On New Year’s Eve, a headmaster of a private boys’ school invited the students to a party. When they arrived they found that he had already lit a huge bonfire in the middle of the playground. After he was sure everyone had arrived, he produced a large book. It was “The Detention Book.” In it were the names of all who had failed to complete their lessons or who had misbehaved in some way or other over the past school term. With great ceremony he held up the book for all to see and then cast it into the flames, saying, “This is the last day of the year; all the past is going to be forgiven and blotted out.”
How wonderful that we can have the forgiveness of sins, and the record of our guilt eternally erased from God’s book, because of the work of the Lord Jesus at Calvary, and the blood that He shed there for sinners. When we are saved, the assurance of the Bible is, “And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more” (Hebrews 10:17). We also read: “In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7). As this calendar year ends, we trust and pray that all our readers have experienced God’s forgiveness.
Q. Could you explain the following statement? “Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife” (Philippians 1:15). How can a person preach in that way?
A. It seems that there were those in the time of Paul who were jealous of him for one reason or another. Perhaps it was because of his apostleship, or the prominent work and place the Lord had given him. Whatever the reason, it is evident that their hearts were out of communion with the “Lord of the harvest” (Luke 10:2). Instead of being glad that Paul was being used mightily of God they tried to make things hard for him, hoping, as he says, “to add affliction to my bonds” (Philippians 1:16). What a sad and awful motive for preaching the gospel.
It is nice to see Paul’s reaction and attitude in this regard. “What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice” (Philippians 1:18). Paul knew that the Word of God would have its powerful effect no matter how it was spoken. And knowing this, he was content with any way that the gospel was propagated. The rest he left with the Lord.
It is interesting to see how much of the Bible is occupied with the subject of prayer, either in providing examples, enforcing precepts, or pronouncing promises. We scarcely open the Bible before we read, “Then began men to call upon the name of the Lord” (Genesis 4:26). Then, just as we are about to close the Book, the “Amen” of an earnest supplication meets our ear: “Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20).
In God’s Word we find Daniel who prayed three times a day, David who with all his heart called upon his God. On the mountain we see Elijah; in the prison dungeon we see Paul and Silas, and many more. All men of prayer!
These examples teach us the importance and necessity of prayer. We may be certain that whatever God made prominent in His Word, He intends to be conspicuous and prevalent in our daily life. He has said much about prayer, and this is because He knows that we have much need of it. So deep are our necessities that until we are in heaven we must not cease to pray. “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
6 Then these presidents and princes assembled together to the king, and said thus unto him, King Darius, live for ever.
7 All the presidents of the kingdom, the governors, and the princes, the counsellors, and the captains, have consulted together to establish a royal statute, and to make a firm decree, that whosoever shall ask a petition of any God or man for thirty days, save of thee, O king, he shall be cast into the den of lions.
8 Now, O king, establish the decree, and sign the writing, that it be not changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not.
9 Wherefore king Darius signed the writing and the decree.
10 Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.
Have you ever been alone? I mean, really lonely? I suppose all of us from time to time, even in our Christian experience, have felt alone.
But this need not be the case. There is One who is always with us. It is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. He has promised, “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Matthew 28:20). Later in Scripture we read a further statement by the Lord. “He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5). The next time you feel that you are all by yourself, just remember what the Psalmist said: “Nevertheless I am continually with Thee: Thou hast holden me by my right hand. Thou shalt guide me with Thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory” (Psalm 73:23-24). Nothing can change that! If we do not enjoy His company it is not His fault but ours. We need never feel lonely!
I realize that quite a few of my readers are on holidays this week. Maybe some of you are attending a Bible conference, special meetings, or even a Christian youth camp. Whatever you are doing, remember, we should never take a holiday from following the Lord, reading our Bible or spending time in prayer. Let’s be like David who said, “I have set the Lord always before me” (Psalm 16:8). Every day, he sought to have one goal and object: to have the Lord as his focus and to live a life pleasing to Him. Sometimes he failed, got discouraged and allowed sin in his life. But when this happened, he soon came back to the realization that he needed to confess his shortcomings. He needed to refocus on what really mattered, what truly satisfied his soul and brought happiness and peace of mind.
The year is fast drawing to a close and this is the last personal letter I will write to our readers this year. If the Lord hasn’t come by the new year we look forward to keeping in touch once more.
“I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day” (Revelation 1:10).
The Lord’s day, referred to in this verse, is the same day of the week the Lord rose from the dead. “Jesus was risen early the first day of the week” (Mark 16:9). It is also the day when He appeared to His disciples with a message of assurance and peace. “The first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you” (John 20:19). It was on this day that the Lord ascended back to heaven, and this day when the early believers in the city of Troas met for breaking of bread, fellowship and to hear the preaching of the Apostle Paul who was visiting at that time. “Upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them” (Acts 20:7).
What does the “Lord’s Day” mean to you? John saw and heard wonderful things concerning the person of Christ because he was in tune with the Spirit of God on the first day of the week. Will this be your experience today?
The “Four Freedoms” were goals set out by the President of the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt on January 6, 1941.
“Freedom from fear” for all mankind was one the “Four Freedoms” proclaimed in the Atlantic Charter by the President and other of the world’s great statesmen at the time. But none of the signers has lived to realize the ideal. In many countries millions still live in fear, as terrorism, disunity, unstable regimes, terrible armaments, and “wars and rumors of wars” (Mark 13:7), raise grave concern throughout the world. But millions more live only in fear of death, their consciences warning them that one day they must stand before God. This is by far the most serious prospect. And be assured it is real! “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).
The question arises, “Is there no way of escape from judgment and from the bondage of fear?” The answer is Yes! The Lord Jesus came into this world to save us, and “that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” (Hebrews 2:14-15).
3. “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16).
We grow old! Every one of us, sooner or later, realizes that the body gets older and weaker. If we have aches and pains with our natural bodies, we know that as we feed the “inward man,” there is a daily renewal of spiritual strength. The more we feed the new life the more we are renewed.
“Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked” (Ephesians 6:16). We need to take the shield of faith to stop the arrows of Satan, and to have the Lord as our resource “day by day.” There is a serious warning concerning Abraham’s nephew, Lot. “For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds” (2 Peter 2:8). There can never be the blessing of the Lord or power to meet the enemy while we are in such a situation as Lot. It is important for a Christian to walk in separation “and to keep himself unspotted from the world” (James 1:27). In this way we will be preserved “day by day.”
2. “Also day by day, from the first day unto the last day, he read in the book of the law of God. And they kept the feast seven days; and on the eighth day was a solemn assembly, according unto the manner” (Nehemiah 8:18).
Here we learn the necessity of a daily reading of the Scriptures. When we read our Bibles we learn to appreciate the practical truth of the verse that says, “Blessed be the Lord, who daily [day by day] loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation” (Psalm 68:19). Do you read your Bible on a day-by-day basis?
We also need to have fellowship with other believers, in the feast of remembrance that we have in Christianity. Like the early believers, of whom we read, “And they, continuing daily with one accord…and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart” (Acts 2:46). The Lord has asked us to do this until He returns. “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till He come” (1 Corinthians 11:26). This will strengthen us “day by day,” and Satan will have no space to put in his terrible doubts.