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“Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and
Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and
in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied. (Acts 9:31).
The churches had been under great trial because of the
persecution of Saul of Tarsus. No doubt they had been ready to despair. They
were so weary. But the Lord knows just how much His people can take before they
collapse. He changed Saul the persecutor to Paul the Apostle and gave his people
He works with individual Christians the same way. We may
think that we will reach the breaking point, but He will deliver before that
time. “Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him
out of them all.” (Psa. 34:19).
Persevere in righteousness, weary Christian. The Lord will
deliver in due time. He will, in His glorious providence, give you rest when He
knows you have to have it. Resist Satan. Encourage yourself in the Lord. The
Lord set the example of resisting Satan. “And when the devil had ended all the
temptation, he departed from him for a season.” (Luke 4:13). The Lord will see
to it that the devil will depart from you for a season, too.
“Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are
subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.
The Lord Jesus had sent seventy preachers out. As they came
back from their mission they “... returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even
the devils are subject unto us through thy name.” (Luke 10:17). Then the Lord
told them that the real cause of rejoicing should be that their names were
written in heaven.
To have one’s name written in heaven is to be assured of
eternal salvation. Speaking of the eternal city of God the scripture says, “And
there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever
worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the
Lamb’s book of life.” (Rev. 21:27). The names of God’s elect people were “...
written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”
(Rev. 13:8). Those “... whose names were not written in the book of life from
the foundation of the world....” (Rev. 17:8) are those who will not be brought
A man may have wealth, power, health, and all other outward
advantages. But if he is not one of the Lord’s, all this will come to an end
when he dies and he will suffer eternal misery. But though a man be sorely tried
in this life and yet has his name written in heaven he has great cause for
rejoicing. God is his God now and forever more through the Lord Jesus Christ.
How do I know if my name was written in the Lamb’s book of
life before the foundation of the world? I know it because God saves me by His
grace now in this life and causes me to love Him and to live for Him. “We
love Him, because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19). God always draws those He
loves to salvation. “Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore
with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” (Jer. 31:3).
Paul could thus speak of those who had labored for the Lord
as those “... whose names are in the book of life.” (Phil. 4:3).
Some glorious day in the future, all the saints will enjoy
the continual presence of the Lord Jesus Christ in their capacity as the “...
general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven.”
So, dear reader, if you truly love the Lord this means that
He loves you. Circumstances may be dark and the way may be difficult, but
“rejoice, because your names are written in heaven!”
“One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek
after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to
behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in his temple. (Psa 27:4).
The New Testament believer can and should pray this prayer
that David prayed. God’s house is the place where He chooses to especially
abide. His house today is each true New Testament congregation of believers:
“... the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and
ground of the truth.” (1 Tim 3:15).
There is one principal thing that David desired -- not
wealth, not fame, not fading worldly pleasures -- but and opportunity of
attending continually on the public worship of God.
He said he would “seek after” this; by prayer, by availing
himself of every opportunity of worshipping God in the congregation; by
conducting his life so that he would not bring reproach upon God’s church.
The psalmist wanted to dwell there “all the days of his
life.” He was committed to be a good church member. He had not thought of ever
forsaking the assembly of the saints.
He wanted to “behold the beauty of the Lord.” This beauty
is displayed as Christ is held forth in the gospel. This beauty is beheld as the
saints lift up their hearts and voices together to sing praises to their
Redeemer. The beauty of the Lord is beheld as God’s people walk in the unity of
the Holy Spirit and genuinely care for each other and serve one another. The
beauty of the Lord is beautifully displayed in the ordinances of Baptism and the
Lord’s supper, and in the practice of washing the saint’s feet. (John 13).
David, furthermore, wanted to “inquire in his temple” -- to
seek the face of the Lord, to consult Him in matters of difficulty, to search
after the knowledge of divine things.
What a worthy prayer this is! Let this be the
heart-breathing of every true believer today. The church of the Lord Jesus
Christ is the most wonderful assembly on the face of the earth.
“For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly
Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses,
neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Mat 6:14, 15).
One major reason that causes a lack of spiritual power
among Christians is the failure to forgive. The above verses teach plainly that
we can have no fellowship with the heavenly Father when we fail to forgive those
who wrong us.
People often say “I will forgive, but I can’t forget.” But
this is not real forgiveness. Forgetting is the very essence of forgiving.
Consider the following passage: "For I will be merciful to their
unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.”
But you may say, “Well, I just can’t put something out of
my mind.” This may be true but there are three things that can be done which
will constitute forgetting in a very real way:
You can resolve to never bring the matter up again to the
You can determine to never speak of the matter to any third
You can refuse to think of the matter again -- or at least
refuse to let your mind dwell on it.
If the thought comes to your mind, think about something
else. Perhaps you could memorize scriptures that have to do with forgiveness and
think on these when the matter tries to invade your mind.
Prayerfully determine to do these things and experience the
blessed peace of our Lord when He says, “...
Well done, thou good and faithful
servant....” (Matt. 25:21).
“If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous
mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? (Luke 16:11).
The way that we think about and use money tells a good deal
about our character. The Savior said a great many things about money while He
was on earth and He is the One who is speaking here.
We do not have a right to use our money any way we please.
We are obligated to use our wealth the way our Lord tells us to. He is the One
who has given us the opportunity and ability to make money. “But thou shalt
remember the LORD thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get
wealth....” (Deu 8:18).
It is sin for us to waste money by foolish spending or by
purchasing luxuries with which to pamper ourselves. These luxuries, expensive
hobbies, etc., tend to take our minds off the Lord and consume money that could
be put to much better use in the Lord’s service.
It is also sin for us to be covetous. A covetous person is
selfish and wants to lay up all his wealth for himself or to spend it on himself
and perhaps on his near of kin. This individual will come to great sorrow.
Speaking of the covetous rich man who died in disfavor with God, Jesus said, "So
is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” (Luke
Let us be rich toward God! Let us examine our spending
practices with a prayerful attitude and see where we are wasting money that
should be used in the service of God. This is where we will find true happiness.
A covetous person is never happy. Every true child of God who has practiced
sacrificial giving has truly learned that “... It is more blessed to give than
to receive.” (Acts 20:35).
When we do this, then more and more, the Lord will commit
to our trust the true riches.
“And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify
yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly
esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God. (Luke 16:15).
Being popular with men does not make a cause or a practice
right. In fact, the majority of things that receive approval among sinful men
are disgusting to God.
We, as sinful creatures, must ever guard against the
temptation to judge the rightness or the wrongness of a thing by its popularity
or unpopularity. We are tempted to be like those who, “... believed on him; but
because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out
of the synagogue: For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.”
How do we find out what God loves and what God hates? Only
in His word. We must diligently study it and strive to build into our lives
those things which God approves.
For example, the world places great emphasis on physical
beauty, especially as regards women. A beautiful woman is nearly always popular,
regardless of her character or morals. But God says, "Favour is deceitful, and
beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.” (Prov
Another example: The world today praises women who are
loud, proud, and self-assertive. This is particularly evidenced in the so-called
Women’s’ Liberation movement. But this is an abomination to God. Speaking of
godly women, the Bible says that they are to be adorned with “... a meek and
quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.” (1 Pet 3:4).
Dear readers, let us not try to please men. Paul said, “...
for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.” (Gal 1:10).
“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace,
that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. (Heb 4:16).
Satan does everything he can do to keep the child of God
from coming to the throne of grace in prayer. He tells us that we are too sinful
to pray, or that God won’t really understand our problems, or that our
particular problems are too insignificant for God to be concerned with.
But all these are lies. We can confess our sins and “obtain
mercy.” God does understand, "For in that he himself hath suffered being
tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.” (Heb 2:18). Our problems
are not insignificant to God Who said, "Are not five sparrows sold for two
farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God? But even the very hairs
of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than
many sparrows.” (Luke 12:7).
Finally come “boldly” to the throne of grace. The word
translated “boldly” has as its root idea “freedom of speech, unreservedness of
Don’t let Satan hinder you. Go in prayer right now and pour
out your heart to God.
“Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow
shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil
thereof. (Mat 6:34).
Worry about the future causes much distress to God’s
people. The Savior here warns against it. To worry about tomorrow shows a lack
of faith in Him Who has all things in His hands.
The Lord gives us strength to live only one day at a time.
To try to take on the cares of two or more days at a time is to invite physical
and mental collapse.
To worry about tomorrow tends to paralyze us into
inactivity so that we cannot perform today’s tasks.
Christian friend, get up and work on today’s tasks, one by
one, in the strength of the Holy Spirit. Leave tomorrow in the hands of the
all-wise God. Remember the promise of our Lord, “... and as thy days, so shall
thy strength be.” (Deu 33:25).
“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to
hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: (James 1:19).
Man’s ways are usually the opposite of God’s, hence man is
in trouble most of the time. Most people are not good listeners, they want to do
most or all the talking in a conversation, and they become angry very easily.
But the word of God here tells us to be swift to hear.
Oftentimes we miss messages that God is sending to us through an individual
because we are not swift to hear.
The word tells us to be slow to speak. We need to always
weigh our words before we speak them, to consider whether or not they will
glorify God and help the individual to whom we are speaking. The wise man said,
"Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? there is more hope of a fool than
of him.” (Prov 29:20).
We also need to be more like our Lord Who is “... slow to
anger....” (Psa. 103:8).
Consciously try to practice these three things today
and see how much better your conscience feels.
“For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.
When a person is filled with wrath, he loses control over
himself. He does and says things that he may later deeply regret. The Jews in
the synagogue at Nazareth were “... filled with wrath ...” (Luke 4:28) and they
tried to kill Jesus. Paul was mobbed by the Ephesians who were “... full of
wrath....” (Acts 19:28). Wrath is one of the “... works of the flesh....” (Gal.
The child of God, who has the indwelling Holy Spirit, has
the ability to control his wrath. If you are born again, don’t let Satan deceive
you with the lie that you can’t control your wrath. You can learn to
control it with the help of God. You can’t work the righteousness of God and be
useful in His service if you don’t control it.
The wise man said, "He that is slow to anger is better than
the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.” (Prov
“Quench not the Spirit. (1 Th 5:19).
God’s people can never totally lose the Holy Spirit once
they are born again (see Phil. 1:6; John 10:28), but they can greatly dampen the
felt presence of the Spirit in their lives.
The symbol of fire is here alluded to in reference to the
Spirit. There are two ways to quench a fire: remove the source of fuel or pour
water or some other such substance on it.
We remove the source of fuel when we neglect to read the
Word, cease to pray, and absent ourselves from public worship.
We pour foreign matter on the Spirit when we indulge in
sin, keep bad company, etc.
Today begin to pour the fuel of God’s word, prayer,
worship, and good works on the fire of God within you. Remove the foreign
material of sin by confession and repentance.
Experience revival in your soul as the Spirit of God rises
to a mighty blaze in your life.
“That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may
be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ....” (Phil 1:10).
Each of us has a limited time to live on this earth and
many choices confront us as to how to use this time. Christians will reject
openly sinful activities, but they let Satan deceive them into using much of
their precious time in activities that will bring them little spiritual profit.
A hobby, a form of recreation, a second job, will keep them from spending their
time on the really “excellent” things.
But Paul tells us to “approve things that are excellent.”
Everything that engages our time needs to be consciously put to the test.
Everything but the very best needs to be rejected. We need to engage in the
study of the word, in prayer, in meditation, in good works. These are among the
excellent things that are to be highly valued and esteemed more than our
When we come to die the “excellent” things will be all that
really matter to us. May it be so while we live.
“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Phil
Even Christians sometimes dread death. They live in morbid
fear of it. But not Paul. He looked forward to death as “gain.” Why? Because for
to him to live was Christ.
And it must be so for every believer who wants the fear and
dread of death removed from his life. We can’t expect to set our affections on
the things of this world -- to spend our time, money, and efforts in worldly
pursuits -- and at the same time have the glorious assurance or our eternal
Each of us must speak for himself in this matter. No one
can live our life for us. When we can say “For to me to live is Christ”
-- then we can say, “Yes, and for me to die is gain!”
"For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the
LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.” (Ezra 7:10).
Even though the minister of the Lord Jesus Christ is to be
the authoritative teacher in the church, every Christian has the duty to teach
in certain situations (see Titus 2:3-5; Heb. 5:12). Ezra set a good example for
every would-be teacher.
First, he “prepared his heart” by confession, repentance,
and prayer. Next, he sought the law of the Lord. He searched the scriptures
diligently to know the mind of God. Then he was determined “to do it.” He lived
according to the principles of the scriptures in his own life. Only then was he
prepared “to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.”
If you want your teaching to be effective -- even if it is
teaching your own children -- then you must follow Ezra’s example. Otherwise
your teaching will be ineffective and will have no more authority than the
teaching of the scribes and Pharisees.
"And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that
thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that thine hand might
be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me!
And God granted him that which he requested.” (1 Chr 4:10).
Jabez called on God for great things and God gloriously
answered his prayer. We, too, need to call on our God for great things. We have
a rich and generous Father!
We need to ask God to “enlarge our coast,” to give us a
great sphere of influence as we witness for Him. As He blesses us then we need
to humbly request that His hand would be with us and that He would keep us from
evil. This is necessary because without His restraining influence we would tend
to be lifted up with pride and over-confidence as we receive His bountiful
Let us dare to ask God to use us greatly in His service for
His glory. He will graciously grant such a God-honoring request.
"Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the
tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose
stripes ye were healed.” (1 Pet 2:24).
The greatest incentive that any Christian can have to
righteous living is to consider the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ on the
cross. If this doesn’t move us to righteous living, we have reason to doubt our
It is true that He “bare our sins in his own body on the
tree.” It is true that we were healed by the stripes which the Roman soldiers
put on His precious body with their cruel whips.
But it is also true that His death, in which we became
partakers in the new birth, rendered us “dead to sins.” Because of this we are
to “live unto righteousness.”
When you are tempted to sin, flee in your mind to the
cross. See Him there “... wounded for our transgressions ... bruised for our
iniquities....” (Isa 53:5). See if this awful scene doesn’t kill your taste for
"But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready
always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that
is in you with meekness and fear....” (1 Pet 3:15).
Christians are called upon to be witnesses for their Lord.
This verse tells us how to be so.
First, we must be sanctified in our hearts. Our lives are
to be cleansed of known sin and we are to live for Him as our Lord and Master.
Next, we must always be ready. We must be living in
fellowship with Him and must know the scriptures so that we can properly
When we are living this way, men will take notice of our
lives and God will, in His providence, cause some to ask us why we thus deny
ourselves and live for Him.
Then we must give our answer in the proper attitude --
“with meekness and fear;” meekness toward those with whom we speak and with a
reverential fear of the Lord God.
When our testimony is given in this way, and not with a
proud or haughty spirit, God will bless it to be effective to His glory.
"By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye
have love one to another.” (John 13:35).
One of the greatest witnesses that Christians can bare for
their Savior is the manifestations of love for each other. This is a vital
matter. A church or an individual cannot bare the proper testimony without an
active love. The church at Ephesus was doctrinally sound and zealous in works,
but the Lord Jesus strongly rebuked them because they had left their first love.
(Rev. 2:1-5). Our Lord commanded, “... Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all
thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy
mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.” (Luke 10:27). If we are really loving God
we will love our neighbor. John said, "We know that we have passed from death
unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth
in death.” (1 John 3:14).
In a dark world that is filled with hatred and strife,
Christians are called upon to let their lights shine. One of the brightest beams
of this light is loving one another.
"A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir
up anger.” (Prov 15:1).
Paul said, "Let us therefore follow after the things which
make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.” (Rom 14:19). One of
the best ways to make peace is to always give a soft answer. One of the most
effective ways to destroy peace is to use grievous words. It takes two to have
an argument. If a brother is a little out of sorts, a grievous word will stir
him up to hot anger. When he is angry he sins. If we have stirred him up to
anger, we have put a stumbling block in his way and caused him to sin. Satan is
in the background with evil glee in his heart as he watches two brethren get
madder and madder.
A soft answer is like pouring oil on troubled waters. It is
like quenching a dangerous fire with water. What could have been a fierce
argument is turned into a profitable conversation. Satan is defeated.
Let us pray that God will help us to always give a soft
"But the firstling of an ass thou shalt redeem with a lamb:
and if thou redeem him not, then shalt thou break his neck. All the firstborn of
thy sons thou shalt redeem. And none shall appear before me empty.” (Exo 34:20).
In this verse there is a beautiful picture of redemption.
The ass was an unclean animal according to the Levitical law. The ass is a
picture of sinful mankind who are by nature unclean before God. Sinful man needs
redemption. He needs a substitute to die in his place and purchase redemption
for him. If the substitute be not found, sinful man must die eternally under the
wrath of the Holy God, even as the unredeemed ass died.
Thanks be to God, Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God (John
1:29), died to save His people from their sins (Matt. 1:21). All for whom Christ
died shall be saved with eternal salvation. He paid the price for them with His
own precious life.
This glorious reality must move us to a life of willing,
thankful service to Him. Christian, live today for Him who died for you.
"While I live will I praise the LORD: I will sing praises
unto my God while I have any being.” (Psa 146:2).
Life on earth is so short. The average life-span of man is
around seventy years. Many do not even attain unto this age.
Human beings are so fragile and death is so certain and so
final. The strong, robust man is walking about today and tomorrow he is dead.
Disease, accidents, old age cut him down in a moment. His voice is stilled; he
stares out of unseeing eyes; his ears hear not. He is buried and soon forgotten;
his once-strong body soon decays into a little pile of dust.
It behooves us ,then, to praise the Lord now! He has given
us our voices. Let us lift them in continual praise to His holy name.
The blood-bought saint will not only praise Him in this
world, but will praise Him more perfectly in the world to come. Our life is in
Christ and He “... liveth for ever and ever.” (Rev. 4:10).
One of the main reasons we should praise Him now is because
He has purchased for us the blessed privilege of praising Him forever and
forever, world without end.
"Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an
enemy are deceitful.” (Prov 27:6).
The person who is always complimenting us, and who never
points out our faults is not our true friend. None of us are perfect in our
walk. Often we are blind to our own faults and need a faithful friend who will
admonish us when we are engaging in some practice that is destructive to us and
dishonoring to God. The wounds may hurt but they will soon heal and they are for
our ultimate good.
We also need to be faithful to wound our friends when we
see that they have need of it. Such wounding must be done with prayerful concern
and in the right attitude. We must “... consider one another to provoke unto
love and to good works....” (Heb 10:24).
These faithful wounds may hurt for awhile and there may be
a temporary break in close fellowship. But, if the rebuke is delivered in the
right spirit and for the right reason, our friend will in time realize that we
are his true friend. “He that rebuketh a man afterwards shall find more favour
than he that flattereth with the tongue.” (Prov 28:23).
"The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous
are bold as a lion.” (Prov 28:1).
Nothing will give us spiritual power and boldness like maintaining a clean
conscience before God and man. When a man’s guilty conscience is accusing him,
he will imagine threats and dangers when there are none. When a man is not right
with God, there is a “... certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery
indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.” (Heb. 10:27). When a man is
not right with his fellow man he can’t look him in the eye.
But the man who knows that he is right with God and with
men is bold as a lion. He knows that his cause is right and he will boldly
contend for it, knowing that God is on his side. Angels are his guardians and
Christ has overcome the world for him. He is not afraid of Satan and knows that
he is a conquered enemy, and when resisted, will flee from him. Though he is
afraid of committing sin, he is fearless of the damning power of it, for Christ
has borne his sins. He is not afraid of death, for Christ has removed its sting
and for the righteous man to die is gain. (Phil. 1:21). Such righteous men were
Stephen, Paul, Daniel, and the Hebrew children.
Let us be as Paul who said, “And herein do I exercise
myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men.”
"He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall
suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.” (Prov 29:1).
We need to keep a soft and sensitive heart toward God. He
is merciful and long-suffering, but His patience has an end. When he reproves us
in our conscience, from His Word, or with a circumstantial happening, we must
immediately turn from our sin. When we continue in sin, we become hardened
and insensitive and leave ourselves open to the retribution of God. “Be not
deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also
reap.” (Gal 6:7).
Because God does not always immediately inflict punishment,
men tend to think that they will get away with their rebellion against God.
“Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the
heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.” (Eccl 8:11). But “...
Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The
Lord shall judge his people.” (Heb 10:30).
God sent His prophets to Israel for many years, but the
people hardened their necks. Finally they were torn from their homelands, sold
into slavery, carried into captivity, and “that without remedy.”
"Happy is the man that feareth alway: but he that hardeneth
his heart shall fall into mischief.” (Prov 28:14).
Keep a soft heart before God. Listen to His slightest
"The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his
trust in the LORD shall be safe.” (Prov 29:25).
The only thing that will remove the fear of man is the fear
of God. Jesus said, "And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to
kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body
in hell.” (Mat 10:28).
When we fear man we fall into all sorts of snares that
Satan sets for us. The preacher who fears man fails to bring the message of God.
The one who fears to lose friends compromises the standards that God sets for
him to live by. The end result is misery and guilt.
Abraham was willing to let Sarah go into Abimelech’s harem
because of the fear of man. (Gen. 20:11). Peter temporarily went back under the
law because he feared the Jews. (Gal. 2:11-13). Some of the chief rulers who
believed on Christ refused to openly confess Him because they were afraid of
being put out of the synagogue. (John 12:42).
We must not fear mortal men. We cannot be the servants of
Christ if we do so. Remember, “... God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but
of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Tim 1:7).
"A man that hath friends must show himself friendly: and
there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” (Prov 18:24).
Oftimes people complain because they don’t have any
friends. Usually the one who lacks friends does so because he is not friendly.
To be truly “friendly” involves a lot. It means giving of oneself for the
benefit of the one befriended. It means helping one’s friend, defending one’s
friend, communicating with one’s friend. True friendship must be cultivated. It
takes time, thought, and effort. Many people lack friends because they are too
self-centered, selfish, or lazy to work at friendships. If you lack friends
examine yourself and see if the cause doesn’t lie with you. Be a true friend
yourself and you will gain friends. “A friend loveth at all times, and a brother
is born for adversity.” (Prov 17:17).
The truest friend the child of God will ever have is the
Lord Jesus Christ. He “sticketh closer than a brother.” He said, "Greater love
hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John
15:13). He did just that.
Do you want to be a friend of the Lord Jesus Christ? Show
yourself friendly. He said, "Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command
you.” (John 15:14).
“... Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for
righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.” (James 2:23).
"I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications,
prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings,
and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life
in all godliness and honesty.” (1 Tim 2:1, 2).
As this is written we in the United States of America enjoy
a great deal of freedom to worship as we please without governmental
persecution. It may not always be so. Our liberties are constantly being eroded.
For much of history, God’s people have been sorely persecuted by those in
authority. Such persecution is going on throughout much of the world today. We
are complacent and not acutely concerned with the terrible danger that lurks
just around the corner.
What is our most potent weapon with which to fight this
danger? It is constant prayer. “... For there is no power but of God: the powers
that be are ordained of God.” (Rom 13:1). It is wonderful when the Lord gives
God-fearing rulers in response to the prayers of His people.
Even when wicked men rule, God has complete control over
them. “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he
turneth it whithersoever he will.” (Prov 21:1).
Let us pray constantly for those in authority on every
"He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and
that which he hath given will he pay him again.” (Prov 19:17).
Many people despise the poor. If they are in good
circumstances themselves, they don’t concern themselves with the troubles of
others. God is not pleased with this heartlessness. He is concerned with the
poor and He has instructed His people to be so concerned. God demonstrated this
concern in the Old Testament when He instructed His people to let their land lie
fallow every seventh year, “... that the poor of thy people may eat....” (Exo
23:11). The Lord Jesus knew what it was to be poor when He was upon the earth:
"For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet
for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.” (2
The attitude which we have toward the poor tells a great
deal about the very essence of our character. The Lord said, "But whoso hath
this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels
of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?" (1 John 3:17).
Begin today to be aware of the needs of the poor
around you. Sacrifice a little of your luxury for his needs. In
doing so you “lendeth unto the Lord.”
"Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is
this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep
himself unspotted from the world.” (James 1:27).
Many people appear to be very religious who are not really
so before God. They are regular church attenders. They sing, preach, and pray.
They may read their Bibles at home. They may even be leaders in the church. But
in their self-centeredness and covetousness they won’t lift a finger to help the
helpless. Their religion is completely worthless in the sight of a Holy God.
The Pharisees were so. Christ said of these hypocrites who
neglected the helpless, "Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying,
This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their
lips; but their heart is far from me.” (Mat 15:7, 8).
Pure religion is to visit the helpless. They have
many needs -- financial needs, fellowship needs, needs for advice on practical
matters, yard-cutting, house repairs. They need someone to pray with them, to
share God’s Word with them.
Pick out a widow or a fatherless one today. Meditate on how
you can help them. Invite them to dinner or take your dinner to their home and
share yourself and it with them. This is pure religion.
"Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And
they filled them up to the brim.” (John 2:7).
Jesus gave a commandment here which was within the ability
of His hearers to perform. He did not ask them to do something that was
impossible. They did what He asked. And they didn’t do it half-way or
half-heartedly. They filled them up to the brim.
Then Jesus did what was impossible for them to do; He
changed the water into wine.
It is so in every avenue of our lives. Jesus doesn’t tell
us to do the impossible. He gives us tasks that we can perform. We must do these
tasks eagerly and to the very best of our ability. He will perform the
He told the early church to be witnesses unto Him. (Matt.
28:18-20; Acts 1:8). This was something that they could do in the power of the
Holy Spirit. Then “... the Lord added to the church daily such as should be
saved.” (Acts 2:47). This was something only He could do.
The same principles hold true in every area of our lives.