A Time for Everything

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens. Ecclesiastes 3:1

While flying recently, I watched a mother and her children a few rows ahead of me. While the toddler played contentedly, the mother gazed into the eyes of her newborn, smiling at him and stroking his cheek. He stared back with a wide-eyed wonderment. I enjoyed the moment with a touch of wistfulness, thinking of my own children at that age and the season that has passed me by.

I reflected, however, about King Solomon’s words in the book of Ecclesiastes about “every activity under the heavens” (v. 1). He addresses through a series of opposites how there is a “time for everything” (v. 1): “a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot” (v. 2). Perhaps King Solomon in these verses despairs at what he sees as a meaningless cycle of life. But he also acknowledges the role of God in each season, that our work is a “gift of God” (v. 13) and that “everything God does will endure forever” (v. 14).

The Lord promises to be with us in every season of our life.

We may remember times in our lives with longing, like me thinking of my children as babies. We know, however, that the Lord promises to be with us in every season of our life (Isa. 41:10). We can count on His presence and find that our purpose is in walking with Him.

Lord God, You lead me through the seasons, and whether I’m laughing or crying I know You are with me. May I reach out to someone with Your love today.

God gives us the seasons of our lives.

By Amy Boucher Pye 

INSIGHT:The writer of Ecclesiastes lists fourteen pairs of “times” we may find ourselves in throughout our lives. But following this list is a question, “What do workers gain from their toil?” (3:9). The answer is quite encouraging. From our toil we gain satisfaction, and that is a gift from God (v. 13). Thank God for the season of life you are now in. Thank Him for the satisfaction of work. J.R. Hudberg

Partners in Suffering for Christ

Acts 19:23-31

In the book of Acts, Paul stands out as the most prominent preacher and apostle. That’s why we tend to pass over the names of other individuals who are mentioned only briefly. An example is Aristarchus—one of the men dragged into the theater of Ephesus during a riot. Paul was the target of the dispute, but Aristarchus was also on the receiving end of the hostility.

>Who was Aristarchus? Though not well known, he is actually mentioned five times in the New Testament. We know he was from Thessalonica and that he joined Paul on his third missionary trip as the apostle was going to Jerusalem (Acts 20:4). The next time he showed up in Scripture (Acts 27:2), he was boarding a ship with Paul, who by that time was a prisoner on his way to Rome. At sea, Aristarchus and Paul suffered through a great storm that resulted in shipwreck. The last mentions of Aristarchus are as a fellow prisoner with Paul in a Roman jail and a fellow worker (Col. 4:10; Philem. 1:24).

Almost every reference to Aristarchus involves suffering for Christ. Yet this isn’t a popular concept today. We want a Savior who will make life easy, comfortable, and prosperous. But that’s not the message Jesus preached, nor is it the example Paul and Aristarchus set. As the apostle wrote, “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim. 3:12).

Although most of us probably won’t experience the hardships Paul and Aristarchus suffered, we must be willing to stand for Christ in the face of rejection, ridicule, misunderstanding, discrimination, and even hostility. Are you willing to suffer for Christ?

Together in Christ

“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:20)

This is a wonderful promise. Whether believers come together in church or a home Bible study or even just two together (like husband and wife) to fellowship around the name of the Lord Jesus, He is there also!

The Scriptures often speak of our togetherness with Him and therefore with one another. When we followed Him in baptism, we were “planted together in the likeness of his death” (Romans 6:5). Similarly, when He rose from the dead, God “hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:5-6). One day, we are told, “if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together” (Romans 8:17).

In our Christian walk right now, we are being “fitly framed together” as a “holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:21-22). We ought, therefore, to be “knit together in love” (Colossians 2:2), “perfectly joined together in the same mind” (1 Corinthians 1:10), and “striving together for the faith of the gospel” (Philippians 1:27).

Then one day, when Christ returns and the dead in Christ are raised, “we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:17).

So, when we are together with Him through the indwelling Spirit of Christ, whether in a congregation of thousands or just together with one or two Christian companions, we rejoice in His presence, for He is our mighty Creator, our loving Savior, our caring Comforter, our unerring Guide, and our soon-coming King. HMM

“The Lord he is God.”

Judges 18:1-6, 14-26

Judges 18:3

This is generally the worldlings question—”What hast thou here?” And in this case it was well suited for a hireling priest.

Judges 18:4, 5

Little did they care whether he was a true servant of God or not. They were like many in our day, who think one religion as good as another. They saw before them a god, an. ephod, and a priest, and that was enough for them. One would think that if they cared for religion at all, they would have been anxious to have the right one; but no, the very men who are careful in their eating, their clothing, their medicine, will take their faith second-hand from others, without examination.

Judges 18:6

False priests abound in soft words.

These spies fulfilled their commission, and returned to the Danites with their report; whereupon the men of war marched upon Laish, and on the road stopped at or near Micah’s house for the night, as the spies had done previously. They were ungrateful enough to repay his former hospitality by robbing him.

Judges 18:14

This was a hint that perhaps the gods would be worth the stealing.

Judges 18:15-17

They kept the priest in conversation while they stole the wretched gods which could not protect themselves. Does it not read like a caricature? How insane a thing, that men should steal what they had worshipped, and afterwards worship what they stole.

Judges 18:19

They knew the most powerful arguments to silence this gentleman, and asked him whether it would not be more profitable to be the priest of a settlement than the private chaplain of a single man. The man who had already sold himself was easily bought.

Judges 18:20

Bishop Hall says, “He that was won with ten shekels, may be lost with eleven. The Levite had too many gods to make conscience of pleasing one. There is nothing more inconstant than a Levite who seeks nothing but himself.”

Judges 18:22-24

What a mass of superstition and absurdity! Ye have stolen my gods which are my all. They are my own gods, for I made them myself, and very precious are they to my heart, so that nothing can console me for their loss. He was foolish to trust in gods which could not take care of themselves, yet while he did trust in them he showed his sincerity by grieving for their loss. In very deed, if we lose the smile of the living God, we may well say, “What have I more?” To lose the presence of God is to lose all.

Judges 18:25

Those who have power on their side can generally find some- thing to say, and they scarcely care to conceal the lions claw beneath the lion’s pad.

Judges 18:26

And if he became a wiser man he was a great gainer by his loss. If Ritualists and others could be cured of their folly by the breaking in pieces of all their altars and the pulling down of every cathedral in the land it would be a cheap remedy. O that the Lord would visit this land, and with his great besom sweep out the priests and their idols. May he also cleanse the temples of our hearts. For this let us pray.


God is King among all nations,

God above all gods is he;

In his hand are earth’s foundations,

The strong hills and rolling sea:


He created land and ocean,

He with beauty clothes the sod;

Let us kneel in deep devotion,

Bless our Maker and our God.


From vile idolatry

Preserve my worship clean;

I am the God who set thee free

From slavery and sin.


No symbol shalt thou make,

Or graven image frame;

I am the Lord, Invisible,

Eternal is my name.


Though steeped in midnight dire as death,

The heathen scorn thy name,

And rage with bold blaspheming breath;

Dear Lord, remember them!


Darkly they roam, enslaved by lust,

Devoid of fear and shame;

Before their gods they crouch in dust;

But, oh! remember them!


Why is thy church so much defaced?

Why hast thou laid her fences waste?

Strangers and foes against her join,

And every beast devours thy vine.


Return, Almighty God, return;

Nor let thy bleeding vineyard mourn;

Turn us to thee, thy love restore,

We shall be saved, and sigh no more.


Do You Practice Sin in Your Life?

Galatians 5:21

When I was young in the Lord and read the list in Galatians 5:19-21 of the works of the flesh, I was afterward afraid that I wouldn’t be admitted into the Kingdom of God if I ever unintentionally slipped into one of these fleshly works. That’s what I thought Paul meant when he said, “… they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” I wondered, Would an occasional, unintentional act of the flesh keep me or someone else out of God’s Kingdom? What does it mean when it says, “they which do such things”? If I fall into one of these vices once, does that mean it’s all over for me?

So when I first started to learn New Testament Greek, one of my top priorities was to study Galatians 5:21 to see exactly what the original Greek was saying. What I discovered brought great relief to my mind, and I believe it will bring assurance to your heart and mind as well.

When Paul says, “… They which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God,” he uses the word “do,” from the Greek word prasso, which means to practice. Had he used the Greek word poieo, which means to do, it would have referred to an occasional act, but Paul carefully chose to use the word prasso, which conclusively communicates the idea of something that is done repeatedly or habitually. These are the actions of a person who has put these things into practice in his life, performing them as a matter of routine. These actions are his ritual, his norm, his pattern of life. Thus, the verse could be translated, “… Those who put these things into practice in their lives and do these things routinely as a manner of lifestyle shall not inherit the Kingdom of God.”

For a review, let’s look quickly at the following list of the works of the flesh that are not to be routinely practiced or habitually performed:

  • Adultery: The Greek word porneia describes any sexual relationship that occurs outside the sanctified boundaries of marriage. (See July 15.)
  • Uncleanness: The Greek word for “uncleanness” refers to lewd or unclean thoughts that eventually produce lewd or unclean actions. It strongly suggests that these actions begin in the mind as unclean thoughts before they manifest as unclean deeds. (See July 15.)
  • Lasciviousness: This word in the Greek text describes excess, but it primarily refers to the excessive consumption of food or wild, undisciplined living that is especially marked by unbridled sex. (See July 15.)
  • Idolatry: The Greek word eidololatria depicts the worship of idols, or simply put, “idolatry.” The act of idolatry transpires when an individual gives his complete, undivided attention, devotion, passion, love, or commitment to a person, project, or object other than God. When something other than God takes first place in a person’s mind, he has entered, at least to a measure, into the sin of idolatry. (See July 16.)
  • Witchcraft: The word “witchcraft” is from the Greek word pharmakeia, the Greek word for medicines or drugs that inhibit a person’s personality or change his behavior. We would call these mind-altering drugs. The Greek word pharmakeia is where we get the words pharmaceutical drugs or the word pharmacy. This word was used in connection with sorcery, magic, or witchcraft. However, for our purposes in today’s world, the word “witchcraft” describes the flesh’s attempts to avoid being confronted and changed. (See July 16.)
  • Hatred: The Greek word echthra pictures people who cannot get along with each other. They have deep issues with each other, holding resentments, grievances, complaints, and grudges that go way back in time and have very deep roots. Something occurred along the way that caused one or both of them to be offended. Instead of letting it go, they are divided, hostile, and fiercely opposed to each other. They are antagonistic, aggressive, and harsh. They hate each other. They have a grudge and are determined to hold on to their offense. (See July 17.)
  • Variance: The Greek word eris depicts a bitterly mean spirit that is so consumed with its own self-interests and self-ambitions that it would rather split and divide than to admit it is wrong or to give an inch to an opponent! This is exactly why churches end up divided and families frequently dissolve. Most of the issues that bring such division are not that important. Nevertheless, division occurs because the flesh simply hates to surrender, to admit that it’s wrong, to let someone else be right, or to compromise. Flesh would rather blow issues all out of proportion and wreak havoc than to let someone else have his way! (See July 17.)
  • Emulations: The Greek word zelos is used in a negative sense to depict a person who is upset because someone else achieved more or received more; therefore, the first person is jealous, envious, resentful, and filled with ill will for that other person who received the blessing that he wanted. As a result of not getting what he desired, this first person is irritated, infuriated, irate, annoyed, provoked, and fuming that the other person did get it! In short, you could say that this person is really incensed and ticked off! (See July 17.)
  • Wrath: The Greek word thumos is used throughout the New Testament to picture a person who is literally boiling with anger about something. Although the person tries to restrain this anger by shoving it down deeper into his soul, it intermittently flares up. When that happens, this person is like a volcano that suddenly blows its top, scorching everything within its reach as it hurls its load of deadly molten lava onto the entire surrounding landscape! (See July 17.)
  • Strife: The word eritheia describes a self-seeking ambition that is more concerned about itself and the fulfillment of its own wants, desires, and pleasures than it is in meeting the same needs in others. When eritheia is working in someone’s life, it means that a person’s principal concern is to take care of himself and to get what he wants. He is so bent on getting what he wants that he is willing to do anything, say anything, or sacrifice any standard, rule, or relationship to achieve his goals. Because this self-consumed, self-focused attitude is engrossed with its own desires and ambitions, it is blinded to the desires and ambitions of other people. (See July 18.)
  • Seditions: The Greek word dichostasia means to stand apart, as one who rebels and steps away from someone to whom he should have been loyal. Thus, the word “sedition” gives the impression of disloyalty. It is the ultimate act of defiance or disloyalty to an established authority. (See July 18.)
  • Heresies: The Greek word hairesis carries the idea of a group of people who adhere to the same doctrine or who ardently follow the same leader and are sectarian. The adherents of a sect are usually limited in their scope and closed to outsiders, staying primarily to themselves. In New Testament times, these groups were considered to be unauthorized because they were not submitted to the authority of the church leadership. In today’s contemporary language, we would call them “cliques”—a group of people who believe or conduct themselves as if they are exclusive. (See July 18.)
  • Envyings: The Greek word phthonos implies a deeply felt grudge because someone possesses what a person wishes was his own. Because this person has a chip on his shoulder, he begrudges what the other person possesses and is covetous of that person’s belongings, accomplishments, relationships, or titles in life. Every time he sees that other person, he inwardly seethes about his success. He deeply resents that person’s blessing and tries to figure out a way to seize it away from the person he envies in order to make it his own. (See July 19.)
  • Drunkenness: The Greek word methe refers to strong drink or to drunkenness. The consumption of wine for the sake of intoxication was common in the first century due to many pagan religions that employed wine as a part of their religious practices. A drunken state suppresses the mind’s ability to think correctly and releases the flesh to fully express itself. The believers in the first century were trying to walk free from the power of their flesh. The last thing they needed was to drink wine, inhibit their ability to think correctly, revive the flesh, and then do things that were sinful or damaging! This is why Paul urged them to leave the wine alone! (See July 19.)
  • Revellings: The Greek word komoi describes a person who can’t bear the thought of boredom and therefore constantly seeks forms of amusement or entertainment. This person is actually afraid of being bored, so he constantly contemplates what he can do next to have fun or to be entertained. The word komoi can refer to a person who endlessly eats at parties or who seeks constant laughter and hilarity. Although there is nothing wrong with laughter, this person is consumed with the need for comedy, light moments, fun, pleasure, entertainment, or constant eating. He lives for the next meal, the next restaurant, the next movie, the next vacation. (See July 19.)
  • And such like: Paul ends this list with this Greek phrase, which alerts us to the fact that this list of the works of the flesh is not comprehensive; it is just the beginning of the works of the flesh! Many more examples of works of the flesh could be added to this list, but Paul uses these as examples of how the flesh behaves, ending the list once he has sufficiently made the point to his readers.

Remember, when Paul wrote, “… They which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God,” he used a Greek tense that categorically means he is talking about those who perform these things as a manner of lifestyle or who are habitually controlled by fleshly thoughts or deeds. To such people, the works of the flesh are their ritual, their norm, their pattern of life. So I must ask you:

  • Do you routinely commit adultery?
  • Do you routinely live in fornication?
  • Do you routinely allow yourself to think unclean thoughts?
  • Do you routinely overindulge in sexual sins or gluttony?
  • Do you routinely give your heart and devotion in idolatry to other things besides Jesus?
  • Do you routinely run from the truth, like those who participated in witchcraft?
  • Do you routinely allow hatred to thrive inside your heart and soul?
  • Do you routinely exhibit a bitterly mean spirit that is consumed with its own self-interests?
  • Do you routinely permit yourself to be jealous, resentful, and envious of what others possess?
  • Do you routinely lose your temper, fly into a rage, and give way to destructive outbursts?
  • Are you routinely so self-consumed that you are blinded to the desires or needs of others?
  • Do you routinely rebel and live in defiance to authorities or show yourself to be disloyal?
  • Do you routinely act as if you and your exclusive “clique” are superior to other people?
  • Do you routinely begrudge other people’s belongings, accomplishments, relationships, or titles in life?
  • Do you routinely and deliberately allow your flesh to freely follow its temptations?
  • Do you routinely live for the next moment of fleshly pleasure?

If you routinely do these things, you need to be very concerned about whether or not you are genuinely a child of God.

As you will see in tomorrow’s Sparkling Gem, it is impossible for a real believer to continue habitually in sin. If these works of the flesh are the norm, the pattern, the routine of a person’s life, it may be an indication that he was never born again—thus providing the reason he will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

If you occasionally struggle with sin, then go to God and allow Him to show you how He sees your sin. Get a revelation of what sin is—how grievous it is to the heart of God and how damaging it is to your own soul. Then ask Him to forgive you and to cleanse you—and He will! But if you routinely do many of these things as a manner of lifestyle, I believe you need to go to God and ask Him to tell you the truth about your spiritual status! You cannot afford to make a mistake about this eternal question!


Lord, I thank You for saving me by the power of God. Help me put aside the works of the flesh once and for all. Please teach me to walk in the Spirit. I know that You have designed a powerful life for me, and I want to enter into that life in all its fullness. My heart’s desire is to know You better and to walk with You, so today I am asking that Your Spirit propel me forward into this newer and higher way of living!

I pray this in Jesus’ name!


I confess that I do NOT routinely perform the works of the flesh. As a genuine child of God, I live to please my Heavenly Father, and I am repulsed by sin when it tries to operate in my life. My spirit is sensitive to God, and my heart is tender to the voice of the Holy Spirit. I hate sin and its consequences, and I do everything I can to live and to stay in the Presence of God!

I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!


  1. Are any of the above works of the flesh routinely performed in your life? If yes, how does today’s Sparkling Gem affect you?
  2. Has the Holy Spirit been trying to deal with you about certain works of the flesh that are operating in your life? What are those areas? Are you going to permit Him to purge those grievous actions and attitudes from your life?
  3. Do you need to take some time today to get before the Lord and confess your sin? If your answer is yes, please don’t leave your quiet place until you have done so. You need to respond to God while your spirit is sensitive to what He is speaking to you.


Taking Care Of God’s Temple, Your Body

In the mid-19th Century the American evangelist, D. L. Moody paid a visit to the renowned English preacher, C. H. Spurgeon. Moody bordered on the obese and Spurgeon enjoyed his pipe. During their visit, Moody gently chided Spurgeon for smoking a pipe. In response, Spurgeon leaned forward, and with a wry smile poked his pipe into Moody’s belly.


Does the Bible address the issue of physical fitness? 1 Timothy 4:8 makes this point:


Physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things.” Literally: Physical training has value for a few days, with little application outside its own discipline, while training in godliness has extensive application.


It is interesting to observe that the preponderance of Scriptures dealing with health draw a strong correlation between inner peace and soundness of body. For example:


Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.” (Proverbs 3:7, 8)


It is difficult however, to imagine Jesus being out of shape physically. Certainly Luke 2:52 gives us a clue as to the balance in His life in the mental, physical, spiritual and social realms:


And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.


As Christ’s Ambassadors, does it not stand to reason that we should take care of His temple in such a way that we are attractive to the people we are attempting to win? Certainly a reasonable, disciplined approach to physical fitness is an appropriate step in that direction.

(2 Corinthians 5:20; 1 Corinthians 3:17; 6:19)


On a personal note: In 1969 I returned from Asia physically shot at age 33. To regain my health I slowly and determinedly involved myself in a swimming program, and have over these years continued to sustain a fairly demanding regimen. I have observed that in my life there seems to be a direct correlation between physical fitness and maintaining a sharp spiritual edge. At age 62, the dividends I’ve reaped from staying physically fit are much more than I could ever have imagined.


QUESTION: What are you doing to maintain your “temple” in a manner that is honoring to God?



%d bloggers like this: