Governed by Love

In Christ we are set free by the blood of his death, and so we have forgiveness of sins. EPHESIANS 1:7

Jesus spoke of freedom, but he spoke of a different kind of freedom: the type of freedom that comes not through power but through submission. Not through control but through surrender. Not through possessions but through open hands.

God wants to emancipate his people; he wants to set them free. He wants his people to be not slaves but sons. He wants them governed not by law but by love.

We have been liberated from our own guilt and our own legalism. We have the freedom to pray and the freedom to love the God of our heart. And we have been forgiven by the only one who could condemn us. We are truly free!

Walking with the Savior

Getting the Most Out of Work

Colossians 3:22-24

Although today’s passage addresses slaves, any worker can benefit from the lessons Paul offers. In the ancient Roman world, over half the people were slaves. It didn’t matter if they were doctors, teachers, or shepherds—they could still be owned by another person. So the admonitions apply to every vocation.

Perhaps you read Paul’s words and think, That can’t mean me—I have a terrible job/boss/customer to deal with. I assure you, the apostle is talking to every believer. In his day, the lowest household servant was responsible for washing the dirty feet of those entering the house. It was a horrible job that left one open to all kinds of abuse. But to the person in that position, and to each of us, Paul says, “Do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men” (v. 23).

Believers get the most out of their jobs when they take on the role of servant to the Lord. That’s how God sees us. Though we live in a society that prizes independence, we are to be a different kind of people, who perform the work required without complaint. The only time we are authorized to disobey is when we’re asked to violate the Word of God.

Even then, we are to disagree, but with gentleness and self-control. The Bible tells us that God’s ways are not man’s ways (Isa. 55:8), and we have Jesus as our example: He made Himself a bondservant to the Father and came to earth as a man in order to die for the sins of humanity (Phil. 2:5-7). Willing service marks us as followers of Christ—and people who are to be valued for their impact on others.

The Gift of Labor

“And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.” (Genesis 2:15)

When God first created man, He gave him work to do. Although “the LORD God planted a garden” for man (Genesis 2:8), it was up to man to take care of it if he would continue to eat its fruits. Thus, having to labor for one’s living is not a divine punishment for man’s sin as people sometimes interpret it, but rather a divine benefit for man’s good.

Similarly, even in the new earth, when sin and suffering will be gone forever, there will still be work to do. “There shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him” (Revelation 22:3).

We don’t know yet what our assignments will be there, but they will somehow be commensurate with our faithfulness in serving the Lord here. “My reward is with me,” says the Lord Jesus, “to give every man according as his work shall be” (Revelation 22:12).

It is, therefore, a God-given privilege to be able to do useful work, whether that work consists of preaching God’s Word or improving God’s world. “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do” (whether being paid for it or not), “do it with thy might; for there is no work . . . in the grave, whither thou goest” (Ecclesiastes 9:10). As Jesus said, “The night cometh, when no man can work” (John 9:4).

No matter what the job may be that has been provided for us to do, it is important to remember and obey the admonition: “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ” (Colossians 3:23-24) and “your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58). HMM

Unto you it is given… to suffer

“Unto you it is given… to suffer.” (Phil. 1:29.)

GOD keeps a costly school. Many of its lessons are spelled out through tears. Richard Baxter said, “O God, I thank Thee for a bodily discipline of eight and fifty years”; and he is not the only man who has turned a trouble into triumph.

This school of our Heavenly Father will soon close for us; the term time is shortening every day. Let us not shrink from a hard lesson or wince under any rod of chastisement. The richer will be the crown, and the sweeter will be Heaven, if we endure cheerfully to the end and graduate in glory.—Theodore L. Cuyler.

The finest china in the world is burned at least three times, some of it more than three times. Dresden china is always burned three times. Why does it go through that intense fire? Once ought to be enough; twice ought to be enough. No, three times are necessary to burn that china so that the gold and the crimson are brought out more beautiful and then fastened there to stay.

We are fashioned after the same principle in human life. Our trials are burned into us once, twice, thrice; and by God’s grace these beautiful colors are there and they are there to stay forever.—Cortland Myers.

Earth’s fairest flowers grow not on sunny plain,
But where some vast upheaval rent in twain
The smiling land….
After the whirlwind’s devastating blast,
After the molten fire and ashen pall,
God’s still small voice breathes healing over all.
From riven rocks and fern-clad chasms deep,
Flow living waters as from hearts that weep,
There in the afterglow soft dews distill
And angels tend God’s plants when night falls still,
And the Beloved passing by that way
Will gather lilies at the break of day.
—J. H. D.

Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe

“Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe.” John 4:48

A craving after marvels was a symptom of the sickly state of men’s minds in our Lord’s day; they refused solid nourishment, and pined after mere wonder. The gospel which they so greatly needed they would not have; the miracles which Jesus did not always choose to give they eagerly demanded. Many nowadays must see signs and wonders, or they will not believe.

Some have said in their heart, “I must feel deep horror of soul, or I never will believe in Jesus.” But what if you never should feel it, as probably you never may? Will you go to hell out of spite against God, because He will not treat you like another? One has said to himself, “If I had a dream, or if I could feel a sudden shock of I know not what, then I would believe.” Thus you undeserving mortals dream that my Lord is to be dictated to by you! You are beggars at His gate, asking for mercy, and you must needs draw up rules and regulations as to how He shall give that mercy.

Think you that He will submit to this? My Master is of a generous spirit, but He has a right royal heart, He spurns all dictation, and maintains His sovereignty of action. Why, dear reader, if such be your case, do you crave for signs and wonders? Is not the gospel its own sign and wonder? Is not this a miracle of miracles, that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him might not perish”? Surely that precious word, “Whosoever will, let him come and take the water of life freely” and that solemn promise, “Him that cometh unto Me, I will in no wise cast out,” are better than signs and wonders! A truthful Saviour ought to be believed. He is truth itself. Why will you ask proof of the veracity of One who cannot lie? The devils themselves declared Him to be the Son of God; will you mistrust Him?

But Simon’s wife’s mother lay sick of a fever

“But Simon’s wife’s mother lay sick of a fever, and anon they tell Him of her.” Mark 1:30

Very interesting is this little peep into the house of the Apostolic Fisherman. We see at once that household joys and cares are no hindrance to the full exercise of ministry, nay, that since they furnish an opportunity for personally witnessing the Lord’s gracious work upon one’s own flesh and blood, they may even instruct the teacher better than any other earthly discipline. Some may decry marriage, but true Christianity and household life agree well together.

Peter’s house was probably a poor fisherman’s hut, but the Lord of Glory entered it, lodged in it, and wrought a miracle in it. Should our little book be read this morning in some very humble cottage, let this fact encourage the inmates to seek the company of King Jesus. God is oftener in little huts than in rich palaces. Jesus is looking round your room now, and is waiting to be gracious to you. Into Simon’s house sickness had entered, fever in a deadly form had prostrated his mother-in-law, and as soon as Jesus came they told Him of the sad affliction, and He hastened to the patient’s bed. Have you any sickness in the house this morning?

You will find Jesus by far the best physician, go to Him at once and tell Him all about the matter. Immediately lay the case before Him. It concerns one of His people, and therefore will not be trivial to Him. Observe, that at once the Saviour restored the sick woman; none can heal as He does. We may not make sure that the Lord will at once remove all disease from those we love, but we may know that believing prayer for the sick is far more likely to be followed by restoration than anything else in the world; and where this avails not, we must meekly bow to His will by whom life and death are determined. The tender heart of Jesus waits to hear our griefs, let us pour them into His patient ear.