MATTHEW RESOURCESOur Daily Bread
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Updated July, 2010
ONE GLIMPSE OF GOD'S HOLINESS - As we become more like the Savior, we become more deeply aware of our own sinfulness. This paradox is not the result of morbid introspection nor evidence of a warped self-image. It's an honest recognition of who we are, who Christ is, and how much we long to be like Him.
The caretaker of the home where Beethoven spent his final years led a group of tourists to the room that housed a stately old piano.
Lifting the cover with an air of reverence, he said, "This was Beethoven's piano!"
A young woman stepped forward, sat down on the music stool, and began playing one of Beethoven's sonatas. Concluding, she spun around and said to the shocked caretaker,
"I suppose many people who visit here like to play Beethoven's piano."
"Well, Miss," he replied, "last summer the world famous Paderewski was here, and some of his friends wanted him to play, but he said, `No, I am not worthy."
After a glimpse of God's holiness, Isaiah cried out, "Woe is me!" (Isa. 6:5) . At the end of his suffering, Job humbly confessed, "Therefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes" (Job 42:6). And John the Baptist said of the Messiah, "He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry." A healthy sense of our unworthiness before God makes us rely more than ever on the worthiness of Jesus. That's the secret of becoming like Him. —D. J. De Haan
It is only when men begin to worship that they begin to grow.
Before I was old enough to get a driver's license, I had a haunting fear of getting behind the wheel of a car. When I thought about driving with an open stretch of road before me, I was afraid I'd be overwhelmed by an obsession to go as fast as the car would go. I couldn't imagine having the self-control to drive no faster than road conditions and the speed limit would allow. When I turned sixteen, though, I learned that I could control the accelerator instead of being controlled by it. Just because I was able to press the pedal to the floor didn't mean I had to do so.
Many times I've heard people try to justify sin by claiming that a sudden, unusual, and irresistible temptation had confronted them. And sometimes we reason that a certain questionable action might actually be all right because the opportunity came along at just the right time and provided just what we thought we needed.
One of the lessons we learn from the temptation of Jesus is that God will always provide a way of escape from temptation or He will give us the strength to resist it. He expects us to be discerning and to be conscious of the meaning of temptation. Beyond that, He wants us to know that we can rely on His Spirit and His Word, the way Jesus did, and to resist temptation rather than be ruined by it. —M. R. De Haan II
Every temptation is an opportunity to get nearer to God.
On the day before my mother died in 1976, my brother and I were called to her bedside. Though too weak for extended conversation, she quoted two verses—Isaiah 41:10 and John 10:29—not simply to con-sole us, but to reinforce her own faith. She held fast to what God had said; and what God said held her fast.
The Word of God has tremendous holding power. When tempted in the wilderness, our Lord overcame the enemy's suggestions by quoting Scripture. He did this to strengthen Himself, not to intimidate Satan. Though sinless, Jesus was truly human, and the temptation was real. Sometimes we allow His deity to overshadow this event and assume that the Savior casually brushed Satan aside with a few Scripture verses. But the Bible leaves no doubt that He was "tempted as we are, yet without sin" (Heb. 4:15). Therefore, the Word held Him steady. Jesus did not quote verses to Satan because they contained some magical power. Rather, He called them to mind to guide and reinforce Himself so that He would remain true to God's will. Because He kept His life under the control of the Word, Satan could not deter Him from doing His Father's will.
Whenever we are tested—whether it's a severe temptation, an overwhelming fear, or the specter of death itself—we can rest with confidence on God's sure and abiding Word. Down through the centuries countless saints have been held by its power, and it is as strong as ever. —D. J. De Haan
The strongest weapon in Satan's arsenal is no match for the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God.
According to Bill Farmer's newspaper column, J. Upton Dickson was a fun-loving fellow who said he was writing a book entitled Cower Power. He also founded a group for submissive people and called it DOORMATS (Dependent Organization Of Really Meek And Timid Souls—if there are no objections). Their motto was: "The meek shall inherit the earth—if that's okay with everybody." Their symbol was the yellow traffic light.
Mr. Dickson sounds like he'd be a lot of fun. What disturbs me about all of this, though, is that many people assume that such humorous ideas represent the true quality of meekness set forth in Matthew 5:5. Many, even in the church, think that to be meek is to be weak. But the opposite is true. What the Bible is talking about is a powerful virtue. The slogan "strong enough to be gentle" comes close to defining it. True meekness is best seen in Christ. He was submissive, never resisting or disputing the will of God. His absolute trust in the Father enabled Him to show compassion, courage, and self-sacrifice even in the most hostile situations.
When we are meek, we will bear insults without lashing out in resentment or retaliation. We'll thank God in every circumstance, while using every circumstance, good or bad, as an occasion to submit to Him. Meekness would be weakness if it meant yielding to sin. But because it stems from goodness and godliness, it is a great strength.—M. R. De Haan II
Meekness is strength harnessed for service.
If we make holiness our goal, we'll attain happiness; if we make happiness our goal, we'll search a lifetime and never find it. Jesus implies this in the Sermon on the Mount. He said that the way to blessedness is through poverty of spirit, purity of heart, and a longing for righteousness. But He also stated that this path may bring persecution (vv. 10-12).
Some people think they can achieve happiness by getting rid of restrictions. Eliminating rules and regulations, they reason, would remove the frustration of having to decide between right and wrong, thereby avoiding separation in human relationships. One man who follows this philosophy said, "It is more important to me to enjoy my life and to be happy than it is to be right. Being right and suffering is no fun. This has been forcefully and clearly revealed to me in my relationship with my seven-year-old. Time and time again I see that [saying he's wrong] . . . only creates suffering and separation between us.
When we apply this line of reasoning to absolute standards of morality, we are in deep trouble. It denies the reality of sin in our hearts as the source of all our woes and forgets that all lasting joy is rooted in separation—separation from evil and unto God. —D. J. De Haan
Nothing but sin can take away the Christian's joy.
An artist searching for a man to model as the prodigal son saw a beggar in the street and asked him to come to his studio and pose for him, promising to pay him. At the appointed time the man appeared, neatly shaven and all dressed up. "Who are you?" asked the artist. "I am the beggar," answered the man. "I thought I'd get cleaned up before I got painted." "I can't use you as you are now," said the artist, and dismissed him.
All who come to Jesus for salvation must come just as they are. Simple trust in Christ—with no claim of their own merits—that's what God is looking for. This attitude is also a key to growth in grace and a life of useful service. After we are saved, we may begin to think that we must clean ourselves up in order to prove ourselves worthy. Although we must "work out" our own salvation, pride and conceit blind us to the truth that it is God who works in us "both to will and to do for His good pleasure" (Phil. 2:12-13).
Paul put it like this: "He who glories, let him glory in the LORD" (1 Cor. 1:31). Our part is to yield to His working in us.
Continued spiritual progress requires that we honestly recognize our continual spiritual poverty. Although we are saved once and for all, we must maintain that basic sense of need that prompted our initial response to Jesus in order for God's Spirit to remain in control. God can use only those who rely on Him and maintain a prodigal posture throughout all of life. —D. J. De Haan
To be rich in God is better than to be rich in goods.
It isn't good to brood about our sins nor to lament constantly over our shortcomings. But neither should we take them too lightly. To disobey the moral law of a holy God is a serious thing. Although as Christians we bask in the warm glow of divine forgiveness, we must never minimize the awful reality of sin.
A young pastor visited Dundee, Scotland, shortly after Robert Murray McCheyne died at age thirty. Many people had come to Christ because of McCheyne's ministry, and the visitor wanted to know the secret of his great influence. The old sexton of McCheyne's church led the preacher into the rectory and showed him some of McCheyne's books lying on a table. Then he motioned to the chair the evangelist had used, and said, "Sit down and put your elbows on the table." The visitor obeyed. "Now put your head in your hands." He complied. "Now let the tears flow; that's what McCheyne did." Next he led him into the church and said, "Put your elbows on the pulpit." The visitor did. "Now put your face in your hands." He obeyed. "Now let the tears flow; that's what McCheyne used to do."
Robert Murray McCheyne cried freely over his sins and over those of his people. By contrast, our emotions are often hardened toward sin. We need to be more sensitive to the convicting voice of God's Spirit and more determined to live a separated life. We may rejoice in God's forgiveness, but we should never be afraid to mourn for our sins.—D. C. Egner
Calvary proves that sin troubles God—does it trouble you?
Cower Power - According to Bill Farmer’s newspaper column, J. Upton Dickson was a fun-loving fellow who said he was writing a book entitled Cower Power. He also founded a group of submissive people. It was called DOORMATS. That stands for “Dependent Organization Of Really Meek And Timid Souls—if there are no objections.” Their motto was: “The meek shall inherit the earth—if that’s okay with everybody.” Their symbol was the yellow traffic light.
Best Way to Acquire Knowledge - A devoted follower of Socrates asked him the best way to acquire knowledge. Socrates responded by leading him to a river and plunging him beneath the surface. The man struggled to free himself, but Socrates kept his head submerged. Finally, after much effort, the man was able to break loose and emerge from the water. Socrates then asked, “When you thought you were drowning, what one thing did you want most of all?” Still gasping for breath, the man exclaimed, “I wanted air!” The philosopher wisely commented, “When you want knowledge as much as you wanted air, then you will get it!” The same is true with our desire for righteousness.
In the Sermon on the Mount, the Lord Jesus teaches us to combine idealism with realism. He shows us how to keep from getting so wrapped up in life as it is that we don't see life as it should be. On the other hand, He teaches us to avoid making the equally destructive mistake of becoming so attached to our ideals that we make impossible demands on those around us.
Columnist Sidney J. Harris wrote about the negative effects of impractical idealism. He described an author who had so much to give in his books, but so little to offer in real life. When Harris first read this writer's works, he thought they were "like a breath of fresh air in a fetid chamber. . . . He was big on Humanity, with a capital H, on family ties and folkways and children and animals and flowers...." But, as Harris laments, it was not an idealism borne out in the author's own life. At home the man was a tyrant to his wife and a terror to his children. He had an unrealistic ideal of what others should be, and he could not tolerate their imperfections.
Christ instructs us to maintain a balance. His own example shows us how to respond in truth and love to those who are imperfect. He teaches us to be right but never to exclude mercy. If we follow Christ's example, we will hold to the highest ideals, but we'll always be in touch with the real world because our hearts are filled with love.—M. R. De Haan II
A righteous heart makes room for mercy.
SEEING THE GOSPEL - A man once asked a new acquaintance in a remote area of the world, "Have you ever heard the Gospel?" "No," the other replied, "I have never heard it, but I have seen it." "What do you mean by that?" the Christian responded. "Simply this," he said, "there is a man in our village whose life has been greatly influenced by a missionary who passed this way. Never have I seen such a change in a person! Before he met the man of God, alcohol ruled his life. He was lazy, neglected his family, and showed no interest in anyone else. Since then, however, his manner of living is completely different. He is no longer a slave to liquor. He works hard and is a good husband and father. I would be proud to have him as my neighbor. Yes, I have seen the Gospel and like it so well I would now like to hear it!" Be-cause the Gospel had been lived eloquently, it could be told effectively.
To be faithful in our witness for Christ, it is essential that the message of His saving grace and transforming power be shown as well as told. If our deeds contradict our words, we might better remain silent. May the example of our lives be so consistent with the testimony of our lips that no one could ever say to us, "Your actions speak so loud that I can't hear what. you say."
The walk of the believer should be a living sermon. The world is watching us with a critical eye. Let us be careful, then, making sure that others are "seeing the Gospel" at its very best!
Jesus bids us shine with a clear, pure light, Like a little candle burning in the night, In this world of darkness we must shine, You in your small corner, and I in mine.
Jesus bids us shine, first of all for Him;
The only sermon that never wearies us is that of an eloquent life!
Hostage of Guerrilla Soldiers - In August 1983, Russell Stendal was taken hostage into the jungle of Columbia, South American, by a band of guerrilla soldiers. For nearly 5 months he learned what it really means to love one’s enemies. He wrote a letter home, saying, “I am in danger only of losing my life; they are in danger of losing their souls.” Through kindness, Russell befriended his guards. One day the commander told him, “We can’t kill you face to face; we like you. So we will have to kill you in your sleep.” God enabled Russell to forgive, but for the next 10 days and nights he couldn’t sleep. A submachine gun was repeatedly thrust in his face under his mosquito net, but the guards couldn’t bring themselves to pull the trigger. On January 3, 1984, Russell was released. When he said goodbye, tears fill the eyes of some of his captors.
Ruby Bridges - In Christianity Today, psychiatrist Robert Coles told an amazing story of a girl who had learned to pray for those who were hostile to her. Coles was in new Orleans in 1960 when a federal judge ruled that the city schools must be integrated. A 6-year-old girl, Ruby Bridges, was the only black child to attend the William T. Frantz School. Every day for weeks as she entered and left the building, a mob would be standing outside to scream at her and threaten her. They shook their fists, shouted obscenities, and threatened to kill her. One day her teacher saw her lips moving as she walked through the crowd, flanked by burly federal marshals. When the teacher told Coles about it, he asked Ruby if she was talking to the people. “I wasn’t talking to them,” she replied. “I was just saying a prayer for them”
Coles asked her, “Why do you do that?”
“Because they need praying for,” came her reply.
What Passes for Love - In our relationships with others, often what passes for love is little more than a neat business transaction. People are kind to us, so we repay them with equal consideration. When they threat us unjustly, our negative response is really what they asked for. Everything is so balanced, so fair, so logical with this eye-for-an-eye and tooth-for-a-tooth kind of justice. But Christian love never settles for only what’s reasonable. It insists on giving mercy as well as justice. It breaks the chain of logical reactions.
General Robert E. Lee was asked what he thought of a fellow officer in the Confederate Army who had made some derogatory remarks about him. Lee rated him as being very satisfactory. The person who asked the question seemed perplexed. “General,” he said, “I guess you don’t know what he’s been saying about you.” “I know,” answered Lee. “But I was asked my opinion of him, not his opinion of me!”
Have you ever gone out of your way to do something for someone and had it go unnoticed? Almost killed you, didn't it? Perhaps I'd better not speak for you, but I've had the problem. At times I've wondered if doing good to others is worth the effort, especially when I don't receive a thank you in return. And yet, serving without looking for reward is what walking with God is all about. As Christians, we should not display a "cash and carry" attitude that expects immediate appreciation for the good we do. God wants us to remember that someday He Himself will richly reward us.
A newspaper article reminded me of the kind of "delayed returns" we should be living for. A car dealer went out of his way to give a foreign student an honest deal on a new automobile. Fifteen years later, the young man became the sole purchasing agent for the Iranian Contractors Association. He showed his gratitude to the car dealer by placing a multimillion-dollar order with that dealer for 750 heavy dump trucks and 350 pickups. "It's unbelievable!" exclaimed the businessman. The good he had done was rewarded years later beyond his wildest imagination.
Just as that salesman's reward came later, so too God will commend us in Heaven. If we do good to others for the immediate thanks we receive, we already have our reward. But if we do it for God, the future return will be as sure and generous as He is. —M. R. De Haan II
There is no reward from God to those who seek it from men.—Spurgeon
In a letter to friends, hymnwriter Wendell P. Loveless told about a visitor to the United States who wanted to make a telephone call. He entered a phone booth, but found it to be different from those in his own country. It was beginning to get dark, so he had difficulty finding the number in the directory. He noticed a light on the ceiling, but he didn't know how to turn it on. As he tried again to find the number in the fading twilight, a passerby noted his plight and said, "If you want to turn the light on, you have to shut the door." To the visitor's amazement and satisfaction, when he closed the door, the booth was filled with light. He soon located the number and completed the call.
When we draw aside in a quiet place to pray, we must block out our busy world and open our hearts to the Father. He then will illuminate our darkened world of disappointments and trials. We will enter into communion with God, sense His presence, and be assured of His provision for us. Our Lord often went to be alone with the heavenly Father. Sometimes it was after a busy day of preaching and healing, as in Luke 5. At other times, it was before making a major decision (Luke 6:12).
We too can have the confidence that "if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us" (1 John 5:14). But we must remember that to "turn on the light," we must first "shut the door" by getting alone with God. —R. W. De Haan
One of the great secrets of prayer is prayer in secret.
The Phone Booth - In a letter to his friends, hymn writer Wendell P. Loveless related this story:
One evening a speaker who was visiting the United States wanted to make a telephone call. He entered a phone booth, but found it to be different from those in his own country. It was beginning to get dark, so he had difficulty finding the number in the directory. He noticed that there was a light in the ceiling, but he didn’t know how to turn it on. As he tried again to find the number in the fading twilight, a passerby noted his plight and said, “Sir, if you want to turn the light on, you have to shut the door.” To the visitor’s amazement and satisfaction, when he closed the door, the booth was filled with light. He soon located the number and completed the call.
In a similar way, when we draw aside in a quiet place to pray, we must block out our busy world and open our hearts to the Father. Our darkened world of disappointments and trials will then be illuminated. We will enter into communion with God, we will sense His presence, and we will be assured of His provision for us. Our Lord often went to be alone with the Heavenly Father. Sometimes it was after a busy day of preaching and healing, as in today’s Scripture reading. At other times, it was before making a major decision (Luke 6:12).
A group of scientists are directing their thoughts and needs into the heavens, but not to the God of the Bible. They have calculated that as many as fifty million civilizations may exist somewhere in space, and they believe that some of them may have found methods to improve our lives and control the time of death. In November, 1974, these scientists, using special technology, beamed a message to a cluster of stars on the outer edge of our galaxy. But even if that signal were picked up, they estimate that it would take forty-eight thousand years for an answer to come back.
To Christians, these efforts seem ridiculous and destined to failure. Yet those scientists are serious about their efforts, while we, who do have contact with "another world," sometimes act as if our prayers are not heard. Every child of God has the opportunity to get in touch, not with other creatures, but with the Creator Himself! We have immediate access through prayer to the One who stretched out all the galaxies in the heavens. He hears us the instant we pray and answers according to His will. Through the wonderful privilege of prayer, every Christian can come to One who is all-powerful, who listens in heaven, and who can and does change the affairs of people.
In light of our relationship to Him, we can send our messages to heaven with renewed confidence, because we know personally our God-listener. —M. R. De Haan II
When we bend our knees to pray, God bends His ear to listen.
Living Moment to Moment - As Pastor Philip Doddridge was walking along the street one day, he was feeling depressed and desolate, for something had happened to burden his heart. Passing a small cottage, he heard through the open door the voice of a child reading the words found in Deuteronomy 33:25, “.as your days, so shall your strength be.” The Holy Spirit used that truth to bolster his sinking morale. He was encouraged not to look too far ahead, but just to go on living for the Lord from moment to moment in the consciousness that God would care for him.
Apparently D. L. Moody also learned that secret, for he said,
“A man can no more take a supply of grace for the future than he can eat enough today to last him for the next 6 months, nor can he inhale sufficient air into his lungs with one breath to sustain life for a week to come. We are permitted to draw upon God’s store of grace from day to day as we need it!”
God never gives His strength in advance, so let’s stop crossing bridges before we come to them. The Heavenly Father will graciously supply our every need—one day at a time!
Don’t try to bear tomorrow’s burdens with today’s grace.
UNDERSTANDING PRAYER - What a privilege it would be to talk privately with the president of the United States! Yet believers can choose at any time to enjoy an infinitely greater privilege -- fellowship with the King of kings.
Prayer is not simply a matter of rushing into God's presence with our requests. Supplication is a valid element of prayer, to be sure, but fellowship and communion are far more important elements. Prayer includes adoration, praise, thanksgiving, and intercession for others, as well as asking for the supply of our own needs and legitimate desires. Prayer is not only talking to God; it is also listening to Him as He reminds us from His Word what He wants us to do.
In Alexander Solzhenitsyn's `A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich,' Ivan endures all the horrors of a Soviet prison camp. One day he is praying with his eyes closed when a fellow prisoner notices him and says with ridicule, "Prayers won't help you get out of here any faster." Opening his eyes, Ivan answers, "I do not pray to get out of prison but to do the will of God."
Prayer is not manipulating God to get what we want but discovering what He wants us to do, and then asking the Holy Spirit to enable us to do His will. - V C Grounds
Praise His blessed name forever!
Prayer is not a way to get what we want but the way to become what God wants.
Weight of Prayer - Shortly after World War II, a woman entered a grocery store and asked for enough food for a Christmas dinner for her children. When the owner inquired how much she could afford, she answered, “My husband was killed in the war. Truthfully, I have nothing to offer but a little prayer.” The man, an unbeliever, was unmoved by the woman’s need, and said sarcastically, “Write your prayer on a piece of paper and you can have its weight in groceries.”
To his surprise, she plucked a folded note out of her pocket and handed it to him. “I already did that during the night while I was watching over my sick child,” was her immediate reply.
Without even reading it, he put it on one side of his old-fashioned scales. “We’ll see how much food this is worth,” he muttered. To his dismay, nothing happened when he put a loaf of bread on the other side. But he was even more upset when he added other items and still nothing happened. Finally he blurted out, “Well, that’s all it will hold anyway. Here’s a bag. You’ll have to put these things in yourself. I’m busy!”
With a tearful “Thank you,” the lady went happily on her way.
The grocer later discovered that the scale was out of order.
As the years passed, he often wondered if that was just a coincidence. Why did the woman have the prayer already written before he asked for it? Why did she come at exactly the time the mechanism was broken? Whenever he looks at the slip of paper that bears her petition, he is amazed, for it reads, “Please, dear Lord, give us this day !”
The Anaconda - Lorrie Anderson, missionary to the head-shrinking Candoshi Shapra Indians of Peru, was looking for a quiet place for her daily time of Bible reading and prayer, so she went down by the edge of the river. After reading the Bible, she took up her prayer list. Eyes closed, she did not see the deadly anaconda weaving through the water until it struck, burying its fangs into her flesh. It withdrew to strike, hitting her arm again and again as it held her, screaming, in its coils. It reared up for the death blows. Then suddenly the giant snake, never known to release its prey, relaxed its grip and slithered off through the water. While Lorrie was being treated, a witch doctor from a nearby village burst into the hut and stared at her. She couldn’t believe Lorrie had survived. She said her son-in-law, also a witch doctor, had chanted to the spirit of the anaconda that morning and sent it to kill the young missionary. “I’m certain,” Lorrie said, “that except for the protection of God, it would have worked.”
Just a Passin’ Through - As Christians, we need to think of ourselves as travelers who are just passing through this sinful world. We are not permanent residents, but pilgrims on a journey to a better land. Therefore, we need to “travel light,” not burdening ourselves with an undue attachment to the material things of life. The more we care for the luxuries and possessions of earth, the more difficult will be our journey to heaven.
The story is told about some Christians who were traveling in the Middle East. They heard about a wise, devout, beloved, old believer, so they went out of their way to visit him. When they finally found him, they discovered that he was living in a simple hut. All he had inside was a rough cot, a chair, a table, and a battered stove for heating and cooking. The visitors were shocked to see how few possessions the man had, and one of them blurted out, “Well, where is your furniture?” The aged saint replied by gently asking, :Where is yours?” The visitor, sputtering a little, responded, “Why, at home, of course. I don’t carry it with me, I’m traveling.” “So am I,” the godly Christian replied. “So am I.”
This man was practicing a basic principle of the Bible: Christians must center their affections on Christ, not on the temporal things of this earth. Material riches lose their value when compared to the riches of glory. To keep this world’s goods from becoming more important to us than obeying Christ, we need to ask ourselves, “Where is our furniture?” -D. C. Egner
A New House - The Lord Jesus is now in heaven, the “Father’s house.” He has gone there to “prepare a place” for all who have put their trust in Him. There is a sense, however, in which believers may have a part in preparing that place. That thought was brought to my attention as I read these observations by an unknown writer:
“I once had friends who were traveling abroad. Intending to build a new house upon their return, in all their journeying the dream of that new home was constantly in their minds. When they therefore could secure a beautiful picture, statue, or vase, they purchased in and sent it on ahead to await their arrival. The same thing was done with rare and curious treasures, which afterward, when placed in their new home, could be linked with happy memories and in this way contribute to their future enjoyment.” The writer then made this application: “I love to think that we, in these pilgrimage days on earth, are doing the same for our heavenly home. The kindly deed that made a rare picture in somebody’s life, the little sacrifice that blossomed into joy, the helpful friendship—all these we shall find again. Whatever of beauty, tenderness, faith, or love we can put into other’s lives will be among our treasures in heaven.”
Going to Our Treasure - A woman met a friend of her father’s who had not seen him for many years. The woman’s father was a devout Christian, so she found great joy in telling his old acquaintance about her dad’s trust in the Lord, and the way he faced suffering, trials, and even the prospect of death.
The friend, however, had lived a different kind of life. Having given himself over completely to earning money and hoarding every cent he could, he had become very wealthy. But he didn’t have the same glad anticipation of the future as his friend did. He explained it to the daughter in this way: “Your father can be more optimistic about heaven than I for a very simple reason. He is going to his treasure. I’ll be leaving mine!”
Junior wanted a dump truck, and he let everyone in the store know it. When his mother said no, the little boy threw a temper tantrum. He howled louder and louder until the embarrassed mother bought the toy. As I watched, I thought of what my mother told me when I was young. "Don't hang your heart on things!" she said. At times I rebelled against that idea, but today I'm deeply grateful for her advice. And I think it should be displayed as a motto in every home.
The apostle Paul warned that the earth and all "the works that are in it will be burned up" (2 Peter 3:10). With this truth in mind, he went on to say, "Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness? (2 Peter 3:11). Because material things are transient, we ought to set our affection on "things above" (Col. 3:2).
In a day when we're bombarded as never before by appeals to buy and have, it's difficult, even for believers, to stand firm against an excessive desire for things. Beautiful full-color spreads in magazines, scintillating radio commercials, and persuasive television ads combine to make us feel that we can't get along without certain products.
We need to guard ourselves against the tendency to want more and more material possessions. They can become heart hang-ups that draw us away from the Lord. Material values pass away; spiritual values last forever.—R. W. De Haan
Hold lightly to the things of earth but tightly to the things of heaven.
A Terrible Deathbed - I once read of a man who bought a luxurious house and filled it with expensive and spectacular furnishings. After taking a friend on a tour through its many spacious rooms, the owner of the mansion asked proudly, “Well, what do you think of it?” He expected to hear lavish praise, so he was stunned when his quest responded, “It is gorgeous; but to be perfectly frank, things like this make a deathbed terrible.”
Don’t Hang Your Heart on Things - One day I saw a little boy throw a temper tantrum in a store. He wanted a dump truck, but his mother said no. So Junior howled louder and louder until the mother, embarrassed, bought the toy. As I watched, I thought of what my mother told me when I was young. She said, “Don’t hang your heart on things!” I’ll admit that at times I rebelled against that idea, but today I’m deeply grateful for her advice. And I think it should be displayed as a motto in every home: DON’T HANG YOUR HEART ON THINGS.
George Muller - If we could look behind the unexpected events in our lives, we would be amazed to see God wonderfully providing for our needs. The insignificant turns in the road, the seemingly unimportant events, the often unexplained happenings—all are part of God’s loving care.
His gracious providence is also evident in the tangible provisions of life. In Bristol, England, George Muller operated an orphanage for two thousand children. One evening he became aware that there would be no breakfast for them the next morning. Muller called his workers together and explained the situation. Two or three prayed. “Now that is sufficient,” he said. “Let us rise and praise God for prayer answered!”
The next morning they could not push open the great front door. So they went out the back door and around the building to see what was keeping it shut. Stacked up against the front door were boxes filled with food. One of the workers later remarked, “We know Who sent the baskets, but we do not know who brought them!”
Earthly Treasures - When a person loves earthly things so much that he can’t get along without them, he opens himself to much suffering, both physical and mental. Some people, for example, have taken foolish risks to keep their riches intact. They have died rushing into burning houses or were killed because they stubbornly resisted armed robbers. Apparently they felt that without their material possessions life would not be worthwhile.
Others, when forced to part with their wealth, have been thrown into agonizing despair, even to the point of suicide. In 1975, six armed gunmen broke into the deposit boxes in a London bank and stole valuables worth more than $7 million. One lady, whose jewelry was appraised at $500,000, wailed, “Everything I had was in there. My whole life was in that box.” What a sad commentary on her values!
CONTENTMENT - If we could look behind the unexpected events in our lives, we would be amazed to see God wonderfully providing for our needs. The insignificant turns in the road, the seemingly unimportant events, the often unexplained happenings—all are part of God's loving care.
His gracious providence is also evident in our tangible provisions. In Bristol, England, George Muller operated an orphanage for two thousand children. One evening, knowing they had no food for break-fast the next morning, Muller called his workers together and explained the situation. After two or three prayed, Muller said, "That is sufficient. Let us rise and praise God for prayer answered." The next morning they could not push open the great front door. To see what was holding it closed, they went out the back door and around the building. Stacked up against the front door were boxes filled with food. One of the workers later remarked, "We know Who sent the baskets, but we do not know who brought them!"
God uses many messengers and means to deliver His gifts, whether they are material or spiritual provisions. We may not always recognize that His hand is working behind the scenes, but it is. Sometimes we get down to the last of our resources, but we can rest assured that the Father knows exactly what we need. And this brings contentment to our hearts. Knowing the Source, we can leave to Him the method of His supply. —P.R.V.
God often sends His help by way of human hands.
God’s Gracious Providence - If we could look behind the unexpected events in our lives, we would be amazed to see God wonderfully providing for our needs. The insignificant turns in the road, the seemingly unimportant events, the often unexplained happenings—all are part of God’s loving care.
His gracious providence is also evident in the tangible provisions of life. In Bristol, England, George Mueller operated an orphanage for two thousand children. One evening he became aware that there would be no breakfast for them the next morning. Mueller called his workers together and explained the situation. Two or three prayed. “Now that is sufficient,” he said. “Let us rise and praise God for prayer answered!” The next morning they could not push open the great front door. So they went out the back door and around the building to see what was keeping it shut. Stacked up against the front door were boxes filled with food. One of the workers later remarked, “We know Who sent the baskets, but we do not know who brought them!” -P.R.V.
Bread to Hold - In his book God’s Psychiatry, Charles L. Allen tells this story:
“As World War II was drawing to a close, the Allied armies gathered up many hungry orphans. They were placed in camps where they were well-fed. Despite excellent care, they slept poorly. They seemed nervous and afraid. Finally, a psychologist came up with the solution. Each child was given a piece of bread to hold after he was put to bed. This particular piece of bread was just to be held—not eaten. The piece of bread produced wonderful results. The children went to bed knowing instinctively they would have food to eat the next day. That guarantee gave the children a restful and contented sleep.”
First Things First - In the late 19th century John Wanamaker opened a department store in Philadelphia. Within a few years that enterprise had become one of the most successful businesses in the country. But operating his store wasn’t Wanamaker’s only responsibility. He was also named Postmaster General of the United States, and he served as superintendent for what was then the largest Sunday school in the world at Bethany Presbyterian Church. When someone asked him how he could hold all those positions at once, he explained. “Early in life I read, ‘Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.’ The Sunday school is my business, all the rest are the things.”
One evidence of Wanamaker’s desire to keep the Lord’s work first in his life was a specially constructed soundproof room in his store. Every day he spent 30 minutes there praying and meditating upon God’s Word. He had his priorities straight!
Planned Neglect - Have you ever noticed how the saints in the Bible were eager to let God have His way in their lives? They bestirred themselves as soon as dawn touched the sky in order to worship Him and seek His leading. For example, Abraham got up very early to stand before the Lord (Gen. 19:27). Jacob in like manner arose from his stony pillows to worship God after having seen a vision of angels in the night (Gen. 28:18). Moses went early to meet the Lord at Sinai (Ex. 34:4). Joshua did the same when he pre-pared to capture Jericho (Josh. 6:12), and Gideon followed their example when he made his way at dawn to examine the fleece that he had cast upon the ground to discern Jehovah's will (Judg. 6:38). Hannah and Elkanah arose early to worship God (1 Sam. 1:19), as did Samuel when he went to meet Saul (1 Sam. 15: 12). Job left his warm bed to offer sacrifices for his children (Job 1:5), and the faithful women who had followed the Savior arose at daybreak that they might go to the sepulcher on the first Easter morn (Mark 16:2). Say, have you ever gotten up early to study God's Word, to pray, and to seek His will? Does He have priority in all you do?
A noted young concert artist was asked the secret of her success with the violin. "Planned neglect!" she replied, and then explained. "Years ago I discovered that there were many things which demanded my time. After washing breakfast dishes, I made my bed, straightened my room, dusted the furniture, and did a host of other things. I then turned my attention to violin practice. That system, however, failed to accomplish the desired results. So I realized I had to reverse things. I deliberately set aside every-thing else until my practice period was ended. That program of planned neglect accounts for my success!"
Christian, put priority on daily Bible study and prayer, even if you must neglect some secondary things. "Seek ye first the kingdom of God!"
He who puts God first will find God with him at the last!
Life Can be Monotonous - The road that lies before us seems to stretch mile after mile across a flat, barren desert with no oasis in sight. How then are we to handle wearisome responsibilities when there’s no foreseeable relief from our burdens?
Oliver de Vinck, severely disabled from birth, lay helplessly on his bed for all of his 32 years, unable to care for himself. Day after day and year after year his parents put every spoonful of food into his mouth, changed his diapers, and still maintained a happy home.
One day Oliver’s brother Christopher asked his father how they managed. He explained that they didn’t worry about the long succession of tomorrows that might lie before them. They lived a day at a time, asking, “Can I feed Oliver today?” And the answer always was, “Yes, today I can do it.”
Jesus taught us how we can handle life’s routine: “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (6:34). In faith—and with prayer—we can break life and its often wearisome tasks into bite-size pieces, entrusting the unpredictable future to the grace of Him who promises that “as your days, so shall your strength be” (Dt. 33:25).
Worry: Fear’s Extravagance - Worry is fear’s extravagance. It extracts interest on trouble before it comes due. It constantly drains the energy God gives us to face daily problems and to fulfill our many responsibilities. It is therefore a sinful waste.
A woman who had lived long enough to have learned some important truths about life remarked, “I’ve had a lot of trouble—most of which never happened!” She had worried about many things that had never occurred, and had come to see the total futility of her anxieties.
An unknown poet has written:
“I heard a voice at evening softly say,
No Record of Failure - In the book Streams in the Desert, Mrs. Lettie B. Cowman tells of a minister who was heavily burdened under a load of anxiety and care. After carrying this weight for quite some time, he one day imagined that he could place his burden on the ground and stand back a pace or two. Then he could look at it and analyze it. When he did, he discovered that it was made up almost entirely of borrowed things. A good portion of it belonged to tomorrow. An even larger amount of it belonged to the week to come. And a sizable percentage was a carryover from his yesterdays.
Mrs. Cowman indicated that this pastor was guilty of “a very stupid but a very ancient blunder.” He had made the mistake of burdening himself in the “now” with things that belonged to “yesterday and tomorrow.” “Never yield to gloomy anticipations,” she concluded. “Who told you that the night would never end in day? Who told you that the winter of your discontent should proceed from frost to frost, from snow and hail and ice to deeper snow? Do you not know that day follows night, . that spring and summer succeed winter? Place your hope and confidence in God. He has no record of failure.”
Jumping to Conclusions - For some reason, it is easier to jump to negative conclusions about people than it is to assume the best about them. When we do this, we ascribe to them bad intentions and evil purposes that may not be true. We also reveal something about ourselves, for the faults we see in others are actually a reflection of our own.
In his little book Illustrations of Bible Truth, H. A. Ironside pointed out the folly of judging others. He related an incident in the life of a man called Bishop Potter. “He was sailing for Europe on one of the great transatlantic ocean liners. When he went on board, he found that another passenger was to share the cabin with him. After going to see the accommodations, he came up to the purser’s desk and inquired if he could leave his gold watch and other valuables in the ship’s safe. He explained that ordinarily he never availed himself of that privilege, but he had been to his cabin and had met the man who was to occupy the other berth. Judging from his appearance, he was afraid that he might not be a very trustworthy person.
The purser accepted the responsibility for the valuables and remarked, ‘It’s all right, bishop, I’ll be very glad to take care of them for you. The other man has been up here and left his for the same reason!’“
Hacking Cough - A California woman became extremely irritated by the hacking cough of her pet macaw. When the distressing symptom persisted, she took the bird to a veterinarian who checked his feathered patient and found it to be in perfect health. Furthermore, the doctor discovered that instead of having some exotic disease, the bird had merely learned to imitate the raspy “barking” of its cigarette-smoking owner. When the woman was informed of this, she was greatly surprised. The insight she gained into her problem helped her kick the habit.
CRITICISM - For some reason, it is easier to jump to negative conclusions about people than it is to assume the best about them. When we do this, we ascribe to them bad intentions and evil purposes that may not be true. We also reveal something about ourselves, for the faults we see in others are usually a reflection of our own.
Bishop Potter "was sailing for Europe on one of the great trans-atlantic ocean liners. When he went on board, he found that another passenger was to share the cabin with him. After going to see the accommodations, he came up to the purser's desk and inquired if he could leave his gold watch and other valuables in the ship's safe. He explained that ordinarily he never availed himself of that privilege, but he had been to his cabin and had met the man who was to occupy the other berth. Judging from his appearance, he was afraid that he might not be a very trustworthy person. The purser accepted the responsibility for the valuables and remarked, `It's all right, Bishop, I'll be very glad to take care of them for you. The other man has been up here and left his for the same reason— (H. A. Ironside, Illustrations of Bible Truth).
We need to make sure we have all the facts before we speak and guard ourselves against making snap judgments about people. The standards we use to judge others will be used to judge us. —D. C. Egner
It is much easier to be critical than to be correct.—Disraeli
Can You Hear Me? - A man was having difficulty communicating with is wife and concluded that she was becoming hard of hearing. So he decided to conduct a test without her knowing about it.
One evening he sat in a chair on the far side of the room. Her back was to him and she could not see him. Very quietly he whispered, “Can you hear me?” There was no response.
Moving a little closer, he asked again, “Can you hear me now?” Still no reply.
Quietly he edged closer and whispered the same words, but still no answer.
Finally he moved right in behind her chair and said, “Can you hear me now?” To his surprise and chagrin she responded with irritation in her voice, “For the fourth time, yes!” What a warning to us about judging!
"For more than 40 years, Ace Pawn Shop had been a fixture on West Main Street in my hometown. Now it was closing. Fred and Lydia Fischer had run the shop as a `mom and pop' operation, and when Fred died, Lydia found that she couldn't go on alone. Rather than sell the business, she decided to close shop and move south. As a final gesture of appreciation to the customers who had made life so good for them, Lydia sent a card to everyone who had an item in pawn and offered it back free of charge. The sign in the window told the story: `Pawn Shop Closing: Claim What Is Yours" (David Grubbs, Claim What Is Yours).
God has invited all believers in Christ to claim what is ours, and the Sermon on the Mount lists a number of these wonderful gifts: the kingdom of heaven (salvation), comfort in mourning, the prospect of inheriting the earth, spiritual fulfillment, mercy, fellowship with God, adoption into God's family, and an eternal home in heaven.
When we begin to feel spiritually poor, it's time to ask, seek, and knock. Before another day passes, we can, by faith, "claim what is ours." —D. C. Egner
He possesses all who knows the Creator of all.
Student Exercise - Throughout history, ungodly people have attained power and influence through their strong personalities or their spectacular deeds. But natural qualities and remarkable feats do not provide the kind of spiritual leadership that God desires and approves. A classic example is the Russian "clergyman" Rasputin.
Rasputin gained a foothold in the home of Czar Nicholas II because he seemed to possess a supernatural power to help the czar's hemophiliac son. Rasputin's "prayers" appeared to do far more for the boy than the efforts of all his doctors. Thus, the "holy man" achieved great influence in the government by telling the czar and his wife that their son would live only as long as they listened to his advice. As time went on, Rasputin became openly cruel and immoral, maintaining his position through intimidation and fear.
Charlatans can be clever and winsome. They may even perform counterfeit miracles. But observed closely, their lives give no evidence of the fruit of the Spirit. Their works are as worthless as apples tied on an apple tree to make it look productive.
Fitness for spiritual leadership comes from the inside, not the outside, and includes the qualities of love, joy, peace, longsuffering, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23). —H. V. Lugt
A good leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.
No Christian is immune from the storms of life. The transforming power of God's grace does not come with a guarantee that we will be free from difficulty and trial. Yet we are assured of God's abiding presence and mighty power to calm our fears and hold us secure in times of trouble.
One night an unexpected storm swept over a passenger ship sailing from England to New York, tossing the ship violently and awakening everyone on board, including the captain's eight-year-old daughter. "What's the matter?" the frightened child cried. After her mother explained about the storm, she asked, "Is Father on deck?" Assured that he was, the little girl snuggled back into her bed and in a few moments was sound asleep. Although the winds still blew and the waves still rolled, she had peace because her father was at the helm.
Although the squalls of life strike us, we are assured of our Father's presence. He controls our lives and upholds us with His right hand. We may not dodge the storm, and the winds may still blow, but the Master of wind and wave is on board. And if we trust Him, He will either calm the waves or quiet our hearts. — P.R.V.
We need not nervously pace the deck if the Captain of our salvation is at the helm.
We who live in countries where the gospel is freely preached find it difficult to imagine the tremendous spiritual need in areas where people have never heard the gospel. When we think of the millions who do not know Christ, we need to be filled with compassion and moved to action, as our Savior was in Matthew 9.
While on furlough from missionary service in Africa, Robert Moffat (1795-1883) spoke in England about his work. A young medical student in the audience had hoped to serve on the mission field in China, but that land was closed. He listened as Moffat described a frequent sight in Africa. "There is a vast plain to the north, where I have sometimes seen, in the morning sun, the smoke of a thousand villages where no missionary has ever been."
"The smoke of a thousand villages." Those words painted a vivid picture and gripped the heart of the young student. This was the challenge he was looking for in his desire to reach the unreached. Filled with a new vision, the young man went to Moffat and asked, "Would I do for Africa?" That student was David Livingstone.
Christ said, "Lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest" (John 4:35). He still needs workers today. With Moffat and Livingstone, we can envision "the smoke of a thou-sand villages." Then we must ask God to show us what we can do to share the gospel with those who have never heard. —R. W. De Haan
We can reach out to a world in need with the Word it needs!
All sorts of fears obsess believers. Although some may be legitimate, most are vague, nameless feelings of apprehension. They rob us of confidence and joy, and keep us from spiritual health and effectiveness. The Bible has the solution to this problem. When we learn the fear of God, we will not be controlled by earthly terrors.
A young boy living in Holland when it was occupied by the Nazis during World War II, wrote the following in his journal: "Last week three German officers stopped my dad in the hallway. They held him at gunpoint and forced him to open the steel door leading to the basement. One of them ordered Dad to show the crawl space under the hallways. He said if he didn't tell where the hidden weapons are, he will be shot. Dad usually is not a great hero. He's even afraid of the dentist. But this time he is not afraid at all. One of them cocked his Luger and held it against my Dad's temple. Dad recited the Bible verse that was on his mind, `And fear not them who kill the body, . . . but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both body and soul in hell.' The Germans looked at each other, shrugged their shoulders, and then left. The steel heels of their boots made a clanging noise on the iron stairway."
This boy's father feared God more than he did the enemy. Having that kind of attitude will help us put all our fears in perspective. —D. C. Egner
We need not fear the darkness of this world, for we have Christ the light.
HIS EYE IS ON THE SPARROW! - These words of Jesus are a rebuke to faltering faith, and an exhortation to put our trust in God. A sparrow in Jesus' day was worth about one-eighth of a cent, and yet He who controls the universe is interested in each one of these insignificant little birds. If His eye notes the sparrow's fall, will He not also enter into every pang that rends the heart of His children?
C. F. Bundy has an interesting commentary on this passage. He writes: "This precious verse is usually misquoted. Note that it does not say 'to the ground' but 'on the ground.' Picture in your mind an active little sparrow, and the significance of the difference will become clear. The sparrow does not have to fall from a height, or die, but merely stumble as it hops along 'on the ground,' and God knows and cares! How much more is He concerned when one of His children stumbles and falls or is tried in the way of life! Not only so, but He is ever ready to help, strengthen, and restore such a fallen one. Don't wait for an emergency or a great tragedy before you call upon the Lord; rather, present to Him the problems, perplexities, and the little needs of everyday living!"
An anonymous poet exclaims:
With God's strength behind you, His love within you, and His arms underneath you, you are more than sufficient for the job ahead of you! —Wm. A. Ward
PUNISHMENT FOR DISOBEYING GOSPEL - During the Franco-German War of 1870-71, a homeowner found two unexploded shells near his house. He cleaned them up and put them on display near his fireplace. A few weeks later he showed them to a visitor. His friend, an expert in munitions, had a horrible thought. "What if they're still loaded?" After examining the shells, he ex-claimed, "Get them away from the fire immediately! They're as deadly as the day they were made!" Without realizing it, the homeowner had been living in peril.
Likewise, many people unknowingly live in constant jeopardy of something far worse—a Christ-less eternity in hell. Failing to recognize the consequences of unbelief, they risk sealing their doom at any moment. We cannot exaggerate the danger of rejecting Christ and living in unbelief, for what we do with Him and His offer of salvation determines where we will spend eternity.
The words of our text are among the most chilling found in the Bible. They emphasize the truth of Hebrews 10:31 : that it is "a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." Our Lord describes hell as a terrible place of outer darkness (Matt. 22:13 ) and eternal hopelessness (Matt. 18:8-9) . —H. G. Bosch
When it comes to salvation, he who hesitates may be lost!
I WILL NOT DOUBT - What a picture we have in this passage of the manner in which we often react when we are "tossed with the waves" of adversity and buffeted by the "contrary winds of human experience." When everything appears to be going against us, and the very foundations seem crumbling, how prone we are to forget that our Savior has promised, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee" (Heb. 13:5).
Oh, what peace we forfeit when we refuse to take God at His Word. How much better, keeping our eyes on Him and trusting His promises, to say with the poet:
I do not want merely to possess faith; I want a faith that possesses me!—C. Kingsley
Obsessed With Winning - The magazine article summarized the life of a former winning NCAA basketball coach and network sports announcer. Throughout his colorful coaching career he had been obsessed with the game and with winning. But years later, stricken with cancer, he came to realize the triviality of the goods and values to which he had been passionately devoted. “You get sick and you say to yourself, ‘Sports means nothing,’ and that feels terrible.”
Because he had spent little time with his wife and children, he confessed, “I figured I’d have 20 years in the big time, who knows, maybe win three national titles, then pack it in at 53 or 54.I was going to make it all up to them, all the time I’d been away. It sounds so silly now. But it went on and on, that insatiable desire to conquer the world.”
THE MATHEMATICIAN'S CONVERSION - The most precious possession a man has is his soul! However, sin and Satan have so blinded the eyes of the unsaved that they abuse, degrade, and bargain away this "jewel of God" for a pittance. Unless grace enlightens them, they will carelessly barter away their eternal future for a few fleeting moments of earthly pleasure or transient success; yet Jesus in His Word makes it abundantly clear that there is no greater tragedy than a lost soul!
A young man, distinguished for his mathematical attainments, was fond of challenging his fellow students to a trial of skill in solving difficult problems. One day a classmate came into his study and handed him a folded paper, saying, "Here is a problem I wish you would solve." Then he immediately left the room. The paper was eagerly spread out and read, but instead of a question in mathematics, there appeared the solemn words of Jesus: "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Mark 8:36, 37). With a gesture of impatience, the mathematician tore the paper to bits and turned again to his books. In vain he tried to shake off the conviction the heart-searching words had produced. The Holy Spirit continued to press home the truth of his guilt and eternal danger so that he could find no peace until he had made sure of his soul's destiny by believing in the Lord Jesus Christ. The story goes that subsequently he became a preacher of the Gospel, and that his first sermon was from the very words that brought him to Christ: "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?"
Have you given your most precious possession to Jesus? Re-member, that soul of yours is only safe in His keeping!
When thou, in the dust art forgotten,
When pleasure can charm thee no more,
'Twill profit thee nothing, but fearful the cost,
To gain the whole world, if thy soul should be lost! — F. Crosby
Life with Christ is an endless hope; without Him it is a hope-less end!
GET BEHIND ME - When Peter objected to Jesus' statement about going to Jerusalem to die, he unwittingly spoke for the devil. A song portrays Satan as gleeful when he saw Christ on the cross, but I believe the devil was dismayed when he realized that Jesus was paying the price for man-kind's sins and that His sacrifice would break forever the power of death.
From the time John the Baptist declared Christ to be "the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29), Satan tried to keep our Lord from going to the cross. In the wilderness temptation he suggested that Jesus take the kingdoms of the world without the ordeal of Calvary. He incited the Jewish leaders to hate Christ, hoping they might kill Him by stoning. When these attempts failed, he switched tactics. He induced Peter to speak against God's plan, and he "entered" Judas (John 13:27). He prompted Peter's denials of Jesus, the cowardice of the apostles, the brutality of the soldiers, and the heartlessness of the mob. Through all of this he hoped to convince Jesus that mankind wasn't worth dying for.
Satan lost that battle, but he continues to fight. He does all he can to hinder the spread of the gospel. He even uses religions that pro-mote salvation by works and ritual. Despite his efforts, thousands are being saved through faith in Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection. They can joyfully sing, "Hallelujah for the Cross," because the cross and the empty tomb spelled Satan's ultimate defeat. —H. V. Lugt
Calvary stands for Satan's fall.
A Woman of Little Faith - A woman who was known for her deep trust and calmness of soul was asked by a person who wanted to learn her secret, “Are you the woman with the great faith?” “No,” she replied, “I am the woman with the little faith in the great God!”
Most Christians admit that frequently their faith is weak. Often they try to generate its power from within their own hearts. This is a mistake. Faith can grow only as it reaches out to the Lord and His Word. A friend and I were discussing this subject one day. “Henry,” he said, “I’ve just been reading Matthew 17, where Jesus compares our faith to a grain of mustard seed. As I studied this, I discovered an interesting fact. A mustard seed has a small amount of nourishment within itself to support the germ of life. Therefore, it must be planted near the surface in rich, fertile ground if it is to flourish. As soon as a tiny shoot emerges, it must immediately obtain food and strength from another source. The moist, loamy soil around it and the sunlight from above must work their miracle if the plant is to survive.” The same is true with out faith. Because it is so weak, it must reach beyond itself for sustenance and growth. It “should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God” (1 Cor. 2:5). - H.G.B.
DEALING WITH SIN - On several occasions when visiting men in jail, I have seen them shake their heads mournfully and say, "I never thought it would come to this." When they began to break minor laws, they fully intended to change their ways before getting into serious trouble. But instead, one thing led to another, and they became more and more involved in a life of crime. Now they languish in jail, facing a long imprisonment.
These men failed to realize that sin always progresses. When we flout God's laws in one facet of life, a kind of mathematical law of addition and multiplication goes into effect. Soon sin affects other areas of our lives. It's foolish to think we can keep just one pet sin. That single sin will grow and spread unless we deal radically with it. That's why Jesus spoke of cutting off the offending hand and plucking out the offending eye (Matt. 18:8-9). By using such a strong figure of speech, He was saying, do whatever is necessary to stop.
We cannot afford to toy with sin. Three times in Romans 1 , Paul said of unbelievers that "God gave them up" to their evil ways. In other words, He allows wickedness to run its downhill course until judgment falls and there's no escape. We can avoid the inevitable arithmetic of sin by trusting Jesus as Savior. His power in our lives can overcome any sin. —H. V. Lugt
No one becomes wicked all at once.
The Eyegate - The eyegate opens onto a broad avenue that leads directly to the soul. Through it flow images that can kindle lust, stir up envy, and incite sinful pleasures.
In The Confessions of St. Augustine, the author told of his friend Alypius who, though not a Christian, hated the bloody entertainment of the Roman circus. One day some students forced Alypius into the amphitheater to watch the gladiators. “Though you hale my body to that place,” he said, “can you force me also to turn my mind or my eyes to these shows?” So there he sat, eyes closed, mind fixed on nobler things. Just then a frenzied cry arose as a gladiator fell victim to a sword. Alypius opened his eyes for a brief moment. “So soon as he saw the blood,” Augustine recorded, “he therewith drank down savageness; nor turned away, but fixed his eye, drinking in frenzy, unawares, and was delighted with that guilty fight, and intoxicated with the bloody pastime.”
Our Lord, in a bold figure of speech, said, “if your eye caused you to sin, pluck it out.” He didn’t mean this to be taken literally. Rather He was saying, in effect, “Take the most drastic action necessary to keep your inner life pure.”
Billy Graham once said, “You may not be able to help the first look, but you can refuse the second.” When an impure image comes to mind, whether from a book, a magazine, the TV, or real life, never “let the eyes have it.” Instead, fix the eyes of your soul on Jesus, who intercedes in heaven for us. He will keep you pure.
PRECIOUS IN HIS SIGHT - Some Christians need to be humbled because they have too exalted an opinion of themselves; others stand in constant need of encouragement because they have a tendency to dwell too much upon their own inadequacies. One of the problems a minister faces is that of preaching messages which will convict the proud without utterly discouraging those who have a difficult time believing they could possibly be precious in the sight of God.
Our Savior, using a little child as an object lesson, very effectively humbled the self-seeking disciples; yet, at the same time, He showed lowly believers that they were important in God's sight. He told the Twelve they needed to become like that little one, ever realizing their personal inadequacy and their complete dependency upon Him. If they failed to do so, they would not be fit to take their places in His kingdom. Our Lord then pointed out that every Christian, however obscure and unimportant in the eyes of man, is still precious to God. To fellowship with these lowly ones is to honor the Savior (Matt 18:5), but should unbelievers seek to harm them, Jesus warns that such persecutors will be severely judged (Matt 18:6, 7). Moreover, to despise any of those who come to Christ in a childlike spirit is to take a position which is completely contrary to God's attitude toward them. He has, in fact, appointed holy angels as their representatives in the court of Heaven. As the shepherd is concerned about one straying sheep, so the Lord Jesus places great value upon even the lowliest believer.
Christian, you are important to God! He will judge all who seek to harm you and has provided you with angelic guardians. You need not fear that He will ever let you perish!
The humble, God will keep and bless;
To have the comforts of grace and God's full blessing, humble yourself; for the holy place is ever the lowly place!
Two and a Half Converts - When D. L. Moody returned one night from a service where he had preached, a friend asked him, “How many converts did you have tonight?”
He replied, “Two and a half.”
The person responded, “I suppose you mean two grownups and a child?”
“No,” said Moody, “Two children and a grownup.”
“How do you make that out to be two and a half?”
“Well, you see,” replied the evangelist, “the two children have a whole life before them, but a grownup person has only a half a life before him.”
Material Possessions - When a person loves earthly things so much that he can’t get along without them, he opens himself to much suffering, both physical and mental. Some people, for example, have taken foolish risks to keep their riches intact. They have died rushing into burning houses or were killed because they stubbornly resisted armed robbers. Apparently they felt that without their material possessions life would not be worthwhile.
Others, when forced to part with their wealth, have been thrown into agonizing despair, even to the point of suicide. In 1975, six armed gunmen broke into the deposit boxes in a London bank and stole valuables worth more than $7 million. One lady, whose jewelry was appraised at $500,000, wailed, “Everything I had was in there. My whole life was in that box.” What a sad commentary on her values!
When Pastor Howard Sugden preaches on the upper room, where Jesus washed the disciples' feet, he speaks of "God with a towel in His hand." That towel symbolizes One who "did not come to be served, but to serve" (Matt. 20:28). Yet how quickly we reverse the pattern and expect others to serve our needs. We may even go so far as to complain when other believers disappoint us and don't do as we expect. That's why we need to keep Jesus' example before us.
Vernon Grounds, then president of Denver Conservative Baptist Theological Seminary, challenged the graduating class of 1973 with the truth of John 13. Dr. Grounds gave the graduates a tangible symbol that he said would help them in their future ministries. As the classmates filed quietly to the front, they expected a special Scripture verse, a little book, or an inscribed medallion. To their surprise, he gave them a small square of white terry cloth. One graduate, who has served as an overseas missionary, says,
"We were commissioned to go into the world as servants. That small piece of towel, frayed and grubby from years in my wallet, is a constant reminder of that moving moment and of our basic call to serve."
The example Christ gave in the upper room challenges us to ask ourselves if we have a servant's attitude. Perhaps it's time for us to realize that the "towel in our hand" is a servant's towel. —D. C. Egner
The believer's talents are not to be laid up for self—they are to be laid out in service.
Sometimes I get the feeling that we are experiencing a leadership crisis among Christians. Although plenty of people are eager to assume the top positions, far too few are willing to accept the biblical pattern of authority. They assume that headship means dominance, so they ignore the basic teaching of passages like Matthew 20. The pat-tern established by Christ for leadership in the church can be summed up in one word: servanthood. Jesus Himself exemplified this when he washed the disciples' feet as "an example" (John 13:2-16).
In The Mark of a Man, Elisabeth Elliot told of a relative who was the dean of a Christian college in the Midwest. One night some boys in a dorm smeared the walls with shaving cream, peanut butter, and jelly. When the dean heard about it, he wondered what action to take. He could force the young men to clean it up or he could order the janitor to do it. Instead, he started to clean up the mess himself. Soon doors began to open, and before long the guilty ones were helping him wash the walls. Because he was willing to take the role of a servant, he solved the problem and taught the boys a valuable lesson at the same time.
Whenever we're in a position of leadership and seem to be failing, we should examine our attitude toward service in light of Matthew 20 and John 13. Perhaps we need more practice in the principle of leading by serving. —D. C. Egner D. J. De Haan
Lead players are always improving their serve
Sometimes I wonder how many of those who enthusiastically cried, "Hosanna!" on Palm Sunday were shouting, "Crucify Him! Crucify Him!" a few days later. People must have been disappointed, even resentful, that Christ didn't overthrow the Romans and set up an earthly kingdom. He had had a golden opportunity to rally support as He rode into Jerusalem. In contrast to His earlier actions, He didn't try to dampen this jubilant demonstration. Yet neither did he capitalize on the fervor of the crowd and issue a call to arms. Those who longed only for release from foreign domination were disillusioned. The Messiah had not fulfilled their expectations.
Jesus' contemporaries failed to recognize that before He could assert His outward sovereignty, He had to rule the inner citadel of their hearts. The Jews' greatest need was not freedom from Caesar's legions but release from the chains of their own sin. Jesus would rule in power and glory one day, but first He had to pay sin's penalty on the cross. The key to His kingdom was not revolution but repentance.
Through the centuries the issue has not changed. If we follow Christ only because we think He'll shield us from life's hardships, heal all our sicknesses, and guarantee prosperity, we're headed for disillusionment. But if we renounce sin, take up our cross, and live for Him because He is our God, our Creator, and our Redeemer, we will never be disappointed in Him. —D. J. De Haan
Putting Christ first brings satisfaction that lasts.
HOSANNA - It's Sunday morning, time for the electronic church in America. Thousands lounge in their living rooms watching television. Almost every channel carries a religious program. Some preachers proclaim a clear-cut gospel message. Others, however, pace before an enraptured audience, telling them that Jesus will heal all their diseases and make them rich. "He wants you well! Poverty is of the devil!" shouts the preacher. And the swelling of applause picks up where he leaves off. People love the "gospel" of prosperity and deliverance from sickness.
Now turn back the calendar to a Sunday morning around 33 A.D. The city is Jerusalem. There's no TV, but there is a preacher who stirs the hopes of an excited crowd. For three years He's been going about Judea and Galilee, healing the sick, feeding the hungry, and even raising the dead. Now He rides into Jerusalem on a colt, gladly receiving the acclaim of the crowd. But those who shout "Hosanna!" are accepting Him for what they think He will give them, not for who He is and what He came to do. They want an earthly Messiah who will provide for their material welfare, not a suffering Messiah whose death on the cross will expose their sin, provide forgiveness, and call for a life commitment.
Jesus didn't promise release from all the suffering in the world. But He did offer forgiveness, peace, eternal life, and a cross. Anything less than taking up that cross in serving Him is shallow allegiance.—D. J. De Haan
The word easy appears only once in the New Testament, and then in connection with yoke.
GREATNESS - Music lovers, brace yourselves. Some of the greatest orchestral conductors of the past were sometimes podium tyrants. In an article in The Indianapolis Star, Robert Baxter wrote, "Their heyday came in the 1930s and '40s when Artur Rodzinski carried a loaded revolver to rehearsals, when Arturo Toscanini broke batons, . . . when Fritz Reiner pierced musicians with his laser-like eyes, and George Szell slashed them with his razor-sharp tongue." One player recalls, "Playing under them was like being in an open field during an electrical storm." Once an offended musician stormed out of rehearsal, shouting to Toscanini, "Nuts to you!" Toscanini bellowed back, "It's too late to apologize!" With such disharmony in relationships, it's a wonder these geniuses could get such beautiful music from their players.
Strong leaders don't need to instill fear and be autocratic to command respect. Jesus, the only perfect leader this world has ever known, showed us a better way. His podium was not the Mount of Transfiguration, where He revealed His deity. It was a Roman cross, where He served our deepest needs by paying the penalty for our sins. Now He draws beautiful music from sin-ruined lives—first by surrounding us with His love and forgiveness, then by serving through us as we joyously yield to His direction.
Those in positions of leadership can look to Jesus to learn the secret of leading by serving. —D. J. De Haan
Leaders do not begin to serve until they put serving into their leadership.
Booker T. Washington - A truly humble man is hard to find, yet God delights to honor such selfless people.
Booker T. Washington, the renowned black educator, was an outstanding example of this truth. Shortly after he took over the presidency of Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, he was walking in an exclusive section of town when he was stopped by a wealthy white woman. Not knowing the famous Mr. Washington by sight, she asked if he would like to earn a few dollars by chopping wood for her. Because he had no pressing business at the moment, Professor Washington smiled, rolled up his sleeves, and proceeded to do the humble chore she had requested. When he was finished, he carried the logs into the house and stacked them by the fireplace. A little girl recognized him and later revealed his identity to the lady.
The next morning the embarrassed woman went to see Mr. Washington in his office at the Institute and apologized profusely.
“It’s perfectly all right, Madam,” he replied. “Occasionally I enjoy a little manual labor. Besides, it’s always a delight to do something for a friend.”
She shook his hand warmly and assured him that his meek and gracious attitude had endeared him and his work to her heart. Not long afterward she showed her admiration by persuading some wealthy acquaintances to join her in donating thousands of dollars to the Tuskegee Institute.
Our society encourages hypocrisy. Even before our children enter school they begin to master the art of artificiality. It isn't long until they become as sophisticated as their adult counterparts at the slick little deceptions of modern life.
This practice is bad enough in social circles, but it is even worse when it occurs in the church. When Sunday morning comes, we adjust our behavior to fit what others expect of a good Christian. We sit piously in our "Sunday best," hiding from everyone that we are selfish, stingy, unforgiving people.
In his book Improving Your Serve, Charles Swindoll tells of speaking at a singles retreat in a Rocky Mountain resort. He had purposely brought along a full-faced rubber mask that his children had given him as a funny present. One evening he wore it as he began to speak on authenticity. As expected, the crowd went wild with laughter. Each new sentence increased the effect. After removing the mask, he observed, "It's a funny thing, when we wear literal masks, nobody is fooled. But how easy it is to wear invisible ones and fake people out by the hundreds. . . . Servants who are `pure in heart' have peeled off their masks. And God places special blessing on their lives."
We all struggle with the problem of hypocrisy. But when our hearts are pure, we will have no reason to cover our faces. —D. C. Egner
A hypocrite is a person who isn't himself on Sunday.
God's Word commends faithfulness. The parables in Matthew 24 and 25 about being ready for Christ's sudden appearing point out that those who faithfully do their tasks receive the Lord's approval. Day by day, in good fortune or in bad, whether feeling good or a little down in the dumps, we are to continue steadfastly doing the job God has given us.
After the tragic bombing of a marine base in Beirut in October 1983, the steadfastness of one young soldier moved and heartened the American people back home. He had been critically wounded in the explosion of the revamped hotel where he and his fellow marines had been staying. Many of his buddies had been killed. He was covered with bandages and a jungle of tubes was attached to his body. Unable to speak, he indicated he wanted to write something when visited by General Paul X. Kelly, Commandant of the Marine Corps. Painfully he wrote the words semper /j a shortened form of the U.S. Marine Corps motto, Semper Fidelis, which means "Always faithful."
Those of us in the Lord's army can learn from this young man's example. We too may have come under heavy attack. Our "wounds" may be many. Some of our beloved fellow soldiers may fall in battle. Even so, we are to be faithful to the end. An attitude of determined loyalty should fill our hearts and drive us onward no matter what the circumstances. Yes, Semper Fidelis, "always faithful," is also the Christian's motto. —D. C. Egner
The proof of our faith is our faithfulness.
BE READY! - As a teenager, Jim Tait wanted to make maple syrup, so he purchased some catch buckets and a boiling pan. Then he tapped the trees and collected the sap. His father told him what to watch for after he began boiling the sap. But instead of keeping his eye on the steaming liquid, Jim left it for a few moments to consult with his father. While he was gone, the sap became milky and began to bubble. Moments later Jim returned, but it was too late. The sap had turned to syrup, and the syrup had crystallized and burned.
In the parable of the 10 virgins, Jesus was instructing His followers to be ready at all times to meet the bridegroom, whose coming represented Christ's any-moment return to this earth. They were to live so that the Lord would find them as ready as if they had known the exact moment of His appearing.
The fact of Christ's imminent return to this earth benefits us as Christians in many ways. It helps us to be ready and watching for the Lord, to be obedient, to be faithful, and to bear spiritual fruit. It is also a purifying truth that gives us hope (1 John 3:3).
Are you watching for Jesus' return? If you knew it would be today, would you be ready? -D C Egner
Blessed are those whom the Lord finds watching,
Since Jesus may come at any time, we must be ready all the time.
WELL DONE - Speaking in Edinburgh, missionary John Williams held his audience spellbound with thrilling accounts of God's work among the tribes-people of the New Hebrides Islands. A soft-spoken missionary followed Williams with a brief report of his work. In a low and trembling voice he said, "My friends, I have no remarkable success to relate like Mr. Williams. I've labored for Christ in a far-off land for many years and have seen only small results. But I have this comfort: when the Master comes to reckon with His servants, He will not say, `Well done, thou good and successful servant,' but `well done, thou good and faithful servant.' I have tried to be faithful!"
From Jesus' story in Matthew 25 we learn that unequal gifts exercised with equal diligence will receive equal reward. In the parable, talents represent God-given abilities to carry out God-assigned responsibilities. What's important is not how much we accomplish, but our motives and the quality of our labors. Alexander MacLaren wrote, "Christ rewards not action, but the graces that are made visible in the action; and these can be seen in the tiniest as in the largest deeds. A light that streams through a pinprick is the same that pours through the widest windows."
We need not feel inadequate if we have been diligent in serving Christ. Although it's rewarding to see large results, in God's eyes faithfulness that produces even small results is a job well done.—D. J. De Haan
Work done well for Christ will receive a "well done" from Christ.
WITNESSING FROM A WHEELCHAIR - A woman named Nancy put this ad in her local newspaper: "If you are lonely or have a problem, call me. I am in a wheelchair and seldom get out. We can share our problems with each other. Just call. I'd love to talk." The response to that ad has been tremendous -- 30 calls or more every week.
What motivated this woman to reach out from her wheelchair to help others in need? Nancy explained that before her paralysis she had been perfectly healthy but in deep despair. She tried to commit suicide by jumping from her apartment window, but instead she became paralyzed from the waist down. In the hospital, utterly frustrated, she sensed Jesus saying to her, "Nancy, you've had a healthy body but a crippled soul. From now on you will have a crippled body but a healthy soul." As a result of that experience, she surrendered her life to Christ. When she was finally allowed to go home, she prayed for a way to share God's grace with others, and the idea of the newspaper ad occurred to her.
Every believer can do something to help needy people. Limited as we may be by sickness, old age, or disability, we can still pray, call, or write. No matter what our condition, we can be an effective witness for Jesus Christ. - V C Grounds
Lord, let me be a shining light
Only after you talk to God about needy people are you ready to talk to needy people about God.
Suffering comes to all of us, and no one can suffer for us. Even so, loved ones and friends can support us in many ways in those difficult times by their prayers and understanding. But when we are too proud to admit our need to others, we are in great danger.
The Sequoia trees of California tower as high as 300 feet above the ground, yet these giants have unusually shallow root systems, which reach out in all directions to capture the greatest amount of surface moisture. Seldom do redwoods stand alone, because high winds would quickly uproot them. They grow in clusters, their intertwining roots providing support for one another against the storms.
Support is what Jesus wanted from Peter, James, and John in Gethsemane as He faced Calvary. On the cross as the world's sin-bearer He would experience the Father's wrath and abandonment. That was the awful cup He prayed would be taken from Him. In that dark hour, He looked to His disciples for prayerful alertness and compassion. But they disappointed Him. The sight of His sleeping disciples must have made the isolation of Gethsemane even more painful.
If Jesus looked to human support in His crisis hour, how much more do Christians need one another when they suffer. We must be willing to ask someone to pray for us and with us. And we must be alert for opportunities to lend our support to others who are suffering. —D.J.De Haan.
Those who suffer need more than sympathy, they need companionship.
In 1968, Admiral Elmo Zumwalt, Jr., took command of the American naval forces in Vietnam. In an effort to reduce U.S. casualties, he ordered the waterways sprayed with the chemical defoliant Agent Orange. This would push back the jungle and make it harder for North Vietnamese to ambush Navy river patrol boats at pointblank range. One of those boats was commanded by 21-year-old Lt. Elmo Zumwalt III. The tragedy and irony of the story is that today he suffers from a usually fatal form of lymph cancer that both father and son believe was caused by his exposure to Agent Orange. Theirs is the heartbreaking story of a father who made a decision that unintentionally resulted in great suffering for his own son. Yet they both agree that it was the right one.
In conquering sin and death to provide salvation for us, God the Father intentionally made a decision that resulted in immeasurable agony for His only begotten Son. After deciding to save the human race through His Son, He watched Him suffer the mockery of the crowd, the lashes of the whip, the pain of the nails through His hands and feet, the inexpressible weight and humiliation of our sins, and the indescribable agony of isolation and abandonment.
Our lack of gratitude adds to God's pain. Certainly His amazing sacrifice deserves our unending thanksgiving. —M.R.De Haan.II
The truest measure of God's love is that He loves without measure
THE MOST PRIVILEGED UNDERTAKER - Those who were crucified by the Romans were usually left ex-posed to the elements until eaten by birds of prey — a guard being set around the bodies to prevent friends from burying them. Knowing this, Joseph of Arimathaea, "a good man and a just" who as a member of the Jewish council had not consented to the crucifixion of Jesus, went to Pilate and begged for the body of Jesus. The fact that he was a rich and prominent man, and had a newly hewn tomb in a garden near the place of crucifixion, probably influenced the Roman governor to give his consent. In this way Isaiah 53 was fulfilled. For the Messiah must make His "grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death." Having been accorded the privilege of caring for Jesus' body, Joseph of Arimathaea became the most privileged undertaker of all ages! Tenderly he took the Savior's bruised body and shrouded it in a large, clean cloth. However, in the "embalming process" that followed, he had an assistant — none other than Nicodemus who had earlier come to Jesus by night to learn how he might be "born again." This formerly secret follower of the Lord came supplied with about a hundred pounds of myrrh and aloes (John 19:39, 40). Together these men wound Jesus' body in additional "linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury." Then they placed Him in Joseph's new tomb.
The privilege of caring for the dead body of Jesus was given only to those two; yet we today may do service for the Savior by telling others that He physically arose from the tomb, ascended to the Father in Glory, and now offers eternal life to all who believe.
Three days He lay within that dark domain, Then with new life, forth from the tomb He came; Christ has the keys, oh, death, where is thy sting? Our Lord cloth live! oh, let your praises ring! — L.S.
Christ by His death and resurrection has built a bridge across the gulf of death! —A. Young
Hudson Taylor - When Hudson Taylor was director of the China Inland Mission, he often interviewed candidates for the mission field. On one occasion, he met with a group of applicants to determine their motivations for service. “And why do you wish to go as a foreign missionary?” he asked one. “I want to go because Christ has commanded us to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature,” was the reply. Another said, “I want to go because millions are perishing without Christ.”
Others gave different answers. Then Hudson Taylor said, “All of these motives, however good, will fail you in times of testings, trials, tribulations, and possible death. There is but one motive that will sustain you in trial and testing; namely, the love of Christ.”
A missionary in Africa was once asked if he really liked what he was doing. His response was shocking. “Do I like this work?” he said. “No. My wife and I do not like dirt. We have reasonable refined sensibilities. We do not like crawling into vile huts through goat refuse. But is a man to do nothing for Christ he does not like? God pity him, if not. Liking or disliking has nothing to do with it. We have orders to ‘Go,’ and we go. Love constrains us.”
GET ON WITH IT! - A college choir was all set to present its package of music in a large church. The program of sacred song was to be carried live by a local radio station. When everything appeared to be ready, the announcer made his final introduction and waited for the choir director to begin.
One of the tenors was not ready, however, so the leader refused to raise his baton. All the time, nothing but silence was being broadcast.
Growing very nervous, the announcer, forgetting that his microphone was still on and that he could be heard in the church and on the radio, said in exasperation, "Get on with it, you old goat!"
Later in the week, the radio station got a letter from one of its listeners -- a man who had tuned in to listen to the music from the comfort of his easy chair. When he heard "Get on with it, you old goat!" he took the message personally. He had been doing nothing to further God's work, and this startling message was enough to convince him and get him going again.
Sometimes we need a wakeup call. We need to be reminded that before Jesus left this earth, He gave us all the instructions we need. He told us we should go and make disciples. We need to get on with it! -J D Brannon
Revive us, Lord! Is zeal abating
It's what you're doing today that counts, not what you're going to do tomorrow.