Of the lonely way His disciples should walk, the Lord said: “Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:14). Of their treatment by the many who walk in the broad way, He said: “If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you” (John 15:19).
Multitudes now, both of believers and unbelievers, applaud the courage and fortitude of the patriarchs and prophets, the apostles and martyrs, but condemn as stubbornness and foolishness, faithfulness to the truth in this day and age.
Is there a young person who is anxious to walk with God, yet fearful of losing some imaginary advantage or position, and who wonders if it might not be possible to go just so far, and make all right later? Take courage. Follow the example of Enoch. “Enoch walked with God…three hundred years” (Genesis 5:22). Better to walk alone with God, than hand and hand with a world that hates Him and despises His followers.
It is human to stand with the crowd; it is divine to stand alone. It is man-like to follow the people, to drift with the tide; it is God-like to follow a principle and to go against the tide. It is natural to compromise conscience and follow the social and religious fashion for the sake of gain or pleasure; it is divine to sacrifice both on the altar of truth and duty.
“No man stood with me, but all men forsook me” (2 Timothy 4:16), the battle-scarred Apostle Paul wrote long ago, in describing his first appearance before Nero to answer for his life, for believing and teaching contrary to the Roman world.
Truth has been out of fashion since the fall of Adam.
Noah built and voyaged alone. His neighbors laughed at his strangeness and died in style.
Abraham wandered and worshiped alone. Sodomites perhaps smiled at this simple shepherd, followed the fashion, and fed the flames.
Here I am sitting in the mall parking lot waiting for my wife. As I sit here and watch the people going in with empty carts and coming out with full ones, I am reminded of a Scripture regarding purchasing and selling. “Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that” (James 4:13-15).
When was the last time we prayed and asked the Lord’s will as to whether we should go to the mall or do some shopping? It seems like a trivial thing, but the above verses show that we should seek His mind in even the simplest everyday things of life. Yes, even going to the store to buy something. Have a good week, and don’t forget to read your Bible and pray.
“He brought me to the banqueting house, and His banner over me was love” (Song of Solomon 2:4).
We sometime make banners that announce happy occasions. For instance: “Happy Birthday” or “Welcome Home,” or “Just Married,” or other joyous sentiments. Our verse today spreads a banner over a special guest of honor at a banquet. It has one word on it, and simply reads, LOVE.
That’s what each of us experiences as the Lord Jesus brings us into HIS BANQUETING HOUSE. There is only one place where there is perfect love. That’s the Lord’s banqueting house at His table. What a privilege it is to be invited, and what a blessing to sit down in His presence. In the previous verse the invited guest said: “I sat down under His shadow with great delight, and His fruit was sweet to my taste” (Song of Solomon 2:3).
Today we need to be reminded of the cost of our invitation. It cost God the giving of His Son, and it cost the Lord Jesus the giving of His life and the shedding of His blood. Our invitation to His table, with His banner—LOVE—over us has been very costly!
“In hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments” (Luke 16:23).
Edward Teach was known as Blackbeard. He was the most well-known pirate in Bahamian history and caused terror in and around those islands for several years. He cared for no one but himself, and with cutlasses and pistols slung about him, which he did not hesitate to use, he resembled a walking arsenal. His long black beard was twisted with ribbons and turned about his ears. He was no legend, but a real man who died in a violent naval battle in 1718.
One day he said to some of his men, “Let us make a hell of our own and see how long we can bear it.” They went below, closed the hatches, and set on fire several pots of brimstone. One by one, close to suffocation, they escaped to the upper deck. Blackbeard held out the longest and was pleased that he was better able to live in hell than the others.
We can hardly imagine such a thing, yet there are many who are rushing on to the “lake of fire” with no thought of its reality. Hell is nothing to joke about! It is a real place, and those who reject the Savior of sinners will end up there. Not just for a time, but for eternity. Where will you be then?
Q. When those in places of authority make a wrong judgment, should I submit?
A. God has set up different levels of authority for the good and blessing of man on the earth. For example, parental authority; the man as head of the home; in the workplace; in government; administration in the church of God; etc. Our responsibility when we come under authority is to submit. This does not mean authority is always right or even carried out in the right way or with the right attitude: or even that I necessarily agree with it. The Bible says: “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake” (1 Peter 2:13). Submission is not a sign of weakness but spiritual energy, and often takes real grace, and patience.
There is however, one qualification when it comes to submission. “We ought to obey God rather than man” (Acts 5:29). The disciples had been instructed by the Lord to preach the gospel. When they were forbidden by the council to do so, they appealed to a higher authority—the Lord Himself. In other words, we must bow to earthly authority at all cost, except when it goes against the authority of the Lord and His Word. Submission is always “In the Lord.”
“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God” (Philippians 4:6).
Problems! Life seems to be filled with them. We are called to face them in every area of our life—physical, financial, moral, spiritual, personal, and family. Some problems, when squarely faced, are realized to be rather small and insignificant, having been enlarged out of proportion by fear of one sort or another. But others, undoubtedly, are important, solved only by much prayer and dependance on God our Father. Still others are incomprehensible and unexplainable, for the present at least. These problems must be committed in their entirety to the One who knows all about it. Then we need to learn to wait patiently in faith for His time and His solution.
King David had many problems in every sphere of his life, but he could write: “Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him: fret not thyself…” (Psalm 37:7). Is there a problem in your life today? The hymn-writer, Joseph Scriven, tells us: “Take it to the Lord in prayer.”
“This is My commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you” (John 15:12).
“We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren” (1 John 3:14).
“Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God” (1 John 4:7).
These verses are a test as to whether we are a true child of God, and as to whether we are walking in the enjoyment of the love of God. If we are real, and if we are really living in the sunshine of His love, there will be, practically displayed in our interactions with other of God’s children, that same divine love that has been showered upon us.
Notice too, that we are to love with the very same love with which the Lord loves us. There is no less standard for loving our brothers and sisters in Christ than the love of God and the love of the Lord Jesus for us.
Go through the New Testament, and trace the number of times we are told to love one another. In John’s writings alone the exhortation appears quite a number of times.
I want to encourage you to go forth this week with a sense of God’s deep, eternal, unchanging love. God’s love compels us to love God and others. The Apostle John, who delighted to speak of Himself as the “disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 20:2), also wrote, “We love Him, because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). Here we see love’s practical effect in John, and the same should be true of all who know the love of God.
Our hearts tend to grow dull and cold as we go through a world that has no love for God or for His Son. That’s why we need the exhortation, “Keep yourselves in the love of God” (Jude 21). One of Paul’s prayers for the believers at Thessalonica was, “And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God” (2 Thessalonians 3:5).
An appreciation of this great love will cause us to walk in obedience to His Word, and keep us on the path of faith as well. “But whoso keepeth His Word, in him verily is the love of God perfected” (1 John 2:5).