“Then said Jesus unto His disciples, If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24).
There is only one way to be a true disciple of the Lord, and that is to have a heart where there is only one object in it, CHRIST! CHRIST first, and only first! Yes, it is a question of the heart…what, or who does the heart put first? Not what or who is its primary object, but its only object.
The great question then is, what, and who are we putting first? Is it the Lord, or is it ourselves? Are we saying “yes” to Him, or are we saying “me first?” The unbeliever draws a circle around himself, put himself in the center of that circle and does everything in relationship to himself. But the believer has a new center in their life…not himself…but Christ. “That in all things HE might have the preeminence” (Colossians 1:18).
It has been aptly stated that this is not just the “ME FIRST” generation, but the “ME Only” generation. Elijah at a time of discouragement in his life said, “And, I, even I only, am left” (1 Kings 19:10).
This really sums up the spirit of the age in which we live today. “ME FIRST!” We are taught that we deserve it, that we need to stand up for “NUMBER ONE!” We have our rights…and so on. Yes, this is certainly the “ME FIRST” generation!
But this is not the way it is to be for the Christian. When we know Jesus Christ as our Savior, then He is to be given the first place in our lives. Everything else is secondary. HE is to be Lord of our life. He is to be NUMBER ONE!
In the days of the Lord on earth there were those who said they would follow the Lord, but there was “me first” standing in the way. One said “Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father” Another said: “I will follow Thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house” (Luke 9:59, 61). It wasn’t wrong to have respect for the dead and provide a proper burial for a family member, nor was it wrong to say goodbye to those at home. But the Lord detected that there was something other than Himself that the heart was putting first, and this would never do if one was going to be a true disciple.
“Whither shall I flee from Thy presence?” (Psalm139:7)
There is a lot of talk in the world about “Fair Trade.” Many products from developing countries are labeled in this way to indicate that the workers or farmers, and everyone else involved with getting it to you were compensated properly for their labor. Yet in spite of all this, life is full of tradeoffs. However there is one tradeoff we never want to make, and I saw it summed up in this way on a poster in a young persons apartment:
LIFE IS FULL OF TRADEOFFS;
BUT NEVER EXCHANGE FELLOWSHIP
WITH THE LORD FOR ANYTHING ELSE,
IT IS ALWAYS A POOR TRADEOFF!
It is something to really think about this week. There will be many pressures at school and at work, but don’t neglect those times spent with the Lord, or do anything that will hinder your fellowship with Him.
“When we shall see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him” (Isaiah 53:2).
“Behold the beauty of the Lord” (Psalm 27:4).
As first glance these two verse seem to contradict one another. However, when we meditate on them and take them in their proper context, we soon realize it is not so. The first one is true of the natural man who sees nothing of worth in the person of Christ. The second is the spiritual man, whose eyes have been opened, by the grace of God, to see beauty in the Lord Jesus. The Apostle John, having seen and walked with the Lord Jesus while He was here on earth, summed it up in this way: “We beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).
There is a future day too, of which we read, “Thine eyes shall see the King in His beauty” (Isaiah 33:17). What a day that will be, not only for us, but for Israel and the whole world. No longer the despised Man of lowliness and grace, but the King in His power and glory.
In the meantime, let’s be occupied with, and enjoy something of His beauties today.
“If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (1 Corinthians 15:19).
On the 16th of August 1977 the renowned pop singer Elvis Presley collapsed in his villa “Graceland” in Memphis Tennessee, USA. He lost consciousness, and at 42 years of age went from this life into the next.
A newspaper report stated: “Medical help came too late. Elvis’ heart had stopped as a result of excessive use of drugs and medicines. In his latter years he testified that millions of dollars and universal fame do not make one happy. The once vivacious lad from Tennessee had no more to hope for: all his hopes had been fulfilled.”
Had all his hopes really been fulfilled? If so they were only earthly hopes, and like soap bubbles, of no lasting joy or substance. What a sad way to live, and what a solemn way to die.
Thankfully there is hope beyond this life. It is the result of faith in Christ, His salvation, and the assurance of heaven in the next life. “Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast” (Hebrews 6:19). Make sure this hope is a reality with you.
A young man walked from the pier on the Mississippi River directly to the captain’s cabin of a river boat traveling between New Orleans and St. Louis. He was young and filled with confidence. The captain asked what he wanted and the youth replied that was looking for a job as a wheelman.
“What experience have you had on the river?” asked the captain.
“Five years sir.”
“Do you know the location of all the shoals and snags?”
“No sir, but I know where there aren’t any, and that’s where I always try to steer.”
He got the job!
In the Christian life the path of safety is not knowing all the nature of sin or the way of wickedness. It is knowing the will of the Lord and the path of faith He has for us, and in being willing to stay in it. This is what it means when it says, “I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil” (Romans 16:19). The way of safety is nearness to Christ. He says, “With Me thou shalt be in safeguard” (1 Samuel 22:23).
“For the Son of Man is as a man taking a far journey, who left His house, and gave authority to His servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch” (Mark 13:34).
As we learned yesterday, the honeybee has a very organized infrastructure and systematic regimen for getting things done. When every bee does its job, things run well, and the result is that sweet, nourishing honey is produced.
In a similar way, the Lord has given each member of His church special abilities, gifts, and tasks to do for the good and blessing of each other, and as a testimony to the world. No Christian has been called to merely sit around. Everyone can do something! There was a man in the assembly in Colosse who needed to be stirred up as to this fact. Paul, by inspiration, writes, “And say to Archippus, Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfil it” (Colossians 4:17).
Timothy, as a young man, was another one who needed encouragement in this regard. Paul says to him: “Neglect not the gift that is in thee” (1 Timothy 4:14). Let’s each be exercised to do what God has called us to do.
“Behold, there was a swarm of bees” (Judges 14:8).
The honeybee has one of the most highly developed social structures in the animal kingdom. At the heart of the hive, which may house as many as 80,000 bees, is the queen. Each bee has a specialized duty to fulfil.
-The forager bees encounter the perils of the outside
world to collect food.
-The guardbees protect the hive entrance from intruders.
-The undertakers are responsible for removing dead
bodies from the hive.
-The water collectors bring in moisture to regulate humidity.
-The plasterersmake a kind of cement to repair the hive.
-The fanners cool the hive and fan the nectar until it is ready to be stored as honey. They have a gland that releases an odor that helps other bees find their home.
-the scout bees keep the hive alerted to the opportunities and dangers of the outside world.
The variety and specialization of the worker bee seems endless. Tomorrow we will see how we can apply this lesson from nature to ourselves as believers.
Lot had to choose, and so do we. “And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar. Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan” (Genesis 13:10-11).
When we have ascended the hill of YOUTH and tried to get a bird’s eye view of the plain called LIFE, we find three main roads that lead to it and through it.
1. The WAY of the WORLD. It offers prospects of wealth, pleasure, and ease. However, the conditions are that we must accept the world’s standards and values, and acknowledge her ruling on all questions of conduct.
2. The WAY of SELF. In this there are no restrictions; unhindered ‘self-expression,’ and every choice and action are dictated by self-interest.
3. The WAY of CHRIST. It may be a difficult path, one of reproach, self-denial and loss. Yet, it is the way of peace and joy; of purpose in life which is really worthwhile; of friendship and a great future reward.