Friends are an indispensable part of growing in Christ. So why do many of us have so few?
Women drive me nuts.
Some years ago, following an act of civil disobedience, I spent several days in a makeshift jail with hundreds of women protesters. Before long, a couple of them approached me where I lay on a hard Army cot, trying to get comfortable enough to read the copy of Samuel Richardson’s Clarissa my husband had managed to deliver. What better opportunity than jail time would I ever have to read the longest novel in the English language?
It was not to be. Instead I was asked to step up as a leader to address the squabbles and discontent arising among so many women of diverse personalities in such cramped conditions. Suck it up, ladies! I wanted to scream. But I didn’t. As requested, I played the role of diplomat.
I emerged from jail with greater gratitude for God’s creation of two sexes than I’d ever had before or since. To this day, I avoid to just this side of causing offense nearly any event preceded by the label women’s: conferences, Bible Studies, retreats, Home Interior parties. I was even a bit skeptical at first about writing for a women’s blog.
My difficulties with women go further back than this experience. Because I married young and went directly to graduate school from college, I had a hard time finding real peers. The other women in my graduate program were hostile toward Christianity, something I was ill-equipped to handle gracefully. And while my church included other young women who worked or were going to school, most of the married women did not. I spent a lot of time declining invitations to jewelry and kitchenware parties and softball games, not because I wasn’t interested in those activities, but because I felt stressed and guilty about spending time on anything besides writing papers and reading books and journal articles.
I wanted women friends, badly. I tried to find them. I prayed for God to bring me to them. And, in his time, he did.
Of course, in all fairness to God, I didn’t make it easy for him. I am pretty picky. On the other hand, in making friends, I seem naturally to follow the advice of Socrates: “Be slow to fall into friendship; but when thou art in, continue firm and constant.” I don’t form friendships quickly or often, but when I do, they stick.
Friendships come in many forms, but nothing can replace friendships with true peers. Because we are both physical and spiritual beings, I see as a true peer one with whom we share both of these aspects, physical and spiritual, of our being—in other words, people of the same sex and of the same spiritual identity and belief. While certainly one can be good friends with members of the opposite sex, or of different beliefs and values, such differences tend to be a barrier to the sort of kid-gloves-off treatment necessary for iron to sharpen iron. In fact, I’ve often noticed that those who resist deep friendships with true peers—women who say they simply “connect better” with men (well, duh!) or with people not their age or religion—tend to be avoiding the unique accountability that genuine peers offer.
“A certain woman of the company lifted up her voice, and said unto him, Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked. But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.” — Luke 11:27, 28
It is fondly imagined by some that it must have involved very special privileges to have been the mother of our Lord, because they supposed that she had the benefit of looking into His very heart in a way in which we cannot hope to do. There may be an appearance of plausibility in the supposition, but not much. We do not know that Mary knew more than others; what she did know she did well to lay up in her heart; but she does not appear from anything we read in the Evangelists to have been a better-instructed believer than any other of Christ’s disciples. All that she knew we also may discover. Do you wonder that we should say so? Here is a text to prove it: “The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him, and He will show them His covenant.” Remember the Master’s words—“Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his Lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.” So blessedly does this Divine Revealer of secrets tell us His heart, that He keepeth back nothing which is profitable to us; His own assurance is, “If it were not so, I would have told you.” Doth He not this day manifest Himself unto us as He doth not unto the world? It is even so; and therefore we will not ignorantly cry out, “Blessed is the womb that bare thee,” but we will intelligently bless God that, having heard the Word and kept it, we have first of all as true a communion with the Saviour as the Virgin had, and in the second place as true an acquaintance with the secrets of His heart as she can be supposed to have obtained. Happy soul to be thus privileged!
“Ye that love the LORD hate evil.” — Psalm 97:10
Thou hast good reason to “hate evil,” for only consider what harm it has already wrought thee. Oh, what a world of mischief sin has brought into thy heart! Sin blinded thee so that thou couldst not see the beauty of the Saviour; it made thee deaf so that thou couldst not hear the Redeemer’s tender invitations. Sin turned thy feet into the way of death, and poured poison into the very fountain of thy being; it tainted thy heart, and made it “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.” Oh, what a creature thou wast when evil had done its utmost with thee, before divine grace interposed! Thou wast an heir of wrath even as others; thou didst “run with the multitude to do evil.” Such were all of us; but Paul reminds us, “but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” We have good reason, indeed, for hating evil when we look back and trace its deadly workings. Such mischief did evil do us, that our souls would have been lost had not omnipotent love interfered to redeem us. Even now it is an active enemy, ever watching to do us hurt, and to drag us to perdition. Therefore “hate evil,” O Christians, unless you desire trouble. If you would strew your path with thorns, and plant nettles in your death‐pillow, then neglect to “hate evil”; but if you would live a happy life, and die a peaceful death, then walk in all the ways of holiness, hating evil, even unto the end. If you truly love your Saviour, and would honour Him, then “hate evil.” We know of no cure for the love of evil in a Christian like abundant intercourse with the Lord Jesus. Dwell much with Him, and it is impossible for you to be at peace with sin.
“Order my footsteps by Thy Word,
And make my heart sincere;
Let sin have no dominion, Lord,
But keep my conscience clear.”
Speaker: Lecrae (Christian rap artist. Last month, he released his latest album Gravity, which immediately dominated the charts, taking the No. 1 spot on iTunes Top 10 Albums).
Session: We Engage Culture for Jesus
There is a secular-sacred divide that hinders us from impacting culture. We, the church, are great interpreters of scripture, but we are often clueless when it comes to of art, music, and science. As Christians, we ought not to avoid culture; rather, we should engage it with the transforming power of Jesus.
Christianity cannot be imposed on culture. It can only engage and transform culture.
Daniel is a great example of a man who did not run away from the things that the society he lived in identified with. Although he lived in the midst of a pagan nation, he actually immersed himself in the culture for the sole purpose of bringing glory to God.
After interpreting King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream correctly ”the king gave Daniel high honors and made great gifts, and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon and chief prefect over all the wise men of babylon. Daniel made a request of the king, and he appointed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego over the affairs of the province of Babylon. But Daniel remained at the king’s court” (Daniel 2:48-49). Daniel felt called to stay in the king’s court because he desired to point them to Christ.This is a biblical worldview.
What we need to realize is that Christianity is total truth not just religious truth.
Because it is total truth, it is relevant and applicable to all areas of life. When we don’t know how to navigate through culture, we miss out on Jesus’ power to shape and transform society. We, as Christians, have the unique privilege of being able to expose how things that this world has taken and intended for evil can be redeemed for their intended purpose, the glory of God.
Some philosophers have claimed that matter existed before God and was evil in and of itself. We know that God is the only one who is preexisting, the creator of all things (Psalm 24:1), and that everything that he made was good (Genesis 1). Things in and of themselves are not inherently evil. People are inherently evil.
How we interpret culture: Good, Bad, and Redeemable
“For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving”1 Timothy 4:4
You are not more godly by avoiding things. They are not bad in and of themselves. You can’t transform culture if you aren’t willing to engage things.
God is structuring all things for his glory and purpose, humanity misdirects them for evil to serve their own purposes.
The question is not what is evil but rather what can we do with the things man meant for evil to bring glory to God.
Redeeming is doing exactly what God has commanded us to do in Genesis 1:28, “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it.”
“We don’t just need evangelistic Christians, we need missional Christians.” -Tim Keller
All we tell people is what to do and how to get saved. If this is all we talk about people will not listen. We need to engage and through doing that we will transform.
Three ways to apply this
1. Engage Culture– Know the language, values, ideals, and learn how to contextualize
2. Love the people in the culture- They are not a project. They are souls that matter.
3. Rehabilitate culture (Redeem)– We are here to paint a picture of what it looks like when Jesus changes us.
Jesus has redeemed us to demonstrate that this world is his, and he is coming back for it. So whatever you eat, whatever you drink, whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).
“I have exalted one chosen out of the people.” — Psalm 89:19
Why was Christ chosen out of the people? Speak, my heart, for heart‐thoughts are best. Was it not that He might be able to be our brother, in the blest tie of kindred blood? Oh, what relationship there is between Christ and the believer! The believer can say, “I have a Brother in heaven; I may be poor, but I have a Brother who is rich, and is a King, and will He suffer me to want while He is on His throne? Oh, no! He loves me; He is my Brother.” Believer, wear this blessed thought, like a necklace of diamonds, around the neck of thy memory; put it, as a golden ring, on the finger of recollection, and use it as the King’s own seal, stamping the petitions of thy faith with confidence of success. He is a brother born for adversity, treat Him as such.
Christ was also chosen out of the people that He might know our wants and sympathize with us. “He was tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin.” In all our sorrows we have His sympathy. Temptation, pain, disappointment, weakness, weariness, poverty—He knows them all, for He has felt all. Remember this, Christian, and let it comfort thee. However difficult and painful thy road, it is marked by the footsteps of thy Saviour; and even when thou reachest the dark valley of the shadow of death, and the deep waters of the swelling Jordan, thou wilt find His footprints there. In all places whithersoever we go, He has been our forerunner; each burden we have to carry, has once been laid on the shoulders of Immanuel.
“His way was much rougher and darker than mine
Did Christ, my Lord, suffer, and shall I repine?”
Take courage! Royal feet have left a blood‐red track upon the road, and consecrated the thorny path for ever.
“And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion.” — Revelation 14:1
The apostle John was privileged to look within the gates of heaven, and in describing what he saw, he begins by saying, “I looked, and, lo, a Lamb!” This teaches us that the chief object of contemplation in the heavenly state is “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sins of the world.” Nothing else attracted the apostle’s attention so much as the person of that Divine Being, who hath redeemed us by His blood. He is the theme of the songs of all glorified spirits and holy angels. Christian, here is joy for thee; thou hast looked, and thou hast seen the Lamb. Through thy tears thine eyes have seen the Lamb of God taking away thy sins. Rejoice, then. In a little while, when thine eyes shall have been wiped from tears, thou wilt see the same Lamb exalted on His throne. It is the joy of thy heart to hold daily fellowship with Jesus; thou shalt have the same joy to a higher degree in heaven; thou shalt enjoy the constant vision of His presence; thou shalt dwell with Him for ever. “I looked, and, lo, a Lamb!” Why, that Lamb is heaven itself; for as good Rutherford says, “Heaven and Christ are the same thing;” to be with Christ is to be in heaven, and to be in heaven is to be with Christ. That prisoner of the Lord very sweetly writes in one of his glowing letters—“O my Lord Jesus Christ, if I could be in heaven without thee, it would be a hell; and if I could be in hell, and have thee still, it would be a heaven to me, for thou art all the heaven I want.” It is true, is it not, Christian? Does not thy soul say so?
“Not all the harps above
Can make a heavenly place,
If God His residence remove,
Or but conceal His face.”
All thou needest to make thee blessed, supremely blessed, is “to be with Christ.”
Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. 2 For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. 3 While they are saying, ‘Peace and safety!’ then destruction will come upon them suddenly like birth pangs upon a woman with child;and they shall not escape (καὶ οὐ μὴ [ou mē] ἐκφύγωσιν). 4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day should overtake you like a thief; 5 for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; 6 so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober. 7 For those who sleep do their sleeping at night, and those who get drunk get drunk at night. 8 But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation. 9 For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, that whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with Him. 11 Therefore encourage one another, and build up one another, just as you also are doing.(1 Thessalonians 5:1-11)
This passage is dealing with the rapture and the Second Coming of the Lord some seven years later. Verse 3 is saying this: those who refuse Christ, when the rapture comes and the Great Tribulation begins, these people “will in no way, under any circumstances, escape the hellish consequences that will follow.” As you can see in the quote above, the οὐ μὴ [ou mē] is attached to the English verb “escape,” which is an aorist active subjunctive, thus, this is the subjunctive of emphatic negation, implying that nothing they will do will facilitate an escape from the ensuing tribulation. In other words, it is too late since they rejected Christ.
Let’s note the actual verb “escape” in the Greek. Its root is ἐκφεύγω (ekpheugō), and it comes from two Greek words: (1) the Greek preposition ἐκ (ek), which means “out of, from, and away from”; and (2) the Greek verb φεύγω (pfeugō), which means “to seek safety in flight; to become safe from danger by eluding or avoiding it; to keep from doing something by avoiding it because of its potential damage; and to cease being visible.” As you can see, this verb incorporates almost every avenue of escape and avoidance that is available to someone, but in all of them, they shall not escape the coming tribulation and wrath of God that will be poured out!
THE TRAGEDY OF SIN AND SATAN’S LIE
This is indeed the tragic commentary on that part of the human race that is in the bondage of spiritual, mental, and emotional darkness with regard to their sin and its self-destructive consequences. Satan is a liar. And although his lies go back to the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden, they are still with us today, and it is just as intimidating, abusive, and coercive now as it was then. However, God’s Eternal Truth is a message that is just as real, and the following passages illustrate this. In Genesis 2:15-17, the Lord speaks to Adam concerning the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil”:
15 Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. 16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; 17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die.
This last phrase is one of the most emphatic in the Old Testament, as it is comprised of what is called an infinitive absolute with a finite verb form. Thus, God is emphatically declaring that if Adam eats from this “tree,” then without any equivocation or the remotest doubt, “he will absolutely die.” Then we go to Genesis 3:1-5, and we read the following:
1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; 3 but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, lest you die.’” 4 And the serpent said to the woman, “You surely shall not die! 5 For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
(Genesis 3:1- 5)
In verse 4, we read Satan’s response to the woman, “You surely shall not die,” and this is the exact same grammatical construction as in Genesis 2:17 where the Lord said to Adam, “you shall surely die.” Thus, Satan used the same grammatical emphasis that the Lord used but making the exact opposite statement the Lord said, that if you eat of the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you surely shall not die.” And guess what? This is the exact same lie he is propagating today:
“You will surely not die and spend an eternity in a fabricated hell because there is no life after death, and even if there is, your good intentions and actions based on those intentions will compensate for anything and everything you have done because you are your own god, and you decide what is right and wrong based on your personal proclivities, versus some fabricated law that is supposedly the foundation for all truth throughout human history – you and you alone are your own ‘God,’ and what you determine is right and wrong is all that matters!”
WHAT HAPPENS TO THOSE WITHOUT CHRIST
When I read the above, and I see the tragedy of the lives of those who overtly reject Christ in favor of their own self-deification, my heart breaks, but I am also prompted with an urgency of sharing the Gospel with all whom God brings across my path because I see what will happen to those without Christ as their end and the end draws near:
1 Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together to Him, 2 that you may not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. 3 Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God. 5 Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things? 6 And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he may be revealed. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. 8 And then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; 9 that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, 10 and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. 11 And for this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they might believe what is false, 12 in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.
(2 Thessalonians 2:1-12)
In the above passage, we see several things that are important to point out:
1. The meaning of the word “apostasy.”
Some have taught that the word “apostasy” in verse 3 is actually referring to the rapture because of the construction of this word in the Greek. In the Greek, the English word “apostasy” is ἀποστασία (apostasia), and it comes from two Greek words: the Greek preposition ἀπό (apo), which means “from, or away from”; and the Greek noun στάσις(stasis), which means “a condition of being in a certain position or state of affairs; a movement toward a (new) state of affairs; and a lack of agreement respecting policy.” Thus, with reference to the rapture, those who say this is what ἀποστασία (apostasia) is referring to do so because they say the preposition ἀπό (apo) indicates “moving away from one position to another,” which would include “moving away from the earth” to heaven with Jesus when He raptures the church.
On the other hand, verse 1 is clearly referring to the rapture when it says, “Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together to Him,” and so what we would have if ἀποστασία (apostasia) is referring to the rapture would be something like this: “Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together (i.e., being raptured) to Him, 2that you may not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord (i.e., our being raptured) has come. 3 Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come (i.e., our being raptured) unless the apostasy (i.e., our being raptured) comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction.” So, according to those who say thatἀποστασία (apostasia) is referring to the rapture, based on the above passage, before the rapture occurs, we will be raptured! Now there is no way anyone can look at this passage and honestly say that is objective, honest, correct, and accurate exegesis of this passage. However, when we look at the word ἀποστασία (apostasia) and its use throughout Scripture, we see a quite different use of this word in the following passages:
(a) Joshua 22:22: “The Mighty One, God, the LORD, the Mighty One, God, the LORD! He knows, and may Israel itself know. If it was in rebellion (ἀποστασία – apostasia), or if in an unfaithful act against the LORD do not Thou save us this day! ”
(b) II Chronicles 22:19: “Moreover, all the utensils which King Ahaz had discarded during his reign in his unfaithfulness (ἀποστασία – apostasia), we have prepared and consecrated; and behold, they are before the altar of the LORD.” (LXX)
(c) Jeremiah 21:19: “Your apostasy (ἀποστασία – apostasia) shall correct you, and your wickedness shall reprove you: know then, and see, that you forsaking me has been bitter to you, saith the Lord your God; and I have taken no pleasure in thee, saith the Lord thy God.” (this verse is taken directly from the LXX, and the Hebrew MT has “apostasies,” which is obviously plural and is referring to many acts of “rebellion and unfaithfulness”)
(d) I Maccabees 2:15: “In the mean while the king’s officers, such as compelled the people to revolt (ἀποστασία – apostasia), came into the city Modin, to make them sacrifice.”
As we look at the above examples, we see is a clear act of “rebellion” and a “turning away” from that which is “truth” to that which is a “lie” – thus, the idea contained in στάσις(stasis), which means “a condition of being in a certain position or state of affairs; a movement toward a (new) state of affairs; and a lack of agreement respecting policy,” is consistently used with reference to a position of truth throughout the Scripture, as well as in Maccabees, and when ἀπό (apo) is attached, which indicates “moving away from one position to another,” that position that it one is moving “away from” with the use of (ἀποστασία – apostasia) is unequivocally, as just stated, the position of truth that the Scripture is emphasizing to a position of lies, contrary to biblical truth.
Consequently, the word ἀποστασία (apostasia) as used in 2 Thessalonians has absolutely nothing to do with the rapture, but rather it is talking about people who once had a “professed belief in Jesus,” but were persuaded by lies and false doctrines and eventually deserted Jesus, the Church, the Bible, and everything related to Christianity. After this occurs, at some point then the rapture will occur and the Anti-Christ will make his appearance.
2. The Anti-Christ will make his appearance.
As verse 3 indicates, The Anti-Christ will appear and proceed to proclaim his self-deification before the whole world: “3 Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.”
3. Verses 6-8 describe the rapture and the emergence of the Anti-Christ:
“6 And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he may be revealed. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. 8 And then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming.”
4. Verses 9-10 describe the tremendous deception that will spread over the earth through Satanic power and those who will be engulfed by it:
“9 that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, 10 and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved.”
5. Verses 11-12 describe God’s judgment upon those who have rejected Christ and the Eternal Truth of God in Him:
“11 And for this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they might believe what is false, 12 in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.” This last portion of Scripture is in line withRomans 1:18-32 with regard to God “giving people over” to their lusts and rebellion after rejecting Him on a consistent basis:
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four- footed animals and crawling creatures. 24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, that their bodies might be dishonored among them. 25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. 26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, 27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. 28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; 32 and, although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.
Therefore, it is imperative for us who are Jesus’ followers to be the evangelists He has called us to be in Acts 1:6-8:
“6 And so when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, ‘Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?’ 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; 8 but you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” There is no greater calling for us than to be Jesus’ “witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth,” and I want, therefore, to challenge all of you who read and respond to this Blog to begin being a witness to the world around you, versus simply embracing this or any other computer generated means of communication as your main source of communication with the world. As believers in Jesus, we need to the “salt and light” in a decaying and darkened world around us, proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ to those who have clothed themselves in the Bad News of this dying world. I would like to challenge all of you who read this Blog, therefore, to begin praying and asking the Lord to lead you every day to share the Gospel with someone who needs Jesus in their lives. You will be surprised to see what the Lord does in opening doors for you to share, but that is what He has promised to do for us as we go forth in faith and trust in Him to share with those who we either know that do not know the Lord, or with those whom we have never met, but who also desperately need the Lord.
Let’s resolve to spread the good news to those around us!
“Do as thou hast said.” — 2 Samuel 7:25
God’s promises were never meant to be thrown aside as waste paper; He intended that they should be used. God’s gold is not miser’s money, but is minted to be traded with. Nothing pleases our Lord better than to see His promises put in circulation; He loves to see His children bring them up to Him, and say, “Lord, do as Thou hast said.” We glorify God when we plead His promises. Do you think that God will be any the poorer for giving you the riches He has promised? Do you dream that He will be any the less holy for giving holiness to you? Do you imagine He will be any the less pure for washing you from your sins? He has said “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” Faith lays hold upon the promise of pardon, and it does not delay, saying, “This is a precious promise, I wonder if it be true?” but it goes straight to the throne with it, and pleads, “Lord, here is the promise, ‘Do as Thou hast said.’” Our Lord replies, “Be it unto thee even as thou wilt.” When a Christian grasps a promise, if he does not take it to God, he dishonours Him; but when he hastens to the throne of grace, and cries, “Lord, I have nothing to recommend me but this, ‘Thou hast said it;’” then his desire shall be granted. Our heavenly Banker delights to cash His own notes. Never let the promise rust. Draw the word of promise out of its scabbard, and use it with holy violence. Think not that God will be troubled by your importunately reminding Him of His promises. He loves to hear the loud outcries of needy souls. It is His delight to bestow favours. He is more ready to hear than you are to ask. The sun is not weary of shining, nor the fountain of flowing. It is God’s nature to keep His promises; therefore go at once to the throne with “Do as Thou hast said.”
“Jehoshaphat made ships of Tharshish to go to Ophir for gold: but they went not; for the ships were broken at Ezion‚geber.” — 1 Kings 22:48
Solomon’s ships had returned in safety, but Jehoshaphat’s vessels never reached the land of gold. Providence prospers one, and frustrates the desires of another, in the same business and at the same spot, yet the Great Ruler is as good and wise at one time as another. May we have grace today, in the remembrance of this text, to bless the Lord for ships broken at Ezion‐geber, as well as for vessels freighted with temporal blessings; let us not envy the more successful, nor murmur at our losses as though we were singularly and specially tried. Like Jehoshaphat, we may be precious in the Lord’s sight, although our schemes end in disappointment.
The secret cause of Jehoshaphat’s loss is well worthy of notice, for it is the root of very much of the suffering of the Lord’s people; it was his alliance with a sinful family, his fellowship with sinners. In 2 Chron. 20:37, we are told that the Lord sent a prophet to declare, “Because thou hast joined thyself with Ahaziah, the Lord hath broken thy works.” This was a fatherly chastisement, which appears to have been blest to him; for in the verse which succeeds our morning’s text we find him refusing to allow his servants to sail in the same vessels with those of the wicked king. Would to God that Jehoshaphat’s experience might be a warning to the rest of the Lord’s people, to avoid being unequally yoked together with unbelievers! A life of misery is usually the lot of those who are united in marriage, or in any other way of their own choosing, with the men of the world. O for such love to Jesus that, like Him, we may be holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners; for if it be not so with us, we may expect to hear it often said, “The Lord hath broken thy works.”