[An assortment of brief notes previously published on Facebook.]
“And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” Hebrews 4:13
These words are part of the conclusion to a section in which the author of Hebrews has reminded his readers that many of those who were led out of Egypt by Moses did not enter into the rest in Canaan. Why had they perished in the wilderness? The deceitfulness of sin (3:12) and a lack of true faith in God and His word led to disobedience (3:18-19; 4:2, 6, 11). Though God had delivered them from the bondage of Egypt, they perished in the wilderness.
Let’s not misunderstand—victory is possible and 4:14-16 speaks of grace to help in time of need, but we will not receive the rest unless we are diligent to obey (4:11). The words of 4:13 should be words of comfort if we are truly receiving the word with faith and diligently seeking to obey, but if we are only “putting on a show,” know that “all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.”
“This you know, that all those in Asia have turned away from me, among whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes. The Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain; but when he arrived in Rome, he sought me out very zealously and found me. The Lord grant to him that he may find mercy from the Lord in that Day—and you know very well how many ways he ministered to me at Ephesus.” 2 Timothy 1:15-18
It is both heartbreaking and inspirational to read these words from Paul’s final epistle to young Timothy. How sad that those from Asia, evidently ashamed of Paul’s imprisonment, would turn away from a man who had given himself so tirelessly on behalf of others. Remember that it was in Asia where he had “fought with beasts” (1 Cor. 15:32). On the other hand, how inspirational to read of Onesiphorus zealously searching for Paul and bringing refreshment to him.
Who are we more like? When brothers and sisters suffer for the cause of Christ are we Phygellus or Onesiphorus? Are we embarrassed to be associated with those under attack for standing for the truth or do we unashamedly seek to encourage them? Could this be the determining factor as to whether or not we receive mercy in that Day?
One more thought. If, like Paul, we are hurt by a Phygellus or Hermogenes, does it blind us to the kindness of an Onesiphorus? May God help us all not to become so embittered by brethren who disappoint us that we are blind to the good brethren who stand with us for the truth’s sake.
Zacchaeus climbing the sycamore tree is a favorite of young children, but adults would do well to pay careful attention to this story found in Luke 19:1-10. Consider a few lessons we might learn from the man who climbed a tree.
1) Don’t let anything stop you from seeing Jesus. Too short of stature to see over the crowd, this wealthy man of influence reverted to his childhood and climbed a tree. While we are not going to see Jesus with our physical eyes, we should not allow anything to stop us from learning about Jesus. Friends, family, work, play, religious traditions, etc. may get in the way, but let’s climb whatever tree we must in order to know the Savior.
2) We must not simply be curious about Jesus. When Jesus informed Zacchaeus that He would be going home with him, the tax collector received Him joyfully. As we come to know Jesus, it is imperative that we allow Him to “come to our house” and change our lives.
3) Jesus came to “seek and save that which was lost.” If you have already been found by Jesus, serve Him with a joyous gratitude. If you are still lost, won’t you allow Him to change that? He wants to save, but He will not save you against your will.
Zacchaeus and Jesus—it’s not just a children’s song.
If I tell you that life is not always easy or fair, I won’t be telling you anything you don’t already know. Christians, like all others, must deal with sickness, suffering, death, financial difficulties, and a host of other problems. In addition, there are times when Christians face persecution. Indeed, life throws some harsh, bitter realities at us, but what are we to do? Are we going to give up?
“My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience. Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.” James 5:10-11
Let’s not give up, but instead, let’s maintain our endurance to the end by considering some of the great examples who have gone before us and also by realizing the end intended for us by the Lord. Don’t allow today’s difficulties to cause you to miss out on tomorrow’s great reward.
The beginning of a new year is often a time of reflection and self-evaluation, and while such should not be restricted to the first of January, it is certainly good to look at the lives we are living since it is for these that we will be judged (2 Cor. 5:9-10). As you look at your life we would encourage you to strive for greatness in the coming year, but not as the world often sees it. Make 2014 (and every year beyond it) a year of service to others.
“But Jesus called them to Himself and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.’” Matthew 20:25-28
New King James Version, copyright 1994 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.