Goodness and purity should never be traits that draw attention to themselves, but should simply be magnets that draw people to Jesus Christ. If my holiness is not drawing others to Him, it is not the right kind of holiness; it is only an influence which awakens undue emotions and evil desires in people and diverts them from heading in the right direction. A person who is a beautiful saint can be a hindrance in leading people to the Lord by presenting only what Christ has done for him, instead of presenting Jesus Christ Himself. Others will be left with this thought— “What a fine person that man is!” That is not being a true “friend of the bridegroom”— I am increasing all the time; He is not.
To maintain this friendship and faithfulness to the Bridegroom, we have to be more careful to have the moral and vital relationship to Him above everything else, including obedience. Sometimes there is nothing to obey and our only task is to maintain a vital connection with Jesus Christ, seeing that nothing interferes with it. Only occasionally is it a matter of obedience. At those times when a crisis arises, we have to find out what God’s will is. Yet most of our life is not spent in trying to be consciously obedient, but in maintaining this relationship— being the “friend of the bridegroom.” Christian work can actually be a means of diverting a person’s focus away from Jesus Christ. Instead of being friends “of the bridegroom,” we may become amateur providences of God to someone else, working against Him while we use His weapons.
Not Too Young
Read what Paul wrote to a friend in Titus 2:7 and consider how you can be an example to other believers—particularly younger ones.
Today, how will you encourage some younger believers you know? What example have you been setting for other believers in Jesus?
Recent research has revealed what teenagers truly desire from the adults in their lives. The Search Institute study found that teens want parents and other older influencers to do the following: 1. Look at us. 2. Spend time talking with us. 3. Listen. 4. Be dependable. 5. Show appreciation for what we do. 6. Relax. 7. Show that you’re interested. 8. Laugh with us (and at yourself). 9. Ask us to help you. 10. Challenge us.
I believe the apostle Paul did many of those things as he built into the life of a young man named Timothy. And, as number 10 on the list states, he truly did challenge him, writing, “Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity” (1 Timothy 4:12). What’s impressive is that Timothy was dealing with the difficult challenge of tackling false teaching in the church at Ephesus, along with some bitter persecution. Yet Paul told him to boldly live out his faith—to be an example. And Timothy needed to look no further than the great example provided by Paul himself (Philippians 4:9; 2 Timothy 3:10-11).
If we want those who are younger to walk confidently in their faith, we must provide for them a living model. We need to show them the “living God, who is the Savior of all people” and “keep a close watch on how [we] live” (1 Timothy 4:10,16). As they witness Jesus alive in us, it will help them take their own bold faith steps.
Let younger believers know that they can be an example to all believers. And, as you do, “stay true to what is right for the sake of [your] own salvation and the salvation” of these precious younger ones (1 Timothy 4:16).
|You WILL be OK
Jennifer RothschildFrom: Crosswalk.com
“Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.” Lamentations 3:22 (NIV)
I was stunned. This was not the news I expected.
“You have atypical ductal hyperplasia, or ADH,” the doctor said. He explained that ADH is an abnormal growth of cells within the breast ducts.
“You need a bilateral lumpectomy as soon as possible,” he concluded.
My first thought was, “Seriously? I’m blind, for heaven’s sake! Haven’t I already met my quota for suffering?”
Well, that was my first thought, but it was followed by all the “what ifs.” You know — What if it’s cancer? What if they don’t get it all? What if I need radiation? What if this is only the beginning of something far worse?
While my heart was racing, my husband Phil’s Ph.D. mind was calculating. He broke the silence and said, “It will be OK.”
It didn’t feel OK, though. And maybe the reason was that we really didn’t know it would be OK. None of us really knows if it will be OK, do we? Life is uncertain.
We want to live out a story that makes sense. We want poems to rhyme and puzzles to be solved. We just want everything to be OK. But the truth is, we really don’t know whether or not “it” will be OK.
After the call with the surgeon, Phil and I continued to sit in silence. My soul was churning. When all the pieces hadn’t fallen into place, a tidal wave of fear washed over me. But instead of being a wave of emotion that drowned me, it cleared my head and awakened me to a vital truth I needed: It may not be OK, but I will be OK.
I had a deep, inner knowing that within the uncertainty, I could be certain that God cared and was with me.
During the lumpectomy, the doctor removed two golf-ball-sized lumps and I emerged a 34 used-to-be-B! And this may be too much information, but I was only tennis balls to begin with! (Big goofy grin.) A few days after my surgery, Phil and I met with the surgeon for the results of the pathology. All benign!
Thankfully, that chapter of my story had an ending that was genuinely OK. However, during the uncertainty, my emotions vacillated between fear and faith, peace and panic. Yet, my soul remained OK even though it, my situation, wasn’t. Why? Well, it wasn’t because of my great faith! I did trust God, but I was scared too. It was because of the Lord’s great love, I was not consumed; His compassions never failed (Lamentations 3:22).
My friend, because of His great love, you will not be consumed either. Fear, anger or insecurity will not overtake you. His compassions will never fail you. Even in the midst of your heartache, you’re still cradled in His compassion. You are as cared for and protected as a baby in a mother’s womb.
That’s why you will be OK, my friend — no matter what.
When we trust the compassion of God, our problems and fears do not consume us. Because of His love and compassion, we are not overwhelmed.
I was grateful to be among the 70 percent of women who emerge from lumpectomy surgery with a cancer-free result. Many women receive far more difficult news. I couldn’t imagine enduring a series of biopsies and surgery just to find myself facing more surgery or radiation, like many women do. Oh, how my heart goes out to them!
You may be one of those women. You may know and love one. Do God’s compassions fail if the diagnosis isn’t good? Is a bad diagnosis evidence of God’s failure to be compassionate?
A surgery may fail, but God’s compassions will not.
A treatment may fail, but God’s compassions will not.
A relationship may fail, but God’s compassions will not.
A dream may fail, but God’s compassions will not.
My friend, no matter what you’re facing, God cares for you and will carry you. It may not be OK, but, because of the Lord’s great love, you will be OK.
Lord, carry me today. Show me Your care for me. If I begin to feel overwhelmed, overwhelm me with Your peace and presence. Reassure me that no matter what, I will be OK. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Heb. 11:6).
We all need faith for desperate days. The Bible is full of such days. Its record is made up of them, its songs are inspired by them, its prophecy is concerned with them, and its revelation has come through them. The desperate days are the stepping-stones in the path of light. They seem to have been God’s opportunity and man’s school of wisdom.
There is a story of an Old Testament love feast in Psalm 107, and in every story of deliverance the point of desperation gave God His chance. The “wit’s end” of desperation was the beginning of God’s power.
Recall the promise of seed as the stars of heaven, and as the sands of the sea, to a couple as good as dead. Read again the story of the Red Sea and its deliverance, and of Jordan with its ark standing mid-stream. Study once more the prayers of Asa, Jehoshaphat, and Hezekiah, when they were sore pressed and knew not what to do. Go over the history of Nehemiah, Daniel, Hosea, and Habakkuk. Stand with awe in the darkness of Gethsemane, and linger by the grave in Joseph’s garden through those terrible days. Call the witnesses of the early Church, and ask the apostles the story of their desperate days.
Desperation is better than despair. Faith did not make our desperate days. Its work is to sustain and solve them. The only alternative to a desperate faith is despair, and faith holds on and prevails.
There is no more heroic example of desperate faith than that of the three Hebrew children. The situation was desperate, but they answered bravely, “Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning, fiery furnace; and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” I like that, “but if not !”
I have only space to mention Gethsemane. Ponder deeply its “Nevertheless.” “If it is possible…nevertheless!” Deep darkness had settled upon the soul of our Lord. Trust meant anguish unto blood and darkness to the descent of hell–Nevertheless! Nevertheless!
Now get your hymn book and sing your favorite hymn of desperate faith.
–Rev. S. Chadwick
When obstacles and trials seem
Like prison walls to be,
I do the little I can do
And leave the rest to Thee.
And when there seems no chance, no change,
From grief can set me free,
Hope finds its strength in helplessness,
And calmly waits for Thee.