SET APART

He went all over the area around the Jordan River preaching a baptism of changed hearts and lives for the forgiveness of sins. LUKE 3:3

John the Baptist would never get hired today. No church would touch him. He was a public relations disaster. He “wore clothes made from camel’s hair, had a leather belt around his waist, and ate locusts and wild honey” (Mark 1:6). Who would want to look at a guy like that every Sunday?

His message was as rough as his dress: a no-nonsense, bare-fisted challenge to repent because God was on his way.

John the Baptist set himself apart for one task, to be a voice of Christ. Everything about John centered on his purpose. His dress. His diet. His actions. His demands.

You don’t have to be like the world to have an impact on the world. You don’t have to be like the crowd to change the crowd. You don’t have to lower yourself down to their level to lift them up to your level. Holiness doesn’t seek to be odd. Holiness seeks to be like God.

from A GENTLE THUNDER

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God’s Priority

Depend on the LORD; trust him, and he will take care of you. PSALM 37:5

God is committed to caring for our needs. Paul tells us that a man who won’t feed his own family is worse than an unbeliever (1 Tim. 5:8). How much more will a holy God care for his children? After all, how can we fulfill his mission unless our needs are met? How can we teach or minister or influence unless we have our basic needs satisfied? Will God enlist us in his army and not provide a commissary? Of course not.

“I pray that the God of peace will give you everything you need so you can do what he wants” (Heb. 13:20). Hasn’t that prayer been answered in our life? We may not have had a feast, but haven’t we always had food? Perhaps there was no banquet, but at least there was bread. And many times there was a banquet.

The Great House of God

I Come Quickly

“He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” (Revelation 22:20)

This is the next-to-the-last verse in the Bible, and it contains the last promise in the Bible. The final promise of the Lord is that He would come back to earth again “quickly,” but it has been almost 2,000 years since He made the promise, and He hasn’t come yet. Evidently, the word “quickly.” as He used it, did not mean “immediately.”

As a matter-of-fact, this promise appears no less than six times here in Revelation (Revelation 2:5, 16; 3:11; 22:7, 12, 20). The first three are in Christ’s messages to the churches at Ephesus, Pergamos, and Philadelphia, respectively. The last three are in His final message to all churches (Revelation 22:16).

The Lord Jesus has not forgotten His promise for “all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us” (2 Corinthians 1:20). Furthermore, many spiritual believers in every previous generation have been looking for His coming “quickly,” as He promised, yet they all have died before its fulfillment.

It seems evident that “quickly” must be understood in the sense of “suddenly.” It may well be “in such an hour as ye think not” (Matthew 24:44), and it will occur “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye” (1 Corinthians 15:52), when it happens. It does seem that all the signs of the nearness of His sudden coming are being fulfilled today, except perhaps one. “And the gospel must first be published among all nations” (Mark 13:10), “for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matthew 24:14).

Even this is now being done, it seems. In any case, it is vitally important that we “abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we . . . not be ashamed before him at his coming” (1 John 2:28). “Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!” HMM

This woman gained comfort in her misery

“And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their master’s table.” Matthew 15:27

This woman gained comfort in her misery by thinking GREAT THOUGHTS OF CHRIST. The Master had talked about the children’s bread: “Now,” argued she, “since Thou art the Master of the table of grace, I know that Thou art a generous housekeeper, and there is sure to be abundance of bread on Thy table; there will be such an abundance for the children that there will be crumbs to throw on the floor for the dogs, and the children will fare none the worse because the dogs are fed.”

She thought Him one who kept so good a table that all that she needed would only be a crumb in comparison; yet remember, what she wanted was to have the devil cast out of her daughter. It was a very great thing to her, but she had such a high esteem of Christ, that she said, “It is nothing to Him, it is but a crumb for Christ to give.” This is the royal road to comfort.

Great thoughts of your sin alone will drive you to despair; but great thoughts of Christ will pilot you into the haven of peace. “My sins are many, but oh! it is nothing to Jesus to take them all away. The weight of my guilt presses me down as a giant’s foot would crush a worm, but it is no more than a grain of dust to Him, because He has already borne its curse in His own body on the tree.

It will be but a small thing for Him to give me full remission, although it will be an infinite blessing for me to receive it.” The woman opens her soul’s mouth very wide, expecting great things of Jesus, and He fills it with His love. Dear reader, do the same. She confessed what Christ laid at her door, but she laid fast hold upon Him, and drew arguments even out of His hard words; she believed great things of Him,
and she thus overcame Him.

SHE WON THE VICTORY BY BELIEVING IN HIM. Her case is an instance of prevailing faith; and if we would conquer like her, we must imitate her tactics.

He never deserted them

“Then all the disciples forsook Him and fled.” Matthew 26:56

He never deserted them, but they in cowardly fear of their lives, fled from Him in the very beginning of His sufferings. This is but one instructive instance of the frailty of all believers if left to themselves;they are but sheep at the best, and they flee when the wolf cometh.

They had all been warned of the danger, and had promised to die rather than leave their Master; and yet they were seized with sudden panic, and took to their heels. It may be, that I, at the opening of this day, have braced up my mind to bear a trial for the Lord’s sake, and I imagine myself to be certain to exhibit perfect fidelity; but let me be very jealous of myself, lest having the same evil heart of unbelief, I should depart from my Lord as the apostles did.

It is one thing to promise, and quite another to perform. It would have been to their eternal honour to have stood at Jesus’ side right manfully; they fled from honour; may I be kept from imitating them! Where else could they have been so safe as near their Master, who could presently call for twelve legions of angels? They fled from their true safety. O God, let me not play the fool also. Divine grace can make the coward brave.

The smoking flax can flame forth like fire on the altar when the Lord wills it. These very apostles who were timid as hares, grew to be bold as lions after the Spirit had descended upon them, and even so the Holy Spirit can make my recreant spirit brave to confess my Lord and witness for His truth.

What anguish must have filled the Saviour as He saw His friends so faithless! This was one bitter ingredient in His cup; but that cup is drained dry; let me not put another drop in it. If I forsake my Lord, I shall crucify Him afresh, and put Him to an open shame. Keep me, O blessed Spirit, from an end so shameful.