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"But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be
perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” (James 1:4).
Patience is one of the most important spiritual graces. As
James says, the Christian character cannot be complete without it. An impatient
Christian is an immature Christian.
This is also one of the most difficult graces to develop.
This grace grows only under trial (v.3). It is nurtured by tribulations. (Rom
5:3). God fosters the growth of this grace in His children by chastening them.
(The word “endure” in Heb. 12:7 is the verb form of the word translated
The fact that suffering plays such a great part in the
development of this gift may explain why older saints often suffer very much.
God is, as it were, ripening fruit for heaven! See how much Paul the Apostle
suffered as an old man after he had spent much of his life in the service of the
Patience is hard to learn, but what a precious grace it is.
No wonder that James told us to “... count it all joy when ye fall into divers
temptations (testings); knowing this that the trying of your faith worketh
patience.” (James 1:2,3).
"The cloak that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou
comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments.” (2 Tim
This letter was written from Rome where Paul was
imprisoned. It was written just before Paul died the death of a martyr for Jesus
Christ. Paul knew that he was to die soon. (2 Tim. 4:6).
Knowing all this Paul requested that “the books, but
especially the parchments” be brought to him. Paul was requesting that the
scriptures (which were often written on parchment) and that other books be
brought to him. These other books (written on papyrus scrolls) were perhaps
comments or notes that Paul had made on the scriptures.
Paul set a good example. He never ceased to study the word
of God, even when he knew that he was soon to die. He fed his soul from the word
of God. Christians must never cease to spend time in the word. As they near
death the blessed word will strengthen them to die triumphantly.
"... And David said unto Saul, I cannot go with these; for
I have not proved them....” (1 Sam 17:39).
David had volunteered to fight Goliath, the giant. King
Saul put his own armor on David. Then David uttered the above words and refused
to use Saul’s armor. He later went out, chose his own weapons (which he was
accustomed to using), and slew the giant.
There is a very important spiritual lesson taught here. It
is this: we cannot live life second-handedly using someone else’s experiences.
We can draw strength from one another; we can profit from following the good
example of someone else; we can and should get counsel and advice from others.
But we must live our own lives before God. We must pray our own prayers;
we must obey God our own selves.
Second-hand faith is no good. We may be inspired and
encouraged by the faith of someone else, but we must ask God to increase our own
faith. As Paul said: “But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he
have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.” (Gal 6:4).
"Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put
darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet
for bitter!" (Isa 5:20).
Sinful man, in his blinded condition, places great value on
those things which are worthless. He also regards as of no value those things
which are most valuable. All this distortion is abominable in the eyes of God,
and woe is pronounced on those who are guilty of it.
We see this twisting of things in the world today in the
following and other ways:
Acceptance of homosexuality as an accepted way of life when
God says it is sin of the basest kind. (Rom 1:26, 27).
Glorification of the “career” woman when God says that it
should be the ambition of women “... to be keepers at home....” (Titus 2:5).
Acceptance of pre-marital and extra-marital sex, when God
says that “... whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.” (Heb. 13:4).
Abortion which the word of God condemns as murder.
"Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not
according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was
given us in Christ Jesus before the world began," (2 Tim 1:9).
It is a wonderful consolation that salvation is entirely in
the hands of the Lord. If it were wholly or partly in the hands of men it would
This verse stresses the certainty of the salvation that is
in the Lord. It is certain because it is not according to our works. Men are all
sinners, and even the works of saved men are tainted with sin.
Salvation is certain because it is according to “His own
purpose and grace.” Salvation is not an accident. God saves men “on purpose.”
All those He purposed to be saved shall be saved. Nothing can hinder the
purposes of the Almighty God.
Salvation is certain because it was given to the saints as
they were viewed in Christ Jesus “before the world began.” This was before they
could either help or hinder.
The saint who recognizes his sinfulness can thus rejoice in
the salvation that is entirely dependent on the Lord.
"For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise
men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called....” (1 Cor
As we study history or look about us at contemporary life,
we are prone to regard the famous and the wealthy as heroes. Children and even
adults tend to pattern their life-styles after these heroes. We admire kings,
generals, athletes, and glamorous figures from the entertainment world.
But this is not a safe practice. God says that the majority
of these are not called into eternal life. Most of the Caesars of Rome lived
notoriously wicked lives. Henry VIII of England had several of his wives
murdered. Many entertainers live grossly immoral lives.
We must not be impressed with earthly grandeur, which will
soon perish. Let us emulate the life of the lowly Man from Galilee. Let Him be
our hero. He was meek and lowly while here on earth, but now He occupies the
most exalted throne of all. True greatness lies in following Him.
"That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things
in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every
tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the
Father.” (Phil 2:10, 11).
In these wicked days many refuse to bow before Christ. God
is blasphemed; jokes are made about the Bible; movies and songs openly mock God
and true religion. These things grieve the true children of God.
But they must take heart! The day is coming when the entire
universe will bow before the Lord Jesus Christ. The righteous will do so
joyfully. The wicked will be compelled to do so by His majesty, power, and
You will bow before Him some day -- one way or the other.
Are you bowing before Him now?
"So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that
runneth, but of God that showeth mercy.” (Rom 9:16).
Salvation is entirely of the Lord. Many deny this. Some say
that salvation is by their works. But, it is not of “him that runneth.” God’s
people perform good works because they are saved -- not in order to be saved.
Some say that salvation is by an act of the human will;
that men must embrace Christ by an act of their “free will.” But is not of “him
that willeth.” When a person embraces Christ with his will, it is only because
Christ has already worked that will in him. (Phil. 2:13). Men are born into the
family of God, “... not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will
of man, but of God.” (John 1:13).
So salvation is not of man in any sense of the word, but is
“of God that sheweth mercy.”
"Strangers have devoured his strength, and he knoweth it
not: yea, gray hairs are here and there upon him, yet he knoweth not.” (Hosea
Men often become old and weak almost before they know it.
The advancing signs of age will go undetected, especially if we never look into
In spiritual matters, Christians become weak and gradually
decline if they are not very careful. They are often self-deceived and think
they are doing very well, when, in reality, they are growing very cold toward
This is particularly true if they are not spending time
before their spiritual “mirror” (the Bible). Neglect of the regular study of
God’s word will result in spiritual “gray hairs” appearing without being
Have you got gray hair? Have you looked into your mirror
"Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats
of skins, and clothed them.” (Gen 3:21).
Adam and Eve were evidently clothed with the glory of God
in their state of innocence. When they sinned they became acutely aware of their
nakedness. They tried to clothe themselves with fig leaves. This clothing was
In mercy God gave them the substantial clothing of coats of
skins. This involved the shedding of blood.
The gospel is preached in this story. When men become
convicted of their sins and realize that they stand naked before God they try to
clothe themselves with their good works. These soon wither away like the fig
leaves. In mercy God shed the blood of His Son and clothed His people in the
imputed righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Praise God for this perfect clothing! It alone enables a
sinner to stand before God.
"And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with
me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.” (Gen 3:12).
Sinful man refuses to accept the responsibility for his
actions. He tries to “pass the buck” to someone else and ultimately blames God
for his miserable condition. That is exactly what is recorded here of Adam. He
blamed Eve for his sin and then blamed God for giving him Eve!
When one is brought to repentance, however, he acknowledges
that he is to blame, and he begs God for mercy.
How is it with you? Do you still blame others for your
failures? Do you finally blame God? Or has He graciously granted repentance to
"And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three
hundred years, and begat sons and daughters....” (Gen 5:22).
There is wonderful encouragement here for Christians who
want to walk with God in this evil generation. Enoch walked with God for three
hundred years! It wasn’t easy because Enoch stood alone in a wicked world. And
he witnessed against this wickedness. (Jude 1:14,15).
Enoch did not do this in his own strength and neither can
you. Enoch did it by faith. (Heb. 11:5). We must do the same and give God all
"Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in
the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom.” (Gen 13:12).
Greed and selfishness will bring great trouble into a man’s
life. As Paul said, “But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a
snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction
and perdition.” (1 Tim. 6:9).
Lot chose to live near Sodom for material reasons. He saw
that the area was “... well watered every where....” (Gen. 13:10). Sodom was a
terribly immoral place and Lot probably did not plan to live there. At first he
only “pitched his tent toward Sodom.” But the next notice that is made of Lot is
that he “... dwelt in Sodom.” (Gen. 14:12). That is the way that sin works. It
is insidious; it eats like a cancer. The sinner usually never intends to go as
far into sin as he actually does. He is caught in its trap before he realizes
what has happened.
The lesson here is: “Don’t pitch your tent toward Sodom.”
Don’t take the first step into sin. It will ruin you.
"But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the
LORD exceedingly.” (Gen 13:13).
The name of Sodom is infamous for its moral corruption. In
fact the word “sodomy” has become established in the English language. Sodomy is
“any sexual intercourse regarded as abnormal, as between persons of the same
sex.” (Webster’s Dictionary). Today it is popular to regard homosexuality
and other perversions as "sicknesses" or even as acceptable behavior.
But God said that those who practice such things are
“wicked and sinners before the Lord exceedingly.” This is the position genuine
Christians must take. It is the only position sustained by the Bible.
God showed His anger at these perversions by destroying
Sodom and Gomorrha with fire. He said that these “... are set forth for an
example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.” (Jude 1:7).
If anyone reading this is guilty of such perversion, repent
of it before God! The psychiatrist and sociologist may pour balm on your
conscience for awhile. But ultimately, you must face God with your sin. If He
grants you repentance, He will forgive you. But you must cease from this filthy
"In the selfsame day was Abraham circumcised, and Ishmael
his son.” (Gen 17:26).
Abraham is a good example of instant obedience to God. He
obeyed God immediately. He didn’t argue with God or ask for time to think the
This was when Abraham was ninety-nine years old. Many
people think that a person is “over-the-hill” when they reach an advanced age.
This may be true physically, but it certainly is not true spiritually.
This instant obedience is one of the traits which
constituted the noble character of Abraham. God will use a man or woman who will
obey Him. Don’t argue with God; don’t “drag your feet.” When He tells you to do
something, do it right then.
"And the LORD said, If I find in Sodom fifty righteous
within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.” (Gen 18:26).
There is vast power in a righteous life. God will have
respect to those who are diligently trying to obey Him. If there had been fifty
righteous in the wicked city of Sodom God would have spared it for their sakes.
He even said that He would spare it if there were ten righteous ones found
there. (Gen. 18:32).
Ezekiel 14:14 indicates that men such as Noah, Daniel, and
Job possessed great spiritual power with God. We should examine the lives of
these men and seek to emulate them.
Christian friend, do you feel weak and fear that there is
nothing you can do to combat the rising tide of wickedness? Well, there
is something you can do. Draw nigh to God. Purge yourself of all known sin. Your
life will have great power with Him and will act as a preservative for the land.
"And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold
behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the
ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.” (Gen
There is a plain and beautiful picture of the Lord Jesus
Christ here. Isaac was on the altar; the knife was in the hand of Abraham about
to be plunged into the breast of Isaac.
God told Abraham to do no harm to his son. Abraham looked
round and saw the ram caught in the thicket. This ram became the substitute for
Isaac and was offered up in his stead.
Isaac is a vivid type of the elect of God who deserve
eternal death because of their sins. The knife is a type of God’s justice which
must be satisfied. The ram is a beautiful type of Christ. He took the place of
His people and died for them on the cross. They went free. This is the essence
of the gospel. May this familiar account always remain fresh and beautiful to
the child of God.
"And there was set meat before him to eat: but he said, I
will not eat, until I have told mine errand....” (Gen 24:33).
A great example of dedication to the service of someone
else is taught here. Abraham’s servant was to seek a bride for Isaac. To do so
he had to cover many weary miles on camels. When he arrived at his destination
he was, no doubt, very tired and hungry. Food was set before him.
But he was so urgent in the service of his master, that he
refused to eat until he had told his errand. In this day of love of ease and
comfort it is good to have an example of one who so loves his master that he is
more interested in service to him than he is to his own needs.
If this man could be that dedicated to Abraham, how much
more should we be dedicated to the Lord Jesus.
"And Isaac entreated the LORD for his wife, because she was
barren: and the LORD was entreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived.” (Gen
There is a great power in the prayers of husbands for their
wives. God has placed the husband as the head of the household. This is an
awesome responsibility. But where God gives responsibility, He is also gracious
to give power to fulfill that responsibility.
When a man prays for his wife God hears that prayer!
Husbands, recognize your privilege and responsibility. Don’t neglect to protect
your precious wife by lifting up your voice to God day and night in her behalf!
"Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge,
my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.” (Gen 26:5).
Our obedience to God has great consequences, not only for
ourselves, but for our offspring to many generations. Here the Lord was blessing
Isaac for Abraham’s sake. What would have been the sad consequence for Isaac if
Abraham had been disobedient?
Wake up! Be alert! Don’t be drugged to sleep by Satan. Your
obedience to God has vast consequences. It will help you to be obedient if you
can envision the multitude of blessings obedience will bring to future
"And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed
unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her.” (Gen 29:20).
Time just seems to “drag by” when we are doing a job we
don’t like. It seems like the days are so long and dreary. But look how fast the
years passed for Jacob. He knew that at the end of the seven years he would
fully experience the love of his beloved Rachel.
Translate this into service for the Lord. If we look
forward to embracing our precious Savior at the end of earthly life the years
will fly by. Unpleasant tasks will become a joy. “Just one glimpse of Him in
glory, will the toils of life repay.”
"And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said,
I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.” (Gen 32:26).
This is a powerful example of prevailing prayer. This was
not presumption on Jacob’s part. Jacob was given the faith to “hold on to” God
until he was given an answer.
What a contrast this is to the weak and sickly prayers that
are often offered.
If we want power from God we are going to have to “wrestle”
with Him in prayer. Jacob’s life was radically changed as a result of this
“all-night” prayer meeting with God.
Do you want radical change in your life? Pray God that He
will help you to pray like this!
"Then Jacob said unto his household, and to all that were
with him, Put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean, and change
your garments....” (Gen 35:2).
Sometimes the godly head of a home must “put his foot down”
and demand at least external righteousness from his household. That is his
solemn responsibility before God. God holds fathers responsible as His
representatives to demand obedience from the family to the laws of God.
How we need resolute and courageous leadership in homes
today! Faint-hearted father, follow the example of old Jacob. Don’t take “no”
for an answer. Encourage yourself in the Lord; accept your responsibility before
God. He will help you, and your family will be immeasurably blessed.
"He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath he seen
perverseness in Israel: the LORD his God is with him, and the shout of a king is
among them.” (Num 23:21).
This is a glorious testimony of the covering blood of the
Lord Jesus Christ. Jacob had plenty of iniquity; Israel was full of
perverseness. But the Lord did not see it; He did not behold it. Why? Because He
saw the blood!
This is why the believer can boldly approach God in prayer.
This is why the saint can walk in communion with God.
Balaam wanted to curse Israel. But, “Who shall lay any
thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.” (Rom 8:33).
"But if ye will not do so, behold, ye have sinned against
the LORD: and be sure your sin will find you out.” (Num 32:23).
We can’t escape the all-seeing eye of God. It is foolish to
try to do so. When we least expect it our sin will find us out -- probably in a
very embarrassing and humiliating way.
The only way to escape this humiliation is to
immediately confess and repent of all known sin.
Cain couldn’t hide his sin; David couldn’t hide his; you
can’t hide yours. It may take many years for it to happen, but “be sure your sin
will find you out.”
"But if ye will not drive out the inhabitants of the land
from before you; then it shall come to pass, that those which ye let remain of
them shall be pricks in your eyes, and thorns in your sides, and shall vex you
in the land wherein ye dwell.” (Num 33:55).
The Israelites did not drive out all the wicked inhabitants
of the land as God commanded them to. They drove out only enough to make the
land barely habitable. They stopped before the job was complete. The ones they
left in the land proved to be great sources of trouble to them.
It is that way with our sins. When we are saved by the
power of God, we must try to drive all sin out of our lives. We must not permit
any “pet” sins to remain. We cannot peaceably co-exist with a few sins. They
will be a snare to us and will lead us into greater sins.
Declare unconditional war on all your sins!
"And the LORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to
fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as
it is at this day.” (Deu 6:24).
Satan tries to tell us that the Lord is a hard taskmaster
and that He has given us a lot of commandments to keep to take all the joy out
of our lives. This is a base lie and must be recognized as such.
God loves His children. He never does anything but good to
them. He gave all His commandments out of love to them. All God’s laws are “for
our good always.”
Don’t listen to Satan’s lies. Cheerfully obey the laws of
God for His glory and for your good.
"And if there be any blemish therein, as if it be lame, or
blind, or have any ill blemish, thou shalt not sacrifice it unto the LORD thy
God.” (Deu 15:21).
These words were spoken regarding the Old Testament
sacrificial offerings. The Israelites were forbidden to offer “second best”
offerings to the Lord. They were to offer the very best of what they had.
The principle holds true today. If we give the Lord the
“left-overs” of our time, money, energy, and concern, He will regard these as
When the Lord gave His best (His only-begotten Son) for
sinners, how can we expect Him to accept our “lame” and “blind” offerings?
“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man
soweth, that shall he also reap.” (Gal 6:7).
"The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man,
neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination
unto the LORD thy God.” (Deu 22:5).
These words were uttered in Old Testament times, but they
are particularly applicable in the wicked times in which we live. Every attempt
is being made by Satanic forces to break down the God-ordained distinctions
between the sexes. Perversion in the vilest forms is being promoted on every
Christian men must be men and Christian women must be
women. These distinctions must be maintained in every particular -- in dress,
hair styles, occupations and attitudes. To do otherwise is abomination before
God and will bring judgment upon the land.
"Thy sons and thy daughters shall be given unto another
people, and thine eyes shall look, and fail with longing for them all the day
long: and there shall be no might in thine hand.” (Deu 28:32).
This terrible prophecy became a horrible reality to the
Jews. It will also be a reality to those people of God today who walk in
If we want our children to be with us in the service of the
Lord we must be obedient to Him in all things.
What a terrible way to spend our old age if our children
are removed from us because of our disobedience and half-hearted service to the
Lord. A worse state of loneliness and despair could hardly be imagined.
"Now therefore give me this mountain....” (Josh 14:12)
These triumphant and challenging words were boldly
proclaimed by Caleb when he was eighty-five years old. They show plainly that
there is no retirement age for the Christian in his spiritual warfare in the
service of the Lord.
Caleb had served the Lord for over forty-five years. Now,
in the twilight of life, he was eager to take on a daring assignment to conquer
one of the most dangerous areas of the promised land.
Let us serve the Lord with vigor and look forward to our
last job on earth for Him to be our best.