IT SHALL BE TOLD THEE

“And I said, What shall I do, Lord? And the Lord said unto me, Arise, and go into Damascus; and there it shall be told thee of all things which are appointed for thee to do.”
Acts 22:10

The apostle Paul was giving his testimony before the angry mob that sought to kill him. He rehearsed how he met Christ on the road to Damascus and how he asked the Lord, “What shall I do?” The Lord’s answer for him was, “Arise, and go into Damascus; and there it shall be told thee…” God only gave him partial instructions. Paul was given a small bit of information about what God wanted him to do, but most of what God wanted him to do would be given to him later.

The same is certainly true in our lives. God does not immediately inform us about everything there is to know about His will. He usually reveals His will a bit at a time. As with Paul, it is a good sign when those who claim to know Christ want to know His will. “What shall I do, Lord?” If we have turned from our sin and trusted Him as Savior, He is the Lord of our lives, and we should want to serve and obey Him. When a person is not interested in knowing and doing God’s will, there is cause for great concern regarding the matter of his spiritual condition. However, God is not going to give us every detail of His will from the beginning.

For one thing, there is much that God will one day make known to us that we could not understand or accept initially. God wants us to obey Him and trust Him by faith. He makes His will known to us as He sees fit. We do not follow Christ because we know everything there is to know about His plans for us and we completely approve. Rather, we follow Him because we know His will is best, and we trust Him with our future. As we grow in grace, God gives us more information about His will.

We see clear evidence of this in the way God dealt with Paul. In order for Paul to find out more about God’s plans, he had to obey the instructions he was given, which meant he had to go into Damascus. For us to get further instructions about what God would have us do, we must be obeying the instructions we have. Here is a common mistake that people make. They want to know about God’s will for the future, yet they are not obeying the will of God they already know. The principle is simple: as we walk in the light we have been given, we can trust God to give more light as needed.

AMAZIAH WOULD NOT HEAR

“But Amaziah would not hear. Therefore Jehoash king of Israel went up; and he and Amaziah king of Judah looked one another in the face at Bethshemesh, which belongeth to Judah.”
II Kings 14:11

As the king of Judah, Amaziah had challenged Jehoash, the king of Israel. He desired that they might meet on the field of battle and settle their differences. The king of Israel responded by warning Amaziah that he was acting in pride and that such a battle would prove to be disastrous for Amaziah. However, “Amaziah would not hear.”

In the ensuing conflict, Judah was soundly defeated and the house of the Lord was plundered. Amaziah was eventually killed in a conspiracy. Amaziah could have avoided this costly and humiliating defeat in battle simply by listening to the caution that was offered him, but he “would not hear.” He was not willing to listen to the one who was offering him sound advice. It was not that he was not capable of hearing; he was not willing to hear. His decision was already made, and his stubbornness caused him to forge ahead with his ill-advised plans. Most of us can recall times when serious mistakes could have been avoided if we would have been willing to listen to the warnings given. But, like Amaziah, we “would not hear.”

Another example of this in the Scripture is when Paul, when en route to Rome aboard ship, advised the ship’s commanders that to continue would bring much harm. However, they “would not hear” the cautions of the man of God and suffered greatly because of it. We must take our warnings seriously. I know of far too many people who have ignored the advice of godly counselors and have suffered greatly because of it. We need to take heed to the Word of God and the counsel that our Heavenly Father gives to us in the Scriptures. We need to hearken to the voices of those God has placed in our lives to help us know the will of God.

Why is it that we are not willing to listen? Jehoash told Amaziah it was because he was puffed up with pride. Would you not agree that the same is sometimes true in our lives? We do not want to hear the advice of others because we think we are capable of making decisions on our own. Therefore, we are not willing to seriously consider the opinions or counsel of others, especially if it is different from our own. It may be that devastating mistakes might be avoided if we would take the time to listen

DON’T LEAVE THE OTHER UNDONE

“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.”
Matthew 23:23

The Pharisees were known for their strict observance of the law and also the multitude of traditions they had added to the law. In our text, Jesus recognized that they were so careful to tithe on their “mint and anise and cummin.” These were all herbs, which were of relatively little value, normally used only for their fragrance or aromatic qualities. The Pharisees made sure they tithed on these tiny plants, but they ignored more important things such as “judgment, mercy, and faith.”

This is a perfect picture of the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. They emphasized the things they wanted to emphasize and neglected the things they wanted to overlook. Jesus called the other things, the things they ignored, “weightier matters of the law.” While they were tithing in a meticulous fashion, they were leaving other things of greater value undone. This would include the way they treated others, their compassion on the hurting, and living a life of trust and dependence on the Lord. Interestingly, Jesus said, “these ought ye to have done,” referring to their tithing. Some people say that Jesus did not teach tithing, but here is a clear place that Jesus commended these people for their tithing. But He brought attention to the more important issues that were not being taken seriously and were, in fact, left undone.

It is easy for a similar thing to happen to us. It is common for us to give attention to certain things that are a matter of Christian obedience while leaving other matters undone. There is probably any number of reasons this might occur. For one thing, some things are easier for us than others. It stands to reason that we might leave the more difficult or unpleasant things undone, and do the things that come more naturally.

Another explanation might be that we can attempt to justify our neglect of certain things because of the areas in which we are obedient. In other words, because I am doing this one thing, it is excusable that I am not obeying in some other areas. In any case, we are not to leave things undone. We can see in this Scripture the value of being careful, while obeying in some areas, we should not ignore the other areas of responsibility.

OVERCOME AT THE LAST

“Gad, a troop shall overcome him: but he shall overcome at the last.”
Genesis 49:19

Jacob called for his sons to gather around him. He would pronounce a blessing for each of them before departing this life. The words he spoke of his seventh son, Gad, are recorded in our text. “A troop shall overcome him: but he shall overcome at the last.” Gad would be subject to the assaults of the enemy; and at times, he would seem to be defeated. But in the end, he would be victorious.

These words clearly describe the journey of the child of God. Gad’s name means “a troop.” From birth, he would be called “a troop.” We too are born to battle, only ours is a spiritual conflict. A war is raging around us. Our enemies are the world, the flesh, and the devil. We cannot afford to ignore these adversaries. They are against God, and therefore, against us. Like Gad, there will be moments and days when we look more like victims than victors. No one wins every battle, every moment of every day. Of Gad it says, “a troop shall overcome him.”

Sometimes we are defeated. There are days when we fail in times of temptation. We have all known the agony of wrong responses and poor attitudes. Most of us have questioned God at some time or resented some part of God’s will. We have said things we have greatly regretted or believed things that were not true. We have doubted God’s promises, and disobeyed His commands, and wondered why He even puts up with us. The question is not, “Will we ever fail?,” but “What will we do when we are defeated? How will we respond when we are overcome?”

It is good for us to remember that we may not win every battle, but we are on the winning side. Jacob said of Gad, “he shall overcome at the last.” We are not to give up in the face of adversity or overwhelming odds. There are times when it seems that the enemy is hurling everything in his arsenal against us. We will know the despair of defeat, but we have been assured the ultimate and final victory. As we grow in Christ and appropriate His promises, we will see great victories. One day this flesh will be replaced with a glorified body, and the Prince of Peace will govern this wicked world. The devil will be bound forever. It could be said about every child of God, “a troop shall overcome him: but he shall overcome at the last.”

OF HIM, THROUGH HIM, AND TO HIM

“For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.”
Romans 11:36

This verse of Scripture is a source of great comfort to the child of God. It speaks of the authority, sovereignty, and wisdom of God. Many times we find it difficult, if not impossible, to understand the circumstances of life. We are not always able to see what God is doing or why He allows certain things in our lives. Yet, we can trust that God is directing according to His will and that He will use these events or experiences for His glory and for our good.

He is the source. “For of him…are all things.” God is the final authority and supreme architect of the universe. Men may do things of their own accord, and Satan himself may seek to hinder or destroy. But according to the Bible, God permits or allows it to happen. He is the source of all power and the source of all wisdom. Our text tells us that, “through him…are all things.” He is ruling as Lord of lords and King of kings. Therefore, we can be confident that if He has allowed something to happen, there must be a reason or some purpose for it. We are not simply victims of circumstances. God is very much in control. Everything will eventually return “to him.” There will always be an accounting to Him. It may happen soon, it may not happen until later. But eventually, He will judge everything. And, the final result will be “glory for ever” to Christ our King.

For the sincere child of God, we realize that life is not simply about our having our way or being free from conflict or difficulty. Life is about knowing, loving, and trusting God to order our lives for His glory. We dare not have such a shortsighted understanding that we interpret everything only as it relates to our immediate pleasure or happiness. God uses things in our lives to affect others, not only in the immediate, but also for the distant future. Our privilege and responsibility is to trust Him and believe His promises.

When David was forced to leave Jerusalem after the hostile takeover of his son Absalom, he made his way out of the city, weeping as he went. Then Shimei came alongside him and began to curse David and throw stones at him. Yet, David told his men that God had allowed this. We must remember that there is Someone in control that has a purpose and will receive glory for the events of life.

HE BEHELD THE CITY, AND WEPT OVER IT

“And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it,”
Luke 19:41

Jesus had visited Jerusalem numerous times before and was repeatedly rejected by the religious leaders. This visit was somewhat different, for soon He would be betrayed and crucified. As we see Him in our text, He is beholding the city. He is weeping because He knows the judgment that will come upon these people in a few years. Jesus saw the city, but He must have seen more than the buildings and streets. He saw the people and knew what great calamities they would experience.

The word that is translated as “wept” indicates sobbing, or wailing aloud. The heart of our Savior was broken by what He was seeing. This is our great God. He loves people. He cares about the destiny of people. God does not enjoy seeing people chastised, but He is just and must judge sin. He weeps over their rebellion and rejection of the truth. What does He see in our community, our nation, and our world? We need to see as He sees. Lamentations 3:51 says, “Mine eye affecteth mine heart.” It is true. What we see affects how we feel.

A long, deliberate look at our world would benefit us. Sometimes we look at sinners, viewing only the damage they have done to society. We can become calloused to their plight. We see them as lawbreakers, rebels, and a menace. Jesus did not look at His world in anger or hardness; He looked at them through eyes of compassion. When we look at them as He looks at them, we see that they are blind and in bondage. Unless something happens in their hearts, they will spend eternity in hell. One of the reasons we do not see our communities as Jesus does is because we look at them from a great distance. Our text records, “when he was come near.” We need a closer look at the perishing world that we live in.

All of us know that we are not to depend on the world for our entertainment or fellowship. But we are the means that God will use to impact our world with the Gospel. If we do not care for them, who will? We need to ponder the end of those who ignore the Words of God. We need to see them as prospects and not problems. Behind every face is a soul for which Jesus died. Jesus wept, as He knew that He would soon finish His task and return to Heaven. We too will one day soon finish our work on earth. May we care while we can.

OBADIAH-A FRIEND OF PREACHERS

“For it was so, when Jezebel cut off the prophets of the LORD, that Obadiah took an hundred prophets, and hid them by fifty in a cave, and fed them with bread and water.”
I Kings 18:4

The name of Ahab, king of Israel, is synonymous with wickedness. His idolatrous reign saw God’s judgment brought against His people. Our text tells us that Jezebel, the wife of Ahab, “cut off the prophets of the LORD.” She hated the true prophets of God and sought to have them all slain. Instead of listening to God’s servants, she and Ahab surrounded themselves with false prophets.

Obadiah was the governor of Ahab’s house. Obadiah feared the Lord greatly, and according to our text, took it upon himself to personally hide and sustain one hundred of the Lord’s prophets. To do such a thing required great courage and faith. In the case of the men of God, he sided against his ruthless master and on the side of godliness and truth. Obadiah was truly “A FRIEND OF PREACHERS.” Thank God for those like Obadiah who see the value in befriending the men of God.

Just as Jezebel hated and sought to remove the true prophets, there are spiritual enemies today that despise those who faithfully proclaim God’s Word. There remains a great need for those like Obadiah who are supportive of those whom God has called to preach the truth and renounce evil. How might we be an encouragement to God’s servants in our day?

One of the most important things we can do as friends of preachers is pray for them. The apostle Paul often requested prayer for himself that he might be bold in proclaiming God’s message. Remembering how Satan seeks to hinder God’s servants, we should intercede for them often.

Another way we can help preachers is by encouraging them. Preachers need encouragement just as much as you do. As a matter of fact, they spend much of their time trying to encourage the people of God, only to find that they as preachers sometimes also stand in need of encouragement. A note of thanks or a verbal word of affirmation means a lot to a faithful servant. Preachers are also greatly bolstered by the faithfulness and participation of their flock. When people are in attendance, when they are willing to volunteer for ministry tasks, when they are inviting guests to church, and supporting the church financially, it greatly strengthens the man of God.

AS A FATHER DOTH HIS CHILDREN

“As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children,”
I Thessalonians 2:11

In this text, the apostle Paul reveals the concern and tenderness that he felt for the saints at Thessalonica. He dealt with them as a father would deal with his children. This is an aspect of ministry that too often is lacking. We respect the place of bold preaching and the proclamation of God’s truth. However, we dare not neglect the compassionate nurturing that is needed for new and developing Christians.

When a person is first saved, he is a spiritual baby, and needs tender and loving attention. In the context that surrounds our key verse, the following words are used: gentle, cherisheth, affectionately, and dear unto us. These words describe the kind of caring that new Christians need. This stands to remind us of our responsibility toward those God saves by His grace. Just as a father is responsible for the instruction and protection of a child, we are spiritually responsible for the well-being and guidance of new believers.

In Paul’s letter to the church at Thessalonica, he gave three aspects of his parental ministry to the new converts. He said he “exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children.” These words describe a personal involvement in the spiritual development of these Christians. The words imply personal input, encouragement, advising or counseling, and challenging others to spiritual advancement. For this to occur, an investment of time is required. Relationships must be developed. We need to consider two things that are implicit in this text.

The first is for more mature Christians. Are we willing to commit time to the important matter of discipling and nurturing new or immature Christians? Are we willing to get involved in their lives? This is everyone’s responsibility. The challenge is real, and the investment will be rewarded. To see growing Christians reach maturity and become spiritually strong brings great fulfillment.

The second question is for the young Christian. Are you willing to allow yourself to be trained and taught by a spiritual parent? Parents are responsible to instruct and correct their children. The same is true in the spiritual realm. To develop spiritually, we need input, guidance, mentoring, and even reproof of caring leaders, “as a father doth his children.”

IT MAY BE

“And Jonathan said to the young man that bare his armour, Come, and let us go over unto the garrison of these uncircumcised: it may be that the LORD will work for us: for there is no restraint to the LORD to save by many or by few. And his armourbearer said unto him, Do all that is in thine heart: turn thee; behold, I am with thee according to thy heart.”
I Samuel 14:6, 7

The Philistines were perpetual enemies to the Israelites and were gathering to make an assault on the people of God. At this time, Saul was the king of Israel. Jonathan, the son of Saul, decided to attack a garrison of the Philistines, believing that if God were in it, He would give the victory. The words in our text, “it may be,” reveal the faith and dependence Jonathan was placing in the Lord. God gave a tremendous victory as Jonathan and his armorbearer slaughtered the enemy.

There are several things about this great exploit that deserve our attention. One has to be impressed with the bravery of Jonathan. With only the assistance of his armorbearer, he was willing to advance against a much larger number of soldiers. We too are in a spiritual battle, and we often see how outnumbered we are in this fight. However God would have us to be brave, to be strong in the Lord. We need Christians who are not ashamed of Jesus and are not afraid of the enemies of the Lord.

Jonathan told his armorbearer, “there is no restraint to the LORD to save by many or by few.” Numbers do not limit God. As a matter of fact, He often chooses to work in a special way when His people are greatly outnumbered. In the case of Gideon, God reduced the size of his army before they were allowed to engage in combat. The victory does not depend upon the number of people on our side as much as the fact that God is on our side.

Not only did Jonathan exhibit great bravery, but He also had sincere faith in His God. He knew that victory was possible if the Lord was working for him, and he expected the same. He was firmly convinced that God was for Israel; therefore, he would rely upon God for the outcome. After Jonathan challenged his armorbearer to join him in the battle, the armorbearer said, “I am with thee according to thy heart.” This is an example of how our faith encourages others. Sometimes there are those who are willing to follow and believe God for victories, but they need someone to step out and say, “It may be.”

BUILDING WHAT WE HAVE DESTROYED

“For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.”
Galatians 2:18

Paul’s letter to the churches of Galatia included both a defense of the true Gospel of grace and a condemnation of those who were perverting that Gospel. There were Jews who were confusing the Galatians and corrupting the Gospel by insisting that Jewish traditions and ceremonies be included in the salvation message. In particular, they were teaching that circumcision be observed as a requirement for salvation.

Paul strongly defended the position that God’s forgiveness and promise of eternal life is only by grace, through faith in Jesus Christ. We are justified by the faith of Christ, not by the works of the law. This was the message the Galatians had received and believed, but the Judaizers were now influencing them contrary to this. To this matter, Paul said, “For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.”

In speaking of himself in the first person, he is illustrating what the Galatian churches were being led to consider. The requirement of circumcision and the other rites of the Mosaic law were abolished by the coming of the Savior and by the doctrine of justification by faith. Jesus came to fulfill the law. These Galatians were now being influenced to establish or rebuild these Old Testament requirements as being necessary for salvation. Paul is emphatically telling them that to rebuild those things which had been destroyed is wrong.

Not only is this teaching a valid and convincing argument for retaining the truth of the Gospel, it also presents a worthy principle for other areas of our lives. How many people do we know that have rightly destroyed things from their past only to rebuild them again? Perhaps in a similar fashion as the Galatians, the Bible convinced them that their religious upbringing was not consistent with the Scripture, and therefore laid it aside for the true Gospel.

Or maybe they destroyed relics of their past life of sin and put away evidence of their former lifestyle and habits. Then, as they continued down the road of Christianity, someone came along and began to convince them that the things they had destroyed were not really all that evil. This kind of rebuilding is all too common. Paul’s advice to the Galatians is good medicine for us all. Don’t rebuild the things God led you to destroy.