’s chosen vocation, as his life’s purpose with no respect to the ultimate and declared purpose of the Creator is bound to result in doing a good many things, if not everything, that is opposed to His purpose. God has one purpose: that men should be fashioned in His own image. It is God’s own purpose that He is interested in. The idea that we can make up our own “image” and then try so sincerely to live up to it that God will be impressed and give us, immortality as a reward for effort is just a pipe dream. It was Adam’s desire to be able to decide for himself what was right and wrong that caused his downfall. It will do the same for any man, for in judgment he will reap death as the reward for rejecting God’s purpose. Why should God give eternal life to a person who demonstrates all along that he doesn’t want to fulfill God’s idea of what life ought to be?
God has a purpose, and He calls men according to that purpose; He calls us to embrace His purpose and to put it first throughout life. Whatever vocation one chooses must be one that doesn’t get in the way of that purpose. Christian faith is not a tool to help us attain some purpose, it is the purpose. Do the things you pursue for a livelihood or for pleasure conflict with His purpose to make you into His image? Or, is your purpose the same as God’s? God calls you to His purpose, that He may give you eternal life.
PRAYER: O God, help me to put nothing ahead of Your eternal purpose, and give me wisdom to see the difference between my own coveted desires and Your desire. I pray through Jesus, and in His name. Amen.
“. . . upholding all things by the word of his power.” Hebrews 1:3
Democritus said that atoms were simple solid bodies. Of course we learned that he was wrong, that atoms are complex units, supposedly composed of protons, neutrons, and electrons. Today scientists tell us that they have identified some thirty or more additional “elementary particles” smaller than atoms—mu-meson, antilambda particles, anti-xi-zero particles and many more. No one knows just how small the “ultimate” substance may be, if there is such an ultimate substance. But we do know that the atom is held together with a power that is beyond man’s scope. The Hebrew writer speaks of Christ “upholding all things by the word of His power.” Literally this means that Christ is holding all things together. This being the case it should not be difficult for Him to create anything He desires, to put the atoms into any shape or form that pleases Him, and to raise men up from the dust and give them deathless bodies.
Surely if God so constantly supervises and orders the very substance of things, He is able to fulfill His promise to those who are the objects of His affection and the sum of His purpose. Why should we question His interest, His power, and His intention? Why should one doubt arise in our minds? The very atoms of my being exist by His power and His will, so that already my life is trusted to Him, under His control.
Even those who rebel are sustained by this power of Christ. “He himself giveth to all life, and breath, and all things.” (Acts 17:25). Life cannot exist apart from Him. What then, when the day comes that all rebels shall be totally cut off from His presence; what else but destruction? Then there is only one thing to do: to surrender to Him now, to bind ourselves to Him in humble faith and obedience, that He may uphold us and give us life forever.
PRAYER: Father, thank You for life, for my life now and for the assurance of immortality. Make me strong to trust you implicitly. Help me to submit my thoughts and actions to Your will, even as the atoms of my flesh are under Your power. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
“I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” Mark 2:17
No one understood better than Jesus how deep were the roots of sin and how terrible the judgment of God upon it, for He is the One who suffered that judgment for us. He recognized all men to be deeply imbedded in sin: The problem was to get men to see this, for only as they could see themselves as sinners could they respond to the call of Jesus.
With the rise of evolutionary thinking man has departed farther than ever from the truth, that he is a sinner. Now he thinks of himself as one who may commit a sin occasionally but not as one whose character is evil, and thus in need of a Divine Redeemer. If given enough time he thinks he may overcome sins by rearranging the relationship between human beings, removing the temptations, changing the environment and thus solving the whole matter. Men no longer need Christ as Saviour, they only need His ethics and morals.
However, if we take God seriously, we must take seriously the fact that we are not holy as God is. Sin is not merely the doing of an act, it is the very nature of our being; it is being so unlike God that it is easier to sin than to not sin; it is being of such character that one sins if he doesn't watch it all the time. And it is only as we come to see this in our nature, that we are sinners, that we can answer the call of Jesus. The urgency of that call is measured by the depth of evil, with God reaching down into the depths of that which He abhors, which He has consigned to ultimate destruction, in order to bring man back up to where he was intended. As long as we fail to see ourselves in that depth, we will fail to respond fully to the call of Christ. Those who think of themselves as only splattered by the sin around them also think of Christ as only wiping away the stains. He doesn't get to the core, to the heart, and they do not rise up to a new life. But the sinner is one who knows he is deeply rooted in sin, and sin is deeply rooted in him. He knows that he is worthy of God’s wrath—he fully understands this, that he actually deserves it. When he responds to Christ's call, it is wholeheartedly, that his whole life may be changed, that he may be lifted the whole fathomless distance to God!
See, then, how great is God's love! Think, O Christian, how great is your salvation! How can anything keep you from total dedication to Jesus our Lord?
PRAYER: O Mighty God, how marvelous is redemption, that You should give Christ to save a sinner like me. Give me boldness to share this good news, and to bring praise and glory to His name. Amen.
“He removeth kings, and setteth up kings.” Daniel 2:21
The king of Babylon was by no means a part of the kingdom of Israel. He was confident that the nation was his to rule as it pleased him, and for as long as he lived. Few others would have questioned this. But Daniel, a foreign captive under the sentence of death, boldly revealed to this monarch that “the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the lowest of men.” Millions of dollars are spent by political candidates to get themselves put into office. Millions of workers are enlisted to help them accomplish this feat, and after the election is over there is no end to the speculation and analysis of why the votes were cast just as they were. There are few who stop to consider that God has a hand in elections; that He still removes kings and presidents, and even judges and sheriffs, and sets up leaders of His own choice, sometimes men of the lowest rank. We in the United States of America are accustomed to thinking that we the people set up the ruler, and forget that we also claim to be “one nation under God”. Even if we had no knowledge of God at all, He still has the final word about the rulers in the kingdom of men.
Rejecting the ultimate rule of God, evil men are seeking to set up a world kingdom of such invincible power that no one might dare oppose it. Throughout the world men cringe in fear at this possibility and prospect. But there is One who is stronger than all world rulers combined, and Christians need have no fear of the things coming upon the world. God is still at work in the world. He has given all authority to Jesus our Lord, Who will bring all history to a close, judge evil men and destroy them, and bring His own eternal plan and purpose to fulfillment. Newspaper headlines and TV newscasts keep everlastingly before us the sordid story of war, tumult, revolt, and corruption, but are strangely silent where the Lord is concerned. But we may be sure that He is behind the headlines, working all things after the council of His own will. The Most High ruleth! Are you willingly submitting to His rule?
PRAYER: O God, and Father of the Lord Jesus, rule in my life. Accept my praise and glory and honor for Your power and wisdom and might. Thank You for redemption from death, and the hope of immortality, through Jesus. Amen.
“. . . guard that which is committed unto thee.” I Timothy 6:20
The apostle Paul knew that Timothy would meet many obstacles and many objections to the gospel which he preached, for the truth is forever under attack. New ideas capture the imagination; influential people introduce their own opinions into it; soon the gospel has been enlarged and embellished until the truth of it is hidden. So Timothy was told to guard it.
It becomes the responsibility of all Christians to guard that which is committed to them. It is God’s treasure in earthen vessels. The salt must remain salt. Everyone in the church has some responsibility to guard the gospel that is preached there. Men in their anxiety to get the “gospel” accepted like to water it down and dress it up, trimming it here and there to make it acceptable to those who will not receive the unvarnished truth. The theory is that once the sinner accepts it he will grow to such proportions that the full gospel will become palatable to him. But not so. Once he has tasted the dessert he is not likely to find the tough meat so tasty. One who enters under the wrong motive will find a double repentance necessary; a repentance of the fact that he entered falsely and then the repentance he should have experienced at the beginning. Since it is the gospel that is God’s power to save, anything less than the gospel will result in less than salvation. Therefore, we must guard the message God has given, “turning away from the profane babblings and oppositions of the knowledge which is falsely so called.” The world bombards us with its “babblings”, and men who claim to have great knowledge are making an all-out attack against the truth. We see this in almost every paper or magazine we pick up. But to every Christian God commits His revelation: the gospel of Christ which saves us and the commandments by which we live. It is up to you to guard it, to see that your faith is not diluted and polluted with errors and confusion. No one else can keep the false out of your mind. It is not only truth that is committed to You, but also the responsibility to guard it.
PRAYER: Father, thank You for the word of truth and life. Give me understanding of it, that I may discern the true from the false. Grant that I may guard it and share it, in Jesus’ blessed name. Amen.
“Against thee, thee only, have I sinned.” Psalm 51:4
This is where the revelation of God cuts straight across the path of the modern outlook. The modern view says that at heart all men are united with God, that none are really estranged from God; that we only sin when we injure our fellow man, and therefore God’s displeasure (they dare not say wrath) is due to our being mean to the other fellow. The solution to this problem is in adjustment; that is, adjusting our lives to the common mold, the lowest common denominator. This is the new morality. It doesn’t say “there is no God,” but simply ignores Him and says that if we get along with each other God will have no kick coming.
David knew better. Certainly he had injured others, but as he thought on his sins he concluded that the real sin was in resisting the will of God and violating His commandment. It is God who directs our human relationships, because each man was originally intended to be in the image of God. Therefore, even if we harm the other person, the real evil is in the fact that we have been unlike God and have mutilated the image. Even when the other fellow says, “Oh, that’s okay, forget it” or “I forgive you”, the sin still lies there until removed by God. It is God we have injured. It is God’s image we have spoiled. It is God’s purpose we have thwarted. It is God’s commandment we have broken. Therefore, it is only God who can say when we are forgiven. As long as men think of “sin” as crimes against society or as something only opposed to men, they will take lightly the whole scheme of redemption. They will go on thinking that “any religion is okay, if you are sincere.” They haven’t even thought of the Creator and the fact that every sin is against God. But since this is the case, God is the one who sets the penalty: death. He is the One Who gives the remedy; the death of Jesus. And He is the One Who gives the terms for us to receive forgiveness: repent and be baptized.
Friend, are you living to please God, or humanity? The standards of man change with the season, but God changes not. Let us live to please Him.
PRAYER: Loving Father, You know my sins better than I do. Cleans me through the blood of Jesus, and help me so surrender my whole life to Your will, in the name of Jesus. Amen.
“Jesus came, the doors being shut.” John 20:19, 26
John says that “the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews.” The same ones who had crucified Jesus never ceased opposing His truth, so the disciples had good reason to gather behind locked doors. Then suddenly Christ appeared to them, and said, “Peace be unto you.” He showed them his hands and his side, to prove to them that He was the risen Christ, that even though the Jews had slain Him, He was actually the Victor. From that time on, although the disciples were severely persecuted, they openly and boldly preached the gospel of Jesus in spite of arrest and imprisonment.
Christ’s enemies continue to fiercely oppose the truth. In the past fifty years millions of Christians have been slain or imprisoned in labor camps by the anti-christ socialists in many lands. Yet reports from these lands tell us of the staunch faith of believers, that the living Christ is able to give them peace in the midst of persecution. Jesus warned that His followers would “be hated of all men” for His name’s sake. But He added, “Fear them not.” He said, “Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do . . . Fear Him, who after he hath killed hath power to cast into Gehenna; yea, I say unto you, Fear Him.” (Luke 12:4, 5). It is not Satan and his henchmen we are to fear, but God, and if we rightly fear Him, we may have peace in our hearts. There is no door that can shut Jesus off from the faithful disciple. While all the world talks of peace but cannot find it, Jesus is already giving peace to His disciples, wherever they may be. There can be no world peace as long as there are unbelievers in it: light and darkness cannot co-exist. But where Jesus is, there is a certain individual peace: peace with God, peace with brethren, and the inner peace which naturally prevails when we are personally in harmony with God’s purpose. Do not fear the unsettled times and the enemies of God. Wherever you are, Jesus will give you peace.
PRAYER: Thank You, Father, for the Peace of Christ. In Jesus’ name, I pray that all those who suffer for the Faith’s sake may be given strength and peace in Him. Amen.
“And he, when he is come, will convict the world . . .” John 16:8
It is common practice for people to try to convict other people. We all do it; the wife tries to convict her husband of his bad habits, and he hers; the employer tries to convict the employees of their poor workmanship and the employees wish to convict management of poor wages. In fact, one of the problems of our world is that too many people are trying to correct everyone’s faults, and too many people are unwilling to be corrected of any. So Jesus said that He would send the Holy Spirit, and “he . . . will convict the world in respect of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.” We all strand in need of correction; not just of superficial faults but of the deep underlying presence of sin. Such sin is realized only when we are seen in the light of absolute righteousness, the righteousness of Christ, and is removed only by belief in Him, Who is the only one as yet fit to ascend unto the Father. Sin is of such a terrible nature that judgment has already been pronounced upon it, and the world needs desperately to be convinced of this fact.
This is the work of the Holy Spirit and it is going on wherever the gospel is being preached, or where it is being read. There are two lessons to learn from this. One is that correction of the world’s ills will not come by mere social reforms, but only by the power of the Holy Spirit as the truth of the gospel is known. The second is that this is the principal purpose and task of the Holy Spirit in the world. There always have been a great number of people who seek after signs, and the present generation has its share of those who see in the Holy Spirit the means of creating spectacles and keeping people excited and entertained. But this was not the purpose of the Holy Spirit and has nothing to do with the purpose of God. Granted that God is able to perform any miracles He desires, let us go on with faith to do that which He expressly desires of us; to publish the gospel so that the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth, may convict the world of sin and righteousness and judgment.
PRAYER: Father, cleanse me of sin and fill me with Your Spirit. Make me an instrument for Your work to the honor of Jesus my Lord. I pray in His name. Amen.
“In your patience ye shall win your souls.” Luke 21:19
These words come in the middle of the discourse in which Jesus warns the disciples that they shall be persecuted, delivered to prison and subjected to the hatred of the world. Even parents, kinsfolk and friends are named among those that betray the believers and cause them to be put to death. It is as if Jesus is saying that everything is opposed to your development as a Christian and contrary to your purpose. The entire world will hate you for no other reason than the fact that you desire to be godly and to have eternal life. From the natural view there will be no reason for you to go on; it will appear logical to quit the faith and take sides with the world; it will be far easier to give up than to go on. Therefore patience is the key. In your patience—in your enduring all these obstacles and suffering the weight of the world’s oppression—you shall eventually win the prize: your everlasting soul.
Yet it is easy to become impatient with the progress of things. Many have become impatient with the coming of the Kingdom, and now are taking the matter into their own hands, to revolutionize the world, create a new order of their own design, and mold man after their own image. This impatience is coupled with unbelief, for the two go hand in hand, and will result in receiving God’s condemnation. Others grow impatient with the stern circumstances that mold character, and without waiting for patience to have its perfect work, set about to change the circumstances. By doing so they destroy the mold by which God would bring them to perfection. Impatience will not accelerate the work of God. He knows best how long the gold must be refined in the fire! It has been said that what is to last forever takes a long time to grow. When compared to an eternity of joy in the creation that is filled with the glory of God and the unmarred beauty of life in His image, this time of labor in a lost world will be as a fleeting moment. Be patient, even as God is, for it means the winning of your soul!
PRAYER: O Mighty God, You have been so patient with me; teach me the same spirit of patience. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
“Set your mind on the things that are above.” Colossians 3:2
Many people think of the Christian way as negative—don’t do this and don’t do that. It is true that the Bible is filled with warnings and commands; a great number of sins are named and expressly forbidden. But after learning what is right and wrong, the believer is not to let his mind always dwell on the “don’ts”, but on the “do’s.” You cannot develop God-ward merely by negating sin.
An Indian fakir claimed to be able to make gold. Into a large vessel he poured water, put some coloring into it and began to repeat muntarams and to stir. Craftily he dropped some gold nuggets into it unnoticed, stirred a little more, poured off the water and showed the villagers the gold. A moneylender offered five hundred rupees for the formula, and the fakir sold it to him. “But,” the fakir explained, “you must not think of the red-faced monkey as you stir. If you do, the gold will never come.” The moneylender promised to remember this, that he would forget the monkey. But each time he began to stir the pot, he would remember what he was supposed to forget, and the red-faced monkey spoiled his gold.
This is the problem with many who can only think of the sins that they are not allowed to do. They cannot go on to perfection, because their minds are fixed on the red-faced monkey of sin. But God does not list the things He despises so that we will be thinking about them. Instead we are to think of Him. “Be ye therefore imitators of God.” The Bible lists the things which God loves and gives us a picture of the holy and righteous one, Jesus. The goal is to be like Him. Paul wrote that he was forgetting the things of the past and pressing on to the goal: “the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” The way to forget sin is to center your attention “on the things that are above, where Christ is, seated on the right hand of God.” The whole idea is that we are going to be like Him. Such a prospect is sufficient to grip and mold our mind and lives.
PRAYER: O Lord, help me to leave behind the sins and failures of the past, and give me vision to see the goal of Your purpose that I might go more faithfully toward it. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
“. . . the good ground, this is he that heareth the word and understandeth it . . .” Matthew 13:23
In this parable of the seed, the sower and the soils, Jesus places the burden of responsibility upon the soil, which is the one who hears the word. The honest and good heart is the one who concerns himself with the message of God, who not only hears but takes pain to understand it. Every day we meet those who look upon the present ferment in religion with total indifference. They have no interest in the debates over doctrine; they cannot see what difference it makes whether or not Jesus was born of a virgin; they boast about the fact that the Atonement is a complete mystery to them. In short, they do not understand the gospel and do not intend to.
If the truth God gives us is of no consequence, then it doesn’t matter whether anyone understands it or not. But if God is giving us a revelation of His will and His purpose because He intends for us to believe it and guide our lives by it; if He has given only one way for us to be forgiven of sin and thus be saved from death at judgment, then there is nothing in the world so important as our hearing of that way and understanding it. Those who “take heed” and “understand” are the ones who “beareth fruit and bringeth forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty”. It is no wonder, then, that in a nation filled with churches, there is little of the genuine fruit of Christ; where there is no understanding of the word, there will be no fruit.
Jesus realized that most of the seed of truth sown by His followers would fall either by the wayside, on shallow ground, or where it would be choked out by other interests. But He gives this encouraging word: that some seeds do fall upon good ground. Now and then the sermon falls upon the ears of a person who takes it seriously and goes away to meditate upon it and act upon it. The soil is ploughed and harrowed by hardship, and watered by tears. It is patiently cultivated by reading and hearing God’s word until finally it begins to bear fruit! What kind of soil are you? Will Christ reap a harvest of obedience and eternal life from the seed you receive?
PRAYER: Loving Father, thank You for the seed sown in my heart, and for Your patient cultivation of it. Give me patience and understanding, that Your word may bear fruit in my life to the honor and glory of Jesus the Lord. I ask this in His mighty name. Amen.
“. . . and the care of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.” Matthew 13:22
This is the seed that is sown among the thorns. The soil is productive, but it is full of latent weed-seeds. The good seeds spring up and it appears there will be a bumper crop, but soon the thorns spring up too, and before we hardly know it, the crop has been choked out by volunteer weeds. The thorns are not as we might suppose, the terrible sins which all recognize as from the devil, but rather the everyday activity, the daily cares, which in themselves are neither good nor bad, but which when pursued and allowed to fasten upon us become anxieties that choke out the faith by which the Christian is to live. “And the deceitfulness of riches”—not necessarily the riches themselves, but the fact that we attribute worth to them that is not there, and cultivate the riches instead of the corn! Luke adds, “and the pleasures of this life”. How sadly the word of God is forsaken for the pleasures of this life! When we ought to be meditating upon the law of God, we are reading the works of men, or taking pleasure in the TV program which is written and produced by those who know not Christ. Time and energy spent in pleasure cannot be used again. The first soil was impenetrable; the second was shallow and allowed no root; but this soil is fertile with great possibilities. The trouble is that the hearer is a man who is unwilling to cut out the weeds and thorns, unwilling to cut loose from the world in order to care for the things of God, unwilling to give up the riches of the world for the riches of eternity, unwilling to give up the pleasure of life for the pain of God’s discipline.
The country is filled with those who receive the word, but whose lives are so choked with concern for things other than God’s purpose, that they are unfruitful. We cannot cultivate thorns and corn in the same field. The thorns have to go. We must go into ourselves and pull out by the roots the cares and greed and pleasure that is taking up our time and sapping our energy.
PRAYER: Loving Father, give me the power to see the thorns that have infested my life. Then give me the courage to uproot them from my life, that Your word may have complete freedom. This I pray in the name of my Lord, Jesus. Amen.
“. . . and because they had no root, they withered away . . .” Matthew 13:6
These seeds which fell upon rocky places, straightway sprang up, Jesus said, “because they had no deepness of earth”. The absence of depth contributed to the richness of the thin soil and the underlying rock gave out a certain amount of reflected heat, so the seed “straightway sprang up”. So the soft-hearted, emotional and enthusiastic more readily respond to the word than those who want to think it over and count the cost. In tears they go down the church isle and eagerly pledge their loyalty. “This is he that heareth the word, and straightway with joy receiveth it; yet hath he not root in himself, but endureth for a while; and when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, straightway he stumbleth”. It is the word that he receives with joy; it is the word that causes him to wither, and in either case it is “straightway”. He is first to enthusiastically endorse the program, and the first to make excuse when the actual work begins. It is easy to “amen” the preacher when all the congregation is in full accord with his message. The word is received with joy. But when controversy arises and the word becomes a sword that separates the wheat from the chaff, the amens often turn to sneers. Tribulation and persecution invariably arise because of the word. Peter and John were imprisoned because of the word which they spoke by the authority of Jesus. Paul was in chains because of the hope of the fathers, which he proclaimed in the resurrection. It is possible to escape this persecution only if we ignore the word, or renounce it.
“Yet he hath not root in himself”. It is in himself that the word must take root. It matters not how orthodox my church may be and how well my minister proclaims the word. I must take it into myself, understand it, let its roots enter far into the depths of my own mind, entwine my heart, until the tree cannot be uprooted from the soil of my life. Christian, how much root does the word have in your life? Make sure you are rooted in truth and it is deeply rooted in you, that you may endure the coming persecution.
PRAYER: Father, I would hide Your word in my heart, that I may bear its fruit. Remove the stony areas of my life, that all may be good soil, for I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
“And some seeds fell by the wayside, and the birds came and devoured them.” Matthew 13:4
Nothing could seem more natural than birds feeding on the seed that have inadvertently fallen by the wayside. But the scene is not a beautiful one according to Christ’s explanation. “When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the evil one, and snatcheth away that which hath been sown in his heart. This is he that was sown by the wayside.” For all the apparent natural beauty, these birds represent the work of Satan, the evil one. There are millions who hear the word of the kingdom; they have heard it all their lives; if they do not attend regularly at church, they hear about it at weddings and funerals and at Christmas time and Easter; even with all the false ideas and traditions interwoven, there is still some truth, some work of the kingdom; they hear it through the classic writers such as Shakespeare; they cannot help hearing of it. The seed falls upon them. But they have no use for it. They are busy with other things, lovely things, things which to our eyes may appear harmless, innocent, quite as natural as birds feeding themselves by the wayside. They give their minds and their lives to the things of this world. We look upon them and think that their activities are profitable, they are successful, the world beats a path to their door, they demonstrate a certain charm that makes one’s heart glow with pride at being in their company. But the word of the kingdom always remains a mystery to them. Somehow they never quite come to understand it, to take it to their hearts, to surrender to it and turn their lives to God and His purpose. All their good works go toward helping the evil one. The truth of Christ that falls upon them is snatched away by Satan because they understand it not.
How much of the great truth of God do we lose to the devil’s grasp because we do not understand? If we would please God, we would pray for wisdom and understanding, that we might understand His word and hence grow to His likeness.
PRAYER: Father, open my mind to understanding, that the precious seed of Your Kingdom be not wasted, but bear fruit for Your use. In Jesus’ name, and for His sake, Amen.
“Behold, the sower went forth to sow.” Matthew 13:3
This is the first of the parables of Jesus, and through it He gives us some understanding of how to interpret parables as well as the use and purpose of them, for He proceeded to explain the meaning of this one parable of the sower, the seed and the soils. “The seed is the word of God.” In a sense Jesus is both the sower and the seed, for He came as the Word of God to manifest Himself and God’s truth to the world. Not only does He teach the truth, He is the truth. The seed that He sows is not merely facts which can be accepted piece-meal, detached, separated doctrines—as, for example, one who preaches Jesus as the Son of God but rejects His second coming, or one who teaches eternal life but reject’s the judgment and eternal death for sinners—but to sow the seed is to sow the whole kernel of truth, the whole doctrine of Christ, embracing his incarnation, atonement, and the final consummation of things in Him. For a seed of anything to take root and produce it must be a whole seed. So Jesus says that the “seed is the word”. The seed is the truth summed up in Jesus in His death, burial, resurrection and return.
It is true that even a portion of scripture may be the means of opening a mind a wee bit, so that more of the truth can be fed into it. But the final fruit of eternal life must come from a whole seed, the whole kernel of the gospel.
The seed is sown everywhere. The sower has gone forth to all the world, through all those who bear His message. It is sown in all kinds of soils, but notice one thing: it is always the same seed. There are many today who would adapt the seed to the soil; a different seed for each type of person and culture. But it will do no good to sow some other seed just because the soil demands it. It might produce, but not the fruit, which God desires. As we go forth to sow in the name of Jesus, let us make sure we sow the seed of the word of God.
PRAYER: O God, give wisdom and strength to your messengers who preach and teach Your word. Guard us from the temptation to dilute it with men’s fancies. I pray in the name of Jesus the Lord. Amen.
“Now it is in my heart to make a covenant with Jehovah.” II Chronicles 29:10
Hezekiah began to reign in Judah at the age of 25 at a time when the nation was in the depths of idolatry, suffering defeat from without and demoralized within. Immediately he began to act. “In the first year of his reign, in the first month, he opened the doors of the house of Jehovah and repaired them”. Then he called upon his sons to minister to the Lord, ordered the priests to cleanse the temple, gathered the princes of the city and made sacrifice to God. He had the idols torn down, re-established the law of God and “wrought that which was good and right and faithful before Jehovah.” And it all began because Hezekiah said, “Now it is in my heart to make a covenant with Jehovah”.
How often we hear someone say that they ought to give up some habit, or take up some project. How many times have we sat before the pulpit and given assent to the fact that we ought to go out and witness for the Lord? Think of the words that we have spoken in support of all that needs to be done, not only in our own lives, but in the service to be rendered to others. And yet everything remains the same; the same habits; the same jobs neglected; the same deteriorating condition all around. It is all lip-service. It is head-religion only; recognizing what needs to be done, but with no heart in it.
Is it in your heart to serve God? Then it is in your power to initiate the service. Idols do not abolish themselves. Temples do not repair themselves. Neither will all our resolves and discussion renew our lives and make us fit vessels for God’s service. It was in Hezekiah’s heart to “seek his God” and he wasted no time, but began the first month of his reign to act, and “he did it with all his heart and prospered.” Is it in your heart to follow Christ? To put Him first? To cleanse the temple of your life and rid yourself of all idols? Then begin now to do it with all your heart and you will prosper in it.
PRAYER: Dear God, help me to be a doer of the word, and not a hearer only; forgive me for putting off things that ought to be done, and give me strength to execute the will of my heart in obeying You. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
“Be not deceived: evil companionships corrupt good morals.” I Corinthians 15:33
Just as no drunkard ever took the first drink with the avowed intention of becoming an alcoholic, so no person ever entered into any alliance with the full intention of being deceived. Our first parents were deceived in the garden by keeping company with the devil. It has been said that in any negotiation with evil the benefits accrue to the enemy. First Eve was deceived and before she recognized the deception she had led her husband into the same trap. They were deceived by believing the lie of Satan: “Thou shalt not surely die”. (Gen. 3:4). But on that very day they lost the deathless state, and began the aging and dying process that eventually brought them to the grave.
How quickly men are deceived! “Many a man’s destiny”, says Stevenson, “has been settled by nothing apparently more grave than a pretty face on the opposite side of the street and a couple of bad companions round the corner”. However, it isn’t as natural as this would sound. Deception doesn’t come by accident. Satan works at it. “For many deceivers are gone forth into the world . . .” (II John 7). Through these Satan has become the deceiver of the nations.
How can we avoid being deceived? First of all we can avoid the companionship of the deceiver. Make no alliance with him. Do not think you have the skill and power to outwit him at his own game. Jesus said to pray that we be not led into temptation; certainly we ought not to walk headlong into it! But deceivers are not always easily identified. So we need to have a second line of defense, and that is nothing less than the truth of God. If Adam and Eve had listened to God, they would not have been deceived. We expect a banker to know money so that he can readily identify the counterfeit, and the jeweler to know the difference between the genuine diamond and the synthetic. So God expects us to know the truth, that which He has revealed, so that we will not be deceived by lies, false religion, and evil companions. It is a command: “Be not deceived”.
PRAYER: Loving Father, keep me alert and guard me from deception. Give me the moral strength to follow Your will, to know the truth and to do it. This I ask in the name of Jesus the Lord. Amen.
“. . . the holy thing which is begotten shall be called the Son of God.” Luke 1:35
Does it seem irreverent for Jesus to be called a “thing”? But the angel was only answering the question of Mary. She was bewildered, over-whelmed, by the announcement that she was to bear a child. “How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?” The angel knew her mind. “What a thing to happen to me! I, who have never been touched by a man . . . it isn’t possible. How can such a thing be?” It was a frightening thing for anyone to consider, but to an unmarried girl! She must be made a spectacle, shamed and disgraced by this scandal, and not as the ordinary unwed mother, because of her own lust and incontinency, but in spite of it; not because of sin, but because of her purity! How can it be? Can we possibly understand the wave of shock with which the announcement hit Mary?
But there was something that made it all right. It was a Holy thing that was happening. The child was to be called the Son of God. And Mary immediately accepted the humbling condition God cast her in, in order to accomplish His purpose. “Be it unto me according to thy word”, she said. This was her nature, the reason she had “found favor with God”. When the time had come for the Christ to become identified with Human flesh in order to die as a man, it was necessary for God to have a person, humble, submissive and faithful, through whom Jesus could be born. Such was Mary, immediately believing, yielding, accepting humiliation and hardship, that God might work His eternal purpose.
God also seeks to work a holy purpose in you. There is a holy thing to be made of each of us—for God would have us holy and without blemish, in His image. But it requires our faith, to believe that God’s purpose in us is the very ultimate of blessing, even if it means humiliation, pain and hardship. Does God call upon you to submit your body to Him, to suffer for Him, to be humiliated for Him? It is because He would create in you a new creature, that you might be called one of the sons of God.
PRAYER: Loving Father, thank You for sending Christ to be my Saviour, and for making me one of Your children. Help me to be obedient and faithful to accept your will, that I may be like Him. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
“. . . deliver us from the evil one.” Matthew 6:13
In the model prayer of our Lord it is significant that the only protection for which He prayed is protection from the evil one. In His prayer as recorded in the seventeenth chapter of John Jesus prayed for us; “I pray not that thou shouldest take them from the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil one.” We might ponder as to why Jesus did not petition the Father to keep us from disease, from danger on the highways, from the hatred of the world, from violent men and from the ravages of war. These are the kind of things we so often think of when we have the ear of the King. Ask for requests for prayer in the church assembly and about the only requests you hear are the ones for some physical ailment. But Jesus knew the real need. He knew the greatest danger, that it is not that we might be physically injured—such injury cannot keep us from growing in His grace and knowledge—but that Satan might lure us into sin and get a grip on us again. He Who had been tempted to the very limit of Satan’s ability, and to the limit of His own endurance, knew what it means to fall into the hands of the evil one. So He did not teach us to pray for deliverance from the world and its opposition, but for deliverance from Satan’s power.
Now, are we prepared to pray, “Deliver us from the evil one”? It may keep us from many things we love, for often our hearts get set on things that are of Satan’s dominion. Thus the prayer for protection from evil may be directed against our own desires. Are we willing to have our world disrupted in order that God might answer this prayer? Are we willing to endure the “thorn in the flesh” as Paul did, in order that we might be kept from the evil of self-glory? Do we want God to keep us from evil even if it means also keeping us from some advancement, some coveted promotion, or enviable position? Jesus knew what to pray for! This is what we need to pray for, that regardless of the cost and whatever the means, we be kept from evil, that we may be pure, as He is, for this is the purpose of God.
PRAYER: O Lord, in the name of Jesus my Lord, I pray You to deliver me from evil. By the power in which Christ once conquered Satan, let me also resist Him, that I may be pleasing in Your sight. Amen.
“having found one pearl of great price, he went and sold all that he had, and bought it.” Matthew 13:45
The pearl of great price, Jesus said, is the kingdom of heaven. It is like a man “that is a merchant seeking goodly pearls . . .”—not as a hobby to which he might allot a few hours on the weekend as something incidental to his life, but as that to which the merchant devotes his greatest energy. So I am to surrender all in order to make the kingdom of heaven my possession. It is just this deliberate act of giving up all else to buy the kingdom that separates the nominal Christian and the genuine Christian. It is easy enough to be attached to the church, to discuss religious doctrine and opinion. Knock on any door and you can find someone who might argue with you about religion; they have a few pearls of their own to show you; they consider them as good as any pearls. But they are not real pearl merchants. They have made no real effort to distinguish the real from the imitation. They even deny that there could be some body of truth which is of great price, superior to their opinions and traditions. So they never really get through to the kingdom. They are not seeking it, cannot recognize it when they see it, and are unwilling to pay the price which it demands.
The kingdom is free! It cannot be purchased with works or money. Yet we must sell all that we have in order to obtain it. It is not possible to be a citizen of two kingdoms, to serve two masters. If Christ the Lord is to be our King, we must give up the ambition to enjoy the glory of the kingdoms of the world. If it is the will of God we seek, we must give up our collection of lesser pearls: treasured traditions, gems of opinion and proud convictions. Are you seeking the Kingdom? Do not think that the preacher will be your pearl-merchant. No one else can buy the kingdom for you. If you start it, you must think enough of it to sell all, and buy it yourself!
PRAYER: Loving Father, I thank You for purchasing my life with the precious blood of Jesus. Now help me to give up all that is contrary to Your will, to root out every false or evil thought and desire, that I may have full access to Your Kingdom. I pray in Jesus’ holy name. Amen.
“Who shall ascend unto the hill of Jehovah? . . . He that hath clean hands and a pure heart.” Psalm 24:3, 4
A group of men in the Outer Hebrides in 1949 had been meeting twice a week for weeks praying for revival. Duncan Campbell tells of their concern for the state of the parish, and the barrenness of their own lives as officers in the church. While they were praying one of the young elders rose to his feet and read the 24th Psalm. Then he said to the others, “Brethren, it seems to me just so much humbug to be waiting and praying as we are doing, if we ourselves are not rightly related to God.” Lifting his hands heavenward, he said, “Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart. Are my hands clean? Is my heart pure?” He could go no farther; he fell on his face, and then and there the revival began.
One of the first recorded events in the life of the Christian Church is that of Ananias and Sapphira, who pretended to be more generous than they actually were by claiming to give all the money from the sale of their land to the church when they only gave part of it. Peter said, “Why hath Satan filled thy heart to lie to the Holy Spirit?” Judgment fell upon this couple and they died immediately as an example to all who should make a pretense of religion. We shudder to think what would be the case were God to deal direct judgment in the church today. The general feeling seems to be that God is more tolerant and less holy than back then. The feeling itself is evidence that we have descended far from the holy hill of God. We easily excuse sinful habits and make light of the things that are opposed to God. The politicians are often telling us that we need to take a “long hard look” at some policy or other. What we Christians must do is to take a “long hard look” at our own hands and into our own hearts. Having been saved by grace we are to walk in the light in a new life. James commands: “Cleanse your hands ye sinners and purify your hearts, ye double-minded.” This is the question. Are my hands clean? Is my heart pure?
PRAYER: O God, may I be shocked by the sins that insult You, that I may turn from sin and drive impurity from my heart. Fill me with Your spirit and the love of that which is holy, I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
“My power is made perfect in weakness.” II Corinthians 12:9
In his book, “The Normal Christian Life”, Watchman Nee tells of a Christian brother who got a cramp in his leg while swimming and called for help. An excellent swimmer was urged to go to his rescue, but to the dismay of all made no move to do so, but stood calmly by apparently willing to postpone the unwelcome task until too late. Drowning seemed inevitable. But finally, when the man was actually sinking, with a few swift strokes the swimmer was at his side and soon had him safely ashore. Mr. Nee criticized him—“Think of the distress you would have saved that brother if you had considered yourself a little less and him a little more.” But the swimmer knew his business. “HAD I gone earlier,” he said, “he would have clutched me so fast that both of us would have gone under. A drowning man cannot be saved until he is utterly exhausted and ceases to make the slightest effort to save himself.”
Often we wonder why God doesn’t plunge right in and save us from the distress we suffer. We know He is able. Why does He stand by and do nothing? But there are times when God can work best through our weakness. We put confidence in our own solutions. We will work it out our own way, but we would like to have a little of God’s help for our plan. The more He strengthens us, the more confidence we have that our design is the right one. With the least encouragement we are convinced that we are on the right track and we bulldoze ahead, proud of the fact that we are getting the job done—with a little help from God. Only by letting us sink, so that we rely completely on Him, can God help us. God’s power is not to accomplish goals we set, but to accomplish His purpose. We do not save ourselves from sin and death, but trust the saving power of Jesus. We do not overcome the distress in the world by our own clever design and power over men, but according to God’s word and in the power of Christ, so that His power is made perfect in our weakness.
PRAYER: Thank You Father, for coming to me in my distress and weakness, and giving me sufficient grace and strength. Grant that I may glory in the power of Christ and be strong only in Him. In His name I pray. Amen.
“This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24
This expression follows close upon the heels of the prophecy concerning the stone, which the builders rejected, becoming the head of the corner. It has reference especially to Christ as man’s sin-offering and the total victory won by Him in His vicarious death. In times past it has been a choice scripture for use on Easter, for the assurance of resurrection is the fact that triggers our rejoicing.
But, is there any day that the Lord has not made? When we awake in the morning is it not because God has given us breath through the night and in His long-suffering continues to sustain the world for another day? Paul reminds us that even pagan poets know that “in Him we live and move and have our being”. We who are Christian have great cause to rejoice in each new day. First; it is a day of salvation; having been redeemed by Christ we awake not just in this world of tears, but in His kingdom, guiltless, with the right to boldly approach God’s throne. Second; regardless of circumstances it is another day to prepare ourselves to meet Him, to move another step closer to the goal, to be bent a little more in the direction of His image. Third; it is a day of the gospel, in which we may say the word for which some lost soul is seeking and by which he may be turned from darkness to light and from death to life. Fourth; it is the day the Lord has made! It has in it all the prospects and possibilities for our development and for the accomplishment of His will.
How do you greet the day? If you would test your commitment to God, consider how long it is from the time you awake until your first prayer in the name of Jesus: If it is more than a few minutes, then it is time to reconsider whether or not you really take God seriously. If you would rejoice in each new day, begin that day by recognizing that it is God’s; He made it for His glory; He intends for us to use it for that purpose. IF God gives you another day, rejoice and be glad in it!
PRAYER: O Gracious God, thank You for this day. Remove my anxiety, that I may set my heart fully on pleasing You and doing Your will today. Purge me from sin and grant me immortality in the last day, I pray in the name of the Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.
“Now unto him that is able . . . be the glory . . .” Ephesians 3:20, 21
It is not unusual for us to heap glory and honor upon the person who has special talents and abilities; in fact giving such honor plays a large role in man’s activities. But Paul is not writing about God’s ability to do the outstanding things we usually think of as His special field, such as creating the universe and keeping it all running in perfect order. He is talking about His ability “to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us”. Since creating man in His image is God’s chief concern, it should be no surprise that He is able to do His mightiest work in and through man. This ability is well illustrated in Moses, when he was given the staggering call from God to face a hostile empire and lead a rebellious people out of it into unknown enemy territory. He asked “who am I?” He argued that he hadn’t the ability to convince them that he was sent from God, and that he was not eloquent of speech. He did the same thing that many of us do when facing a task that we know is expected of us as servants of Christ. "Who am I? I’m not the one for this; I’m not talented; I haven’t the ability . . . I can’t do it.” God’s answer to Moses was, “I will be with thee." He would prove that the mission was a Divine one, not by any qualifications on the part of Moses, but by acts of God. He would solve the problem of eloquence. “Who hath made man’s mouth? . . . is it not I Jehovah?" Notice that God did not attempt to convince Moses that he actually was able, that he just needed self-confidence. He doesn’t get His work done through flattery. He knew Moses had not the ability. “It matters not who you are, Moses, nor what you can do. I am able to do the job, through you."
Your weakness is no bar to greatness as a servant of God. “When I am weak, then am I strong.” The glory of God is seen in His use of earthen vessels to accomplish His purpose. Are you willing to be such a vessel? He is able, if you are willing.
PRAYER: Loving Father, thank You for the task you have given me, for it is too big for me. May it bring honor and glory to Your name to accomplish it through such a poor vessel. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.
“For Jehovah is a God of justice.” Isaiah 30:18
Critics have tried to show that the concept of God in the Old Testament and the concept as given in the New Testament are different ideas of God. They picture the “Old Testament” God as harsh and stern, a God of justice; then point to God in the New Testament as one of love and mercy. They would have us believe that mercy is several degrees better than justice. This idea is carried over into the courts of our land to the point where it is difficult to make the justice of courts stick, and justice has almost ceased to be a deterrent to crime.
But we know that God has not changed; that He is still a God of justice. We misunderstand the meaning of the gospel when we think that the mercy shown through Christ will override God’s justice. Sometimes men will say, “I don’t want Justice, I want mercy”, as if we had a choice between two opposing attributes of God. Justice and mercy are not opposed to each other. God will remain Just, and no amount of mercy will alter His unchanging justice. To overrule His justice with mercy would be to make Him capricious, subjective and undependable. So God remains just and also merciful. In mercy He sent Jesus to die for our sins, “That he might himself be just, and the justifier of him that hath faith in Jesus.” (Romans 3:24-26). It is justice that says that “the wages of sin is death”. When Christ assumed our sin He was put to death because God is just. This is the basis of our hope, that the penalty for sin has already been exacted from Christ, and we can depend upon receiving the full benefit of His death, because God is just. He will not demand more than the penalty! “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins . . .” It is God’s justice that assures us forgiveness. Also it is His justice that gives us hope, because he promised it upon our faith in Jesus. Paul wrote that he expected the crown of righteousness, because the Lord is a righteous judge. When God makes a promise, you can bank on it because He is just. You do not have to choose between justice and mercy. Choose both, and live in peace.
PRAYER: Father, I give you thanks for your mercy by which Jesus died for my sins, to satisfy Your justice. Help me also to show mercy, and to live justly, to the glory and honor of Jesus, my Lord. Amen.
“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial . . .” I Peter 4:12
A Christian friend wrote that she was having to wrestle with a very serious problem. In replying I said that I was glad to hear of a Christian in such a struggle, for it always means that one is a serious opponent of Satan. Such wrestling is the means to deep faith and a rich love for God. Such faith and love, I believe, must be won in difficult, and lonely struggles with the devil.
When a believer is under such a test he may ask, “Why am I being punished? What have I done to bring it about?” But Peter says that there is nothing strange about our suffering as Christians. “But inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings, rejoice.” Jesus suffered because He was perfect and innocent. The prophets were the most faithful of God’s people, yet they all suffered. Job was a man whom God declared to be perfect and righteous, yet he was the very one selected by God to be tempted and to suffer. Noah, Moses, John the Baptist and the apostles, all were godly, Christ-like men of faith; yet they all passed through long and hard periods of suffering, wrestling with great personal problems, as well as the problems of those to whom they ministered.
If you wrestle against great temptation, then you must be one of Satan’s chosen enemies, and in turn, a warrior of the Lord. Such wrestling will strengthen you and bind you closer to God. Thus assuring your ultimate and eternal salvation. Therefore, Peter says “Rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, ye have been put to grief in manifold trials, that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold that perisheth though it is proved by fire, may be found unto praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (I Peter 1:6, 7). Fiery trials for Christians are not strange or unusual. Rather they are part of the process, to be expected by those who take seriously God’s call to His eternal purpose.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, I pray not for the easy way, but for the right way. Give me grace and strength for patience and endurance, that I may be found faithful when Jesus Comes. In His name, I pray. Amen.