Laughing or Weeping

“Sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better.” (Ecclesiastes 7:3)

People like to be made to laugh, and many professional comics make a good living telling jokes and doing slapstick comedy. Even in the realm of Christian ministry, those preachers and teachers who can keep their audiences laughing are often the most popular, especially among young people.

No doubt humor has a place, but it needs to be kept in perspective. Solomon had everything and tried everything, including activities promoting laughter and merriment, and was soon disillusioned. “I said in mine heart, . . . I will prove thee with mirth, therefore enjoy pleasure: and, behold, this also is vanity. I said of laughter, It is mad: and of mirth: What doeth it?” (2:1-2).

In fact, some of it does harm, for convivial jesting all too often depends on bawdy humor, especially in today’s movies and television sitcoms. Concerning this problem, the Bible warns, “But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, . . . Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting” (Ephesians 5:3-4).

It is significant that we never read of Jesus laughing (nor Paul or any of the other apostles, for that matter), but we do read of Him weeping (Luke 19:41; John 11:35). In fact, He said on one occasion, “Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep” (Luke 6:25). Similarly, the apostle James said, “Be afflicted, and mourn and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness” (James 4:9).

There is much in the Bible encouraging us toward joy and happiness, of course. In a world of tears, we can be “as sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing” (2 Corinthians 6:10), knowing that “he that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him” (Psalm 126:6). HMM

“The Lord weigheth the spirits.”

Proverbs 16:1-16

Let us learn a little of the wisdom of Solomon, from

Proverb 16:1

We are neither able to think nor speak anything aright without divine aid. Especially in prayer, we require to have the heart prepared, and the mouth opened by the Spirit of all grace.

Proverb 16:2

We judge by the eye, superficially, but the Lord uses surer tests, and puts everything into his unerring balances; hence he arrives at a very different conclusion from ours.

Proverb 16:3

Both our bodily and spiritual interests will be safe when we place them in the Lord’s hands, and, through the peace which will result from our faith, our thoughts will become steady, calm, resolute, and joyful.

Proverb 16:4

Let them rebel as they may, he will make them fulfil some purpose in his providential arrangements.

Proverb 16:5

The pride of the wicked makes them abominable, but their power cannot protect them. God will break up all godless societies, however strong they may be.

Proverb 16:7

This the Lord often does, as in the cases of Isaac and Abimelech, Jacob and Esau; but this truth must be qualified by another—the Lord’s enemies will not be at peace with us, let us live as graciously as we may.

Proverb 16:9

Man proposes, but God disposes. Napoleon sneered at this saying, and vowed that he would propose and dispose too, but his end was not far off.

Proverb 16:10

This should be true, and of Solomon it was true, but of many a king the reverse might be spoken. There is one King, the Lord of all, concerning whom this is divinely certain.

Proverb 16:11

Justice should rule everywhere, both on the bench and over the counter. Let us be very exact in all our dealings, lest we grieve the Lord.

Proverb 16:15

This is most true of the King of kings, his wrath is death, his love is life. Those who enjoy the conscious favour of the Lord, know by experience the refreshing and comforting influence of his presence. To walk in the light of God’s countenance is perfect bliss, to lose fellowship with him, is to his chosen the bitterest sorrow.

Proverb 16:16

It is better, much better, none can say how much better. Gold comes from common providence, but grace is the token of electing love. Gold is but a nobler form of earth, but grace is the essence of heaven. Gold is soon spent, but grace abides to enrich us. Gold may be stolen from us, but grace none can take away. Gold and silver cannot comfort us in death, but the true wisdom can. Wealth of precious metals will be useless in eternity, but grace will make us glorious there. Lord, evermore give us understanding through thy Holy Spirit!

 

Thine for ever! Lord of life,

Shield us through our earthly strife;

Thou the Life, the Truth, the Way,

Guide us to the realms of day.

 

Thine for ever! O how blest

They who find in thee their rest;

Saviour, guardian, heavenly friend,

O defend us to the end.

 

What Would You Do If a Poisonous Snake Bit You?

Acts 28:5

When I read about the travels of the apostle Paul, I find his story to be simply remarkable! What he had to endure to take the Gospel to the Gentiles was out of the ordinary!

For example, in Second Corinthians 11:25, Paul tells us that during the course of his ministry, he was shipwrecked three times! He writes, “… thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep.” This verse is a bit of a mystery, because only one shipwreck is recorded in the book of Acts. Yet it is certain that too many significant events occurred during Paul’s ministry for all of them to be recorded in Luke’s account in the book of Acts.

Traveling by sea was a perilous and risky undertaking. Ships were not always reliable. The routes often took them through waters cluttered with sharp rocks, reefs, and debris. Even if the vessel was guided by strong and skilled leadership, currents were so strong that even the best ships could be carried directly into rocks and other dangerous obstacles.

In Acts 27, we read that Paul was traveling on board a ship that ran into rocks and broke into pieces. In that moment of crisis, Paul became God’s man on board ship! He spoke the word of faith to the crew and passengers, and soon he was in charge of the entire situation.

Once marooned on the island of Melita, Paul worked with the other crew members to collect wood for a fire. Apparently a venomous viper was hidden in the sticks that he was carrying to lay on the fire. When he dropped his wood onto the flames, that snake charged out of the pile of wood and bit Paul on the hand. Acts 28:3 says, “And when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks, and laid them on the fire, there came a viper out of the heat, and fastened on his hand.”

The word “viper” is the Greek word echidna, and it refers to a highly venomous snake. The verse says that this snake “fastened on his hand.” The word “fastened” is the Greek word kathapto, and it means to tightly fasten. This snake deeply bit the apostle Paul. Not only did it bite him, but it also injected its venom into his hand, for the word kathapto also meant to introduce poison into the body. That viper sunk its fangs deeply into Paul’s flesh and then released its full load of venom into his hand. That is why Acts 28:4 says, “And when the barbarians saw the venomous beast hang on his hand, they said among themselves, No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he hath escaped the sea, yet vengeance suffereth not to live.”

But what did Paul do? He shook off that snake! Acts 28:5 says, “And he shook off the beast into the fire, and felt no harm.” The phrase “shook it off” is from the Greek word apotinasso. It is a compound of the word apo, meaning off and away, and the word tinasso, which means to shake. This word pictures the apostle Paul shaking his hand back and forth until finally the viper released its fangs and fell into the fire.

When the barbarian crowd saw that Paul didn’t die, they assumed he was a god. In just a short time, Paul used the event to bring the whole island together for a crusade! Publius, the chief of the island, was so impressed that he took Paul into his own home for three days. While there, Paul laid hands on Publius’ father, who “… lay sick of a fever and of a bloody flux…” (Acts 28:8).

The man was miraculously healed, and soon the entire island was in revival! The Bible tells us, “So when this was done, others also, which had diseases in the island, came, and were healed” (Acts 28:9). By the time Paul departed from Melita, he was so respected and honored that they loaded him down with everything necessary for the remainder of his journey!

How would you have acted if you had been in Paul’s position? Suppose you became shipwrecked and lost all your human possessions. Then you found yourself marooned on an island inhabited by barbarians, where a venomous snake promptly bites you! Do you think you would have “shaken it off” as Paul did? Would you have turned your disaster into a revival? Or would you have been tempted to sit down and cry while you worried about your plans being ruined?

Paul’s attitude is what kept him in the midst of revival everywhere he went. He had the opportunity to give in to his flesh and throw a pity party, just as you and I do. But because Paul chose to keep going and never stop, God’s power was always available to help him in every situation.

What is hindering you today? What is the devil trying to use to latch on to your life and to distract you? Why don’t you make the decision to shake it off? There’s too much at stake for you to let some little thing distract you and pull you down into defeat. Turn that attack around and use it for the glory of God. Make the devil sorry that he ever sent that poisonous viper to try to attack you!

MY PRAYER FOR TODAY

Lord, give me the attitude that turns every attack the devil sends into an opportunity for revival! Help me walk in such strong and consistent faith that I do not flinch at ANYTHING the devil tries to do to me. Rather than give in to my flesh and let worry conquer me, help me to remember the assignment You’ve given to me and to remain committed to finish my course on time!

I pray this in Jesus’ name!

MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY

I confess that revival happens everywhere I go! Every disaster the devil sends is my opportunity to advance the Gospel! I refuse to give in to my flesh and throw a pity party. Because I keep going and never give in or give up, God’s power is always available to help me in every situation. There’s too much at stake for me to let some little thing pull me down into defeat. With God’s Spirit at work in me, I overcome each and every obstacle that tries to block my way!

I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!

QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER

  1. Has there been a time when the devil tried to send a “viper” into your life to destroy you, your business, your ministry, your church, or your relationships? Who or what was that “viper,” and what did you do when you realized it had already stuck its fangs into your personal affairs?
  2. What did you learn from that “viper” experience? What would you do differently today than you did when that event occurred?
  3. Were you able to shake off the “viper” the enemy sent your way, or did that experience send you emotionally tumbling? Were you a rock, or did you fall apart? What did your response reveal about you and what you now need to do to strengthen your inner man?

 

What Is To Be The Bottom Line In Our Ministry To Others?

Consider this:

 

But the goal of our instructions is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” (1 Timothy 1:5)

 

1. “LOVE FROM A PURE HEART

 

That is: Simply loving people with no strings attached.

 

While they were butchering Jesus on a pole, He cried, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34).

 

That is pure love. And that is how we are to love others.

 

2. “LOVE FROM A CLEAR CONSCIENCE

 

That is: Simply ministering to people out of pure motives: Guilt free. Only possible if:

  • I understand what God wants me to do: My calling.
  • I accept my God-given limitations in fulfilling that calling: My humanity.
  • I appropriate the unconditional grace of God for my life and calling: My resources.

…Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 2:1)

 

Therefore, since we have this ministry, we have received mercy… ” (2 Corinthians 4:1)

 

3. “LOVE FROM A SINCERE FAITH

 

That is: Simply loving people without hypocrisy. (Romans 12:9a)

 

Judas’ kiss in betraying Christ is illustrative of hypocritical love. (Luke 22:47, 48)

 

 

Here to Serve

[Jesus] poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet. John 13:5

It was time for our church to commission a new group of leaders. To symbolize their roles as servant-leaders, the church elders participated in a memorable foot-washing ceremony. Each of the leaders—including the pastor—washed each other’s feet as the congregation observed them.

What they did that day was modeled for us by Jesus Christ, as recorded in John 13. In that incident, which happened at what is called the Last Supper, Jesus “got up from the meal, . . . poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet” (John 13:4–5). Later, as Jesus was explaining to His disciples why He had done this, He said, “No servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him” (v. 16). He also said, “I am among you as one who serves” (Luke 22:27).

Dear Lord, help me serve others.

If it is not below Jesus’s dignity to do such a lowly task, it is not below any of us to serve others. What an amazing example He set for all of us. Indeed, He “did not come to be served, but to serve” (Mark 10:45). He showed us what it means to be a leader and a servant. That’s Jesus, the One who serves.

Dear Lord, help me serve others. Guide me to set aside my personal interests and desires to provide help to those who need it.

No deed is small when done for Christ.

By Dave Branon 

INSIGHT:In what ways does my heart reflect the serving spirit of the Savior? In what ways has my attitude been in contrast to His example of serving?

God Is With Us in Hard Times

Genesis 41:14-44

The Bible is relevant for every situation. Although the details of our circumstances probably differ from those described in Scripture, God’s Word still applies.

From the life of Joseph, we get a glimpse of what it means to have God with us in hard times. First of all, the young man’s faith strengthened, helping him place loyalty to the Lord above his personal welfare. For example, when Potiphar’s wife attempted to seduce Joseph, he refused, saying he would not sin against God (Gen. 39:9).

Second, the Lord’s presence meant that Joseph prospered right where he was—as a slave in Potiphar’s house and as a prisoner in a foreign jail. In both situations, those in charge recognized that God’s favor was upon Joseph. So they gave him great responsibility and authority (Gen. 39:3-4, Gen. 39:21-22).

Third, during times of suffering, Joseph gained invaluable life lessons that prepared him for the future. As a slave and prisoner, Joseph learned the details of Egyptian culture, ways to handle responsibility, and the importance of keeping God first.

An additional blessing was the opportunity to be a witness to the Lord’s power and sufficiency. When brought before Pharaoh to interpret his dream, Joseph said he could not do it but testified that God could (41:16).

By relying on the Lord the way Joseph did, we will see our faith grow. When we give God His rightful place as Lord over our life, His presence will strengthen us to resist temptation. Then we, too, will be equipped to do kingdom work and ready to proclaim His greatness to those around us.

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