COURTEOUS CONDUCT

Be wise in the way you act with people who are not believers. COLOSSIANS 4:5

Those who don’t believe in Jesus note what we do. They make decisions about Christ by watching us. When we are kind, they assume Christ is kind. When we are gracious, they assume Christ is gracious. But if we are brash, what will people think about our King? When we are dishonest, what assumption will an observer make about our Master? No wonder Paul says, “Be wise in the way you act with people who are not believers, making the most of every opportunity. When you talk, you should always be kind and pleasant so you will be able to answer everyone in the way you should” (Colossians 4:5–6). Courteous conduct honors Christ.

It also honors his children. When you surrender a parking place to someone, you honor him. When you return a borrowed book, you honor the lender. When you make an effort to greet everyone in the room, especially the ones others may have overlooked, you honor God’s children.

from A LOVE WORTH GIVING

Facing Our Past

He tried to join the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, and did not believe that he was a disciple. —Acts 9:26

Chuck Colson, founder of Prison Fellowship, spent 40 years helping people hear and understand the gospel of Jesus Christ. When he died in April 2012, one newspaper article carried the headline, “Charles Colson, Nixon’s ‘dirty tricks’ man, dies at 80.” It seemed surprising that a man so transformed by faith should be identified with things he did as a politically ruthless presidential aide decades earlier before he knew the Savior.

The apostle Paul’s conversion and his early Christian witness were greeted with skepticism and fear. When he began preaching that Jesus is the Son of God, people said, “Is this not he who destroyed those who called on this name in Jerusalem, and has come here for that purpose?” (Acts 9:21). Later when Paul went to Jerusalem and tried to join the disciples, they were afraid of him (v.26). In years to come, Paul never ignored his past, but spoke of it as evidence of the mercy of God (1 Tim. 1:13-14).

Like Paul, we don’t need to parade our failures or to pretend they didn’t happen. Instead, we can thank the Lord that through His grace and power, our past is forgiven, our present is changed, and our future is bright with hope for all He has prepared for us.

Transformed by grace divine,
The glory shall be Thine;
To Thy most holy will, O Lord,
We now our all resign. —Burroughs

Only Jesus can transform our life.

God’s Final Word

“The LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one.” (Zechariah 14:9)

God cannot be defeated in His creative purpose for this earth and its people. In the beginning, there was only God. In the ending, there will be one Lord, and His name one.

In the meantime, He is working out His great plan of reconciliation, as revealed in His Word. In the magnificent book of Revelation, especially the last two chapters, we are carried forward in the Spirit into the never-ending glories of the renewed earth, with the great Creator and Redeemer dwelling there with His people eternally.

But in that final chapter, there are some final words from the Lord to guide and warn us until He returns. There is one final invitation, for example: “And let him that is athirst come” (Revelation 22:17). Then there is a final warning. This completed book of Scripture contains all that man will ever need to know concerning salvation, the Christian life, and God’s great plans, so let no man “add unto these things,” or “take away from the words of the book of this prophecy” (vv. 18-19). There is no salvation, except through His Word.

Next, there is a final promise. “He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly” (v. 20). Of all the promises of God, there is none more “exceeding great and precious” than this (2 Peter 1:4). In response, there is a final prayer, teaching us that this should be the climax of every believing prayer: “Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (v. 20). This is our greatest need!

Lastly, there is a final benediction, the same as the close of each of Paul’s epistles, and the most wonderful of all the words of a holy, yet loving, Creator, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen” (v. 21). It is fitting that God’s Word, which began with His creation, should end with His saving grace! HMM

In nothing be anxious

“In nothing be anxious.” (Phil. 4:6.)

NO anxiety ought to be found in a believer. Great, many and varied may be our trials, our afflictions, our difficulties, and yet there should be no anxiety under any circumstances, because we have a Father in Heaven who is almighty, who loves His children as He loves His only-begotten Son, and whose very joy and delight it is to succor and help them at all times and under all circumstances. We should attend to the Word, “In nothing be anxious, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”

“In everything,” that is not merely when the house is on fire, not merely when the beloved wife and children are on the brink of the grave, but in the smallest matters of life, bring everything before God, the little things, the very little things, what the world calls trifling things— everything—living in holy communion with our Heavenly Father, and with our precious Lord Jesus all day long. And when we awake at night, by a kind of spiritual instinct again turning to Him, and speaking to Him, bringing our various little matters before Him in the sleepless night, the difficulties in connection with the family, our trade, our profession. Whatever tries us in any way, speak to the Lord about it.

“By prayer and supplication,” taking the place of beggars, with earnestness, with perseverance, going on and waiting, waiting, waiting on God.

“With thanksgiving.” We should at all times lay a good foundation with thanksgiving. If everything else were wanting, this is always present, that He has saved us from hell. Then, that He has given us His Holy Word—His Son, His choicest gift—and the Holy Spirit. Therefore we have abundant reason for thanksgiving. O let us aim at this!

“And the peace of God which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” And this is so great a blessing, so real a blessing, so precious a blessing, that it must be known experimentally to be entered into, for it passeth understanding. O let us lay these things to heart, and the result will be, if we habitually walk in this spirit, we shall far more abundantly glorify God, than as yet we have done. —George Mueller, in Life of Trust.

Twice or thrice a day, look to see if your heart is not disquieted about something; and if you find that it is, take care forthwith to restore it to calm.—Francis De Sales.

Love is strong as death

“Love is strong as death.” Song 8:6

Whose love can this be which is as mighty as the conqueror of monarchs, the destroyer of the human race? Would it not sound like satire if it were applied to my poor, weak, and scarcely living love to Jesus my Lord? I do love Him, and perhaps by His grace, I could even die for Him, but as for my love in itself, it can scarcely endure a scoffing jest, much less a cruel death. Surely it is my Beloved’s love which is here spoken of—the love of Jesus, the matchless lover of souls. His love was indeed stronger than the most terrible death, for it endured the trial of the cross triumphantly.

It was a lingering death, but love survived the torment; a shameful death, but love despised the shame; a penal death, but love bore our iniquities; a forsaken, lonely death, from which the eternal Father hid His face, but love endured the curse, and gloried over all. Never such love, never such death. It was a desperate duel, but love bore the palm. What then, my heart? Hast thou no emotions excited within thee at the contemplation of such heavenly affection? Yes, my Lord, I long, I pant to feel Thy love flaming like a furnace within me. Come Thou Thyself and excite the ardour of my spirit.

“For every drop of crimson blood
Thus shed to make me live,
O wherefore, wherefore have not I
A thousand lives to give?”

Godly sorrow worketh repentance

“Godly sorrow worketh repentance.” 2 Corinthians 7:10

Genuine, spiritual mourning for sin is the work of the Spirit of God. Repentance is too choice a flower to grow in nature’s garden. Pearls grow naturally in oysters, but penitence never shows itself in sinners except divine grace works it in them. If thou hast one particle of real hatred for sin, God must have given it thee, for human nature’s thorns never produced a single fig. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh.”

True repentance has a distinct reference to the Saviour. When we repent of sin, we must have one eye upon sin and another upon the cross, or it will be better still if we fix both our eyes upon Christ and see our transgressions only, in the light of His love.

True sorrow for sin is eminently practical. No man may say he hates sin, if he lives in it. Repentance makes us see the evil of sin, not merely as a theory, but experimentally—as a burnt child dreads fire. We shall be as much afraid of it, as a man who has lately been stopped and robbed is afraid of the thief upon the highway; and we shall shun it—shun it in everything—not in great things only, but in little things, as men shun little vipers as well as great snakes. True mourning for sin will make us very jealous over our tongue, lest it should say a wrong word; we shall be very watchful over our daily actions, lest in anything we offend, and each night we shall close the day with painful confessions of shortcoming, and each morning awaken with anxious prayers, that this day God would hold us up that we may not sin against Him.

Sincere repentance is continual. Believers repent until their dying day. This dropping well is not intermittent. Every other sorrow yields to time, but this dear sorrow grows with our growth, and it is so sweet a bitter, that we thank God we are permitted to enjoy and to suffer it until we enter our eternal rest.