It Isn’t Me

I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. Galatians 2:20

As one of the most celebrated orchestral conductors of the twentieth century, Arturo Toscanini is remembered for his desire to give credit to whom credit is due. In David Ewen’s Dictators of the Baton, the author describes how members of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra rose to their feet and cheered Toscanini at the end of a rehearsal of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. When there was a lull in the ovation, and with tears in his eyes, Arturo’s broken voice could be heard exclaiming as he spoke: “It isn’t me . . . it’s Beethoven! . . . Toscanini is nothing.”

In the apostle Paul’s New Testament letters, he also refused to take credit for his spiritual insight and influence. He knew he was like a spiritual father and mother to many who had put their faith in Christ. He admitted he had worked hard and suffered much to encourage the faith, hope, and love of so many (1 Cor. 15:10). But he could not, in good conscience, accept the applause of those who were inspired by his faith, love, and insight.

Father in heaven, without You we would have nothing.

So for his readers’ sake, and for ours, Paul said, in effect, “It isn’t me, brothers and sisters. It’s Christ . . . Paul is nothing.” We are only messengers of the One who deserves our cheers.

Father in heaven, without You we would have nothing. Without Your grace we would be hopeless. Without the Spirit of Your Son we would be helpless. Please show us how to give You the honor You deserve.

Wise is the person who would rather give honor than receive it.


By Mart DeHaan 


Paul warned the Corinthian church not to be enamored by the charisma or eloquence of human teachers. He reproved the believers for exalting him and reminded them that he did not come to glorify himself (1 Cor. 2:1–5); it is the message of the cross that is important, not the messenger (v. 2). The Holy Spirit is the real Teacher who reveals, teaches, and illumines us to understand God’s Word (vv. 10–16).

Are you sometimes tempted with spiritual pride? Ask the Holy Spirit to help you point others to the One who deserves the glory.

Sim Kay Tee

Skills Needed to Walk by Faith

Genesis 12:10-20

Learning to walk by faith requires time. As we have seen, Abraham listened to God and obeyed Him. Then over the years he learned to master additional skills.

Dependence. The Christian life is one of reliance upon God. From the very start, Abraham recognized that his own knowledge was limited and the right way was not obvious. But he understood whom he could trust to meet his needs: God knew the plan perfectly and had all the necessary resources to accomplish His will through Abraham.

Waiting on God. This can be one of the hardest disciplines to master. Scripture shows that even Abraham, the great man of faith, had trouble in this area. While our human nature wants action, the Lord often asks His people to hold back (2 Chronicles 20:17). He wants us to let Him act first. Our part is to meditate on the Word, listen for God’s voice, and hold off until He instructs us to act. The Lord, meanwhile, promises to bless those who wait (Isa. 64:4).

Confession. Abraham was not perfect. When famine threatened, he headed toward Egypt, not toward God. Then he lied, which made trouble for others. Later, Sarah found it too hard to wait for the promised child, so she and Abraham took matters into their own hands (Gen. 16:1-3). We also will stumble. But when we return to the Lord in repentance and acknowledge our failure, we will receive forgiveness and can resume walking by faith.

God knows we are imperfect people. He will patiently and repeatedly teach us faith-walking lessons until we learn to trust Him. We just have to maintain responsive hearts and teachable spirits.

Seek Ye First

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33)

This has become a favorite memory verse for millions and has even been set to music by a number of artists. Indeed, its truth is of foundational importance. Let us look with care at what it says.

First, notice that the tense of the verb “seek” in Greek implies a command to establish an ongoing habit or lifestyle of “seeking” the things of the kingdom. We are commanded to put first things first on a continual basis and watch Him take care of the items of secondary interest.

We should strive to make His priorities our priorities—to so mold our thinking by the Word of God that we think as He does on every issue. Our lives should exhibit the purity and righteousness that He exhibited when on Earth. While it is true that we will never fully achieve such perfection this side of heaven, we should be striving, i.e., “seeking,” to do so by the power of His Spirit living in us.

The chapter surrounding today’s verse is permeated by the concept of proper priorities in relation to pride (vv. 5-8, 16-18), treasures on Earth (vv. 19-21), singleness of purpose (vv. 22-23), serving two masters (v. 24), or anxious thoughts about the future (vv. 25-32, 34). Remember, “your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things” (v. 32).

If we reverse the proper order, not only will we not attain kingdom priorities and His righteousness, but we will probably miss the secondary “things” as well. The word “added,” a mathematical word, implies the prior existence of something to which other things can be added.

Surely in our “seeking” we should also adopt the prayer Jesus taught His disciples: “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (v. 10). JDM

Christ also suffered for us

Jonah 1:8-16

Jonah 1:8

Then said the mariners

Jonah 1:8


Jonah 1:8

They put him to the question, and did not condemn him without a hearing. There was more justice among these heathen sailors than we often find among professed Christians, who will judge by appearances and condemn in haste.

Jonah 1:9

He spoke out like an honest man, as he was. He owned that his occupation was the fear of the Lord, and he hesitated not to claim for his God supremacy over all the Babel of gods to whom they had been praying. He was ashamed of himself, but not of his religion.

Jonah 1:10

They knew what he had done, but they asked his motive for so doing. What could have induced him to flee from one who had made the sea and the dry land, and could therefore overtake him in his flight, wherever he might go?

Jonah 1:11

They were loth to lift up their hands against him; they dreaded to injure him, though his guilt was clear; they did not even insult him, as some would have done. From this let us learn never to be severe with our brethren, even though their faults should cause us great trouble and danger; let us rather appeal to their better judgment, and lead them to suggest a remedy themselves.

Jonah 1:12

Herein Jonah, who was an eminent type of our Lord Jesus, sets before us the doctrine of substitution, in a figure. Jesus is cast into the sea of wrath, and it becomes calm to us. This is the most glorious of all revealed truths, and most needful to be believed and personally rested in.

Jonah, in the verse before us, appears in an amiable light, as clothed with humility, a true penitent, ready to receive chastisement without complaint.

Jonah 1:13

The mildness of Jonah and his deep concern for their safety touched their hearts, and they resolved to save him if they could, but all in vain. In a figure, we are here taught the spiritual truth, that no toiling of our own can save us; it is by the death of the Substitute alone that we can be delivered.

Jonah 1:14

They forsook their false gods and prayed only to Jehovah. Their efforts to save Jonah were unavailing, therefore they were driven to cast him overboard, but they would not do it till they had made one last solemn appeal to heaven. What a sight it must have been, to see these men on their knees, amidst the fury of the storm, and what a pleasure to hear them cry, “We beseech thee, O Lord, we beseech thee.” Nor did they forget all this when the tempest subsided; their fulfilment of their vows is the most pleasing point in the case.

Jonah 1:15

This was one of the most solemn funerals that ever took place. Into the raging billows the living man was cast as into hit grave, and lo, all was still. The sacrifice was offered, and peace returned. Marvellous type of our redemption! Do we all understand that it is by Jesus’ death that we must live?

Jonah 1:16

When men are saved from destruction they are bound to give glory unto God, both with words and gifts. Let us at this time honour the Lord by our songs and our thank-offerings, for he alone is the Rock of our salvation.


How shall I praise th’ eternal God,

That infinite Unknown?

Who can ascend his high abode,

Or venture near his throne?


Sinners before his presence die;

How holy is his name!

His anger and his jealousy

Burn like devouring flame.


Justice upon a dreadful throne

Maintains the rights of God;

While mercy sends her pardons down,

Bought with a Saviour’s blood.


Come, ye that love the Saviour’s name,

And joy to make it known;

The Sovereign of your heart proclaim,

And bow before his throne.


Lo he on David’s ancient throne,

His power and grace displays,

While Salem with its echoing hills,

Sends forth the voice of praise.


Sing, ye redeem’d! Before the throne,

Ye white-robed myriads fall;

Sing, for the Lord of glory reigns,

The Christ, the heir of all.


To the Lord we all things owe,

To the Lord we love to give:

Day by day his mercies flow,

Day by day to him we’ll live.


Thus we sanctify our store

Cleanse the canker from our gold;

And the Lord returns us more,

Fifty and a hundredfold.


Our best offering is small,

But in condescending love,

He who is the Lord of all

Smiles upon it from above.


Never leave us, nor forsake us,

Thou on whom our souls rely,

Till thou shalt for ever take us

To behold that glory nigh;

Which, though distant,

Fills thy people’s hearts with joy.


All our strength at once would fail us,

If deserted, Lord, by thee;

Nothing then could aught avail us,

Certain our defeat would be:

Those who hate us

Thenceforth their desire would see.


But we look to thee as able,

Grace to give in time of need:

Heaven we know is not more stable,

Than the promise which we plead:

‘Tis thy promise

Gives thy people hope indeed.


Could I so false, so faithless prove,

To quit thy service and thy love;

Where, Lord, could I thy presence shun,

Or from thy dreadful glory run?


If mounted on a morning ray

I fly beyond the Western sea,

Thy swifter hand would first arrive,

And there arrest thy fugitive.


O may these thoughts possess my breast

Where’er I rove, where’er I rest!

Nor let my weaker passions dare

Consent to sin, for God is there.


From a heart by sin deceivèd,

Bent with froward will, to take

Its own downward course of madness,

Save us for thy mercies’ sake.


From a soul whose deathlike slumber

Will not at thy voice awake,

But sleep on, nor heed its danger,

Save us for thy mercies’ sake.


Abhor That Which Is Evil

Romans 12:9

Today I want to talk to you about some of the detrimental things you have been tolerating in your personal life. First, let’s look at the illustration of television as an example of what you must do to keep evil out of your life.

Our family rarely watches television or movies, but when we do, we are very careful about what we allow to be broadcast into our home. Denise and I know it is part of our God-given responsibility as parents to keep evil from gaining access, for God designed the home to be a godly sanctuary for the family. Because we don’t want evil to affect our family, Denise and I carefully guard what is viewed on the television in our home. Some may say that our approach is narrow, but the apostle Paul clearly instructed all believers to “… abhor that which is evil…” (Romans 12:9).

The word “abhor” is the Greek word apostugeo, which is a compound of the words apo and stugeo. The word apo means away, and the word stugeo means to hate. It describes an intense dislike, an aversion, or a repugnance to something. When the words apo and stugeo are compounded together, the new word conveys the notion of a person who hates something so extremely that he literally backs away from it in disgust. Thus, the King James Version translates it as the word “abhor” to reflect the feelings of a person who is so repulsed by something that he shuns and avoids it at all costs.

This means God expects your tolerance level for sin and evil to be very low. In fact, you should have such a repugnance for evil that you actively and continually guard against it from ever invading your life or your family.

But when we speak of evil, exactly what do we mean? Since Paul is the one who told us to “… abhor that which is evil…,” let’s look at this word “evil” in the Greek text to see what he was talking about.

The word “evil” is the word poneros, and it conveys the notion of anything that is full of destruction, disaster, harm, or danger. It includes not only that which is dangerous to the physical body, but also that which is dangerous to the spirit or mind. So Paul is urgently telling us that we should have no tolerance at all for anything that would endanger our bodies or that would do any kind of damage to our minds or spirits.

As human beings, we are usually careful to take care of ourselves physically. However, Paul is telling us that we need to take care of our spirits and minds just as diligently as we watch over the natural care of our human bodies.

You see, if your spirit and mind are invaded by information or images that are evil, the entrance of those images into your mind and spirit can wreak havoc in your life for years to come. Your mind is like a movie screen—and what you allow into your mind lives in your imagination for a very long time.

So instead of watching, reading, or listening to a lot of evil garbage that will clog up your mind for years, why not take a safer and smarter route? In other words, don’t allow that garbage to enter your mind in the first place!

What are you to do instead? Paul says you need to “… cleave to that which is good.” The word “cleave” is the Greek word kollao, which is the old Greek word that means to glue or to cement something together. This word denotes a permanent connection. It is the picture of two things that have been glued or cemented together, so tightly joined and bonded that they are now permanently connected and cannot be separated.

Let me illustrate the strength of the word kollao. A form of this word is used in Ephesians 5:31, where Paul teaches that a man should leave his father and mother and “be joined” unto his wife. Just as it takes work for a man and wife to cleave to each other and to become one in mind and heart, it will take effort on your part to be joined unto that which is “good.” That word “good” is the Greek word agathos, the Greek word that describes anything that is good, beneficial, or profitable for you.


So when you take these Greek word meanings into consideration, Romans 12:9 could be interpreted to mean:

“You need to abhor and be disgusted with anything that would bring evil and harm to your physical, mental, or spiritual life. Instead of giving place to those destructive things, why don’t you put your whole self forward to become more joined with that which is good and profitable for you?”

As you’ve read this Sparkling Gem today, has God’s Spirit been speaking to you about the things you’ve been tolerating in your life for which you should have no tolerance? If the answer is yes, it’s time for you to get into the Presence of God and ask Him to forgive you for permitting wrong influences in your life or home. Then make a concrete, firm decision to remove those wrong influences, and deliberately turn your attention toward the things that will bring you closer to the Lord.

There are so many good things you could be watching, reading, and listening to. So make the quality decision to shun all that is evil as you cleave to that which is good!


Lord, I ask You to help me be sensitive to the influences I allow in my home and life. I realize that You have given me the responsibility to watch over my life and that I need to be careful about the information and images I allow to pass into my spirit and mind. Please help me recognize the influences that are acceptable and those that are not. When I am quickened in my spirit that what I am watching, reading, or hearing is unprofitable, give me the strength of will to turn it off, lay it down, or walk away from it.

I pray this in Jesus’ name!


I confess that I carefully guard what goes into my spirit and my mind because God has given me the responsibility to do so. Therefore, I will not permit any evil garbage into the domain of my life. By keeping my mind free of evil influences, I will protect my life and stop the devil from many of the attacks he would like to launch against me. I refuse to open the door and invite the enemy in by watching or listening to the wrong things. Instead, I will turn my attention to those influences that are good and profitable for me. I am going to put my whole heart and soul into meditating on that which will enrich my life and take me to a higher level.

I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!


  1. What are you allowing in your thought life that you know is unhealthy for you? Has the Spirit of God been telling you to remove that evil influence before it affects your spiritual life and your mental health?
  2. Are your children taking into their minds and spirits certain television programs or certain types of music and literature that are unhealthy for them? If yes, what are you going to do about it? Will you continue to tolerate and allow these evil influences until they eventually produce destructive fruit in the lives of your children? Or will you take the initiative to remove every evil influence in order to protect them?
  3. What good things can you cleave to in order to bring a strong positive influence into the sanctuary of your home?


Seven Guidelines In Helping You Determine The Will Of God

Discerning the will of God can, at times be a bit daunting. No wonder Solomon proclaimed, “A mans steps are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand his own way?” (Proverbs 20:24) (See Proverbs 16:9)



For example: “It is Gods will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is Gods will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 4:3; 5:18) (Also consider 1 Peter 3:17; 4:19; 5:2, and Matthew 22:37-39)



Going a little farther, [Christ] fell with his face to the ground and prayed, My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.‘” “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus… ” (Matthew 26:39; Philippians 2:5) (See Luke 9:23, 24; 14:26-33; John 12:25, 26)



His guidance will never be contrary to His Word. “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my pathDirect my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me.” (Psalm 119:105, 133)



If they align with his Word, give them careful consideration. “God gave you a lot of leading, when He gave you a head.” (Dawson Trautman)



If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to alland it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubtsshould not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.” (James 1:5-8 – excerpts )



Through prayer, the study of the Word and reflection, I come to a deliberate judgement according to the best of my ability and knowledge. If my mind is at peace and continues so after two or three more petitions, I proceed accordingly. I have found this method always effective in trivial or important decisions.” (George Mueller)


Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts… ” (Colossians 3:15a) (See Psalm 29:11; Isaiah 26:3; John 14:27; 16:33; Romans 15:13)



Make plans by seeking advice; if you wage war, obtain guidanceBlessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked… ” (Proverbs 20:18; Psalm 1:1b) (See Proverbs 11:14; 15:22)



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