Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. Revelation 21:2

“Unbelievable!” is one of those expressions in our culture that is often used without a lot of forethought. If an athlete is interviewed following a victory in a championship game, he may say, “It was unbelievable!” But it is entirely believable since the scoreboard says they just won the game!

We are tempted to say “Unbelievable!” when we read the description of the eternal New Jerusalem in Revelation 21. Since no one has seen the New Jerusalem (except for the apostle John in a vision), such a city might indeed seem unbelievable. But therein lies the crux of the matter. In the Christian life we don’t see in order to believe; we believe in order to see. God asks us to “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). Even though we have not yet seen the New Jerusalem, we believe it is true because it is described in Scripture. We walk by faith in God’s promises, faith leading us to eventually see what we have believed.

Are you looking forward to living in the New Jerusalem? Read Revelation 21, and instead of saying “Unbelievable!” say “Believable!”

Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe.” Augustine

Understanding the Christian Life

Galatians 1:11-17

Have you ever wondered why some new Christians seem to soar in their new-found relationship with the Lord while others nosedive within a few weeks? Let’s consider what makes the difference.

Those of us who have been Christians for a long time might forget that salvation involves a change not only in lifestyle but also in thinking and understanding. Shortly after encountering Jesus on the road to Damascus, Paul pulled away to Arabia for a time. Before the apostle could start his ministry, his mind had to be reprogrammed, so he needed to learn from the Lord (Rom. 12:2). Similarly, new believers coming into faith with old misconceptions need to understand what salvation really means.

Let’s look at some terms that help explain what is meant by “being saved”:

Born again (John 3:3; 2 Corinthians 5:17). New birth means new life. It implies starting over; the old life isn’t simply renovated but is actually replaced by a new one.

Converted (1 Thess. 1:9). Converting something means changing it, like money that’s exchanged from one currency to another, or energy that’s changed from one form to another. The Christian life must involve change.

Receiving Christ (John 1:12). We often think of salvation as something God gives us, but it is more than that. When someone trusts in Christ, that person welcomes the Lord to live within his or her heart.

Think about how you thought and lived before you knew the Savior, as compared with now. In what ways do you see genuine change? Ask God to reveal areas in which the life of Christ needs to become more evident.

Delight in the Will of God

“I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.” (Psalm 40:8)

This remarkable testimony of David is actually also a Messianic prophecy, fulfilled completely only in Christ. Only as Messiah could He truly say, “My meat is to do the will of him that sent me” and “I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me”; “The works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me” (John 4:34; 6:38; 10:25). “Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith . . . Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God” (Hebrews 10:5, 7).

His heart was attuned perfectly to the will of God because God’s law was written thereon, “not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart” (2 Corinthians 3:3). Even in the most trying circumstances to which any man could ever be subjected, He could pray, “Not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42).

By the indwelling Spirit of God, we also must seek to make the will of God our greatest delight. We are saved solely by grace, but this is not to deliver us from the burdensome constraints of God’s holy law; as in the case of Christ Himself, He places His law in our hearts in order to enable us to love His law. “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them” (Hebrews 10:16).

Then we learn, like the psalmist, not to resist His will but to love His will and to delight in His law. “O how love I thy law! It is my meditation all the day. . . . Thy testimonies have I taken as an heritage for ever: for they are the rejoicing of my heart. . . . I have longed for thy salvation, O LORD; and thy law is my delight” (Psalm 119:97, 111, 174). HMM

“I will run in the way of Thy commandments.”

Joshua 14:6-14

Joshua 14:6

We are glad to meet with this old hero, Joshua’s compatriot. Note how he dwells upon the promise, “Thou knowest the thing that the Lord said concerning me and thee.” Faithful hearts treasure up the divine word and prize it more than gold.

Joshua 14:7

He was a man of true heart, and spake as his heart bade him, and not as the majority of the spies would have had him. Only a true-souled man has courage to go against the stream, and speak the truth in the teeth of a false public opinion. Oh, that we had more such men now-a-days! The old man looks back with gratitude to this fact which had happened so many years ago. It is well to sow seed in our youth, which we shall not be afraid to harvest in our old age.

Joshua 14:9

What his own conscience had told him, Moses also had admitted. It is well when our own consciousness tallies with the encomiums which others may give to us, otherwise their praises may make us blush rather than smile. Caleb now claims what had been promised him; things are very sweet when they come to us by the way of the promise.

Joshua 14:10, 11

This was a rare privilege, and Caleb was thankful for it, and ready to use all the strength which God had given him against the enemies of Israel. He might have claimed his retiring pension, but instead thereof he sues for fresh work, with all the ardour of a young man.

Joshua 14:12

He probably reminded Joshua of a brave conversation he had held with him under the walls of the city of Hebron, when they had seen the giants, and marked the stupendous strength of the fortifications. He then spoke like a bold believer, and now he desired to prove that his words were not mere vapouring, but could be backed up by valiant deeds. Hebron it seems had once been captured by Israel, but the Anakims had returned to their strongholds, and Caleb felt that with God’s help, he would hunt them out again, once for all.

Joshua 14:14

The good old soldier had his desire, and in due time he took possession of the territory allotted to him. Whole-hearted loyalty to the Lord will have its reward. The Lord never allowed a man to be confounded, whose sole trust was in him, and whose entire heart followed him. In this family may there be many a Caleb; yea, may we all be whole-hearted for the Lord.


Up comrades up! undaunted be,

And valiant in the fight,

For him who died upon the tree,

For him who reigns in light.


Jesus himself leads on the strife:

Stand to his banner true;

Be steadfast now and all through life,

For he will strengthen you.


Don’t Throw Holy Things to the Dogs!

Matthew 7:6

Sometimes we try in vain to help people who don’t appreciate the help we are offering them. When we try to help people like this, they are so ungrateful that it almost feels like they spit in our faces. When we give them helpful hints about how to do something better or attempt to warn them of a catastrophe that is headed in their direction, these people are so bullheaded that they refuse to listen!

When my wife and I were young in the ministry, we embraced everyone and gave our whole hearts to anyone who said they needed help. Often we invested ourselves, our time, and our money into people who didn’t have a job and didn’t even want to work, but who knew how to pull on our heart-strings to help them. Eventually my wife and I learned the hard lesson, as everyone must, that there comes a time when we have to stop throwing away our time and attention on people who don’t care.

Yes, these people are precious, and you need to treat each of them as a unique creation of God. But your gifts are also precious, and you need to be valued and appreciated as well. If you have given again and again to the same people, but they consistently refuse to appreciate or value what you have given them, you need to respect yourself enough to quit giving away the precious things of your life to people who don’t even care.

In Matthew 7:6, Jesus said, “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.” When I was younger, this verse bothered me terribly because I didn’t like the idea of thinking of people as “dogs” and “swine.” Yet these are the words that Jesus used to describe the behavior of a certain category of people. Why did He use such strong words? What message was Jesus trying to give us when He said, “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs…”?

Let’s look at this verse today. Jesus said, “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine…” (Matthew 7:6). The word “give” is the Greek word didomi, which means to give, but here it is used with a negative, and the tense used in the Greek grammar should be taken as a command. This means the verse should be translated, “Never give….” It emphatically declares that this is something that should never be done!

The word “holy” is the word hagios, which refers to something that is so hallowed that you would consider it to be very precious. So Jesus’ words should be translated, “Never give what is hallowed and precious to the dogs….” Once again, there is no room for misunderstanding here—Jesus said this should never be done!

When the Lord referred to “that which is holy,” he was speaking of those precious and holy things that God has done inside you. It may be the hard lessons you’ve learned as you’ve submitted to the dealings of God in your life; the insights you’ve gained over the years; or the wisdom you have amassed as the result of years of experience. It may also refer to the spiritual gifts that operate in your life. All these things are holy and valuable. It’s impossible to put a price tag on that which has cost you your life. Who can measure the tears, pain, and energy spent to gain those revelations and the lessons you have learned?

When you open your heart and share these holy things with someone else, you are opening the door to your most private treasures. When you begin to share details, secrets, insights, and wisdom that you’ve learned through the hard knocks of life and from the Spirit of God, it is a precious gift you are giving. You should never underestimate the tremendous value God places on the experience and wisdom you’ve gained. These are holy things.

Every time you break open the Word of God and share the principles, lessons, and insights you’ve gained as you have dealt with your own heart and sought to do God’s will, you are giving out precious things to those who listen. This is why Jesus ordered that you are “never to give that which is hallowed and precious to the dogs.”

But who are the dogs that Jesus is referring to in this verse? The word “dogs” comes from the Greek word kunun, which is the same word used to describe the vicious, wild, unclean dogs that roamed the countryside just outside the city of Jerusalem. These dogs were famous for pillaging the garbage dump outside the city where unclaimed dead bodies were thrown to rot or to be eaten by dogs and hungry vultures (see April 23).

These dogs were not tamed pets, but an out-of-control, wild, dangerous, wandering, nomadic collection of diseased, mangy dogs. Even worse, they were always trying to get into people’s houses and gardens where they could find better food. To prevent the dogs from getting in where they weren’t supposed to be, walls often had to be built as defenses to keep them out!

Sadly, there are some people who behave just like dogs, and apparently Jesus had encountered some of them. That is the reason He used the example of wild dogs to depict this category of people.

Jesus was referring to a type of people who are undomesticated and untamed. These are people who refuse to submit to anyone’s authority. They roam about like nomads, wandering from one church to the next, using and abusing one pastor after another. Out of control and beyond the reach of anyone’s authority, these people are constantly trying to get into places where they shouldn’t be allowed.


Jesus’ choice of words in this verse conveys this idea:

“Never give that which is hallowed and precious to wild, dangerous, out-of-control, wandering, nomadic, diseased, and mangy dogs….”

This tells you and me that before we open our hearts and begin to share our deepest experiences and most precious inner treasures—before we draw certain individuals close to us and invest our time and energy into them—we need to be certain that these are people who are serious about their walk with God. Our time and our treasures are too precious to throw them at the feet of people who don’t care and who won’t apply what we are trying to tell them.

Have you been putting your time and energy into someone who is bullheaded and resists you every step of the way? Does that person stubbornly defy your suggestions and act offended every time you try to help him? If so, maybe it’s time for you to turn your attention to someone else who is openhearted and who truly has a genuine desire to learn from you.

As I noted earlier, eventually there comes a time when you must stop wasting your time and attention on people who don’t care. You can pray for them, love them, and believe for God to work in their lives. But if they don’t demonstrate a sincere desire to learn, to receive from you, and to soak up the rich wisdom you are trying to impart into their lives, it’s time for you to stop trying to make them receive what they need and turn your attention elsewhere. That doesn’t mean you cease to love these people, but it does mean their reactions to you have revealed the true level of the relationship.

Open your eyes! The Holy Spirit will lead you to someone who is hungry and ready to learn! Release the person you’ve been trying to push and to force into changing against his will. If that person doesn’t want to change, you can’t make it happen. Instead, let the Lord lead you to those who are already praying and crying out for God to send someone like you to them!


Lord, I am asking You to help me discern when the holy things I share are being appreciated and valued, and when I am being ignored by those I am trying to help. Forgive me for investing too much of myself into people who aren’t committed to applying what I have to teach them. I just wanted the best for them, and that’s why it’s been so hard for me to let them go. But today I am making a decision to start viewing myself, my experience, and my wisdom as treasures to be valued and held in esteem. From this moment onward, I ask You to help me invest these treasures into people who will listen, take what I have to share deeply into their hearts, and then apply those truths to their lives.

I pray this in Jesus’ name!


I confess that God has done wonderful things in my life that are a great blessing to others! I have something to share because Jesus has taught me so much. I am careful about what I say, and I allow the Holy Spirit to lead me to those I can open my heart to and pour out these treasures. God is helping me to be wiser about what I share and with whom I share it!

I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!


  1. Can you relate to today’s Sparkling Gem? Have you ever opened up and poured out your heart to someone who you later discovered really did take what you said to heart? How did that experience affect you?
  2. Have you ever kept hanging on to someone who was less concerned about his own spiritual growth than you were?
  3. Have you ever been guilty of the negative attitudes and actions I’ve described today? Can you think of a time when someone tried to help and teach you, but out of pride you stubbornly resisted the help God was trying to freely offer you through that person?


Yes! We Do Have Hope And A Future!

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,‘” declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.‘” (Jeremiah 29:11)


I turned 60 years old the other day. And I am surprised! I thought by this age I would be shot. Angry. Out of breath. Cynical. Brittle. Burned out. Over the hill. A “Busted Flushas my Father would say.


Here are two good reasons why it does not need to turn out that way:




In 1951, at age 15 I stumbled forward in a Billy Graham Crusade and genuinely met Jesus Christ. Over the next several years God brought men into my life who discipled me. As my understanding developed, I set out to believe and obey the Word of God without equivocation.


As I began to grasp God’s eternal purposes, I chose to surrender my life to Him without reservation – To give my life away in serving others for the Gospel. That is not to say that I was always victorious, but I sincerely sought to grow in that direction.


I can testify from 45 years of experience with God that Joshua 21:45 is true!


Not one of all the Lords good promises to the house of Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.




What goes up, must come down. “A man reaps what he sows.” (Galatians 6:7)


In those early years I chose to deal with my hang-ups; with the enslaving sins, the fears, and the bitterness. I brought these needs to Christ, claimed His promises, and appropriated His grace and victory.


So here I am at age 60 experiencing His joy and freedom in great measure. No “Busted Flush” here! Rather, I am encountering the truth of Psalm 18:19:


He brought me out into a spacious place; He rescued me because he delighted in me.


What a joy! What an adventure! What hope and a future!


The good news is that this hope and future is available to anyone who chooses to live it His way!