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“And they went out of the prison, and entered into the
house of Lydia: and when they had seen the brethren, they comforted them, and
departed.” (Acts 16:40).
Paul and Silas had just come through a great trial. They
had been beaten and put in prison. It seems that the Christians at the house of
Lydia should have comforted them. But, instead of being comforted, Paul and
Silas comforted the ones at the house of Lydia. The ones who had been under
great trial were stronger than the ones who had not undergone persecution. The
lesson is this: The more we undergo persecution for the sake of the Lord the
stronger we become.
“Insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the
streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of
Peter passing by might overshadow some of them.” (Acts 5:15)
This verse implies that even the shadow of Peter falling on
the sick would heal them.
How wonderful it would be if we would be so filled with the
Holy Spirit that even those we came into casual and momentary contact with might
be spiritually benefited and influenced by our mere presence. The Lord Jesus
Christ had such an amazing effect on those in His presence that John the Baptist
leaped for joy in his mother’s womb when he came into the presence of the Savior
-- who had just been conceived in Mary’s womb. (Luke 1:41, 44).
“On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew
nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth
hour....” (Acts 10:9).
Here it is recorded that Peter went on the housetop to
pray. Even while he was praying, some servants from Cornelius’ household were
nigh unto the city of Joppa, where Peter was praying. These servants were going
to prove to be sent from God in response to Peter’s prayer. Peter had no idea
that God, in His marvelous providence, was even at that moment speeding an
answer to his prayer.
If we could keep this lesson in mind, there would never be
a moment when our prayer life would become dull. Each experience at the throne
of grace would be exciting with our never knowing how, or how rapidly, God would
answer our prayers.
“And when it was day, certain of the Jews banded together,
and bound themselves under a curse, saying that they would neither eat nor drink
till they had killed Paul.” (Acts 23:12).
Paul was in prison at Jerusalem. More than forty Jews made
an awful agreement to kill him. Paul’s nephew found out about it and warned him.
Thus, this young man was used by God to save Paul’s life.
Paul’s nephew is a beautiful example of the very essential
service that is rendered by even the seemingly insignificant child of God. The
great apostle’s life was removed from danger because of this boy’s service. We
can’t all be Pauls, but our service is vital, nevertheless.
“Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha,
which by interpretation is called Dorcas....” (Acts 9:36).
Dorcas, whose story is recorded in Acts 9:36-41, is a
beautiful illustration of the Christian woman, whose characteristics are set
down in Titus 2:5: "To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to
their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.” Dorcas may not have
been a glamorous “career woman”, but the Holy Spirit thought her work of making
coats and garments for others important enough to record it in Acts 9:39. As the
virtuous woman in Proverbs 31:20, Dorcas “... stretcheth out her hand to the
poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.”
“Salute Rufus chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine.”
It is amazing what can be gotten out of a verse of
scripture. There are many important truths contained in this verse.
First, “salute”: The saints are to salute or greet one
another. This shows the love and friendship which should govern the relationship
among Christians. Saints are told to greet one another with a “holy kiss” in
Rom. 16:16; 1 Cor. 16:20; 2 Cor. 13:12; 1 Thess. 5:26 and 1 Pet. 5:14.
Second, “Rufus”: The great apostle Paul was not impersonal
in his relationship with the saints. He often called them by name in his
epistles. It is wonderfully said of the Lord Jesus Christ that “... he calleth
his own sheep by name....” (John 10:3). Christians are individuals and we need
to deal with one another as such.
Third, “chosen in the Lord”; This teaches the wonderful
truth of the personal election of each of the saints in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Each saint was “... chosen ... in him before the foundation of the world....”
Fourth, “his mother and mine”: Saints compose one happy
family and should think of themselves as such. Timothy was instructed to treat
the older men as fathers, the younger men as brothers, the older women as
mothers, and the younger women as sisters. (1 Timothy 5:1,2)
Many times Christians suffer the loss of the affections of
their natural families as they follow the Lord. Paul, himself, “... suffered the
loss of all things....” (Philippians 3:8). But they always find “... an
hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers,
and children, and lands....” (Mark 10:30). Paul lost his natural mother for
following Christ, but he found a mother in Rufus’ mother.
“And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his
ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the
wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God
had told him.” (Gen 22:3).
God had told Abraham to take Isaac into the land of Moriah
and there offer him for a burnt offering. This was, undoubtedly, the most
difficult task Abraham was ever asked to perform. Notice how Abraham responded
-- he “rose up early.”
We can all learn a good lesson from this. When we have a
job to do, especially a very difficult task to perform, we are tempted to
procrastinate, but this only makes the job harder. Satan likes for us the
procrastinate; he likes to see God’s people “... halt between two opinions....”
(1 Kings 18:21). But God wants us to obey him “immediately” or “straightway.”
(See Matthew 4:20.).
Often we want God to bless us with great strength before
we do a hard job, but God’s way is that we are usually blessed in the
deed (James 1:25), not before it.
So, Christian friend, quit vacillating. “... Be strong in
the Lord, and in the power of his might.” (Eph 6:10). What is that difficult
task that God has called upon you to do? Go, begin to do it right now! As you
face your responsibility, God will strengthen you.
“Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth
you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect
and complete in all the will of God.” (Col 4:12).
We don’t know much about Epaphras, but we do know that he
was a mighty warrior of God in prayer. Three words in this verse tell us
something of the intensity of Epaphras’ prayer life.
“Always” - We know from this word that Epaphras prayed
constantly. He, no doubt, went to God several times each day in prayer, making
specific requests in behalf of the saints of Colosse. When he wasn’t actually
what we might call “at prayer” he was in a prayerful attitude. He literally
prayed without ceasing. (1 Th 5:17).
“Laboring fervently” - These two words are the translation
of one Greek word AGONIZOMAI. This word means “to strive, wrestle.” It
means to “endeavor with strenuous zeal.” We get our English word “agony” from
So not only was Epaphras praying continually -- he was
working hard at it when he prayed!
Christians often forget that real prayer is sometimes hard
work. It is said that our Lord Jesus prayed with “... strong crying and
tears....” (Hebrews 5:7).
Christian friend, how is your prayer life? Do you pray
constantly? Do you work hard when you pray? Real prayer is not for
the lazy Christian. But real prayer glorifies God and brings results.
“Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance
of his friend.” (Prov 27:17).
To sharpen a piece of metal (like a hoe or an ax) a hard
piece of metal (a file) must be rubbed against it. A piece of soft material
(like wood) will only dull it.
The Lord has used this fact here to teach us how we can
help our friends and how we, ourselves, can stay spiritually sharp. When we are
in good spiritual condition, and we come in contact with our friends, we can
help them to become spiritually stronger and more alert. When we speak of the
excellencies of the Lord, it tends to stir up the souls of those to whom we
speak to greater spiritual endeavors.
On the other hand, when we come in contact with one who is
in better spiritual condition than we are, we are stimulated to become
Today, and everyday, determine that by the grace of God you
will “sharpen” everyone with whom you come in contact. Before you utter a word
in conversation, ask yourself, “Will what I say sharpen or dull this person?”
"Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good
to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” (Eph
“But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not
live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.”
The constant reading, study, and meditation of the word of
God is as necessary for the Christian’s spiritual health as the constant, daily
eating of good food is for the health of his body. Miss a few meals and you
become physically weak; miss a day or two in neglect of God’s word and you
suffer from spiritual malnutrition.
The words that “proceedeth out of the mouth of God” are
contained in the Bible. Paul in 2 Timothy 3:16 says that “All scripture is given
by inspiration of God....” The word “inspiration” is, literally, “God breathed”,
hence, out of the mouth of God.
When Joshua was called to lead the people of Israel into
Canaan, it was said to him "This book of the law shall not depart out of thy
mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe
to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way
prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.” (Josh 1:8).
David said of the blessed man that “... his delight is in
the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.” (Psa 1:2).
Even when Job was in the midst of his afflictions, he said,
“... I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.” (Job
We all know how eagerly infants gulp down their mothers’
milk. Peter said, "As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that
ye may grow thereby....” (1 Pet 2:2).
Christian friend, if you are spiritually weak today, get
your head in the word of God! It will revive your drooping soul. David said,
"This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me.” (Psa
“Moab hath been at ease from his youth, and he hath settled
on his lees, and hath not been emptied from vessel to vessel, neither hath he
gone into captivity: therefore his taste remained in him, and his scent is not
changed.” (Jer 48:11).
The Lord is teaching a spiritual lesson here by referring
to the process of wine-making. As wine is maturing, dregs or lees settle in the
bottom of the bottle. If nothing is done, the wine has a strong taste and is not
good. Good wine is produced by emptying the wine into another vessel and leaving
the dregs behind. This process may have to be repeated several times before the
wine is good and clear and ready to drink.
Spiritually, if we are at ease with no problems or
persecutions, we tend to “settle on our lees”, and we don’t have the right taste
or scent. When we are tried by trials or persecutions (emptied from vessel to
vessel), the dregs of our lives (lack of prayer, neglect of the word of God,
lukewarmness, various sins) are removed and we are better able to serve God. How
merciful our Father is when he tries us!
If you feel to have been “emptied from vessel to vessel,”
praise God for it. It is for your good and his glory. It is not good to be “...
at ease in Zion....” (Amos 6:1). God prophesied against Judah, "And it shall
come to pass at that time, that I will search Jerusalem with candles, and punish
the men that are settled on their lees: that say in their heart, The LORD will
not do good, neither will he do evil.” (Zep 1:12).
“But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me,
I shall come forth as gold.” (Job 23:10).
Impurities, in the form of dross, are removed from metals,
such as gold and silver, by the refining process. This process involves great
heat. When the refining has been accomplished, the metal is pure, beautiful, and
In the scripture, the Lord draws an analogy between this
refining process and the sufferings of the saints. When the Lord’s people are
brought through sufferings, the impurities of their lives are purged away and
they are better able to serve the Lord.
It was prophetically said of the Lord Jesus, "And he shall
sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi,
and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering
in righteousness.” (Mal 3:3).
Don’t faint when under pressure. Don’t give up when the
fire gets hot. The Master Refiner is working on you. You will shine like gold or
silver for Him when the dross is gone.
“As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her
young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings....” (Deu
The Lord’s dealings with Israel are here described in a
figure -- a mother eagle watching over her young and teaching them to fly. This
figure was touched on in Exodus 19:4, where the Lord described his deliverance
of Israel from Egypt by saying, “... I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought
you unto myself.”
What is under consideration here is evidently the method by
which the little eagles are taught to fly. When the mother perceives that they
are ready, she “stirs” them, she shoves them out of the nest. When their little
wings weaken, she spreads her wings, swoops down under them and bears them up.
So it was with Israel of old -- so it is with God’s people
today. We often have to be “stirred”, to be shoved out of the nest. But this is
for our good. Our wings of faith would never become stronger if we didn’t use
them. When we do try them, find that we are not as strong as we think we are,
and that we will surely perish, we suddenly feel the comforting presence of His
“wings” beneath us, bearing us up.
“... My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Mat
These words were uttered by the Savior on the cross as he
was made to be sin (2 Cor. 5:21), made a curse (Gal. 3:13), gave his life a
ransom for many (Matt. 20:28), gave his life for the sheep (John 10:11), was
offered to bear the sins of many (Heb. 9:28), his own self bare our sins in his
own body on the tree (1 Pet. 2:24).
The anguish that Christ suffered as He paid for all the
sins of all His people is beyond imagination. We can gain only a little
knowledge of it. The more knowledge of this that we do gain, the more we will
appreciate the Lord Jesus Christ and the more we will want to live for Him.
These same words were uttered by David some one thousand
years before Christ uttered them. David, no doubt, uttered them about himself,
as he was going through a great trial of affliction. But the Holy Spirit was
also guiding him to speak prophetically of the sufferings of Christ which would
occur approximately one thousand years later.
Examine Psa. 22, compare it with the Gospel accounts of the
sufferings and death of the Lord Jesus, remember that one thousand years stand
between the time of David and the time of Christ, and stand amazed at the
providence of God in fulfilling prophecy.
Compare Psa. 22:7, 8 with Matt. 27:39-43; compare Psa.
22:17 with Matt. 27:36 and John 19:33-36; compare Psa. 22:18 with Matt. 27:35.
Consider the expressions in Psa. 22:16 “... they pierced my hands and my feet.”
Remember that the Old Testament had been completed and
commonly accepted by the Jews several hundred years before the birth of Christ.
The amazing recording in the New Testament of the events predicted in the Old is
miraculous and can be accounted for only by the fact that God is in complete
control of all history.
Read Psa. 22 prayerfully and enter into the suffering of
the Lord Jesus Christ.
“He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso
confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” (Prov 28:13).
Often the reason behind our lack of spiritual prosperity is
hidden and unconfessed sin. Actually, we only hide our sins from each other. We
can not hide them from God. “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and
sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul
and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and
intents of the heart.” (Heb 4:12).
We often try to cover our sins from each other, because in
our pride we wish to be thought better than we are. Often we try to cover our
sins from ourselves by putting them out of mind, banishing serious thoughts,
stifling conviction, and trying to persuade ourselves that we are happy. And,
like Adam and Eve, who
“... hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the
garden.” (Gen 3:8), we foolishly try to cover our sins from God.
But we can not prosper if we do so. Israel could not win
the battle so long as Achan covered his sins. (Joshua 7). Not matter how hard
the sailors rowed they could not make shore so long as they tried to ignore
Jonah’s sin (Jonah 1). And David was miserable when he tried to keep his sin
hidden. (Psalm 32:3).
But, praise the Lord, a sinner can be prosperous in soul
again when he confesses and forsakes his sin. David said, "I acknowledged my sin
unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my
transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin.” (Psa
The restored sinner is in a condition to serve the Lord.
David said again, "Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall
be converted unto thee.” (Psa 51:13).
There is wonderful healing for lives, for homes, for
churches in confession and repentance. James said, "Confess your faults one to
another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed.” (James 5:16).
Brethren, don’t delay! Don’t try to hide your sins. Confess
them and turn from them today.
"Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of
the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.” (Luke 15:10).
“Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O
woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt.” And her daughter
was made whole from that very hour.” (Mat 15:28).
True faith is very powerful and very persistent. It just
doesn’t give up. In the face of discouragements and obstacles it continues to
persist. This Syrophoenician woman came to Jesus with a request that her
daughter be healed. Jesus answered her not a word. This was a discouragement,
but on top of that, His disciples asked Him to send her away. What a blow to her
that must have been. But a further discouragement came when He said, "I am not
sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” This evidently left her
out because she was a Gentile. But she still refused to be discouraged. She
worshipped Him and said, “Lord, help me.” Then came the greatest trial of all to
her faith. Jesus said, “It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and cast it
to dogs.” This seems like to have been a crushing blow from which she should
have turned away in despair. But her great faith caused her to say, " Truth,
Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.”
This great faith brought a response from Jesus. Every child
of God has this faith. See Eph. 2:8. It is a gift of God. We need to be aware of
the great strength of our faith, and we need to learn to exercise this faith. As
we exercise it, we will learn to ask great things of God. This pleases God. “But
without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must
believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”
Christian friend, don’t underestimate the vast power of
your God-given faith. “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and
this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” (1 John 5:4)
“And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a
desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they
had no leisure so much as to eat.” (Mark 6:31).
When Jesus Christ walked this earth some 2000 years ago, He
was the Son of God and He was also the Son of Man. As a man He was “... in all
points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” (Heb 4:15). As man He hungered,
thirsted, and became weary. He understood that in His busy life it was necessary
to frequently retire to a place by Himself for physical rest and for intimate
communication with His Father by prayer.
On one occasion “... he went out into a mountain to pray,
and continued all night in prayer to God.” (Luke 6:12). As another reference
puts it, "And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain
apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.” (Mat 14:23).
Not only at night did He sometimes get off by Himself, but “... rising up a
great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and
there prayed.” (Mark 1:35).
If Jesus found it necessary to get off in solitude to rest
and to pray, it behooves His disciples to do the same.
In this hectic world we must find “quiet times” to be with
the Lord, to worship Him and to commune with Him. This is the secret to real
spiritual strength and to ascertain God’s direction for our lives.
“Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have
dominion over me.” (Psa 119:133).
One of the fruits of the Holy Spirit is self-control or
“temperance.” (Gal. 5:23). If a Christian does not exercise self-control over
himself through the power of the Holy Spirit, his testimony before men and his
communion with God will be greatly hindered.
Satan tempts us and tries to make us become slaves to our
appetites and passions. Some people become addicted to drugs or alcohol. Others
become slaves to sexual appetites, sports, or some particular hobby. Even
legitimate pursuits become sinful when they gain control over us and distract us
from the service of God.
Speaking of his determination to refuse to become a slave
of his appetites or passions, Paul said, “... all things are lawful for me, but
I will not be brought under the power of any.” (1 Cor 6:12).
Not only our physical habits but our passions such as anger
must be kept under strict control. As the wise man put it, "He that hath no rule
over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.” (Prov
25:28). Positively stated, "He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty;
and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.” (Prov 16:32).
The Roman epistle exhorts the saints to "Let not sin
therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts
thereof.” (Rom 6:12).
Admittedly, self-control is very hard work. But the child
of God must do this work with great determination and with absolute
dependence on the power of the Holy Spirit. Notice the tremendous determination
of Paul as he said, "I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as
one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into
subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself
should be a castaway.” (1 Cor 9:26, 27).
The only alternative to lack of self-control is becoming a
castaway -- to losing our usefulness in the service of God.
“Riches and honour are with me; yea, durable riches and
righteousness.” (Prov 8:18).
Almost everyone is interested in riches. People take great
care to provide for the future with savings accounts, insurance policies, and
retirement plans. The man is thought to be very prudent who provides for his
needs in this way.
But while men plan for the future in this way, the vast
majority neglect their own souls. They are so busy in material pursuits that
they have no time to make provision for their spiritual needs.
But the above verse speaks of “durable riches.” The context
plainly shows that these durable riches consist of the wisdom that comes with a
close walk with God. Wisdom cries out: "Receive my instruction, and not silver;
and knowledge rather than choice gold. For wisdom is better than rubies; and all
the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it.” (Prov 8:10, 11).
This wisdom of God is so much more durable than material
wealth, no matter how great. Timothy was commanded to "Charge them that are rich
in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches,
but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy....” (1 Tim
6:17). There is a great contrast between these “uncertain riches” and the
“durable riches” of Prov. 8:18.
The Son of God said, "Lay not up for yourselves treasures
upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through
and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor
rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where
your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Mat 6:19-21)
“Fools make a mock at sin: but among the righteous there is
favour.” (Prov 14:9).
Today it is very common for people to make jokes about
things that the Lord calls sin. This is supposed to be an innocent pleasure but
the Lord calls them fools who engage in such conduct.
For example, jokes about sex, about men looking at pretty
women with lust in their hearts, are quite common-place. However, the Son of God
has said, "But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after
her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” (Mat 5:28). The
Bible further says that “... whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.” (Heb
13:4). So this is not a laughing matter. Satan knows that if he can get us to
laughing about this and other sins, he can deceive us as to the seriousness of
sin. Sin is deadly business. Sin caused the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus
Christ, "Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree....” (1 Pet
Jokes about Noah’s ark, about meeting Peter at the pearly
gates, about hell and about other sacred subjects are extremely common today --
even among professing Christians. Such things should not be. We would do well to
engage in "Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not
convenient: but rather giving of thanks.” (Eph 5:4).
“He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a
companion of fools shall be destroyed.” (Prov 13:20).
It is certain that those with whom we keep constant company
have a great effect on us. We learn much -- both good and bad from those around
us. Much of this knowledge and behavior just “rubs off” on us without our being
consciously aware of what is taking place. No wonder the word of God warns us to
be very careful to choose those with whom we walk in close association each day.
Negatively, we are not to have as close friends those who
do not fear God and do not use the Bible as the guide for their lives. David
said, "Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly....” (Psa
1:1). Soloman said, "My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not.” (Prov
1:10). Paul said, “... evil communications corrupt good manners.” (1 Cor 15:33).
It is impossible for anyone to keep bad company and not be corrupted by it.
Positively, our lives can be greatly enriched if we seek
for and walk with noble men and women who love and fear the Lord. We can learn
good habits and life patterns from those who have long walked with the Lord.
Not only will we learn how to live as we associate with
these noble ones, but we will be challenged and encouraged to constantly grow in
grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.
How wonderful that our dear Lord has prepared a way for us
to become truly wise -- walking with His wise ones.
“By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to
God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.” (Heb
This verse is loaded with truth which, put into practice,
will glorify God and greatly strengthen the believer.
“By him” -- this expression tells us that we can’t even
praise God except through Jesus Christ. How thankful we should be that one of
the gifts that Christ purchased on the cross for His people was the gift of
“Sacrifice” -- Believers in the New Testament period are
all priests before God. (1 Peter 2:5). Priests are to offer sacrifices. One of
the sacrifices that we are to offer is praise. We praise Him as we reflect on
His blessed attributes and on His goodness toward us. As we thus reflect, our
lips will be compelled to give thanks to His name.
“Continually” -- This giving of thanks should not be just
an occasional exercise -- it should be a constant and habitual practice. David
said, “... I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be
in my mouth.” (Psa 34:1). He said again, "From the rising of the sun unto the
going down of the same the Lord’s name is to be praised.” (Psa 113:3).
Try following this practice today. You’ll be surprised what
a wonderful change will take place in your attitude. Even in the midst of death,
trouble, and disappointment, the child of God can praise the Lord for His
“Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for
you.” (Phil 1:24).
Paul stated that he had a “... desire to depart, and to be
with Christ; which is far better....” (Phil 1:23). But he was willing to abide
in the flesh so long as he was needed by the Philippians and others.
We would do well to follow the great apostle in this
attitude. He didn’t live to be served by others -- his life was devoted to
serving his Lord and the Lord’s people. In this he was following the example of
the Lord Who “... came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give
his life a ransom for many.” (Mat 20:28).
A Christian cannot be happy or fulfilled if he always
expects others to serve him. True joy is found in a life of service. Try serving
your Lord today -- see what you can find to do for His people. A life of
contentment will be the result. Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he
said, “... It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35).
“And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you
fishers of men.” (Mat 4:19).
Every believer is called to be a “fisher of men.” This
means that he is to convert others to the truth as it is in Jesus Christ. There
is only one way to become a fisher of men: that is to become a consistent
follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. As one becomes a follower of the Lord, the
change in him will become evident to those about him. This was evident in the
case of Peter and John. It is written of them,
"Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and
perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled; and they
took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:13).
There is only one way to become a true follower of the
Lord, one must carefully study the life of Christ as it is set forth in the
scriptures, and then prayerfully imitate that life with the enabling of the Holy
This must be done with real determination on a daily basis.
Our Lord said, "And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him
deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” (Luke 9:23).
Christian friend, do you want to experience the joy of
becoming a fisher of men? Begin today! Make the life of Christ your diligent
study and your constant pattern of living.
“Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth,
but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto
the hearers.” (Eph 4:29).
The ability of speech is a wonderful gift of God, and we
must be very careful how we use it. Each word that we speak should be spoken for
a definite purpose. When we speak to others we should use our words to edify
(build up) the person to whom we are speaking. Our words should “minister grace”
to those who hear. Our words should be carefully designed to bring about good
reactions, to bring the hearers closer to the Lord.
There is no place for idle words in the conversation of a
child of God. In fact the Savior said, “... That every idle word that men shall
speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.” (Mat 12:36). No
wonder that David prayed, "Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door
of my lips.” (Psa 141:3). Again he prayed, "Let the words of my mouth, and the
meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my
redeemer.” (Psa 19:14).
Christian reader, today and every day, use your words to
bring glory to God and help to people.
“... For the joy of the LORD is your strength.” (Neh 8:10).
It is so important for a Christian to be strong. There are
many battles to be fought against our own flesh. To fight, we must be strong. To
be strong, we must be filled with the joy of the Lord.
The joy of the Lord is not dependent on circumstances. A
person can be afflicted and persecuted and still be strong in the joy of the
Lord. See Paul and Silas praying and singing praises at midnight, even though
they were in prison, with their feet in stocks and stripes on their backs. (Acts
16:25). See the apostles “... rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer
shame for his name.” (Acts 5:41). Hear Paul say that he was “... sorrowful, yet
alway rejoicing....” (2 Cor 6:10).
The joy of the Lord comes from walking in fellowship with
the dear Lord. Speaking of the Lord, David said, “... in thy presence is fulness
of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” (Psa 16:11). Joy is
given to us as a fruit of the blessed Holy Spirit. (Gal. 5:22).
Walk with the Lord today, dear one. Commune with Him in
prayer. Follow Him in obedience. No matter the circumstances. You will be filled
with joy and you will be strong. “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say,
Rejoice.” (Phil 4:4).
“Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to
wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all.” (John
This verse contains a glorious truth that, properly
understood, will bring joy to the child of God. Jesus tells Peter that the one
who has been washed (in the original language this is in the past or completed
tense) is “clean every whit.” The expression “every whit” comes from a word
which means “all, whole, complete.” Jesus is saying that the one who has been
washed is wholly or completely clean. The word translated “clean” means “without
blemish, spotless, blameless.”
He who has been washed in the blood of Christ, who has been
regenerated by the Spirit of God is wholly and entirely clean in the sight of
God! He has been justified by the righteousness of Christ. Because of
justification all his sins have been pardoned, and he is perfectly righteous in
Christ before God. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which
are in Christ Jesus....” (Rom 8:1). “Who shall lay any thing to the charge of
God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.” (Rom 8:33). When God has pronounced one
“clean every whit” no one, including Satan, can bring a charge against him.
When Jesus said, “Ye are clean, but not all” He was
referring to Judas Iscariot, who was not a blood-bought child of God.
Even though the child of God is completely clean in a legal
sense and will never come under the wrath of God, he still sins and must confess
and repent daily. This is the lesson taught in the washing of the feet (the feet
of his life and conversation). Even though our relationship with God can never
be broken our fellowship with Him can be temporarily broken by unconfessed sins.
Then we need to wash our feet (confess and repent). One who is not already clean
cannot confess and repent in the true sense of the word.
What does this mean to the child of God? Let us live like
children of the king! Let us rejoice that when He sees us He sees us as clean
and righteous in Jesus Christ. Let us go often to Him in prayer for only a
cleansed one has the exalted privilege of coming into His glorious presence.
What good news it was to the Corinthian Christians when
Paul told them that “... ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are
justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Cor
6:11). What good news it is to us today!
“Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he
suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth
righteously....” (1 Pet 2:23).
The Savior is our perfect example in this as He is in
everything else. He did not “fight back” when He was mistreated, but left His
case in the hands of God the Father.
How hard it is for us to do this when we try to do it in
our own power. Our natural tendency is for us to argue, to protest, to “fight
back,” to defend ourselves when we have been wronged.
But we must follow the example of our Lord. His enemies
said terrible things about and to him. To “revile” means to “reproach, vilify,
or slander.” The enemies of Jesus constantly criticized Him, told lies about
Him, and stirred the people up against Him. Perhaps the culmination of the hard
things said against the Lord Jesus were those things said at His trial before
the Jewish council. They even hired false witnesses against Him. Instead of
defending Himself “... Jesus held his peace .... (Mat 26:63). As Isaiah said,
“... as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.” (Isa
Why did Jesus remain silent? Because God was the righteous
judge and Jesus was perfectly willing to trust His case in the hands of God. We,
too, will quit trying to feverishly defend ourselves when we are willing to
trust our case in the hands of the Lord. He will render the right verdict in His
own time. In the meantime, we must humbly serve the Lord and silently suffer
when we are blessed to suffer for His name.
When we can learn to trust our defense in the hands of the
Righteous Judge, what peace will come to our souls.
“Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin
against thee.” (Psa 119:11).
One of the most powerful weapons that we have against
Satan, sin, and the world is the word of God. In fact, we are to take the “...
the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God....” (Eph 6:17). One of the
most effective ways that we can use the word of God is by committing portions of
the word to memory.
Evidently David had done this; he “hid” the word in his
heart. This was not a mere intellectual exercise; he committed the word to
memory for the purpose of not sinning against God. When Satan tempted David to
commit a particular sin, David would call to mind a particular portion of
scripture which forbade the commission of that very sin. This is truly using the
word as the sword of the Spirit.
There are other benefits derived from committing the word
to memory. Paul said "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom;
teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,
singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” (Col 3:16). When the word has
been committed to memory and dwells in our hearts we will be in a position to
teach and to admonish each other. Our admonitions then will not come from our
own opinions; they will come from God’s word. We will also be in a position to
worship God more perfectly -- in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. The Holy
Spirit will take the word which we have committed to memory and help us to
worship God with it.
If you wish to be strong in the Lord commit verses to
memory every day. One verse memorized each week would make about fifty a year.
In ten years this would grow to five hundred verses. For the glory of God, begin
“And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath
desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee,
that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.”
(Luke 22:31, 32).
The great enemy of our soul hates us and would like for us
to completely and permanently deny our Lord. If we were left to ourselves this
would be our sad case. But the Lord Jesus as our great Intercessor prays for us
and, even though we may have temporary lapses, our faith will never be
extinguished. The Lord will bring us to repentance and restoration. When we are
restored or “converted” then we are once again useful in the service of our
Lord. Then we are able to strengthen our brethren.
Peter denied his Lord, but the Lord brought him to
repentance, restored him to a place of usefulness, and gave him the command to
feed His sheep and lambs. (John 21:15-17). The Lord even permitted Peter to
glorify Him in his death. (John 21:19).
What should this mean to us? When we fall into sin and our
lives become cold and useless, we should seek repentance. We should not wallow
in misery and in self-pity, but should pray for God to restore us to a place of
We can do this with great courage and hope, knowing that
God always hears the prayers of Jesus, and that Jesus has prayed for all His
children that their faith would not fail.
“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season
we shall reap, if we faint not.” (Gal 6:9).
The context indicates that this verse primarily applies to
the giving of our material goods in the cause of Christ. But the principle
applies to all areas of our Christian life. We need to persevere in Christian
works lest we fail to reap.
The Christian life is a constant struggle against Satan,
the world-system, and our own flesh. As we struggle and fail to see immediate
results, we grow weary and discouraged and are tempted to give it all up. But we
must not! God has promised that we will reap bountiful blessings in due time. To
give up would be like a man drilling for oil who ceased drilling at 90 feet. If
he had drilled to 100 feet, he would have struck a gushing oil well.
To keep from giving up, we must constantly encourage
ourselves with the promises of God. “He giveth power to the faint; and to them
that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be
weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the Lord
shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall
run and not be weary; and they shall walk and not faint.” (Is. 40:29-31).