“I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last” (Revelation 22:13).
We all like happy endings. Happy endings to the story we’re reading, happy endings to the surgery or sickness of a loved one or acquaintance…and so on.
As the year 2015 draws to an end, and we look back and recount the ways of God in each of our lives, it is good to realize that amidst the normal ups and downs, joys and sorrows and difficulties, there is a happy ending when we know the one who is the “Beginning and the End.” No matter what happens in our lives we know that He loves and cares, and that in the end we will be with Him in that place of unending happiness.
In the meantime He knows “the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done” (Isaiah 46:10). As one year ends and another one begins, we can trust our Lord who knows the past, present, and future. “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).
“The Lord thy God careth…from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year” (Deuteronomy 11:12).
“Ye are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14). “Ye shine as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:15).
I recently heard of a young Christian lady who went to work in an office with 200 other women. She let them know that she was a believer, but soon became very discouraged because of all the filthy talk and godlessness surrounding her every day. She wanted to quit, and asked a Christian friend, “What shall I do?”
The friend told her, “God looked down in this city and He found you, one of the few believing young persons in it, and thought, ‘I’ll put her as a light for Me in that large office. I hope she won’t let me down where I have done her the honor of choosing her to represent Christ in that place.’”
She replied, “I never thought of it like that,” and within two months she came and told her friend that two girls in that office had trusted Christ as their Saviour.
If you are the only saved person in your class or workplace, don’t be discouraged or give up in despair. Perhaps God chose you, just like He did the young lady, because He has a work for you to do.
“The entrance of Thy Words giveth light” (Psalm 119:130).
Just as Queen Elizabeth I was given a Bible when she was crowned, the present Queen Elizabeth 2 was also given a Bible at her Coronation in 1953. Kneeling before her in Westminster Abbey, the Archbishop of Canterbury said, “We present you with The Book. It is the most valuable thing this world affords. Here is wisdom. This is the Royal Law. These are the lively oracles of God.”
Those words were heard not only by hundreds of people in the Abbey, but by tens of thousands of people all over the world, who were listening on radio or watching the ceremony on television. Those words are worth learning by heart, but it is better still to read and memorize as much of Scripture as we can, storing our minds full of verses and portions of the Word of God while we are young.
Without the Bible we would know absolutely nothing of the true account of creation, nothing of the birth, death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and we would know nothing of God’s salvation and blessing through His Son.
This is the last Monday of the year, and the last letter of this calendar. Even as I write this page, I wonder if my readers will ever get to read it. These pages are written and edited some time before they are published, and there is an event that may intervene between now and then. That event is the coming of the Lord. James plainly tells us, “Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh” (James 5:8).
Perhaps you say, “What is the point then of working on a project so far ahead, if we are expecting the Lord to come at any moment?” The truth of the matter is, we are also told, by the Lord Jesus Himself, “Occupy till I come” (Luke 19:13). So we live every day like it is our last, but we also live in view of tomorrow, because, as Solomon so wisely declared, “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18). As believers we plan for the future, knowing that our plans may be interrupted at any moment, in exchange for our future with Christ in the Father’s house.
“For the battle is the Lord’s” (1 Samuel 17:47). “Remember the battle” (Job 4:8).
My wife and I have had opportunity over the years to visit many of the great battlefields of Europe and other parts of the world. There we have seen the memorials to those heroes who fought and won, and the burial grounds of those who gave their lives for the cause of freedom.
Some battles are more memorable than others whether won or lost. When the fighting has been fierce and costly, the battle is vividly remembered by both winners and losers. The greatest and most significant battle ever waged was at Calvary where the Lord Jesus Christ, though sore wounded and trodden underfoot, was victorious over sin and death and hell. This was the battle of all battles and now that it is over, there is nothing more to do than to remember it. The victory was final and once for all. While there is nothing to add to the work of the cross we do remember the battle, the one who is the Victor, and the blessings that have resulted. May we never forget what was accomplished there for the glory of God and our eternal blessing.
In one way or another millions of people around the world have just celebrated the birth of the Lord Jesus. Yet I wonder how many of them have unknowingly celebrated the birth of their judge?
It is one or the other. Either we know Christ as our Saviour or we are going to meet Him as our judge in a coming day. John tells us about it in the book of Revelation. “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works” (Revelation 20:12). However, the Lord did not come to judge; He came to save. He Himself said, “I came not to judge the world, but to save the world” (John 12:47).
It is a historical fact that Jesus came to planet earth, that He was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, died and rose again, and is now in heaven as a man. Is He your Saviour or your judge? “For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved” ( John 3:17).
Q. What does it mean when it talks about “the laying on of the hands of the presbytery” (1 Timothy 4:14)? What is the presbytery?
A. The “presbytery” is simply “the elders,” referred to in other places as “the bishops” or “the shepherds.” They were appointed by the apostles or someone that the apostles delegated, such as Timothy and Titus, with the responsibility of taking care of the spiritual well-being of the people of God. It is also called “the oversight” (1 Peter 5:2).
With Timothy, the gift itself was imparted through laying on of Paul’s hands. “…the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands” (2 Timothy 1:6). However, in our verse we learn that the elders also had fellowship with Timothy in the use of his gift and the work the Lord had called him to. It is important when we take up any service for Christ, that we do it in fellowship with our brethren.
The laying on of hands in the early church was a confirmation of fellowship and agreement, such as in Act 13:1-3. “…And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away” (verse 3).
There are many reasons why the Lord Jesus came to this world as a man. Here are five of those reasons given by the Lord Himself in John’s Gospel:
1. To do His Father’s will: “For I came down from heaven, not to do Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me” (John 6:38).
2. To give life: “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).
3. To accomplish the work of atonement: “Now is My soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save Me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour” (John 12:27).
4. To give light to a dark world: “I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on Me should not abide in darkness” (John 12:46).
5. To give testimony to the truth: “Pilate therefore said unto Him, Art Thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth” (John 18:37).
3 So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days’ journey.
4 And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.
5 So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.
6 For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.
7 And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water:
8 But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands.
“Ye shine as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:15).
A traveler visiting the lighthouse at Calais France some years ago, asked the keeper, “What if one of your lights should go out at night?”
“Sir,” he replied, “yonder are ships sailing to all parts of the world. If tonight one of my burners were out, in six months I might hear from America or India saying that on such a night the light of the Calais Lighthouse gave no warning and some vessel had wrecked.”
What an important lesson this is for those of us who know the Lord as our Saviour. Our lights must shine brightly and steadily so that lost souls on the storm-tossed sea of life will be guided to Christ. He has exhorted us, “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16).