All Things Bright and Beautiful
A righteous man regards the life of his animal. Proverbs 12:10
Have you ever asked yourself why God created animals—so many of them with such variety?
Clearly God loves animals. He filled the Garden of Eden with them, preserved them during the Flood, and expressed concern about the cattle of Nineveh at the end of the book of Jonah. He even makes the surprising statement in Proverbs 12:10 that righteousness includes treating our animals well.
God undoubtedly created animals to be lessons for us. We learn diligence by watching ants do their work (Proverbs 6:6); we learn trust from the sparrows (Psalm 84:3); safety from the hen with her chicks (Matthew 23:37); confidence from the eagle (Isaiah 40:31); surefootedness from the deer (Habakkuk 3:19); discipleship from the sheep (John 10:4); gentleness from doves (Matthew 10:16); obedience from the horse (Psalm 32:9); wisdom from the badger (Proverbs 30:26); courage from the lion (Proverbs 30:29-30); and faith from the raven (Luke 12:24).
If you’re vacationing with your children this summer, talk about the animals. Sometimes their very presence is a sermon for our souls.
All things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small, / All things wise and wonderful, the Lord God made them all. Cecil Frances Alexander
Taking Care of Your Animals
Having a faithful friend is one of God’s greatest blessings. No matter what’s going on in your life, you can count on that person to stick with you. However, there is no guarantee that you won’t lose that friend. Unavoidable circumstances like relocation, illness, or death may take your companion away, but if you are a Christian, you have a friend who will never leave you.
He’s the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus called the Helper. He’s no fair-weather friend, slipping in and out of our lives when it’s to His advantage. When He takes up residence within us, He comes to stay forever (John 14:16).
In most human relationships, we try to avoid the use of sweeping negative or positive statements such as, “You are always late,” or “You are always there for me.” However, such superlative declarations are completely fitting when applied to the Holy Spirit. Listen to how the Lord Jesus described Him:
• “He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you” (John 14:26).
• “He will testify about Me” (John 15:26).
• “He will guide you into all the truth” (John 16:13).
• “All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you” (John 16:15).
Throughout the New Testament epistles, we find even more descriptions of this marvelous companion. His ministry in our lives is varied, and His accomplishments in and through us are many. How wealthy we are to have the Holy Spirit. He is a friend who truly sticks closer than a brother!
“And they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.” (Malachi 3:17)
The jewels of the Lord are not rubies and diamonds but rather are “they that feared the LORD” and who “spake often one to another.” Instead of being mounted in a crown or other adornment as precious stones would be, these jewels will be listed in a very special book. “A book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name” (v.16). What a blessing it would be if, when we get to heaven, we should find our names written in that special book of God’s memories! God does take note of our times of spiritual fellowship with other believers—especially, no doubt, when they occur during times of stress and worldly opposition.
This word (Hebrew cegullah) is not the usual word for “jewels,” more commonly being rendered “peculiar treasures.” For example, Psalm 135:4 says that “the LORD hath chosen Jacob unto himself, and Israel for his peculiar treasure.” The word suggests treasure carefully guarded in a safe place. The word is translated simply “special” in Deuteronomy 7:6, “a special people unto himself.”
Note in particular Exodus 19:5-6: “Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation.”
Peter uses the same language in writing to prepare Christians for imminent times of persecution. “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1 Peter 2:9). HMM
Acts 10:23-29, 33-48
The messengers of Cornelius were not long detained by the apostle, for
It was a journey of thirty miles, but no doubt the apostle and his six brethren had sweet fellowship on the road, and found kind companions in the three attendants.
Acts 10:25, 26
Had he been like his pretended successor, he would have bidden him kiss his toe.
Acts 10:28, 29
Note how he longs to be at work, he wastes no time in idle compliments. Soul matters are weighty and should be at once attended to. Cornelius was ready at once to tell Peter how the Lord had appeared to him, and directed him to send to Joppa, and he added:—
The best kind of congregation a preacher can have. Bogatzky says, “These words should be inscribed on all our church-doors and pulpits, that men may consider well wherefore they ought to be in the house of God.” Peter’s congregation was unbroken—”we are all here;” it was devout—”present before God;” it was attentive—”to hear all things;” it was teachable, for they desired to know “all things that are commanded thee of God.” We should always go to divine service in this spirit.
Acts 10:34, 35
Not in such a way as to supersede the gospel, but to secure them the privilege of hearing it. If there are among the heathen any like Cornelius, the Lord will be sure to send a Peter to them, for he has accepted them.
The fact that they had already received the Holy Spirit so abundantly did not set aside the divine ordinance, it was rather the ground of their right to it. This passage is instructive to those who wish to learn.
God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty. (1 Corinthians 1:27)
To meet the kind of temptations and enemies confronting us in this world, it is not enough for us to stick out our chins, inflate our chests and mutter the old refrain, “Never Say Die!”
Since I have been a Christian, I have had a negative reaction to that kind of human psychology. I do not mind saying that my favorite hymns are not those that exhort me to flex my biceps and tell the world where to get off! That is not my philosophy because it would put my confidence in the wrong place. If my faith, my belief, my confidence are in myself, then they cannot at the same time be resting in God!
The Bible tells us to believe in God and put our trust in Him. It warns us against having any confidence in the flesh. So I do not want some voice exhorting me to “Rise up, O man of God; go forth to face the foe”—and all of that. I would rather go to a place of prayer, meet God there and then let Him face the world for me.
We rest our case completely on God—then our experiences proceed by faith, through faith and in faith! Our victory must be God’s victory first!
“Although my house be not so with God; yet he hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure: for this is all my salvation, and all my desire, although he make it not to grow.” 2Sam. 23:5
This is not so much one promise as an aggregate of promises — a box of pearls. The covenant is the ark which contains all things.
These are the last words of David, but they may be mine today. Here is a sigh: things are not with me and mine as I could wish; there are trials, cares, and sins. These make the pillow hard.
Here is a solace — “He hath made with me an everlasting covenant.” Jehovah has pledged Himself to me, and sealed the compact with the blood of Jesus. I am bound to my God, and my God to me.
This brings into prominence a security, since this covenant is everlasting, well ordered and sure. There is nothing to fear from the lapse of time, the failure of some forgotten point, or the natural uncertainty of things. The covenant is a rocky foundation to build on for life or for death.
David feels satisfaction: he wants no more for salvation or delectation. He is delivered, and he is delighted. The covenant is all a man can desire.
O my soul, turn thou this day to thy Lord Jesus, whom the great Lord has given to be a covenant to the people. Take Him to be thine all in all.
Adrian Rogers: Standing Firm in a Pagan World [#2456]
We are moving away from a Christian consensus in America. Many people have come to believe that choice of one religious faith over another is irrelevant. And why do they say this? Because they say all religions teach the same basic lessons about life. Find what God’s word has to say about this.
Believers are on a continual growth track that ascends higher and higher. This side of heaven, none of us ever “arrive,” but we each have a responsibility to press on to maturity. Though many people think those who know a lot about the Bible are the spiritually mature ones, Hebrews 5:14 adds the element of practice to the growth equation. This word means a custom or habit. Christian growth requires the discipline of godly habits carried out daily.
The most important practice to cultivate is a personal devotional time. Since God is the source of all spiritual development, you can’t neglect Him and expect to become mature. Transformation begins with time in His Word and prayer.
Obedience is another essential element for advancement. When our desire to obey the Lord is stronger than our attraction to sin, we’ll know we are making progress in our spiritual life.
In terms of physical development, the goal is to become more independent and self-sufficient as we age. But in the spiritual realm, the opposite is true. Those who are mature in Christ recognize their own inadequacy and rely on the Holy Spirit within them. It’s His job to transform our character and empower us to accomplish everything the Lord calls us to do.
In God’s eyes, maturity isn’t the same as getting older. By digging into Scripture and developing God-pleasing habits, we can use our years to grow stronger in the Lord instead of wasting time with passivity. No one becomes mature accidentally. Spiritual growth requires a diligent pursuit of God.