Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC
Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI.
Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved
I had not worked in my yard for several
weeks, and I was amazed at how quickly weeds had sprung up and taken over.
Weeds don't need tending; they seem to love to sprout up for anyone who
just lets things go. A bed of beautiful flowers, however, takes watering,
feeding, and of course, weeding. Flowers thrive under the care of one who
is not afraid to get dirt under his fingernails.
The Christian life takes work too. It requires the commitment of one's
whole being to Jesus—body, mind, emotions, and will—to have a life that is
wholesome, attractive, uplifting to others, and fulfilling to oneself.
Even then, weeds of selfishness and sinful attitudes can quickly spring up
and overrun the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).
That was the problem with many believers at Corinth. They had become
overgrown with envy and divisiveness (1 Corinthians 3:1-3). So Paul told
them to cleanse themselves from all "filthiness of the flesh and spirit,
perfecting holiness in the fear of God" (2 Corinthians 7:1). By "holiness"
he didn't mean they could be sinless, but blameless.
Lord, help us uproot any weeds of the flesh and the spirit before they
become ugly habits. May the beauty of Jesus' character be what others see
in us.—Dennis J. De Haan
The Weeding Process
1. Identify sins of the flesh or the spirit (Gal. 5:17-21).
2. Call them sin and confess them (1 John 1:9).
3. Stand firm in your position in Christ (Gal. 2:20).
If you yield to God, you won't give in to sin.
The Right Light - Eating
in the dark is no fun. Low light in a restaurant is one thing; eating in a
room with no light at all is another. The same is true in our walk with
God. Unless we take advantage of the light He gives, we will miss seeing
what He is doing for us.
We have an Old Testament picture of this—the tabernacle. As the priest
entered a room called the Holy Place, he could see only by the light of a
golden lampstand (Exodus 25:31-40). Like everything else in the room, it
had been carefully fashioned according to the pattern God gave Moses
The lampstand is a picture of spiritual light. The gold speaks of value.
The oil symbolizes the Holy Spirit. The six branches coming out from the
center shaft portray unity in plurality. The symbol of the almond blossom
is linked to God's anointed priesthood (Numbers 17:1-8). When all this is
combined with a New Testament reference that uses a golden lampstand to
represent the church (Revelation 1:20), we have the complete picture. God
gives light through the Spirit, who works through His congregation of
anointed people (1 Peter 2:9).
Yes, the Holy Spirit provides us with the light we need. Are we daily
spending time in prayer and reading God's Word so that we can take
advantage of it?—Mart De Haan
Holy Ghost, with light divine,
Shine upon this heart of mine;
Chase the shades of night away,
Turn my darkness into day. —Reed
The light of God's holiness convicts
the sinner and guides the saint.
Housekeeping Of The Heart - As
a young homemaker, I enjoyed cleaning our house from top to bottom. The
trouble was, it never stayed clean for long. Eventually I discovered that
if I kept our house reasonably tidy, it appeared to be clean even when it
wasn’t. Gradually I concentrated more on the appearance of a clean house
and neglected thorough cleaning. This compromise was not only convenient,
it was convincing. Sometimes even I was fooled. But on sunny days my
clean-looking house was revealed for what it was—dusty and dirty.
In Jesus’ day, the scribes and Pharisees were hypocrites who concentrated
on the appearance of holiness while neglecting their heart-holiness (Matt.
23:25). When the light of Jesus shined on them, He revealed the truth
about their outwardly religious life. He didn’t say these external acts
were necessarily wrong, but they were wrongfully used as a coverup for
wickedness. For them, inner housecleaning was long overdue.
Keeping up appearances in our housework isn’t wrong, but pretending our
hearts are clean is. Only those who are clean on the inside will welcome
Jesus with confidence when He returns. Is your heart ready? Or is
heart-cleaning needed? Now is the time to take care of it! —Joanie Yoder
Thinking It Over
What is the only way to get a clean heart? (Titus 3:3-6).
After we have put our faith in Jesus Christ (John 3:16),
how do we keep our heart clean? (1 John 1:9).
At the heart of holiness is holiness of the heart.
A Walk In The Woods -
A friend of mine wrote to me about certain "reservations" in his
life—areas of secret sin that he reserved for himself and into which he
These "reserves" are like the large tracts of wilderness in my home state
of Idaho. It may sound exciting to wander around these untamed regions by
oneself, but it's dangerous.
So too, each journey into sin takes its toll. We sacrifice our closeness
with God, forfeiting His blessing (Psalm 24:1-5), and we lose our
influence on others that comes from purity of mind and body (1 Timothy
The wild areas in us may never be fully tamed, but we can set up
perimeters that keep us from wandering into them. One perimeter is to
remember that we are dead to sin's power (Romans 6:1-14). We do not have
to give in to it.
The second perimeter is to resist temptation when it first attracts us.
Initial temptation may not be strong, but if we entertain it, it will in
time gain power and overwhelm us.
The third perimeter is accountability. Find a person who will commit to
ask you each week, "Have you 'taken a hike in the wild'? Have you gone
where you should not go?"
Impurity is ruinous, but if we long for holiness and ask God for help, He
will give us victory. Press on!—David H. Roper
O Lord, help us to recognize
When we begin to compromise;
And give us strength to follow through
With what we know is right and true. —Sper
Beware—the more you look at temptation, the better it looks!
Just A Closer Walk with Thee -
Nobel Prize-winning physicist Martin Perl was asked what he attributed his
success to. “My mother,” he answered. “Every day when I came home from
school she asked me, ‘So, Marty, did you ask any good questions today?’”
David asked the best question of all: “Lord, who may abide in Your
tabernacle?” (Psalm 15:1). There are two words ancient Jews had for
expressing the question “who?” One is similar to our usage. But David used
another word here that asks, “What kind of person dwells close to God?”
The answer came in a series of character traits: “He who walks uprightly,
and works righteousness, and speaks the truth in his heart” (v.2).
It’s one thing to know the truth; it’s another to obey it. God delights to
live on His holy hill with those who are holy—who reflect the reality of
the truth they believe. He loves men and women who “ring true.”
This psalm, however, is not about any holiness of our own that we think
will qualify us to gain entrance to His presence. It is rather about the
beauty of holiness that God forms in us as we dwell in fellowship with
The closer we get to God, the more like Him we will become. —David H.
More purity give me, more strength to o’ercome,
More freedom from earth-stains, more longings for home;
More fit for the kingdom, more used would I be,
More blessed and holy—more, Savior, like Thee.
Walk so close to God that nothing can
A Lesson From the Oak Tree -
Have you ever noticed that in winter some oak trees retain their crisp,
dry leaves long after the maples, the elms, and the walnuts have become
bare skeletons? Even the strong winter winds and the early spring rains do
not completely strip the oak branches of all their old leaves. But as
springtime progresses, warmer winds blow and something wonderful begins to
happen. Tiny buds start appearing at the tips of the twigs, and the dried
remnants of the preceding season fall off. New life replaces the old.
At times, old habits cling to our lives with the same tenacity as those
oak leaves. Even the winds of adversity do not remove all the lifeless
leftovers of our fallen human nature.
But Christ, who dwells in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, is at work. His
life within us continually seeks to push off the old habits—renewing us
when we confess our sins, steadying us when we falter, and strengthening
us to do His will.
When every effort to cast off an old sinful habit ends in failure,
remember the mighty oak. Thank God for His Spirit who lives in you. Keep
saying yes to His gentle urging to be kind, loving, compassionate, honest,
and faithful. Those “lifeless old leaves” will eventually drop off.
—Dennis J. De Haan
When stubborn sins tenaciously
Hold to their former place,
We must rely on Jesus’ strength
And His unfailing grace. —Sper
To get rid of a bad habit, start a good
Let's Get Growing! -
Several years ago my interest in flowers had our home resembling a
nursery. There's something about the presence of growing plants that I
find very enjoyable. As I daily inspected their progress, I gained from my
little green friends a new appreciation of the joy and necessity of the
wonderful process of growth.
As Christians, we too are like plants. We should put down our roots, break
up through the earth, spread out our branches, and burst into blossom.
Such a thriving condition, however, isn't always evident in our lives.
It's so easy to become bored and listless in the bland routine of our
daily activities. Often we just hang on and merely exist without moving
steadily toward maturity and fruitfulness.
At such times we are at a spiritual standstill and must allow Jesus the
"Sun of Righteousness" (Malachi 4:2) to warm our hearts anew with His
love. We must send our roots deep into the Word of God by meditating on it
day and night (Psalm 1:2). Then we will be like a fruitful tree planted by
rivers of living water, and our branches will extend outward in an
ever-increasing influence and witness. They will be filled with blossoms
that reflect the beauty of righteous living.
If we've become dormant, let's get growing!—Mart De Haan
If God can make a tiny seed
Into a bloom so fair,
What can He make, O soul, of you
Through study, faith, and prayer? —Anon.
Decay starts when growth stops.
Don't Make News
A story in our local newspaper reported
that a $1.73 billion highway and mass transit project in Denver, Colorado,
was nearing completion on schedule and within the budget. But the story
wasn't on the front page. In fact, it was tucked into a sidebar of brief
summaries in small type on page 3 of the local news section. If the
project had been plagued by fraud, delays, and cost overruns, no doubt it
would have been headline news.
I've decided that "Don't Make News" might be a good motto in life. If we
lie, cheat, and steal, that's news. If we live honestly and morally, we
can have an unnoticed yet effective spiritual influence on people around
When Paul commended the Christians in Thessalonica for showing love toward
each other, he urged them, "Aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own
business, and to work with your own hands . . . that you may walk properly
toward those who are outside" (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12).
Since our goal is to please God in everything we do (v.1), it makes no
difference whether anyone applauds our actions or not. We are called to be
faithful, not famous. Bad behavior sells newspapers. Honesty and integrity
honor the Lord. Don't make news! —David C. McCasland
I'd rather have Jesus than men's
I'd rather be faithful to His dear cause;
I'd rather have Jesus than worldwide fame,
I'd rather be true to His holy name. —Miller
© Renewal 1950, Chancel Music, Inc.
The world's applause cannot compare to the Lord's approval.
Whenever my husband and I leave the
house, our dog Maggie goes sniffing for old shoes and dirty laundry. She
surrounds herself with what she finds and then sleeps with it near her
nose. The familiar smells comfort her until we return.
Of course Maggie doesn't realize she's following a levitical command to
"distinguish between . . . unclean and clean" (Leviticus 10:10). Nor does
she know she's violating it.
In a world still swirling in sin long after its catastrophic collision
with evil, God commanded His followers to live holy lives (Leviticus
11:45). Distinguishing between clean and unclean is essential to that
Such discernment requires more than finely tuned physical senses. The
apostle Paul wrote that the "natural man"—that is, a human being in his
sinful state—"does not receive the things of the Spirit of God...they are
spiritually discerned" (1 Corinthians 2:14). It is the Holy Spirit who
provides this wisdom (v.13).
Just as Maggie finds comfort in old shoes and socks, many people seek
comfort in old dirty sins. We must be mindful that our comfort and
consolation come from God, who loves us and who establishes us in "every
good word and work" (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17).—Julie Ackerman Link
Search me, O God, and know my heart
Try me, O Savior, know my thoughts, I pray.
See if there be some wicked way in me;
Cleanse me from every sin and set me free.
© 1966, Singspiration, Inc.
There is no true happiness apart from holiness,
and no holiness apart from
A Healthy Fear
and that no man transgress and defraud
his brother in the matter because the Lord is the avenger in all these
things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you. -
During a severe thunderstorm, a mother
tucked her child into bed and turned off the light. Frightened by the
tempest, he asked, "Mommy, will you sleep with me?" Hugging him, she
replied, "I can't, dear. I have to sleep with Daddy." Stepping out of the
room, she heard, "That big sissy!"
Fear is real. But it's not always negative. In 2 Chronicles 17:3-10, we
read about a healthy, positive fear that prevented neighboring countries
from going to war against Judah. What had caused this fear? We are told
that "the fear of the Lord fell on all the kingdoms of the lands that were
around Judah, so that they did not make war against Jehoshaphat" (v.10).
A respectful fear of the Lord was also what King Jehoshaphat desired for
his own people. So he made it a priority that they be taught God's Word.
He knew that if the people were in awe of the Almighty, they would humble
themselves and obey Him. Doing what was right would bring prosperity to
Judah and respect from neighboring countries.
Proverbs 15:33 declares, "The fear of the Lord is the instruction of
wisdom." Those who fear Him act with wisdom; they walk faithfully before
Him as they obey His commands.—Albert Lee
God dwells in light and holiness,
In splendor and in might;
And godly fear of His great power
Can help us do what's right. —D. De Haan
The right kind of fear will keep us from doing wrong.
G Campbell Morgan
That ye be ambitious
to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your hands.—1
Here again we have adopted the marginal reading, because that is the
exact meaning of the Greek word rendered "study." Here then is a
revelation of proper ambition, and it is remarkable as contrasting with
worldly ambition. Three things the Apostle exhorted these young Christians
to be ambitious about. The first was to be quiet, and the word describes
that which stands in sharp contrast to the passion for notoriety, the
desire to be seen and known. He urges them to be ambitious to be secluded,
hidden, quiet. The next was to attend to their own affairs, instead of
interfering in the affairs of others. The last was to work with their own
hands, rather than live by the exertions of others. As we have thus
endeavoured to state the ideas, we have seen the contrary and unworthy
ambitions which so constantly master human life. The first is that for
distinction, for the conspicuous position. The second is for the power and
opportunity to meddle with the business of other people. The last is for
freedom from the necessity for personal toil, gained through imposing work
on others. How revolutionary Christianity is! How it cuts clean across
popular conceptions, and runs counter to the mean desires of the human
heart! And yet how great it is in all its constructive purposes! Think of
the life which is described here by implication. The life of quiet
strength and repose; the life that is arranged and orderly; the life that
is honourably independent. Surely it is good to be ambitious for such a
life. (Life Applications from Every Chapter of the Bible).
As I sat looking at my beehives, I was
especially interested in the activities of a considerable number of bees
that seemed to be busybodies. They were always buzzing, going in and out
of the hive, but doing no apparent work. These nonproductive ones are
called drones. They are male bees—much larger than a worker or even the
queen. Their only function is to fertilize a queen and then die.
While waiting for a new queen to emerge, the drones spend their time
visiting one hive after another. But they do no work; they make no honey;
they build no comb; they can't even sting. And they're noisy! You should
hear them buzz, but it's all bluff.
For a while drones are privileged characters, but when fall comes and the
honey flow slackens, the worker bees will kill every drone! Not a one
lives through the winter. The time of reckoning comes, and they are denied
the reward of the workers.
In the apostle Paul's letter to Timothy, he warned about people who are
active in the wrong kinds of activities—going from house to house as
busybodies, stirring up trouble instead of serving others (1 Timothy
Don't be a drone if you want to share in the heavenly treasures reserved
for the faithful.—Mart De Haan
In service true of any kind,
Lord, happy I shall be,
If by my help some soul may find
The path that leads to Thee.
God's house should be a hive for workers
—not a nest for drones.
God-Honoring Work - Several
years ago in the South African territory of Kwa-Zulu, the government dug
irrigation ditches on both sides of a river. This allowed the rich land to
be farmed. The Christian Zulus on one side of the river produced lush
crops and prospered. The traditional animist worshipers on the other side
continued to live in abject poverty, producing almost nothing on the same
kind of soil.
Why? The Christians believed they were responsible before God to work hard
and live soberly. Their pagan neighbors, on the other hand, viewed work as
the women's responsibility, while the men spent their time drinking and
The Bible tells us that as God's image-bearers we are to "have dominion
over . . . every living thing that moves on the earth" (Gen. 1:28). It
urges us to work with our hands so that we can provide for ourselves and
others (Eph. 4:28; 1 Th. 4:11). Work, when performed with the right
attitude, can be pleasurable and rewarding. Proverbs 27:23-27 portrays the
beautiful interplay of diligent work on our part and faithful nurture on
Whatever your job, do it diligently and gratefully. Through it you will
find pleasure and experience God's blessing. --H V Lugt
We thank You, Lord, for giving us
To work to earn our daily bread
And share it willingly. --Sper
When God puts work into your life,
He expects you to put life into your work.
Meyer, F. B. Our Daily Homily
Sorrow not, even as the rest, which
have no hope. (r.v.)
Nature will have her due. Tears will
fall, and hearts seem near to breaking. Nowhere does God chide the tears
of natural affection; how could He, since it is written that “Jesus wept”?
But He sets Himself to extract their bitterness. Sorrow you may, and must;
but not as without hope.
Those who die in Christ are with
Him. — They are said to
sleep, not because they are unconscious, but because their decease was as
devoid of terror as an infant’s slumbers. Believers have all died once in
Christ, and it was necessary to find a word which, whilst significant of
death, was not death, in order to describe the moment of our farewell to
this world and birth into the next. This word was furnished by Death’s
twin-sister Sleep. The catacombs are covered with the brief significant
sentence, Obdormivit in Christo (He slept in Christ). But just as in sleep
the spirit is conscious, of which dreams bear witness, so in the last
sleep. Absent from the body, we shall be present with the Lord.
Those who die in Christ will come
with Him. — They are now
waiting around Him till He give the final order for the whole heavenly
cortege, which has been collecting for ages, to move. The holy angels will
accompany; but the beloved saints shall ride in the chariots of God as the
bride beside the bridegroom.
Those who die in Christ shall be for
ever reunited with us who wait for Him and them. — They shall come
with Him. “God will bring them.” We, on the other hand, if we are living
at that supreme moment, shall be changed and caught up to meet Him and
them; and then, all one in Christ, we shall be for ever with Him, to go no
Ray Of Hope
I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have
fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. —1
It was to be an exciting summer for our
family. We had many activities planned, including a trip to Florida to
help our daughter Julie begin her teaching career.
Instead, the summer of 2002 began with tragedy. When our teenage daughter
Melissa was killed in an automobile accident on the last day of school,
our summer of hope turned into a nightmare.
Right away, I began to pray that the loss of our bright, athletic,
friendly daughter could have a positive impact on teenagers—first among
her friends and then in ever-widening ways.
Toward the end of the summer, we did take that Florida trip to get Julie
started, heavy-hearted as we were. As she began teaching, Julie never
forgot the desire to see Melissa's life change the lives of others. She
told her classes about her sister and her faith.
One day, a student talked to Julie after class. "I'm scared," she said,
"because I'm not a Christian like Melissa was." Julie then led her to
faith in Jesus Christ. I imagined Melissa rejoicing in heaven.
The summer of 2002 didn't turn out as planned, but we were thankful to see
some fruit of a life well-lived. Even in our sorrow, God gave us this ray
of hope. —Dave Branon
Lord, give us grace to trust You when
Life's burdens seem too much to bear;
Dispel the darkness with new hope
And help us rise above despair. —Sper
Even in life's darkest hour,
Christians have the brightest hope
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
WHEN SOMEONE IS GONE
Comfort one another with these words.- 1 Thessalonians 4:18
It was one of those rare times at our house when there was only one child
around. Stevie's older sisters were off at camps and on mission trips, so
it was a good time for a father-son airport outing.
We had just left McDonald's and were on our way to visit the cockpit of a
DC-9 when Stevie surprised me. After I said, "This is fun, isn't it?" he
replied, almost sadly, "Yeah,
but it's not as much fun without Melissa."
I figured his mind would be filled with thoughts of airplanes and burgers,
so for him to think about his 8-year-old sister was unexpected.
His sentiment reminded me of how significant our loved ones are to us.
When they're away, our activities can't make us stop thinking of them and
wishing they were with us. That truth has special significance if we have
loved ones who have died. The loss of their companionship is painful. Life
is not the same without them.
In our sadness, though, God comforts us with the promise of 1
Thessalonians 4, which tells us that we do not need to "sorrow as others
who have no hope" (v.13). We can look forward to the time when Jesus
returns and we will be reunited with our believing loved ones. That truth
is a big comfort when someone is gone.-J. David Branon
Think of the thrill we'll have meeting
Loved ones who've gone on before;
Think of the joy and the rapture,
Then think of parting no more. -Anon.
Death separates us for a time;
will reunite us forever.
1 Thessalonians 4:14
The Shepherd's Home in Wisconsin has a problem with dirty windows.
Although many of its residents are severely disabled, they love Jesus and
understand that He has promised to return someday and give them new
bodies. "Every day," said the superintendent, "some of them go to the
windows and press their noses against the glass, looking for Him."
The expectation of those precious people is genuine.Their irreversible
mental and physical limitations fuel their longing for the day when they
will be perfectly whole and free.
The Holy Spirit enables us to keep alive that same hope. And it is a sure
hope because it rests on two events, one past and one future -- the
resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1 Cor. 15:20), and the reality
that He will return to this earth someday (1 Th. 4:13-18). Paul united
both truths in today's key verse (v. 14).
When the going gets tough, we must resist the temptation to give up on
life, or to find morbid pleasure in complaining. Instead, we must stay
obedient to the Lord, renounce sin, and keep our eyes on the future (1
Cor. 15:33-34). Then we can rejoice in the certainty that in the world to
come our painful trials will be no more.
Let's keep looking for Christ's return.-- Dennis J. De Haan
One day at death or Christ's return
We'll shed this earthly life of care;
And we who've known and loved the Lord
Will in His perfect likeness share.
The greatest joy on earth is the clear prospect of heaven.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
OUR ONLY HOPE
We should live ... godly in the present age, looking for the blessed
hope.- Titus 2:12-13
An unknown author wrote, "When I was first converted, and for some yeras
afterward, the second coming of Christ was a thrilling idea, a blessed
hope, a glorious promise, the theme of some of the most inspiring songs of
"Later it became an accepted tenet of faith, a cardinal doctrine, a kind
of invisible trademark of my ministry. It was the favorite arena of my
theological discussions, in the pulpit and in print. Now suddenly the
second coming means something more to me. Paul called it world."
From the human standpoint, there is no solution for the problems of the
world. Leaders seem to be completely frustrated in trying to deal with the
unrest and increasing violence in society. The only complete and permanent
solution is found in the return of Christ. When He comes, He will set up
His kingdom. He will rule the nations in righteousness, and "the earth
will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters
cover the sea" (Hab 2:14).
As we await our Savior's return, let us keep on praying, working, and
watching, while "looking for the blessed hope" - our only hope for this
world.: - Richard W. De Haan
And for the hope of His return,
Dear Lord, Your name we praise;
With longing hearts we watch and wait
For that great day of days!- Sherwood
As this world grows darker,
the promised return of the Son grows brighter
1 Thessalonians 4:17
THE BIG DIFFERENCE
"We who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the
clouds to meet the Lord in the air."- 1 Thes 4:17
As I walked out of the chapel after a memorial service for a Christian
friend, the funeral home director remarked, "You know, there's a big
difference between the funerals of those who are Christians and those who
This man had witnessed hundreds of funerals and had been impressed by the
striking difference between the behavior of true believers and those who
did not have faith in Christ. He had observed that Christians are
comforted by Paul's words in 1 Thessalonians 4, "If we believe that Jesus
died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in
Jesus... Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with
them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air"(1Thes 4:14, 17).
Of course, we do grieve when death temporarily separates us from our loved
ones. But the grief is greatly eased and the heartache gently softened by
the truth of God's Word: Christians who die go into the presence of the
Lord Jesus Himself, and they will accompany Him when He returns to this
We who are looking for our Lord's second coming can take courage and find
comfort in anticipating that glorious reunion. That's what makes the big
difference!-- Richard W. De Haan
We'll meet again - perhaps today --
The dear ones who have passed away;
Oh, wondrous joy to meet them there
At that blest union in the air.-- Smith
The bright ray of hope in the darkening
skies is the promised return of the Son.
A Great Mystery
Many people love mysteries. It's
exciting to put ourselves in the shoes of a detective and try to figure
out "whodunit" as we turn the pages of a mystery novel. But there's a
cliffhanger that we'll never resolve—until we experience it ourselves.
Those of us who have watched in sadness as someone close to us has died
may wonder about their new existence. Our hearts ache to know what they
are doing or where they are. If they had trusted Jesus Christ as Savior,
we know they are in heaven. But, for now, a veil separates us from our
loved ones and we cannot see behind it.
We do have a few clues about this mystery, though. We know that our
departed loved ones are enjoying God's presence (2 Corinthians 5:8). We
also know that they are recognizable and conscious of their
surroundings—just like the rich man and the beggar Jesus spoke of in Luke
16:22-23. And we know that they haven't yet received the perfect body that
will be theirs when Christ returns (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17).
Beyond that, we are left with this truth: God, in His matchless love and
power, is planning a glorious reunion. Then, our eternal rejoicing will
begin. The last page of this great mystery has a happy ending. —Dave
The Lord has promised to prepare
A place in heaven above—
A home where we will always be
With Him and those we love. —Sper
God's people never say goodbye for the last time.
As I waited outside the Intensive Care
Unit for changes in the condition of a loved one, I was reminded that
death affects all of us: old and young, male and female, rich and poor.
In 1 Thessalonians 4, the apostle Paul comforted those who mourned the
death of their loved ones. He told them that excessive grief resulted from
being uninformed. Weeping for our loss is good, but we need not weep like
those who have no hope. Instead, we must rely on three certainties of
The first certainty is that the soul does not die. The souls of departed
believers are with the Lord (v.14). They have retired from this
problematic world, and they “sleep in Jesus.”
Second, Jesus will come for every believer. Whether a Christian is alive
on earth or asleep in death, Jesus will return for all His children
Third, there will be a joyous reunion. “Then we who are alive and remain
shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in
the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord” (v.17).
Knowing these certainties brings comfort to believers when their friends
and loved ones depart. Although we are separated from them for a while, we
will meet again in the presence of our Lord. —Albert Lee
When facing death’s shadow, remember
The shadows bring fear, and the dark shrouds our eyes;
But if we will turn to face Jesus the Light,
The shadows will fade as He brightens our skies.
Sunset in one land is sunrise in another.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
How Would You Answer?
The Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout . . . . And the
dead in Christ will rise first. —1 Thessalonians 4:16
Sir Norman Anderson was invited to give
a television talk on the evidence for Christ's resurrection, a subject
that he had written much about. When his son died of cancer, the program
producers offered to cancel his participation, saying, "You can't speak
about the resurrection when you've just lost a son." But Anderson said, "I
want to speak about it now even more." And so, sad in heart but with great
assurance, he spoke of Christ's resurrection, and ours as believers.
The resurrection of Jesus is no myth—it's a historical, well-attested
fact. Indeed, it's an eternal fact! Jesus declared, "I am He who lives,
and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore" (Revelation 1:18).
Jesus spoke to His disciples about His own resurrection and reassured
them, "Because I live, you will live also" (John 14:19). And Paul wrote of
the Christian's resurrection, teaching that when a fellow believer dies we
don't need to sorrow as those who have no hope (1Thessalonians 4:13).
When Lazarus died, Jesus assured Martha that whoever believes in Him,
though he dies, shall live again (John 11:25-26). He then asked, "Do you
believe this?" Martha replied, "Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the
Christ, the Son of God" (v.27). How would you answer?—Joanie Yoder
All flesh, as grass, shall pass away
From this vile world of sin and strife;
The one who sleeps in Christ today
Will wake to resurrected life.
Christ's resurrection is the guarantee of our own.
THE BIG DIFFERENCE -
As I left a funeral home one day after a memorial service for a dear saint
of God, one of the directors of the mortuary re-marked, "You know, there's
a big difference between the funerals of those who are Christians and
those who are unsaved!" I have never forgotten his words. What a testimony
to the reality of the Christian faith! Here was a man who had witnessed
hundreds of funerals and had been impressed by the striking difference
between the behavior of true believers in a time of bereavement and those
who had no faith. Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians 4:13 that the unsaved
should not sorrow like worldly individuals who have "no hope." The reason
for Paul's admonition is found in the following verses, where the apostle
describes the day when ". . . the Lord himself shall descend from heaven .
. . and the dead in Christ shall rise first . . . [and] we who are alive
and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet
the Lord in the air." (1Thes 4:16, 17).
Let it be remembered, however, that even believers grieve when death
separates them from their loved ones. After all, when human ties are
broken, it does hurt and tears are bound to be shed. But notice Paul does
not say that we do not sorrow at all. Rather he declares that we ". . .
sorrow not, even as others who have not hope!" The grief is lessened and
the heart-ache softened in the realization that those who died in Christ
go into the presence of the Lord Jesus Himself, and the day is coming when
with glorified, resurrected bodies all believers shall in one great, glad,
grand reunion rise to meet the Lord in the air. No wonder Paul concludes
this passage by saying, "Where-fore, comfort one another with these
Those who are looking for that blessed hope find courage and comfort in
the upward look. The thought of Christ's soon return and reunion with
loved ones makes a big difference!
O how sweet it will be on that
So free from all sorrow and pain;
With songs on our lips and with harps in our hands
To meet one another again! —E. H. Gates, alt.
UNION with Christ here,
with loved ones over There!
A HAPPY LIFE
Cornelia Dobner was 90 when she died and went to her home in heaven. Her
life had been characterized by hard work, self-sacrifice for her family,
and loyalty to God and her husband.
Soon after the funeral, two of her great-granddaughters put their feelings
into words by writing notes to her. One of them, in the clear block
printing of a 6-year-old, wrote, "I hope you have a happy life up in
That child's hope for her great-grandmother is an unquestioned certainty
for every follower of Christ who dies. The Bible describes our eternal
home as a place where there is no more suffering, sorrow, crying, pain,
impurity, disease, nor evil (Rev. 21:4, 27). It also tells us what IS
there: the Lamb (Jesus), the redeemed, the river of life, the throne of
God, the tree of life, the light of God (Rev. 21:22; 22:1-5).
Jesus said that He would go and prepare a place for us (Jn. 14:1-3). And
the apostle Paul described it as the place where "we shall always be with
the Lord" (1Thes 4:17). If that's not happiness, what is?
Yes, like Cornelia Dobner, every believer in Jesus can look forward to "a
happy life up in heaven."-- David C. Egner
Beyond earth's sorrows, the joys of
Beyond earth's shadows, a glorious dawn;
Beyond earth's battles, sweet peace unending;
Beyond earth's sunset is heaven's morn.-- Gilmore
To be with Jesus forever is the sum of
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
THE ULTIMATE REUNION
"In Christ all shall be made alive....Christ the firstfruits, afterward
those who are Christ's at His coming." - 1 Cor. 15:22-23
The article in "Newsweek" magazine called it "the ultimate reunion." Was
it a gathering of war veterans? Perhaps a banquet in honor of our
country's living ex-presidents? No,
it was nothing of the kind -- just a rumor that the surviving members of
the popular music group the Beatles and Yoko Ono, widow of deceased Beatle
John Lennon, were "thinking of doing something together again."
For those of us who recall the drug abuse and decayed morals of the
cultural revolution the Beatles were part of, that rumor held no
excitement. But there is another reunion that grabs the attention of
Christ's followers, whether the media consider it newsworthy or not.
We anticipate with uplifted hearts the ultimate reunion that will take
place when Jesus Christ returns to gather the whole family of God
together. Dead believers will be resurrected first (1 Th. 4:16). Then,
along with believers living everywhere on earth, we will all be united
with our Lord to enjoy forever the splendor of His presence (v. 17).
But only those who have put their trust in the redeeming and returning
Savior, the Lord Jesus, will share in that thrilling event. Will you be
at the ultimate reunion? Make sure today!-- Vernon C. Grounds
Called to meet Him in the air--
My soul, look up and sing!
No sordid world to vex thee there--
Forever with the King!-- Bregenzer
Among Christians, there are no permanent partings.
1 Thessalonians 4:16-5:11 - During
the American Civil War, General William T. Sherman drove his troops on his
decisive march to the sea. In a fort on Kennesaw Mountain, he left behind
a small contingent of men to guard the rations. General John Bell Hood of
the Confederate Army attacked the fort, and a fierce battle followed.
One-third of Sherman's men were killed or wounded and J. M. Corse, the
general in command, was severely injured. Just as he was about to hoist
the white flag and surrender, a message came through the signal corps set
up on a chain of mountains. General Sherman was within fifteen miles of
the fort and sent the message: "Hold fast. We are coming." Those few words
so encouraged the defenders that they held on and kept the fort from
falling into the hands of their attackers.
Our heavenly Commander has also sent us the assurance that He is coming.
The Lord Jesus said, "I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and
prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that
where I am, there you may be also" (John 14:2-3). The fact that our Savior
is coming again gives us hope. It makes us want to stand our ground. It
encourages us to continue fighting the good fight of faith. It assures us
of victory. Fierce as the battle may rage and difficult as the conflict
may be as we serve Him, we dare not give up. Christ is coming
again—perhaps today. —R. W. De Haan.
When faithfulness is most difficult, it is most rewarding.
1 Thessalonians 4:16
At The Cemetery
When a loved one dies and we go to the
cemetery, we may join a long processional. We may sit or stand around the
gravesite and listen respectfully while the minister commits the body to
the earth and reads Bible verses about the resurrection. Then the casket
is lowered into the ground. We may return later to leave some flowers and
stand with heads bowed in memory and respect. Our loved one is dead, and
we know we can never bring him back.
When Jesus went to the cemetery, it was different. His friend Lazarus had
died, and when Jesus got to the tomb, He exercised His power and
authority. He commanded: "Take away the stone" (John 11:39). "Lazarus,
come forth!" (Jn 11:43). "Loose him, and let him go" (Jn
We might wish with all our hearts that we could bring a loved one back,
but if we were to give those commands nothing would happen. But Jesus has
that ability, for He is "the resurrection and the life" (v.25). His power
was demonstrated when Lazarus came out of the tomb—alive!
One day, Jesus will again be "at the cemetery." And when He gives the
command, all the dead who believed in Him will "come forth" (John 5:28-29;
1 Thessalonians 4:16). What a day that will be! —David C. Egner
There'll be no sorrow there, no more
burdens to bear,
No more sickness, no pain, no more parting over there;
And forever I will be with the One who died for me—
What a day, glorious day that will be! —Hill
©1965 Ben L. Speer
For the Christian, death is the doorway to glory.
Be Careful, He's Coming!
Abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be
ashamed. --1 John 2:28
When I was a teenager, our youth pastor and other people who talked to our
youth group told us this: "Be careful where you go and what you do. You
don't want to be embarrassed when Jesus returns."
It's been a long time since I've heard anyone say that, even though it's a
truth that is firmly grounded in Scripture. In 1 John 2:28, the apostle
suggested that Christians should live pure lives by abiding in Jesus, for
we never know when He will return.
I'm not sure exactly why we don't hear this truth much anymore, but I have
a good idea what a couple of reasons might be. For one thing, we may not
really think Jesus could come back without warning. For another, we may
not be as concerned as God wants us to be with living pure and holy lives.
The truth is, the Lord knows what we are doing at all times, and we should
always be aware that we need to please Him with our words, actions, and
attitudes. But the possibility of our being ashamed at His coming seems
more sobering, since it is specifically mentioned in God's Word.
So what's the message? If we live every moment for Jesus, we can be
confident that we won't be ashamed when He returns. --J D Brannon
O Lord, when you return for us,
May we not be ashamed
But filled with joy and confidence
That we will not be blamed.
Looking for Christ's return
makes a difference in your life.
1 Thessalonians 4:17
From Here To Eternity
We shall always be with the Lord. —1 Thessalonians 4:17
According to a report in an online
journal (disputed by other studies), if one 45-year-old man exercises
regularly through the rest of his life and another guy the same age exists
as a couch potato, the exercising man will live only 10 months longer.
It’s good to take care of our bodies and it makes sense to exercise if
we’re able. But the idea of working hard to extend our live looks futile
when compared with “the ultimate life-extension plan.” According to the
Bible, you can extend your life from here to eternity.
Look at what the apostle Paul told the people at Thessalonica. Trying to
encourage them about Jesus’ return, he wrote, “We who are alive and remain
shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in
the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thess. 4:17).
Astounding! Those who make that quick exit will never die. And even if
Jesus does not return while you are alive, if you know Him as Savior you
will never die spiritually. You have “everlasting life.”
Are you interested in extending your life? Go ahead and exercise. But
don’t forget that the ultimate life-extension plan is salvation through
Jesus—your guarantee of living forever.—Dave Branon
Do you have questions about what
it means to trust in Jesus for eternal life? Read Where
Do We Go From Here?
Give your life to Christ
keep it forever.
1 Thessalonians 4:17
I love the words always and never.
They hold so much hope! I would like to think that I could always be happy
and that life would never fail me. But reality says that I won’t always be
happy and that the things I hope would never happen just might. So, as
good as these words sound, they struggle to live up to their
potential—unless you are thinking about the promise of Jesus’ presence.
To a group of troubled disciples who feared facing life on their own Jesus
said, “I am with you always” (Matt. 28:20). The writer to the Hebrews
reminds us that Jesus said, “‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So
we may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear’” (Heb.
13:5-6). And the apostle Paul assures believers that after death, “We
shall always be with the Lord” (1Th 4:17). How encouraging!
No matter how scary our journey may feel today or how hopeless our future
may look, the assurance of His never-failing presence can provide us with
the courage and comfort to make it through. And best of all, when this
short life is over, we will always be with Him. No wonder Paul encourages
us to “comfort one another with these words” (1Th 4:18). - Joe Stowell
Jesus said He’s always with us,
He will never leave our side;
Someday we’ll be in His presence
Where forever we’ll abide. —Sper
Confidence in God’s presence is our
1 Thessalonians 4:17
... so shall we ever be with the Lord. 1 Thessalonians 4:17
My wife Margaret and I have found it very interesting to walk through
cemeteries. Our children cannot understand, thinking it rather morbid and
gruesome. We don't see it that way — death is a reality, and we might as
well face it. The believer, especially, should be able to look it
"straight in the eye," since Christ has removed its "sting." The real
reason for our strolls, however, is to read the various epitaphs on the
markers. They tell a great deal about a person's past life and his future
hope. We have had many good sermons from the "messages" engraved on
tablets of marble. For instance, First Thessalonians 4:16 is inscribed on
my father's gravestone as a testimony. It speaks of "That Blessed Hope"
which pervaded and influenced his entire ministry and life.
Just a few days ago, we saw a number of markers in a St. Petersburg
cemetery, all bearing the message "Together Forever." The thought struck
me with real force — these words can either express a tremendous blessing
or a terrible fate. I don't know anything about the people buried there;
but if they truly knew the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, the fact that they
— husband and wife — were "together forever" with the Lord was a most
comforting thought. However, if they were not saved, they were "together
forever" all right, but in the place of suffering and separation from God.
This is almost unbearable to contemplate.
First Thessalonians 4:17 tells of the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ when
we who know Him will be caught up together with our loved ones in Christ,
and then "shall we ever be with the Lord." That thought, "together
forever" with Him, certainly brings comfort and joyous anticipation to the
heart of every believer. We would cry out with John in Revelation, "Even
so, come, Lord Jesus" (Rev. 22:20).
When we all get to Heaven,
What a day of rejoicing that will be!
When we all see Jesus,
We'll sing and shout the victory.
—Eliza E. Hewitt
He who is on the road to Heaven
should not be content to go alone!
Life's Final Deadline
"Prepare to meet your God" - Amos 4:12
We're all confronted with deadlines! Bills must be paid, licenses
renewed, tax returns filed-- the list goes on and on.
One deadline we all face is of supreme importance, however. The Bible
says, "It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment"
Except for believers who are living when Jesus returns (1 Thessalonians
4:16-17), everyone will die. And all people from the beginning of history
will stand before God in judgment. How foolish to neglect the preparation
necessary for this inevitable accounting!
In Luke 12, Jesus told a parable of a rich man who planned to build bigger
barns to store all his earthly goods so that he could live out his days in
pleasure and ease. But God unexpectedly announced, "Fool! This night your
soul will be required of you" (Luke 12:20). His ultimate deadline had
Are you ready to meet God? If you've never received Christ, as your
personal Savior, do so without delay! Believe that He shed His blood on
the cross to forgive your sins, and that He conquered death by rising from
the grave. Ask Him to save you. Then you can face life's final deadline
with confidence! - Richard W. De Haan
Life is uncertain,
Death is sure;
Sin the cause,
Christ the cure.- Anon
Don't wait till the 11th hour to repent --you may die at 10:30!
If you believe that Jesus lives, you don't need to fear death.
Nothing is Ever Sure
In November 1975, the huge freighter
Edmund Fitzgerald sank in the cold waters of Lake Superior during a fierce
storm. Only a week before the tragedy, chief steward Robert Rafferty had
written to his wife, "I may be home by November 8. However, nothing is
ever sure." The prophetic irony of his words was noted in a newspaper
article listing the 29 crew members who perished in the disaster.
Not a day passes without a reminder that our earthly life can end at any
moment. All we need to do is read the obituary column. One message comes
through loud and clear: We're here today, but we may be gone tomorrow!
"What is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and
then vanishes away" (James 4:14).
Is our only certainty, then, the sobering prospect that at any moment we
may be thrust into eternity? No! Christ is the anchor of the soul. He paid
the penalty for our sins on the cross. If we admit our guilt before God,
we will receive forgiveness and eternal life by trusting Him. He has
promised to remain with us, even in the hour of death.
Does your earthly life seem futile because "nothing is ever sure"? Then
trust Christ! He provides a joyous certainty about eternity that can be
yours right now.—Dennis J. De Haan
Life is uncertain,
Death is sure,
Sin is the cause,
Christ is the cure! —Anon.
It's never too soon to accept Christ,
but at any moment it could be too
News Bulletin -
The news bulletin commanded attention. Several inmates had escaped from a
penitentiary. They were armed and considered extremely dangerous. A police
spokesman stressed to the community the importance of caution. He said,
"These men are desperate. They have nothing to lose. They have killed and
could kill again."
Deuteronomy 7 contains a far more serious warning. Overall, the passage is
a positive expression of blessing. It shows the willingness of God to help
those who trust Him. But that's not the whole picture. Did you catch the
"news bulletin" in verse 10? The Lord alerted Israel to be on the
lookout—not for bad men roaming the streets but for a good God who will
destroy all those who hate Him.
It's true. Evil men are not the only ones to be feared. We are also to
fear our good God. Even though He is merciful and full of compassion, His
awesome holiness makes all other kinds of fear look mild by comparison.
We might not like to face this sobering truth. But God will not always be
patient with those people who have no love or respect for Him. That's a
news bulletin we can't afford to miss. —Mart De Haan
You've heard the news—there's no
The Lord is coming to make right
The wrongs in this dark world of hate;
So make your choice—come to the Light. —Hess
Live today as if you will stand before God tomorrow.
YOUR LAST DAY
"Let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober."-- 1
What if you were told this morning that today was to be your last day on
earth? How would you spend its fleeting hours? Whom would you insist on
seeing? Would your behavior differ radically from what it usually is?
Someone has wisely said, "You should treat every day as if it's your last
one, because one of these days you're going to be right."
There's no getting around it. Whether our earthly life ends by accident,
illness, the ravages of age, or our Lord's return, one of these days will
be our last. That's why we should guard so carefully the things we do and
the words we say.
We ought to be tying up the loose ends of long-neglected matters by
expressing our love and gratitude to others, by seeking reconciliation
with an alienated friend, or by sharing the gospel with a neighbor.
Perhaps you've even been putting off accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord
and Savior until some more convenient day. But that day may never come.
Since your last day on earth can be so unexpected, heed Paul's inspired
words: "Now is the accepted time; behold now is the day of salvation" (2
Are you living each day as if it were your last?-- Vernon C. Grounds
Believe in Christ, redeem the time,
Prepare without delay;
That death is certain should affect
The way you live today.-- Hess
What would you change if this day were your last?
1 Thessalonians 5:1-22
OUR LORD'S RETURN
Nearly 2,000 years ago Jesus said, "I am coming quickly." Since then, some
have wrongly tried to predict when He will return. Others have scoffed.
Was Jesus wrong? Did something happen that He didn't foresee?
Of course not! We view time from the perspective of our own brief life
span. But to the eternal God, "One day is as a thousand years, and a
thousand years as one day" (2 Pet. 3:8).
Jesus told His disciples that God had not given them specific information
about "times or seasons" (Acts 1:7). He wanted them -- as He wants us --
to live in an attitude of expectation. Paul echoed this when he spoke of
Christ's return as "the blessed hope" (Ti. 2:13).
But how do we live expectantly? Jesus instructed the disciples to be
witnesses to all the world (Acts 1:8). Paul said, "Watch and be sober" (1
Th. 5:6) and love other believers (vv. 12-15). John urged us to walk in
close fellowship with Jesus (1 Jn. 2:28-3:3) and to purify ourselves so
that we will "not be ashamed before Him at His coming" (2:28).
The Lord's any-moment return is no cause for date-setting but for watchful
expectation. Let's serve Him in every aspect of our lives, and one day
we'll hear Him say, "Well
done, good and faithful servant" (Mt. 25:21).- Herbert Vander Lugt
Blessed are those whom the Lord finds
In His glory they shall share;
If He shall come at the dawn or midnight,
Will He find us watching there?-- Crosby
A watching Christian will be a working Christian
1 Thessalonians 5:6ff
During the Revolutionary War, a
loyalist spy appeared at the headquarters of Hessian commander Colonel
Johann Rall, carrying an urgent message. General George Washington and his
Continental army had secretly crossed the Delaware River that morning and
were advancing on Trenton, New Jersey where the Hessians were encamped.
The spy was denied an audience with the commander and instead wrote his
message on a piece of paper. A porter took the note to the Hessian
colonel, but because Rall was involved in a poker game he stuffed the
unread note into his pocket.
When the guards at the Hessian camp began firing their muskets in a futile
attempt to stop Washington’s army, Rall was still playing cards. Without
time to organize, the Hessian army was captured. The battle occurred the
day after Christmas, 1776, giving the colonists a late present—their first
major victory of the war. (Today in the Word, MBI, October, 1991, p21)
Is There Any Hope?
On December 17, 1927, a submarine sank
off Provincetown, Massachusetts, and forty crewmen died. In the failed
rescue attempt, one diver heard a trapped sailor tap out a pathetic
question in Morse code: "Is there any hope?"
The disciples must have been asking the same question at their last meal
with Jesus. The One they loved the most was going away to a place where
they could not immediately follow.
Although packing His bags to leave, He promised to return for them. When
they least expected it, He would walk up the front path, climb the porch
steps, and knock boldly on the door. Jesus told His disciples to feed on
that hope because He was the hope for years to come.
This hope became a major theme of the New Testament. In essence, Paul
pictured Christians skydiving in reverse, free falling upward through the
clouds, reaching out their hands to His, and floating into eternity (1
Thessalonians 4:17). Peter proclaimed a sure hope because of Christ's
resurrection (1 Peter 1:3) and challenged everyone to be ready to give a
reason for that hope (3:15).
Until Jesus returns we have a message for those sleepwalking on trails
that lead to a hopeless end. We on the other road—the one of endless
hope—must awaken them with our shouts of joy, "He is the Christ. He is
coming again. He is our hope!"
1 Thessalonians 5:11
An 89-year-old man who enjoys creating
new words to describe old problems calls a person who finds fault with
everything an againstovist. "Whatever you suggest," he says, "that person
is against it, and will find something wrong with everything you do."
I have pondered his words and too often find myself guilty of being the
kind of person he describes. What I would like to call being a "realist"
is, in truth, more like being an "againstovist." And that is not pleasing
In the 58th chapter of Isaiah, the prophet said that the sacrificial
lifestyle God desires includes: "to undo the heavy burdens, to let the
oppressed go free" (v.6), to "take away the yoke from your midst, the
pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness" (v.9).
If I'm oppressing someone by my critical spirit and stinging words, then
God says it's time for me to change. He doesn't want me to find fault; He
wants me to give freedom and release. Instead of pointing an accusing
finger, I am to lend a helping hand.
I can't think of a new word to describe the person who lifts burdens and
gives freedom, but I'm sure my friend can. And I hope that word describes
me. — David McCasland
It was only a sunny smile
And little it cost in the giving,
But it scattered the night like morning light
And made the day worth living. —Anon.
Build people up—don't tear them down.
1 Thessalonians 5:11
What Type Are You?
There are two types of people in the
world," someone once said, "those who come into a room and say, 'Here I
am!' and those who come in and say, 'Ah, there you are!'"
How different are those two approaches! One says, "Look at me! I need
attention"; the other says, "Tell me about yourself." One says, "I'm
important"; the other says, "You are important." One says, "The world
revolves around me"; the other says, "I'm here to serve you."
Wouldn't it be great to be known as that second kind of person—someone
others love to have around? Someone who displays the love of Christ openly
The New Testament gives us some practical suggestions about becoming the
kind of person who demonstrates Christ's love. We are told to give
preference to one another (Romans 12:10), edify one another (Romans
14:19), care for one another (1 Corinthians 12:25), serve one another
(Galatians 5:13), bear one another's burdens (Galatians 6:2), forgive one
another (Colossians 3:13), comfort one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11), and
pray for one another (James 5:16).
There should be only one kind of Christian: the "love one another" kind.
What type are you? —Dave Branon
Lord, teach us the secret of loving,
The love You are asking today;
Then help us to love one another;
For this we most earnestly pray. —Anon.
People with a heart for God have a heart for people.
Opening the Door
But we request of you, brethren, that
you appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over
you in the Lord and give you instruction, and that you esteem them very
highly in love because of their work. - 1Thessalonians 5:12-13
When my wife and I went out to lunch
with some friends, I noticed that the husband went around to the passenger
side of the car and opened the door for his wife. I said to him, "Some
women might consider that demeaning." "That's right," he said. "One woman
saw me do that and remarked, 'I'm sure she's perfectly capable of opening
the door for herself!' I told her, 'I don't open the door for my wife
because she's incapable. I do it to honor her.'"
Jesus treated women with the utmost respect and honor (John 4:1-38;
8:3-11; 19:25-27). Likewise, in 1 Peter 3:7, husbands are instructed to
live with their wives "with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to
the weaker vessel." Men and women both have their weaknesses, but in
general, women are physically weaker than men and have unique needs and
sensitivities. This in no way means they are inferior. In fact, Peter said
that as Christians, men and women are "heirs together of the grace of
life" (1Peter 3:7).
Opening a door for a woman may seem to some like an old-fashioned
courtesy. But it can also be a wonderful tribute to both the man and the
woman if it symbolizes the honor and respect one has for the other.
—Dennis J. De Haan
THINKING IT OVER
Read Romans 12:10 and Philippians 2:3.
How can you apply the truths of these verses
to male and female relationships?
We honor God when we honor one another.
THE CHURCH CURE
Be at peace among yourselves.1 Thessalonians 5:13
There don't seem to be many things that people agree on these days, but I
have recently noticed a general consensus about at least two items: People
are recognizing that violence is a growing problem and that smoking truly
is a health hazard.
A couple of recent surveys show, however, that the government may not be
the best place to find answers for these two problems. In a 1993 issue of
the Family Research Report, one study indicated that those who attend
church regularly smoke less than the general population. Likewise, church
go ing was seen as a key characteristic of violence-free families. Merely
walking through church doors, of course, does not change us. But the
truths taught in the church, as well as the encouragement from other
God-fearing people, do affect us (1Thes 5:14-22). We can worship our God,
grow in our walk with Him, and surround ourselves with others who love
Him. These are great incentives to do what is right.
Attending church does not make us perfect. But following God's teaching
and worshiping the Lord will certainly go a long way toward making us
better.- J. David Brannon
Our week is deficient without this one
goal: To honor the Lord's Day and nourish our soul; The help that we need
for the trials we face Will come as we worship and draw on God's grace. -
Dennis J. De Haan
To keep growing in Christ,
keep going to church.
1 Thessalonians 5:12-24
Imagine what the game of bowling would
be like if you couldn’t see the pins you were trying to hit. In 1933, Bill
Knox did just that—and bowled a perfect game.
In Philadelphia’s Olney Alleys, Bill had a screen placed just above the
foul line to obscure his view of the lane. His purpose was to demonstrate
the technique of spot bowling, which involves throwing the ball at a
selected floor mark on the near end of the lane. Like many bowlers, Bill
knew that you can do better if you aim at a mark close to you that’s in
line with the pins. He proved his point with a perfect 300 game of 12
strikes in a row.
Spot bowling illustrates part of a wise approach to life. When Paul wrote
to the Thessalonians about the return of Christ, he reminded them that the
ultimate goal of their salvation was to “be preserved blameless at the
coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1Thes 5:23). Paul taught them to focus
their eyes on near actions that were in line with that goal. He urged them
to comfort one another, help the weak, warn the wayward, pray without
ceasing, and rejoice always. Then he added that we must do this in the
power of Christ who is working in us (vv. 23-24).
Lord, help us to see what we can do today that will keep us focused on
Your eternal goal for us. - M. R. De Haan II
1 Thessalonians 5:14
Imagine what bowling would be like if
you couldn't see the pins. Well, in 1933 Bill Knox bowled just such a
game—and had a perfect score!
The event took place in Philadelphia. Bill wanted to demonstrate the
technique of spot bowling, in which you throw the ball at a mark on the
floor just beyond the foul line. He had a screen placed over the lane so
he couldn't see the pins at the far end but could still see the marks. He
knew that a bowler can throw more accurately when aiming at a mark that is
close rather than at pins a long way off. He proved his point by bowling a
perfect game of 300—12 strikes in a row!
Spot bowling reminds me of Paul's words in today's Bible reading. He told
the Thessalonian believers that the ultimate goal of their salvation was
to "be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1
Thessalonians 5:23). Although this could be done only by Christ, who was
working in them (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24), their part was to focus on
"near actions" that were in line with that end. He urged them to comfort
one another, help the weak, warn the wayward, pray without ceasing, and
rejoice always (1 Thessalonians 5:12-22).
Lord, help us to concentrate on what we can do today to stay in line with
Your eternal goal for us. —Mart De Haan II —Mart De Haan
Thinking It Over
Which admonitions in 1 Thessalonians 5 do you find difficult to obey? Why?
What can you do to overcome that difficulty?
Keep eternity's goal in sight by walking daily in God's light.
G Campbell Morgan
Rejoice alway; pray
without ceasing; in everything give thanks.-- 1Thess 5.16-17
These three injunctions stand out in clear light upon this last page of
the letter. Probably without design on the part of the writer they are
closely related to the threefold description of the Christian experience
with which the letter opens. In a work of faith they had turned to God; in
all that such a revolution meant let them "rejoice always." In a labour of
love they were serving the living God; let them maintain that service by
remembering to "pray without ceasing." In patience of hope they were
waiting for the Son from heaven; let them, therefore, "in every-thing give
thanks." The one secret of true and constant joy is that of our right
relation with God. To be reconciled to Him, to have access to Him, to
stand in His favor—these are the results of turning to Him; and these are
the things that make for perpetual joy. The one reason for prayer which is
at once acceptable to God and of prevailing power, is that of a maintained
service. To practice our fellowship thus, is to prevail in whatever labour
He appoints. The one cause for perpetual thanksgiving is that upon all the
shadowed pathway there shines the light of the glory that is to be
revealed when the Son shall come again. Concerning all these injunctions
the Apostle said: "This is the will of God in Christ Jesus to you-ward."
That is our strength--God's will, and the enablement of Christ Jesus!
(Life Applications from Every Chapter of the Bible).
1 Thessalonians 5:17
A pastor was asked to call on a woman
in a psychiatric hospital and pray for her. After his visit, he thought
how good it would be for somebody to go there regularly and pray for the
residents. The "somebody" turned out to be him. On a table in one of the
wards, he put up a sign saying "Free Prayer." Later he recalled, "Suddenly
I had 15 people standing in line to get prayed for."
People often ask for our prayers, but do we faithfully pray for them? Many
times we see others in great need but find it easier to discuss their
plight with friends rather than to intercede for them. But people need and
want our prayers.
Paul concluded his call to put on "the whole armor of God" (Ephesians
6:13-17) by writing, "Praying always with all prayer and supplication in
the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and
supplication for all the saints" (v.18).
Oswald Chambers often referred to prayer as "the ministry of the interior"
and said, "There is no snare, or any danger of infatuation or pride in
intercession; it is a hidden ministry that brings forth fruit whereby the
Father is glorified."
Faithful prayer—whether in public or private—is one of the greatest gifts
we can give others.—David C. McCasland
To give to others what they need,
We show no greater care
Than when we give them to the Lord,
Upholding them in prayer. —D. De Haan
Our intercession may be the key to God's intervention.
1 Thessalonians 5:17
Is It Time To Pray?
When people face trials, they often
turn to prayer only as a last resort. I knew a man who was fighting a
valiant battle with cancer. As people observed the gradual effect on his
body and lifestyle, one person said, "Well, they've tried everything else.
I guess it's time to begin praying."
Another man was going through an extremely difficult time at work. It was
a crisis of major proportions that had ominous implications for him and
for the future of his company. He just couldn't resolve it. Finally he
said, "I've tried everything I know to get through this situation and
nothing has worked. It's time to start praying."
In both of these instances, prayer was seen as a last-ditch effort to
resolve the problem. Only after all other options were eliminated did the
person decide to pray. It was a desperate "grasping at straws."
Instead of prayer being a last resort, it should be one of the first
things we do. The Lord answers prayer, and He wants us to come to Him
continually with all of our needs (1 Thessalonians 5:17). The Bible tells
us to "be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer . . . let your
requests be made known to God" (Philippians 4:6).
So don't wait. It's always time to pray. —David C. Egner
Any hour when helping others
Or when bearing heavy care
Is the time to call our Father—
It's the proper time for prayer. —Zimmerman
Prayer should be our first response rather than our last resort.
1 Thessalonians 5:17
Pray as God Would Have Us Pray
British writer Samuel Chadwick had this
to say: “To pray as God would have us pray is the greatest achievement on
earth. Such a prayer life costs. It takes time. All praying saints have
spent hours every day in prayer. In these days, there is no time to pray;
but without time, and a lot of it, we shall never learn to pray.” - H G Bosch
1 Thessalonians 5:17-18
Psalms, Incense, Praise
The well-known English preacher Charles
H. Spurgeon (1834-1892) wrote something that would be good to remember at
the start of each day: "Let your thoughts be psalms, your prayers incense,
and your breath praise." Let's look at each of these phrases.
Let your thoughts be psalms. The 150
psalms have a variety of themes, including praise, God's character, and
expressions of dependence on the Lord. Throughout the day we can turn our
thoughts into psalms by meditating on God's holiness, His worthiness of
our worship, and how much we need Him.
Let your prayers be incense. In the tabernacle of the Jews, incense was
burned continually to offer a sweet savor to the Lord (Exodus 30:7-8). Our
prayers are like incense to God (Psalm 141:2), bringing to His nostrils
the pleasing scent of our adoration and need for Him.
Let your breath be praise. The book of Psalms concludes with the words,
"Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord!" (Psalm
150:6). Talking about God and offering Him words of praise should be as
natural to us as breathing.
Keep the Lord in your thoughts, prayers, and speech today. —David C. Egner
Worship, praise, and adoration
All belong to Jesus' name;
Freely give your heart's devotion,
Constantly His love proclaim. —Anon.
A heart filled with praise brings pleasure to God.
1 Thessalonians 5:17-18
Glad to be Home
In wintertime, a condition known as a
"whiteout" sometimes occurs along the Lake Michigan shoreline. The air
becomes so filled with powdery snow that you can't see more than a few
feet ahead. You feel totally helpless, especially if you're driving, and
that's what we were doing on a bitterly cold December day.
Our family had been invited to my sister's house for Christmas dinner. As
we headed west toward Lake Michigan, the weather became treacherous, but
we made it to our destination. Later, however, as we were driving home
after dark, the situation grew even worse. The expressway was covered with
ice, traffic slowed to a crawl, and several cars were in the ditch. Then
all at once we were enveloped by a brief whiteout. Believe me, it was
frightening. After a slow, tedious journey, we finally reached Grand
Rapids and pulled into our driveway. I think every member of the family
said, "I'm sure glad to get home!"
I wonder if we'll have a similar feeling when we enter heaven. The
dangerous "whiteouts" of our earthly journey will be over. The
temptations, stresses, and failures will all be in the past. Best of all,
we'll be safe with our Savior.
Yes, we'll be so glad to get home!—David C. Egner
When we all get to heaven,
What a day of rejoicing that will be!
When we all see Jesus,
We'll sing and shout the victory.
Heaven for the Christian is best spelled H-O-M-E.
1 Thessalonians 5:18
A Flat Thanks
In everything give thanks.- 1 Thessalonians 5:18
The day before Christmas became a thanksgiving day for my family. The
station wagon was packed with kids and travel stuff for the 400-mile trip
to Grandma's. As is our custom, before leaving we asked God to protect us
on the road. He did, but in an unusual way.
As we were cruising down I-75 in Ohio, we ran over some debris in the
road. It made a lot of noise, bud did no damage - or so we thought. With
every passing mile we figured that the crises had passed. When we pulled
off the expressway for gas a few miles later, though, we were in for a
deflating surprise. I felt a sickening, sloppy feeling in front of the
car. Both front tires had gone flat. We weren't happy with having to
replace the tires, but we were thankful for God's care. Thankful that we
didn't have an accident. Thankful that the tires stayed inflated until we
got off the expressway. Thankful for the tow truck sitting at the gas
station. Thankful that a repair shop was open. We were thankful for God's
answer to our prayer.
Our trials, were nothing compared with what the apostle Paul endured. yet
he gave thanks to God, and he said we should be thankful "in everything."
Any day can be thanksgiving day, even when things go wrong.- J. David
We should be ready to give the Lord
for blessing as well as for test;
Hearts that are thankful is all that He asks;
Let's trust Him to give what is best.- Bierema
Quote for the Day: If you pause to think, you'll have cause to thank.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 -
How thankful we can be that we serve a God who is sovereign, loving,
all-wise, and all-powerful. Nothing frustrates Him. Nothing stops Him.
Nothing escapes His attention. He can take all things—both good and
bad—and work them together for the benefit of His children. This truth
not only gives us great confidence, joy, and peace, but it also enables us
to give thanks "in everything" (1 Thess 5:18).
"God's plan leaves nothing out. All things . . . work together for
good—all things, even trials, at which we murmur and complain. The storms
which threaten to uproot the trees really root them more firmly and deeply
in the soil. The blows that one might think would make the cast-iron
brittle really cause it to undergo a sort of [tempering] and increase its
strength and tenacity. The enforced rest of sorrow and pain, sickness and
disappointment, John Ruskin compares to the rest in which there is no
music, but the making of music; not the end of the tune, but a pause in
the choral hymn of our lives, during which the Divine Musician beats the
time with unvarying count, catching up the next note as if no
breaking-place had come between" (A. T. Pierson, Vital Union with Christ).
When we love the Lord and pass through deep waters, we can give thanks
because we know that all things, even the bad, are working together for
our good. —R.W.D.
God causes many a tight place to open into the right place.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 -
A story is told about a vendor who sold bagels for 50 cents each at a
street corner food stand. A jogger ran past and threw a couple of quarters
into the bucket but didn’t take a bagel. He did the same thing every day
for months. One day, as the jogger was passing by, the vendor stopped him.
The jogger asked, “You probably want to know why I always put money in but
never take a bagel, don’t you?” “No,” said the vendor. “I just wanted to
tell you that the bagels have gone up to 60 cents.”
Too often, as believers, we treat God with that same kind of attitude. Not
only are we ungrateful for what He’s given us—but we want more. Somehow we
feel that God owes us good health, a comfortable life, material blessings.
Of course, God doesn’t owe us anything, yet He gives us everything.
G.K. Chesterton wrote, “Here dies another day, during which I have had
eyes, ears, hands, and the great world round me. And with tomorrow begins
another. Why am I allowed two?” The psalmist said, “This is the day the
Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it” (Ps. 118:24).
Each day, whether good or bad, is one more gift from our God. Our grateful
response should be to live to please Him. —Cindy Hess Kasper
Living for Jesus a life that is true,
Striving to please Him in all that I do;
Yielding allegiance, glad-hearted and free,
This is the pathway of blessing for me. —Chisholm
Life is a gift from God to be lived for God.
1 Thessalonians 5:18
Just the Right Amount
A woman who prepared meals for hungry
farm workers during the harvest season would watch them consume every bit
of food on the table. Then she'd say, "Good. I fixed just the right
Many of us struggle to feel that way about the resources entrusted to us.
At the end of a meal or the end of a month, do we really believe that God
has given us enough? When we pray, "Give us this day our daily bread"
(Matthew 6:11), how much do we expect God to supply? As much as we want?
Or as much as we need?
Health experts say that a key to good nutrition is eating until we feel
satisfied, not until we are stuffed full. In every area of life, there is
a difference between genuine hunger and having a greedy appetite. So
often, we want just a little more.
In Jesus' teaching on prayer, He said: "Your Father knows the things you
have need of before you ask Him. Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What
shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?'"
As the Lord supplies our needs, perhaps we should see His provision from a
new perspective and determine to express our thanks by saying, "Father,
You gave me just the right amount."—David C. McCasland
Thanks, O God, for boundless mercy
From Thy gracious throne above;
Thanks for every need provided
From the fullness of Thy love! —Storm
When it's time to breathe a prayer of thanks, don't hold your breath.
1 Thessalonians 5:18
The following humorous story appears in
the autobiography of Clarence E. Macartney: As two men were walking
through a field one day, they spotted an enraged bull. Instantly they
darted toward the nearest fence. The storming bull followed in hot
pursuit, and it was soon apparent they wouldn’t make it. Terrified, the
one shouted to the other, “Put up a prayer, John. We’re in for it!” John
answered, “I can’t. I’ve never made a public prayer in my life.” “But you
must!” implored his companion. “The bull is catching up to us.” “All
right,” panted John, “I’ll say the only prayer I know, the one my father
used to repeat at the table: ‘O Lord, for what we are about to receive,
make us truly thankful.’”
This fictitious story suggests a valuable truth. No matter how severe
trial, Christians should give thanks in everything. - R W De Haan
In Lansing, Michigan, during the winter, we don’t get many sunny days. But
last year God blessed us with one of those beautiful days, and it seemed
that almost everyone was thanking God, except me. As I left my office, a
man said, “What a wonderful day we’re having. This is a gift from God!” To
which I replied, “Yes, but we’re getting snow later this week.” What
In his letters, the apostle Paul helped his readers to develop a
theology of gratitude. He wrote about thanksgiving more often than any
other New Testament author. From the 23 times he used the word, we learn a
few lessons about thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving was always directed toward God and never toward
people. People were gifts from God, and Paul thanked God for their growth,
love, and faith (1 Cor. 1:4; 1 Thess. 1:2).
Thanksgiving is given through Jesus for everything (Col. 3:15,17).
Paul believed followers of Jesus could be thankful for everything because
God is sovereign, and He is working things out for the believers’ good (1
May we intentionally be aware of God’s gifts all around us, and
respond with gratitude. In response to God’s gifts, it’s natural to say,
“Thank You, Lord.”
Lord, for days that are sunny or gray we simply
want to say, Thank You! And for the daily grace
You give us in Your Son, may we always be faithful
to say, Thank You! You are so good to us.
Gratitude is a natural response to God’s grace.
1 Thessalonians 5:18
A Gratitude Visit
Counting your blessings promotes good
physical health, according to a study by some US doctors. Volunteers who
kept weekly gratitude journals reported fewer aches and pains than those
who recorded daily hassles or neutral events.
A "gratitude visit" was developed by Dr. Martin E. P. Seligman to promote
strong emotional health. He tells people to think of someone who has made
an important difference in their lives. He asks them to write the story of
how that person has helped them, and then to visit that person and read
the story aloud. Tests show that a year later the people who had done so
were happier and reported fewer episodes of depression. Even more
important, think of what it must have done for those who were thanked!
The apostle Paul had a long list of people who had helped him and for whom
he was grateful (Rom. 16:1-16). He wrote that Phoebe had "been a helper,"
Priscilla and Aquila had "risked their own necks" for his life, and Mary
had "labored much" for him. And he took time to write his thanks in a
letter to the church at Rome.
Who has helped to shape your life? Could you make a gratitude visit—for
their sake, and for yours? —Anne Cetas
Consider what the Lord has done
Through those who've shown you love;
Then thank them for their faithful deeds,
For blessings from above. —Sper
Gratitude should not be an occasional incident but a continuous attitude.
1 Thessalonians 5:18
Mary Chestnut's father-in-law had the
enduring habit of returning thanks after his meals. As he left the table
he would invariably say, "I thank God for a good dinner." When asked why
he didn't pray prior to eating, he replied “My way is to be sure of a
thing before I return thanks for it."
Christians never fear that giving
thanks involves a gamble. Their experience verifies that nothing will ever
be more certain than God's provisions for life. The feeding of the four
and five thousand people offers a parable of God's provisions. After
everyone had eaten to complete satisfaction, seven and twelve basketsful
remained. Left over! Ready to serve to others! That's what Jesus
accomplishes with those who commit themselves to him. For the use of
Peter's boat, Jesus filled the nets so full of fish they began to tear and
the boats nearly to sink. The divine bounty proved so lavish it threatened
disaster! If that for the use of a boat, what will God give for the use of
1 Thessalonians 5:18
A young woman named Anne Steele had
encountered one trial and disappointment after another. Being a devout
Christian, she continuously sought to praise God—even in sorrow. She was
engaged to be married, and had looked forward to her wedding day with
eagerness. The big day finally arrived and so did the guests—but the groom
was missing. After about an hour of waiting, a messenger brought the
tragic news that Anne’s fiancé had drowned. The sudden shock was almost
too much for her, but after a while she regained her spiritual composure.
Later Anne Steele penned the song that is still found in many hymnbooks:
Father, whate’er of earthly bliss Thy
sovereign will denies,
Accepted at Thy throne of grace, let this petition rise:
Give me a calm, a thankful heart, from every murmur free!
The blessings of Thy grace impart, and make me live to Thee.
- H G Bosch
1 Thessalonians 5:19
Samuel Baker tells of a regiment dying
of thirst in the Arabian Desert. In the distance they thought they saw
water, but their Arabian guide warned it was only a mirage. They argued,
the guide was killed, and the whole regiment rushed toward the water. Mile
after mile, the mirage led the thirsty troops deeper into the desert. Too
late they realized the truth. They died pursuing a fantasy. (Moody
Monthly, September 1984)
Test the Teachers
Revelation. To some people, it's more
than just the name of the last book of the Bible. To some self-promoting
preachers, revelation is something God personally gives to them. In most
cases, however, what they say God has given them contradicts His teachings
in the Bible.
Have you ever been exposed to those who claim to have had a special
"revelation" or "word" from God? If so, be careful. Unless what a person
proclaims as truth can be verified by the clear teaching of the Bible, it
is personal opinion at best and heresy at worst—not divine revelation.
The Scriptures warn us not to add to nor take away from what God has
revealed to us in His written Word. Deuteronomy 4:2 tells us, "You shall
not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it." Similar
warnings are found in Deuteronomy 12:32, Proverbs 30:5-6, and Revelation
22:18. It is indeed a precarious position for a person to put himself
in—claiming to add to God's inspired Book.
If someone attempts to teach a doctrine not found in the Bible, beware—no
matter how polished and well-known the person is. Test the teachers you
hear by God's Word. If they talk of receiving a revelation, make sure they
aren't violating God's clear warnings. —Dave Branon
God's Word must verify the truth
Of what is wrong and what is right,
And test what seems so real to me
Of feelings, sense, and sight. —D. De Haan
Test all teaching by the truth of God's Word.
1 Thessalonians 5:23–24
Meyer, F. B. Our Daily Homily
The God of Peace Himself sanctify you
Our God has set Himself the work of our
sanctification. As the Greek indicates, He looks upon us as his
inheritance, and He will not rest until He has brought every acre of
territory under cultivation. It is not enough that briars and thistles
should be exterminated; they must be replaced by the rare growth of
Christian virtue, which is Christ.
The work of sanctification is quiet
and silent. — It is wrought
by the God of Peace. The mightiest forces of nature are stilled; and when
God comes with power into the human spirit there is often no hurricane,
tempest, fire, or earthquake, but the thrilling whisper of the still,
small voice. Do not be afraid, as though God would treat you roughly. So
long as peaceful, gentle methods will effect his purpose, He will gladly
The work is also gradual. —
We are not made faultless, but preserved blameless; i.e., we are kept from
known sin, preserved from incurring perpetual self-reproach. “There is no
condemnation.” I saw the other day the love-letter of a little boy to his
father. It was anything but faultless; but the father, at least, did not
count it worthy of blame, since he carried it next his heart. So we are
not to be faultless, as judged by God’s perfect standard, till we are
presented before the presence of his glory; but we may be blameless up to
our acquaintance with the Divine will.
The work is from within outwards. —
Notice the order — spirit, soul, body. The Shechinah of his presence
shines in the holy of holies, and thence pours over into the holy place,
and so into the outer court, until the very curtains of the body are
irradiated with its light. He will do it.
The Cost of Sanctification
When we pray, asking God to sanctify
us, are we prepared to measure up to what that really means? We take the
word sanctification much too lightly. Are we prepared to pay the cost of
sanctification? The cost will be a deep restriction of all our earthly
concerns, and an extensive cultivation of all our godly concerns.
Sanctification means to be intensely focused on God’s point of view. It
means to secure and to keep all the strength of our body, soul, and spirit
for God’s purpose alone. Are we really prepared for God to perform in us
everything for which He separated us? And after He has done His work, are
we then prepared to separate ourselves to God just as Jesus did? "For
their sakes I sanctify Myself . . ." (John 17:19). The reason some of us
have not entered into the experience of sanctification is that we have not
realized the meaning of sanctification from God’s perspective.
Sanctification means being made one with Jesus so that the nature that
controlled Him will control us. Are we really prepared for what that will
cost? It will cost absolutely everything in us which is not of God.
Are we prepared to be caught up into the full meaning of Paul’s prayer in
this verse? Are we prepared to say, "Lord, make me, a sinner saved by
grace, as holy as You can"? Jesus prayed that we might be one with Him,
just as He is one with the Father (see John 17:21-23 ). The resounding
evidence of the Holy Spirit in a person’s life is the unmistakable family
likeness to Jesus Christ, and the freedom from everything which is not
like Him. Are we prepared to set ourselves apart for the Holy Spirit’s
work in us? (Chambers, O: My Utmost for His Highest)
God Is Faithful
At the end of every year, I set aside
some time to review the previous 12 months and record God's faithfulness
to me and my family. I may leaf through a calendar, my appointment book,
or prayer diary to jog my memory. Then, on a piece of paper labeled "God's
Faithfulness" I'll write everything that comes to mind as evidence of
God's love and care. It's a wonderful way to look back at the year and
look forward to a fresh beginning.
My list will certainly include instances of God's grace and provision. But
it will also chronicle God's presence during times of difficulty and
disappointment. And it must include my failures and sins, which He has
been "faithful and just" to forgive (1 John 1:9).
The prophet Jeremiah found that God's trustworthiness appeared as a light
during the darkness of desperate circumstances. In his lament over the
destruction of Jerusalem, Jeremiah wrote, "Through the Lord's mercies we
are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every
morning; great is Your faithfulness" (Lamentations 3:22-23).
Today, why not take time to record God's faithfulness to you and thank Him
for it. —David McCasland —David C. McCasland
Lord, help us bring to mind each day
Past blessings that You've sent our way;
And may these blessings from above
Remind us of Your faithful love. —D. De Haan
Adding up your blessings will multiply your joy.
Prayer is a conversation with God, not
a formula. Yet sometimes we might need to use a "method" to freshen up our
prayer time. We can pray the Psalms or other Scriptures (such as The
Lord's Prayer), or use the ACTS method (Adoration, Confession,
Thanksgiving, and Supplication). I recently came across this "Five-Finger
Prayer" to use as a guide when praying for others:
When you fold your hands, the thumb is nearest you. So begin by praying
for those closest to you—your loved ones (Philippians 1:3-5).
The index finger is the pointer. Pray
for those who teach—Bible teachers and preachers, and those who teach
children (1 Thessalonians 5:25).
The next finger is the tallest. It
reminds you to pray for those in authority over you—national and local
leaders, and your supervisor at work (1 Timothy 2:1-2).
The fourth finger is usually the
weakest. Pray for those who are in trouble or who are suffering (James
Then comes your little finger. It reminds you of your smallness in
relation to God's greatness. Ask Him to supply your needs (Philippians
Whatever method you use, just talk with
your Father. He wants to hear what's on your heart.—Anne Cetas
Our prayers ascend to heaven's throne
Regardless of the form we use;
Our Father always hears His own
Regardless of the words we choose. —D. De Haan
It's not the words we pray that matter,
it's the condition of our heart.