A Hidden Hero

I have learned the secret of being happy at any time in everything that happens. PHILIPPIANS 4:12

Peer into the prison and see [Paul] for yourself: bent and frail, shackled to the arm of a Roman guard. Behold the apostle of God.…

Dead broke. No family. No property. Nearsighted and worn out.…

Doesn’t look like a hero.

Doesn’t sound like one either. He introduced himself as the worst sinner in history. He was a Christian killer before he was a Christian leader. At times his heart was so heavy, Paul’s pen drug itself across the page. “What a miserable man I am! Who will save me from this body that brings me death?” (Rom. 7:24).

Only heaven knows how long he stared at the question before he found the courage to defy logic and write, “I thank God for saving me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Rom. 7:25).

When God Whispers Your Name

Wise Words

The words of the wise are like goads, and the words of scholars are like well-driven nails, given by one Shepherd. —Ecclesiastes 12:11

Now in my sixties, I reflect back on wise spiritual leaders who had a positive impact on my life. In Bible school, God used my Old Testament professor to make the Word come alive. My Greek teacher relentlessly employed high standards to goad my study of the New Testament. And the senior pastor in my first pastoral ministry shepherded me in building vital ministries to help others grow spiritually. Each of these teachers encouraged me in different ways.

King Solomon wisely observed some ways that spiritual leaders can help us grow: “The words of the wise are like goads, and the words of scholars are like well-driven nails, given by one Shepherd” (Eccl. 12:11). Some teachers prod us; others build solid spiritual structures into our lives. Still others, as caring shepherds, are there with a listening ear when we hurt.

The Good Shepherd has given leaders a variety of gifts: exhorting, developing, and shepherding. Whether we’re a leader or a learner, though, He desires that we maintain humble hearts and a love for others. What a privilege to be led and used by our Shepherd to encourage others in their walk with Him.

Give us the wisdom we need, Lord, to encourage
others in their spiritual walk. We know we need Your
Spirit’s power to do that. Use the gifts You have
given us to help others along on their journey.

May our words reflect the heart of God and His wisdom.

God Knows What We Don’t Know

“I know, O LORD, that thy judgments are right, and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me.” (Psalm 119:75)

One of the most perplexing aspects of the Christian life is trying to understand God’s purpose when defeat or affliction comes into our lives, thereby hindering or even halting our ministry and testimony for Him. Many have been the servants of God who were sincerely working for Christ, seeking to obey His will and His Word as best they understood them, but then suddenly were laid aside by sickness, or had their ministries stopped by the enemies of God (sometimes even by fellow Christians), or for some other reason, and could not discern why God allowed it.

What then? When affliction comes, we must simply trust God, knowing that whatever He does is right and that our affliction is invested with His faithfulness. He is our Creator and, through Christ, has also become our heavenly Father: “Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?” (Hebrews 12:9). He knows what we don’t know, therefore we can “know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

This verse (Romans 8:28) is one of the most familiar and most wonderful promises in the Bible, but it is one of the most difficult to believe in time of affliction or loss. Nevertheless, it is God’s promise, and “all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us” (2 Corinthians 1:20).

God knows the end from the beginning, and in that wonderful day when Christ returns, “then shall I know even as also I am known” (1 Corinthians 13:12). Until then, we must simply trust Him. HMM

Let us pass over unto the other side

“Let us pass over unto the other side.” (Mark 4:35.)

EVEN when we go forth at Christ’s command, we need not expect to escape storms; for these disciples were going forth at Christ’s command, yet they encountered the fiercest storm and were in great danger of being overwhelmed, so that they cried out in their distress for Christ’s assistance.

Though Christ may delay His coming in our time of distress, it is only that our faith may be tried and strengthened, and that our prayers may be more intense, and that our desires for deliverance may be increased, so that when the deliverance does come we will appreciate it more fully.

Christ gave them a gentle rebuke, saying, “Where is your faith?” Why did you not shout victory in the very face of the storm, and say to the raging winds and rolling waves, “You can do no harm, for Christ, the mighty Savior is on board”?

It is much easier to trust when the sun is shining than when the storm is raging.

We never know how much real faith we have until it is put to the test in some fierce storm; and that is the reason why the Savior is on board.

If you are ever to be strong in the Lord and the power of His might, your strength will be born in some storm.—Selected.

“With Christ in the vessel,
I smile at the storm.”

Christ said, “Let us go to the other side”—not to the middle of the lake to be drowned.—Dan Crawford.

He humbled Himself

“He humbled Himself.” Philippians 2:8

Jesus is the great teacher of lowliness of heart. We need daily to learn of Him. See the Master taking a towel and washing His disciples’ feet! Follower of Christ, wilt thou not humble thyself? See Him as the Servant of servants, and surely thou canst not be proud! Is not this sentence the compendium of His biography, “He humbled Himself”? Was He not on earth always stripping off first one robe of honour and then another, till, naked, He was fastened to the cross, and there did He not empty out His inmost self, pouring out His life-blood, giving up for all of us, till they laid Him penniless in a borrowed grave? How low was our dear Redeemer brought! How then can we be proud?

Stand at the foot of the cross, and count the purple drops by which you have been cleansed; see the thorn-crown; mark His scourged shoulders, still gushing with encrimsoned rills; see hands and feet given up to the rough iron, and His whole self to mockery and scorn; see the bitterness, and the pangs, and the throes of inward grief, showing themselves in His outward frame; hear the thrilling shriek, “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” And if you do not lie prostrate on the ground before that cross, you have never seen it: if you are not humbled in the presence of Jesus, you do not know Him. You were so lost that nothing could save you but the sacrifice of God’s only begotten. Think of that, and as Jesus stooped for you, bow yourself in lowliness at His feet.

A sense of Christ’s amazing love to us has a greater tendency to humble us than even a consciousness of our own guilt. May the Lord bring us in contemplation to Calvary, then our position will no longer be that of the pompous man of pride, but we shall take the humble place of one who loves much because much has been forgiven him. Pride cannot live beneath the cross. Let us sit there and learn our lesson, and then rise and carry it into practice.

They dwelt with the king for his work

“These were potters, and those that dwelt among plants and hedges: there they dwelt with the king for his work.” 1 Chronicles 4:23

Potters were the very highest grade of workers, but “the king” needed potters, and therefore they were in royal service, although the material upon which they worked was nothing but clay. We, too, may be engaged in the most menial part of the Lord’s work, but it is a great privilege to do anything for “the king”; and therefore we will abide in our calling, hoping that, “although we have lien among the pots, yet shall we be as the wings of a dove covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold.” The text tells us of those who dwelt among plants and hedges, having rough, rustic, hedging and ditching work to do.

They may have desired to live in the city, amid its life, society, and refinement, but they kept their appointed places, for they also were doing the king’s work. The place of our habitation is fixed, and we are not to remove from it out of whim and caprice, but seek to serve the Lord in it, by being a blessing to those among whom we reside. These potters and gardeners had royal company, for they dwelt “with the king” and although among hedges and plants, they dwelt with the king there. No lawful place, or gracious occupation, however mean, can debar us from communion with our divine Lord. In visiting hovels, swarming lodging-houses, workhouses, or gaols, we may go with the king.

In all works of faith we may count upon Jesus’ fellowship. It is when we are in His work that we may reckon upon His smile. Ye unknown workers who are occupied for your Lord amid the dirt and wretchedness of the lowest of the low, be of good cheer, for jewels have been found upon dunghills ere now, earthen pots have been filled with heavenly treasure, and ill weeds have been transformed into precious flowers. Dwell ye with the King for His work, and when He writes His chronicles your name shall be recorded.