For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. John 12:43
When King Belshazzar hosted a drunken feast for a thousand of his nobles and officials, using the sacred vessels from the temple in Jerusalem, he was no doubt praised and lauded by those seeking to curry his favor. But the praise of men can be a dangerous thing—especially when it is preferred over praise from God. For when tragedy or judgment strikes, the praise of men cannot save or bestow mercy.
The same thing happened in Jesus’ day. The apostle John records that among the religious rulers in Jerusalem “many believed in Him.” But they would not confess their faith openly because of the Pharisees, “lest they should be put out of the synagogue.” In other words, “they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God” (John 12:42-43). They considered it best to be secret believers—maintaining their status among the non-believers while secretly professing to believe in Jesus. Perhaps they had missed what Jesus said as recorded in Matthew 10:32—He will confess before the Father those who confess Him before men.
Don’t be afraid to live for Christ; don’t prefer the praise of men over the praise of God.
It is only the fear of God that can deliver us from the fear of man. John Witherspoon
When God’s Patience Runs Out
Suffering produces endurance. Romans 5:3 esv
Ernest Shackleton (1874–1922) led an unsuccessful expedition to cross Antarctica in 1914. When his ship, aptly named Endurance, became trapped in heavy ice in the Weddell Sea, it became an endurance race just to survive. With no means of communicating with the rest of the world, Shackleton and his crew used lifeboats to make the journey to the nearest shore—Elephant Island. While most of the crew stayed behind on the island, Shackleton and five crewmen spent two weeks traveling 800 miles across the ocean to South Georgia to get help for those left behind. The “failed” expedition became a victorious entry in the history books when all of Shackleton’s men survived, thanks to their courage and endurance.
The apostle Paul knew what it meant to endure. During a stormy sea voyage to Rome to face trial for his belief in Jesus, Paul learned from an angel of God that the ship would sink. But the apostle kept the men aboard encouraged, thanks to God’s promise that all would survive, despite the loss of the ship (Acts 27:23–24).
When disaster strikes, we tend to want God to immediately make everything better. But God gives us the faith to endure and grow. As Paul wrote to the Romans, “Suffering produces endurance” (Romans 5:3 esv). Knowing that, we can encourage each other to keep trusting God in hard times.
Reflect & Pray
What’s your usual response to hardship? How can you encourage someone who’s going through difficult times?
Heavenly Father, I need Your help to keep going, even when it’s tough.
2 Timothy 3:10-17
You and I know there are many people in the world who reject the Bible’s authority. But have you considered that some of them are Christians? Many believers unwittingly do this when they choose which parts of the Bible to believe and which parts to throw out.
But the truth is that the Bible is the very Word of God—spoken to and through His messengers, passed down through time, and relevant to every generation. It’s God’s magnificent revelation of Himself to the world, and everything He said was intentional.
We cannot break up Scripture or pull pieces out of context without the risk of altering its meaning. In 2 Timothy 3:16, we read that every word of the Bible is God-breathed and valuable. That means no part of it was written without a specific purpose, so whatever portion we’re reading, we should pay attention to surrounding verses, the book’s intended audience, and historical context.
Do you ever choose which parts of the Bible you want to believe and follow? Let’s bravely ask the Holy Spirit to show us any sections of Scripture we may have thrown aside—and to help us trust in the authority of God’s Word.
“But . . . pass not to Beersheba.” (Amos 5:5)
Beersheba (well of the “sevens”) became a location of some importance in Israel’s early history. Hagar, the Egyptian bondwoman who bore Ishmael, was rescued by God at Beersheba (Genesis 21:14-19). Abraham improved the well at Beersheba and settled there, built a grove, and “called there on the name of the LORD, the everlasting God” (Genesis 21:33). It was at Beersheba that Abraham was told to sacrifice Isaac (Genesis 22:1-4).
Beersheba figured prominently in the life of Israel. Isaac made a covenant with the Philistines there, repaired the well, and lived at Beersheba for many years (Genesis 26:17-33). Historically, Beersheba is best known for the political oaths ceremoniously confirmed there with the secular nations around Israel.
At Beersheba, truth later became equated with tradition. Substituting the wisdom and traditions of man (Mark 7:3-13) or the world’s logic (Colossians 2:8) for truth can be very dangerous.
- God looks forward not backward. Historical places and events are lessons not laws.
- God wants obedience not activity. Past victories are to be praises not patterns.
- God demands truth not compromise. Successful negotiations are directives not doctrines.
“Seek good, and not evil, that ye may live: and so the LORD, the God of hosts, shall be with you, as ye have spoken. Hate the evil, and love the good, and establish judgment in the gate: it may be that the LORD God of hosts will be gracious unto the remnant of Joseph” (Amos 5:14-15). HMM III
…to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.
Pentecost means that the Deity came to mankind to give Himself to man, that man might breathe Him in as he breathes in the air, that He might fill men. Dr. A.B. Simpson used an illustration which was about as good as any I ever heard. He said, “Being filled with the fullness of God is like a bottle in the ocean. You take the cork out of the bottle and sink it in the ocean, and you have the bottle completely full of ocean. The bottle is in the ocean, and the ocean is in the bottle. The ocean contains the bottle, but the bottle contains only a little bit of the ocean. So it is with a Christian.”
We are filled unto the fullness of God, but, of course, we cannot contain all of God because God contains us; but we can have all of God that we can contain. If we only knew it, we could enlarge our vessel. The vessel gets bigger as we go on with God. COU068
Enlarge my vessel, Lord, and fill me with more and more of the fullness of Yourself. Amen.
For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
According to the Scriptures the Church is the habitation of God through the Spirit, and as such is the most important organism beneath the sun. She is not one more good institution along with the home, the state and the school; she is the most vital of all institutions—the only one that can claim a heavenly origin.
The cynic may inquire which church we mean, and may remind us that the Christian Church is so divided that it is impossible to tell which is the true one, even if such a one exists….
Being inside the Church we are probably as well aware of her faults as any person on the outside could possibly be. And we believe in her nevertheless wherever she manifests herself in a world of darkness and unbelief.
The Church is found wherever the Holy Spirit has drawn together a few persons who trust Christ for their salvation, worship God in spirit and have no dealings with the world and the flesh. GTM024-025
The Church was never intended to be a natural and intellectual organization, but a supernatural instrumentality wholly dependent upon the power of God. ISS029
How many worlds
Did You make, Lord?
Not finished yet,
Still strewing stars
Out in Your
Marvelous, Your creation.
Millions of stars I see;
Satellites of Your glory,
Standing in awe and wonder,
Answer me if You can:
With all the worlds to think of,
Why do You think of man?
Tell me, O Lord Creator,
(Promise You will not smile!)
Why in Your whole creation
Only mankind is vile?
I thought I heard You laughing?
How could I be so dim?
Where there’s a man who’ll let You,
You’re still at work
John Gowans, O Lord Not More Verse!