The Christian life is not so much a sprint as it is an obstacle race, and one of the qualities called for is endurance. This is a more necessary thing than speed. Moses, we are told, “endured, as seeing Him who is invisible” (Hebrews 11:27), and of a greater than Moses it is written “Jesus…endured the cross” (Hebrews 12:2).
The Lord in His pathway was constantly confronted with obstacles, and finally the cross, but none of these things cause Him to deviate from the course. He continued until He could say, “I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do” (John 19:30). So did Paul, when he declared, “I have finished my course” (2 Timothy 4:7).
The exhortation comes to us, “Let us lay aside every weight…and let us run with patience (endurance) the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus” (Hebrews 12:1-2). When the going is hard and dangerous, then, “Consider Him” (Hebrews 12:3). He who Himself endured can give grace for endurance.
I remember a time when my wife and girls were away for several weeks, and I was left at home alone to fend for myself. I didn’t particularly enjoy it, and it made me appreciate the need to consider and visit those who live alone and do not get about on a regular basis.
James gives us good instruction on this subject. “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction” (James 1:27). There are plenty of lonely, shut-in people, both young and old. Let’s practice “pure religion” by visiting and helping to encourage such individuals. It isn’t so much what we say, or doing some great deed, but just being there and being a good listener is often the best help we can give.
The Lord has said, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me” (Matthew 25:45).
“PRAISE,” not silence! It is true that true praise needs to come from the heart. The Lord said, of those who only gave outward lip-service in His day, “This people draweth nigh unto Me with their mouth, and honoreth Me with their lips; but their heart is far from Me” (Matthew 15:8).
Still, praise has to do with that which is audible. If the heart is full of Christ and His work and blessings, there will be praise and thanksgiving on our lips. “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” (Matthew 12:34).
Learn to open your mouth and “sing unto the Lord” (Psalm 30:4). He wants to hear your voice. I realize that sometimes as young people we feel it is not “cool” to sing, but if our hearts are really in tune with His, we will not be able to help ourselves.
Let’s be like David who said, “I offer in His tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the Lord” (Psalm 27:6).
“And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom” (Luke 16:22-23).
She lived most of her life in the poorest of circumstances, and at 74 years of age, passed from this life to the next. I visited her often over the years, and attended her funeral the other day. Irma was a bright believer, and in spite of a difficult life as a cripple and the appalling surroundings of the only home she really ever knew, always managed to give a bright smile and a word of encouragement to those around her.
At her graveside service, I couldn’t help but think of the rich man and the poor man, Lazarus, whose stories are recounted by the Lord in Luke 16. They lived in very different circumstances in this life, but only one was ready for the next life. As a result, their eternal circumstances are, and will be, not only different, but extreme.
How important to know the Lord as Saviour, and be ready for the next life.
Q. What would you say to a person who quoted Mark 16:16, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved,” as saying that you need to be baptized to be saved from your sins?
A. Notice, it does not say, “He that is baptized and believeth,” but “He thatbelievethand isbaptized.” This order is important, and baptism naturally follows when someone receives Christ as Saviour. There is no saving virtue in the ordinance of baptism as far as the putting away of sin. It is the expression of subjection to Christ, by owning His Lordship and authority.
The rest of the verse says, “He that believeth not shall be damned.” The Lord didn’t say, “He thatis not baptized,” but “He thatbelieveth not.”
Being baptized is like a soldier putting on the uniform. It does not make him a soldier, rather it is the testimony that he is one already, by enlisting with the army. A man may put on a uniform and not be a soldier at all. Just so, a person may make a profession of being a believer by being baptized, and not be really saved.
At times second-hand information may be true, good, and even very helpful. Still, to have first-hand information is even better. First-hand acquaintance with Christ is essential not only to salvation, but also to growth and development in our spiritual life as believers.
To get to know a person well, we must be often in their company. As a young man, the Apostle Paul, on the road to Damascus, had a personal encounter with Christ and had heard Him, yet he later wrote, longingly, “that I may know Him” (Philippians 3:10). This was the constant desire of his heart all along the path of faith and service. To know the Lord is a deeper, better and more intimate relationship.
We are happy to be with those we love and to hear their voices. How much more ought we to listen to and long for the voice of Jesus. Can you say with the Samaritans, “I have heard Him myself”? He still speaks through His Word, the Bible, and God says, “Hear Him” (Mark 9:7).
16 I Jesus have sent Mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the offspring of David, and the Bright and Morning Star.
17 And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.
18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
20 He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.
21 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
Humility is one of the loveliest flowers that springs in the garden of the believer’s heart. We are all inclined to pride and vanity by nature. When the Spirit of Christ possesses us, we will display that lowliness and meekness which always characterized our blessed Lord. He said: “Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls” (Matthew 11:29).
Where this lowly spirit prevails, it is easy to extend forgiveness to those who have offended us. To many this seems like the bondage of slavery, but it is the very opposite. Greatness is evidenced by one’s readiness to deny self and to serve others for the sake of the one of whom we read, “The Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). We cannot share in His atoning or redemptive work, but we can and should follow Him in His life of patient service for the blessing of a needy world.
“I hope to get a lot accomplished this week!” How often have we said these words, and sincerely meant it? Yet at the end of the week we’re frustrated because we didn’t get done what we had hoped to do. Maybe it was laziness, or neglect; maybe interference from others; or maybe circumstances beyond our control. But whatever the reason, we were unable to accomplish all that we had hoped and planned.
Hope and plans connected with this life are uncertain at best. That’s why it is important and vital to have hope in God, and in Christ. The Psalmist said, “That the generation to come…might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God” (Psalm 78:6-7). So as you take up the tasks of life this week and set your hopes and goals for whatever needs to be done, remember, as believers, whatever happens, and however much we may fail in reaching our weekly expectations, our God is the same and our hope in Him will never fail.
“Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of Me,) to do Thy will, O God” (Hebrews 10:7).
“Christ also hath loved us, and hath given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour” (Ephesians 5:2).
A sacrifice for the sins of the world was needed. Man was hopeless and helpless, lost and away from God. Who could come to do the will of God? Who could bear the great burden of sin that had to be dealt with? Christ was the only one, and in our verse we see He responded to the will of God, and we read, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15). No one else was capable. No one else loved that much. Let’s remember today as we gather around the Lord Jesus that His love was so strong that death could not quench it. He willingly offered Himself without spot to God in order that we might go free. He was the only perfect sacrifice, and as a result we have free access to heaven through faith in Him.