“Approved to God”

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth —2 Timothy 2:15

If you cannot express yourself well on each of your beliefs, work and study until you can. If you don’t, other people may miss out on the blessings that come from knowing the truth. Strive to re-express a truth of God to yourself clearly and understandably, and God will use that same explanation when you share it with someone else. But you must be willing to go through God’s winepress where the grapes are crushed. You must struggle, experiment, and rehearse your words to express God’s truth clearly. Then the time will come when that very expression will become God’s wine of strength to someone else. But if you are not diligent and say, “I’m not going to study and struggle to express this truth in my own words; I’ll just borrow my words from someone else,” then the words will be of no value to you or to others. Try to state to yourself what you believe to be the absolute truth of God, and you will be allowing God the opportunity to pass it on through you to someone else.

Always make it a practice to stir your own mind thoroughly to think through what you have easily believed. Your position is not really yours until you make it yours through suffering and study. The author or speaker from whom you learn the most is not the one who teaches you something you didn’t know before, but the one who helps you take a truth with which you have quietly struggled, give it expression, and speak it clearly and boldly.

By Oswald Chambers

Now, This Time with Heart

Cultivating a life of gratitude need not begin with Thanksgiving, but it isn’t a bad place to start.

Late November, the time of year when Americans pile their plates high with turkey and fixings and take turns sharing what they’re thankful for. The arrival of Thanksgiving marks the official start of the holiday season and is followed by an entire month of shopping binges, overconsumption of baked delicacies, and nonstop exposure to “Jingle Bell Rock.”

But between ugly-Christmas-sweater parties and searching the night sky for Rudolph’s nose, certain things—namely, death and debt, heartbreak and hardship—remain status quo.

Must we merely plaster our faces with insincere smiles and muddle through the holidays when sorrow strikes? Or is there another way, one that connects us to true joy—or even better, to the heart of Christ?

The gospel account of the Last Supper is a Thanksgiving story. Jesus and His closest friends were celebrating Passover, God’s deliverance of Israel. Although the occasion was joyful and the food festive, sorrow loomed. Yet the Lord gave thanks: “And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, and they all drank from it. And He said to them, ‘This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many’” (Mark 14:23-24). Hours before Jesus poured out His blood to claim victory over death, He practiced gratitude.

“Give thanks” in Greek is eucharisteo, from which we get “Eucharist” (another word for communion.) And sandwiched in eucharisteo is charis, meaning “grace.” When we come to the table of communion, we are giving thanks for Christ’s spilled blood, the bursting- with-grace gift of salvation. But there’s more. Inside charis sits its root, chara, meaning “joy.” Grace is the source of joy. And here’s the kicker: The Greek prefix eu- means “true.” True joy is found in giving thanks for saving grace.

Cultivating daily gratitude is essential to experiencing a full, joyful life during this season and after January replaces old calendars with new. What you’re truly grateful for—those things that captivate you with joy—will affect what you talk about at the Thanksgiving table and how you respond to God when faced with reminders of life’s brokenness.

So, what are you thankful for?

by Jessica Haberkern

Doing Righteousness

“Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.” (1 John 3:7)

Every genuine Christian knows that part of the salvation gift is the promise of being made “unblameable in holiness” (1 Thessalonians 3:13). We sometimes have trouble, however, with the concept of present-tense holiness in our everyday lifestyles.

John speaks of the abiding Christian who “sinneth not” (1 John 3:6). Indeed, such a Christian “doth not commit sin” (1 John 3:9) because, John notes, the “seed” of God “remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” Furthermore, “whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not” (1 John 5:18).

It’s accurate to translate those passages with the “continuing” implication of the Greek structure (i.e. “does not continue in [the practice of] sin,” etc.). However, the emphasis is on an obvious, continuous, clearly embraced lifestyle of righteous living!

The visible transformation from a worldly conformity (Romans 12:2) begins with a desire for “the sincere milk of [God’s] word” (1 Peter 2:2), fashioning ourselves after God’s holiness “in all manner of conversation” (1 Peter 1:14-15). Neither are we to let sin reign in our bodies, but we are to yield ourselves as “instruments of righteousness” (Romans 6:12-13). Since we are “risen with Christ,” we are to “mortify” the fleshly appetites, “put off” emotional outbursts that reflect an ungodly nature, and “put on” godly attributes so that whatsoever we do is done in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ (Colossians 3:1-17). HMM III

Trust also in him

“Trust also in him.” (Psalm 37:3.)

THE word trust is the heart word of faith. It is the Old Testament word, the word given to the early and infant stage of faith. The word faith expresses more the act of the will, the word belief the act of the mind or intellect, but trust is the language of the heart. The other has reference more to a truth believed or a thing expected.

Trust implies more than this, it sees and feels, and leans upon a person, a great, true, living heart of love. So let us “trust also in him,” through all the delays, in spite of all the difficulties, in the face of all the denials, notwithstanding all the seemings, even when we cannot understand the way, and know not the issue; still “trust also in him, and he will bring it to pass.” The way will open, the right issue will come, the end will be peace, the cloud will be lifted, and the light of an eternal noonday shall shine at last.

“Trust and rest when all around thee
Puts thy faith to sorest test;
Let no fear or foe confound thee,
Wait for God, and trust and rest.

“Trust and rest with heart abiding,
Like a birdling in its nest,
Underneath His feathers hiding,
Fold thy wings and trust and rest.”

And lay thy foundations with sapphires

“And lay thy foundations with sapphires.” Isaiah 54:11

Not only that which is seen of the church of God, but that which is unseen, is fair and precious. Foundations are out of sight, and so long as they are firm it is not expected that they should be valuable; but in Jehovah’s work everything is of a piece, nothing slurred, nothing mean. The deep foundations of the work of grace are as sapphires for preciousness, no human mind is able to measure their glory. We build upon the covenant of grace, which is firmer than adamant, and as enduring as jewels upon which age spends itself in vain. Sapphire foundations are eternal, and the covenant abides throughout the lifetime of the Almighty.

Another foundation is the person of the Lord Jesus, which is clear and spotless, everlasting and beautiful as the sapphire; blending in one the deep blue of earth’s ever rolling ocean and the azure of its all embracing sky. Once might our Lord have been likened to the ruby as He stood covered with His own blood, but now we see Him radiant with the soft blue of love, love abounding, deep, eternal. Our eternal hopes are built upon the justice and the faithfulness of God, which are clear and cloudless as the sapphire. We are not saved by a compromise, by mercy defeating justice, or law suspending its operations; no, we defy the eagle’s eye to detect a flaw in the groundwork of our confidence—our foundation is of sapphire, and will endure the fire.

The Lord Himself has laid the foundation of His people’s hopes. It is matter for grave enquiry whether our hopes are built upon such a basis. Good works and ceremonies are not a foundation of sapphires, but of wood, hay, and stubble; neither are they laid by God, but by our own conceit. Foundations will all be tried ere long: woe unto him whose lofty tower shall come down with a crash, because based on a quicksand. He who is built on sapphires may await storm or fire with equanimity, for he shall abide the test.

Orpah kissed her mother-in-law; but Ruth clave unto her

“Orpah kissed her mother-in-law; but Ruth clave unto her.” Ruth 1:14

Both of them had an affection for Naomi, and therefore set out with her upon her return to the land of Judah. But the hour of test came; Naomi most unselfishly set before each of them the trials which awaited them, and bade them if they cared for ease and comfort to return to their Moabitish friends. At first both of them declared that they would cast in their lot with the Lord’s people; but upon still further consideration Orpah with much grief and a respectful kiss left her mother in law, and her people, and her God, and went back to her idolatrous friends, while Ruth with all her heart gave herself up to the God of her mother in law.

It is one thing to love the ways of the Lord when all is fair, and quite another to cleave to them under all discouragements and difficulties. The kiss of outward profession is very cheap and easy, but the practical cleaving to the Lord, which must show itself in holy decision for truth and holiness, is not so small a matter. How stands the case with us, is our heart fixed upon Jesus, is the sacrifice bound with cords to the horns of the altar? Have we counted the cost, and are we solemnly ready to suffer all worldly loss for the Master’s sake? The after gain will be an abundant recompense, for Egypt’s treasures are not to be compared with the glory to be revealed. Orpah is heard of no more; in glorious ease and idolatrous pleasure her life melts into the gloom of death; but Ruth lives in history and in heaven, for grace has placed her in the noble line whence sprung the King of kings.

Blessed among women shall those be who for Christ’s sake can renounce all; but forgotten and worse than forgotten shall those be who in the hour of temptation do violence to conscience and turn back unto the world. O that this morning we may not be content with the form of devotion, which may be no better than Orpah’s kiss, but may the Holy Spirit work in us a cleaving of our whole heart to our Lord Jesus.