Brief Thoughts 5-22-2013
"Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful." Matthew 13:22
Immorality, unbelief, and false teaching are all great dangers, but for many Christians the greatest danger they face is distraction. Like Martha in Luke 10:38-42 we can become worried and troubled (or merely caught up in) many things and forget the one thing most needed. Please take a few moments to reevaluate your life and its priorities and if they are not what they should be, then pull the thorns now.
"But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you." Matthew 6:33
Few children do not know the story of Daniel and the lions' den, but how many adults have stopped to think about the fact that Daniel had been in Babylon more than 65 years when that event took place? The book opens with young Daniel (15 or so?) refusing to be defiled with the king's food (1:8), and the historical section closes with a man who had probably reached the 80 year mark continuing to faithfully pray to God despite a law against it (6:10).
Though we don't believe Daniel to have been a perfect man (cf. Rom. 3:23), what an inspiration to young and old alike. He took a stand for God at a young age and fell to his knees for God in his advanced years. Whatever our stage of life, let's determine to be more like Daniel in refusing the defilements of our age and have a determination to serve God no matter the opposition.
“For nothing restrains the Lord from saving by many or by few” (1 Samuel 14:6). While Saul and his six hundred men were doing nothing about the Philistine threat to Israel, Jonathan, Saul’s son, asked his armorbearer to join him in an attack on the Philistines. Jonathan believed if it was God’s will that they attack, two men could win as easily as two hundred or two thousand. We today are not engaged in the same kind of battle Jonathan fought (2 Corinthians 10:3, 4), but we are in a great spiritual battle and it is essential that we understand it is only by God’s power that the victory can be won. When Jesus left the earth and commissioned His apostles to go into all the world with the gospel message, the odds against these twelve men must have seemed overwhelming. Yet, within a few short years they had “turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6) and taken the gospel to the world (Colossians 1:23).
We must not become discouraged by our limited numbers, strength, resources, etc.; instead, let us “be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:10, 11). God is no more restrained today than He was in the days of Jonathan, but we must be willing to be used by Him as humble and obedient spiritual warriors.
"Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious." 1 Peter 2:1-3
*Put aside wickedness.
*Take in the word of God.
*Why? The Lord is gracious. Other passages supply other reasons, but these verses make it clear that a true appreciation for the goodness of God will change our lives.
"Remember Lot's wife." Luke 17:32
"But Jesus said to Him, 'No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.'" Luke 9:62
We will never be the disciples Jesus wants us to be until we realize that the things we have left behind cannot compare to the blessings we have been given.
"But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ....I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:7, 14).
"Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministry" (2 Tim. 4:11). Have you ever stopped to consider what this says about both Mark and Paul?
Mark had once deeply disappointed Paul (Acts 13:13; 15:36-41), but that was not the end of the story for Mark. He didn't allow his mistake in Acts 13, or Paul's criticism to keep him from becoming a worker one could count on. We will all make mistakes and disappoint others, but it doesn't have to become a pattern--we can change.
But what about Paul's character? Too often, when someone has really let us down, we form a life-long prejudice that never allows us to see the true changes they have made. Paul may or may not have been too stern in Acts 15, but one thing is clear--he kept an open mind about the character of Mark and came to consider him a valuable worker in the kingdom.
May God help us all to overcome our past and see the same effort in others.