The Apostle Paul spent much time in prison because of his testimony for the Lord. While in prison in Rome he wrote 5 epistles. The following are very brief statements that are helpful outlines of the theme of each one:
Colossians—The positive side of the gospel: union with Christ in glory.
Ephesians—The church: the body united to Christ its head.
Philemon—Practical righteousness through grace.
2 Timothy—Personal faithfulness in “the last days” (2 Timothy 3:1).
Paul always accepted his imprisonment from the Lord. Five times he referred to himself as the “prisoner of the Lord,” or some similar expression. (Ephesians 3:1 and 4:1; 2 Timothy 1:8; Philemon 1,9). He could say, “In prisons more frequent” (2 Corinthians 11:23). What a blessing he was to others, and used of God in a mighty way because he accepted his circumstances from the Lord and used them in His service. What a good lesson this is for all of us!
“For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability” (Matthew 25:14-15).
Alfred Tennyson, born August 5, 1809, was Poet Laureate of Great Britain and Ireland during much of Queen Victoria’s reign. To this day he remains one of the most popular British poets. His grandfather gave him 10 shillings for writing a eulogy about his grandmother. Handing it to the lad, the old man said, “There, that is the first money you ever earned by your poetry, and take my word for it, it will be the last.”
This story made me think of the Apostle Paul’s words to Timothy when he said, “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12). The Lord equips us for the tasks and services He has for us to perform, and while we want to be open to the counsel and advice of older believers who have godly wisdom and experience, yet we serve one Master, the Lord Jesus, and we take our direction and instruction from Him.
God has a special work for each of us to do, and He equips each of His children in a special way for that work. The following account illustrates how we often make judgments on what we think a person is fitted for, when their heavenly Father may have something very different in mind.
In 1853 a six-year old lad came home from school with a note from the teacher in which it was suggested that he be taken out of school, as he was “too stupid to learn.” That boy was Thomas Alva Edison, considered to be the fourth most prolific inventor in history, holding 1,093 U.S. patents in his name, as well as many patents in the United Kingdom, France and Germany.
God gives each one natural ability as well as spiritual gift. We are responsible to be before Him in prayer and exercise of soul as to what that ability and gift is, and then to use it for His glory and the blessing of others. Like Timothy who was told by the Apostle Paul, “Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee” (2 Timothy 1:6).
Remember, it’s not a question of “can I do this?” It is a question of, “Does the Lord want me to do this?”
My friend, Garvin Seymour, was recently visiting an elderly lady on his home island of St. Vincent. Thinking that she was lonely he brought up the subject of loneliness and tried to make some suggestions as to how she could cope with the situation. However, she immediately and emphatically informed him that she was not alone, nor did she feel lonely. What was her secret? She knew the One who has promised, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5).
Garvin felt quite rebuked, as he realized that we, as believers, are never alone nor should we feel lonely. Before the Lord went back to heaven He said to His disciple, “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Matthew 28:20).
As we start out this week, let’s remember, we are never alone, when we are with the One who is “a friend that sticketh closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24).
“And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering” (Genesis 4:4).
“By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain” (Hebrews 11:4).
Abel’s offering was the first recorded sacrifice in Scripture that was acceptable to God. It was accepted because it spoke to God of the Lord Jesus and His death that would take place thousands of years later at Calvary. Blood was shed, and the Bible says “without shedding of blood is no remission” (Hebrews 9:22). So God accepted Abel’s offering. Abel worshipped in a proper way, no doubt having heard of the coats of skin that had been provided for his parents through the death of an innocent victim.
This is a pattern for us to follow. Our worship and praise should center around the Lord Jesus and what He did on the cross. His death and shed blood provides a perfect, full and free salvation—to those who believe in Him. And it thrills the Lord’s heart to see His own gathered around Him on Lord’s Day morning to remember His perfect sacrifice—the sacrifice of Himself.
“And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest” (Psalm 55:6).
Because my daughter is a flight attendant, I am blessed with a parent’s pass for my personal use. For a small service charge, I may fly wherever the airline flies. There is one drawback, however. I must be on “standby.” That means I’m allowed on board only if there’s space available. Until then, my luggage is set aside and labeled, “Status Pending.” While paying passengers board, I wait, wondering if my name will be called. I can never be certain of a seat because available space isn’t guaranteed.
It is a far different situation on our journey to heaven, which begins when we trust Christ for salvation. Because of His death and resurrection, our passage to heaven is guaranteed. Our status is not pending; there is space available; our names will be called. These priceless privileges have been paid for by the sacrificial death of the Lord Jesus, who promises everyone who is saved, “I will come again, and receive you unto Myself” (John 14:3).
Q. Mark 13 mentions several events that seem to indicate the end times, but what does it mean when it says, “Thisgeneration shall not pass, till these things be done” (Mark 13:30)?
A. The term “generation” is used in different ways in the Bible. It is not always speaking of a father, son, grandson, etc., the way we usually think of it. In a much wider sense, it is what characterizes a class or nation of people as to their attitude, reaction, practices and so on.
In other words, relevant to this verse, the unbelieving Jews still exist today, and will exist until the prophetic events of Mark 13 take place. On another occasion the Lord said, “An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign” (Matthew 12:39). Today the Jews are still scattered among the Gentile nations, but they remain a separate people, kept for the fulfillment of God’s counsels and purposes.
So as to the expression “generation,” what was true of the Jewish nation in the days when the Lord was here in grace will continue until He comes back in power and glory. Then that nation and people will be brought to repentance and will own their guilt in rejecting their Messiah.
“If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss” (1 Corinthians 3:15).
I have just read a story of a young lady who was seated in a boat one evening as her friend rowed her around the lake. She wore a string of pearls, and in state of absentmindedness had taken them off, and was holding them in her hand, and dipping the hand that held them in the water. She did not know that the string had broken, and pearl after pearl was slipping away until, when she raised the string from the water, every one of them was gone.
We say, “How foolish!” But I wonder if we are letting our opportunities of service for Christ slip away like that? We really don’t need to ask the Lord for more opportunities, but that we would use the opportunities that present themselves everyday. Like the pearls, if we are not careful, one by one the opportunities can slip away—never to be recovered. When our lives are reviewed when we get to heaven, will we “suffer loss” or will we have used every opportunity to do good for the Lord and for the blessing of others?
1 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,
2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds;
3 Who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;
4 Being made so much better than the angels, as He hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.
5 For unto which of the angels said He at any time, Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to Me a Son?
6 And again, when He bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, He saith, And let all the angels of God worship Him.
“Thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created” (Revelation 4:11).
The world was not created in vain. The Lord created everything for His pleasure. If you study birds or animals or flowers, you see incredible beauty—the perfect feather formation, wonderful coloring, the beautiful patterns on the coats of some of the animals. It is a pleasure for us to look at these things and enjoy them. But the Lord created them for His own pleasure. When He had finished each day’s work in creation, “God saw that it was good” (Genesis 1:25).
But after He had created man, “God saw every thing that He had made, and, behold, it was VERY GOOD” (Genesis 1:31).Yes, man added an extra something to God’s creation that to Him was very special. This should really make us want to live to please Him. Especially when we remember that in addition to making us, the Lord Jesus died to save us for heaven. What a tremendous God we have. He finds His pleasure and delight in you and me. “For the Lord taketh pleasure in His people” (Psalm 149:4).