Are You Discouraged or Devoted?

. . . Jesus . . . said to him, ’You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have . . . and come, follow Me.’ But when he heard this, he became very sorrowful, for he was very rich —Luke 18:22-23

Have you ever heard the Master say something very difficult to you? If you haven’t, I question whether you have ever heard Him say anything at all. Jesus says a tremendous amount to us that we listen to, but do not actually hear. And once we do hear Him, His words are harsh and unyielding.

Jesus did not show the least concern that this rich young ruler should do what He told him, nor did Jesus make any attempt to keep this man with Him. He simply said to him, “Sell all that you have . . . and come, follow Me.” Our Lord never pleaded with him; He never tried to lure him— He simply spoke the strictest words that human ears have ever heard, and then left him alone.

Have I ever heard Jesus say something difficult and unyielding to me? Has He said something personally to me to which I have deliberately listened— not something I can explain for the sake of others, but something I have heard Him say directly to me? This man understood what Jesus said. He heard it clearly, realizing the full impact of its meaning, and it broke his heart. He did not go away as a defiant person, but as one who was sorrowful and discouraged. He had come to Jesus on fire with zeal and determination, but the words of Jesus simply froze him. Instead of producing enthusiastic devotion to Jesus, they produced heartbreaking discouragement. And Jesus did not go after him, but let him go. Our Lord knows perfectly well that once His word is truly heard, it will bear fruit sooner or later. What is so terrible is that some of us prevent His words from bearing fruit in our present life. I wonder what we will say when we finally make up our minds to be devoted to Him on that particular point? One thing is certain— He will never throw our past failures back in our faces.

by Oswald Chambers

a time to . . .

There is a time to….

When grocery store owner William Straw died unexpectedly in 1932, the family of this man from Worksop, England, was devastated. In their grief, they chose to leave William’s red brick house precisely the way it was the day he died. Over the years, Straw’s two sons lived there, keeping the house in immaculate condition—leaving their father’s coats and hats by the front door, his soap in the bathtub, and unopened cans of sardines and beans in the pantry. In 1991, the last surviving son died, leaving the house to the National Trust. The Trust now allows visitors to view William Straw’s house as an example of English life from 80 years ago.

The best we can do is preserve images and memories of the past because we can’t actually stop time from moving on. Ecclesiastes reminds us that there are many seasons in our life, and each has its place. There is “a time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest. . . . A time to grieve and a time to dance” (Ecclesiastes 3:2,4). While we must use time wisely and discern how best to spend our days, we can’t control where time takes us.

We might want to hold tightly to seasons of joy or seasons of plenty, but the truth is that there will also be seasons of sorrow and need. In our culture, we work desperately to hang on to our youth. Age, however, overtakes us all. There is, indeed, “a time to die” (Ecclesiastes 3:2).

The author of Ecclesiastes reminds us that we need not strive to control our lives or fear how few days we’ve been given. For “God has made everything beautiful for its own time” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). When God is Lord of our days, we can receive each moment as a gift from Him and live it to the fullest.

by Winn Collier

An Approved Workman

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)

Teaching God’s Word of truth properly and effectively is not play; it is hard work! The command to “study” means, literally, to “labor earnestly.” There are far too many unprepared teachers of the Bible today, not even to mention false teachers. “My brethren, be not many masters [that is, ‘don’t many of you try to be teachers’], knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation” (James 3:1).

A workman who has presented himself for testing, and has then passed the test, is an “approved” workman, and he will certainly have spent much time training in his profession before presuming to make application for a job. In this most important of all vocations, it is vital that the Word be “rightly divided,” for if, when the test comes, he cannot do this, he will “be ashamed” for having the presumption to engage in such a vital occupation without the necessary calling and training, or dedication.

The Lord had to train His disciples for three years before they were ready to start teaching the Word on their own. The apostle Paul also, even though he had already received the finest schooling in Israel, still had to be specially prepared for three years after becoming a Christian before he was ready (Galatians 1:15-24). The equivalent of three years’ full-time study still seems a good minimum before one should presume to take on a regular ministry of teaching or preaching the holy Scriptures.

Every Christian should seek to win people to Christ, of course, as soon as he himself meets Christ. He should also begin immediately to search the Scriptures (e.g., the Bereans, in Acts 17). But an “approved workman” needs to be thoroughly taught and to have studied in the Word himself. HMM

Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus

Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.— 2 Corinthians 4:10.

BUT we as in a glass espy
The glory of His countenance,
Not in a whirlwind hurrying by
The too presumptuous glance,
But with mild radiance every hour,
From our dear Savior’s face benign
Bent on us with transforming power
Till we, too, faintly shine.
JOHN KEBLE.

IF we be faithful and humble, God will increase our faith by enabling us to obey more faithfully, and will strengthen our sight by enabling us to do what we now see. As in our daily walk we come nearer towards heaven, He will open to us more of heaven. And so the veil which sin laid upon our sight being taken away, “we all, with open face, beholding, as in a glass, the glory of the Lord,” studying His countenance, watching His looks, seeking to have His gracious and compassionate look cast upon us in the midst of our frailties and infirmities, may catch some faint reflections of its brightness, and be changed into the image whereon we gaze, which we love, which, in our weakness, we would long to copy and transfuse into ourselves; we too may be “changed into the same image, from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord.” EDWARD B. PUSEY.

As for man, his days are as grass

As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place therof shall know it no more. Psalm 103:15,16

So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts to wisdom. — What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?

Surely the people is grass. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever. — The world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. — Use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth away. — Let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another; and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

Psalm 90:12. Mark 8:36. Isaiah 40:7,8. 1 John 2:17. 2 Corinthians 6:2. 1 Corinthians 7:31. Hebrews 10:24,25.

Pray one for another, that ye may be healed

Pray one for another, that ye may be healed. James 5:16

Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes: peradventure there shall lack five of the fifty righteous: wilt thou destroy all city for lack of five? And he said, If I find there forty and five, I will not destroy it.

Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. — Pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.

I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word. —Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.

Genesis 18:27,28. Luke 23:34. Matthew 5:44. John 17:9,20. Galatians 6:2. James 5:16,17.