Exceedingly Precious Promises
Wednesday, 18 May 2005
A Long Day
Now Playing: Do we give the best of our day to the Lord ?
Topic: Faithfulness
"And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening." (Acts 28)

Bible students find many parallels between what they read in the Word of God and what they see in the animal kingdom. Many of God's creatures have been singled out as examples of various kinds of activities. We are all familiar with the expression, "Busy as a bee." Although perhaps not as noticeable, the activity of others of God's creatures is just as great as that of the bee. For example, the thrush gets up at 2:30 every morning, begins work at once and does not stop until 9:30 at night. That's a whole nineteen-hour day. During that period of time this bird feeds its hungry fledglings about two hundred times. While the busyness of the bee is more noticeable, the activity of the thrush is equally as productive.

Astounding parallels can be drawn between the life of the apostle Paul and the busy activity of the bees and the long days of the thrush. When Paul was saved on the road to Damascus, the Bible says, "Straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God" (Acts 9:20). Paul may have said something like this to God at his salvation, "Lord, if you save me, the world will never hear the end of it!" It never did.

In this last chapter of Acts the apostle completes his tortuous journey to Rome and arrives to be placed under house arrest until his hearing before Caesar. It would have been a time for rest, recuperation from the rigors of the voyage, and restoration. No one would have criticized Paul for a lack of activity. He could have rationalized that to preach Christ in this situation would have jeopardized his case before Caesar and perhaps ultimately cut short his ministry. Still, "There came many to him into his lodgings; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus both out of the law of Moses and out of the prophets, from morning till evening" (Acts 28:23).

He had just spent two years in prison at Caesarea. Since he was a Roman citizen, his final appeal was always to Caesar. While en route to Rome, a tempestuous wind arose. The ship was tossed to and fro for 14 days and finally ran aground. With the others Paul had to swim to shore, clinging to broken pieces of the ship. As if that were not enough, on shore he was bitten by a viper, but he did not die. After three months they continued their journey, finally arriving at Rome. All this occurred just before Acts 28:23. From early in the morning until late at night he continued his preaching and teaching activity. No one asked him to put in such a long day, especially after the trials of the preceding months. Paul did it as a volunteer in the service of the Lord.

More importantly, the busyness of his activity was not in defense of his apostleship or in spinning yarns of his shipwreck. His activity was entirely a witness to the grace of God. He expounded and testified of the kingdom of God and persuaded them of the messiahship of Jesus. He had the right method; he preached unto them. He had the right message; he preached Jesus unto them. He had the right manner; he preached Jesus unto them from morning until evening.

Even toward the end of his recorded ministry the apostle Paul put in a long day of activity for the Lord. You and I have the same responsibility, the same opportunity, the same message as did the apostle. We must be as busy as a bee and put in a day like the thrush, with the message which stirred the heart of the apostle, if we are to rest at the end of this day fully satisfied of our service to the Lord God. Let's make sure we're satisfied tonight.

MORNING HYMN

Give of your best to the Master,
Give Him first place in your heart;
Give Him first place in your service,
Consecrate ev'ry part.

(from W. Kroll)



Posted by dondegr0 at 6:42 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 31 May 2005 8:50 AM EDT
Saturday, 14 May 2005
Commitment
Now Playing: Are we steady in our commitment to the Lord ?
Topic: Faithfulness

O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee? O Judah, what shall I do unto thee? for your goodness is as a morning cloud, and as the early dew it goeth away.

Commitment: an absolute dedication and faithfulness to someone or something. It's something we all claim to have, yet very few demonstrate it. Many people claim to have a strong commitment to the local church, but they rarely attend, even when they have nothing else to do. Others take wedding vows which include promises of commitment. Yet those vows are broken rapidly and all commitment is nullified. Nothing is so distressing to the Lord God as to see a Christian who is only half committed to Him. (See Revelation 3:14-22.)

The greatest example of a lack of commitment in the Old Testament is found in the prophecy of Hosea. Hosea (whose name means "salvation") was a prophet to the northern kingdom and a contemporary of Amos. In fact, Hosea was to the northern kingdom what Jeremiah was to the southern kingdom - a weeping prophet. His prophecy is very tender and his ministry is similar to that of John the Apostle.

The purpose of Hosea's prophecy was to provide Israel with a real-life example of her spiritual idolatry. Hosea transferred his personal tragedy into a figure of the tragedy of Israel as a nation. The lack of commitment to him by his wife and her infidelity was but a minute calamity when compared with the spiritual infidelity of Israel and their lack of commitment to God. Hosea called Israel to national repentance much as he pleaded with his adulterous wife for personal repentance.

To bring Israel to understand how complacent they had become, the prophet observed, "Your goodness is as a morning cloud, and as the early dew it goeth away" (Hosea 6:4). Israel's commitment was shallow at best, and Hosea likened the fleeting goodness of uncommitted men to a morning cloud and the early dew which vanishes with the morning sun. God is never pleased with such a halfhearted commitment and a complacent attitude toward Him. Israel had not yet learned that lesson; apparently twentieth-century Christians haven't either.

There is a tiny harbor town on the ocean shore where many ships have crashed on the rocks in violent weather. This town became well known because of the dedicated rescue team which aided mariners in distress. The rescue team would rally to the sound of the siren and rush to the scene of the accident, risking life and limb to save the sailors from drowning. As time went on, the citizens of that tiny town raised enough money to build a rescue station close to the shore. While this greatly facilitated the operation, it softened the dedicated team as well. As time went by, they added some of the comforts and conveniences that other rescue stations had. Through the years the rescue station became a social club, where the town's people gathered to have fun and relax. Ships would still crash upon the rocks; the alarm would still sound; but eventually no one responded. They were reluctant to leave their comforts, because their commitment to rescue the miserable mariners was no match for their complacency.

We can imagine that Hosea felt much the same way about Israel as we may feel toward this once-dedicated rescue team. Still there are many Christians today who have a halfhearted attitude toward God and, in fact, have committed spiritual adultery with the world just as Hosea's wife did. Much of Christianity today is nothing more than "country-club Christianity," basking in the goodness of God, relying on the riches of this world's goods, and unconcerned about commitment to the Father or the rescue of those who are perishing.

We can almost hear Hosea saying, "Your goodness is as a morning cloud, and as the early dew it goeth away." The fleeting goodness of uncommitted Christians is not goodness at all. It is just a temporary rest stop on the highway to complacency.

MORNING HYMN
A charge to keep I have
A God to glorify
Who gave His Son my soul to save
And fit it for the sky.

(from W. Kroll)

Posted by dondegr0 at 12:24 PM EDT
Monday, 17 January 2005
Standing Firm
Now Playing: For what are we willing to take a stand despite the risks ?
Topic: Faithfulness
Standing Firm

Esther 1:10-12

"On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine, he commanded Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, Abagtha, Zethar, and Carcas, seven eunuchs who served in the presence of King Ahasuerus, to bring Queen Vashti before the king, wearing her royal crown, in order to show her beauty to the people and the officials, for she was beautiful to behold. But Queen Vashti refused to come at the king's command brought by his eunuchs; therefore the king was furious, and his anger burned within him."

Standing Firm

Thomas Jefferson wrote, "In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock." In other words, some things are not worth arguing about, while others are of such value they cannot be compromised.

Although a pagan queen, Vashti had principles she refused to compromise. When Ahasuerus called for her to present herself before his comrades and him, Vashti knew it was inappropriate in her culture for a woman to display herself to the leers of other men. To expose herself to such treatment implied an immodesty, even an unchastity, that was not true of her. She would not concede her principles and thus refused the king's command.

Standing for one's principles, however, can have costly consequences. Vashti was removed from her position as queen. Others have made similar sacrifices. Bubba Smith, regarded as one of professional football's greatest defensive ends, chose to end a lucrative contract to do beer commercials because he concluded that they encouraged the wrong kind of behavior.

Whether at work, in social relationships, or in the political arena, Christians face tremendous pressure to participate in activities and attitudes contrary to God's will. It's important, however, that we take an uncompromising position when it comes to our principles.

Ask God to give you the ability to discern between what is merely incidental and what is of eternal value. Then ask Him to give you the strength and courage to stand for your principles.


Tolerance is often championed by people who have nothing to stand for.

(from W. Kroll)

Posted by dondegr0 at 12:04 PM EST
Updated: Wednesday, 19 January 2005 8:53 AM EST

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