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“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”
Perseverance and faithfulness are essential qualities in the Christian life. Many have quit the fight or left the narrow path because of discouragement or disappointment. Because they did not see the evidence or results of their efforts, they decided to give in to defeat. God encourages us not to grow “weary in well doing.” How can we insure that we will not one day “faint”? One thing we are taught to remember is that “in due season we shall reap.” The day of harvest will come for those who are faithful.
A common reason people quit doing what is right is because they begin to doubt if their toil will be rewarded. The phrase “we shall reap” is such a positive and emphatic declaration. In an earlier verse from the same chapter, it says, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Galatians 6:7). The devil wants to deceive us. He wants to convince us that we can sow, yet not reap. This simply is not so. “We shall reap.” Our giving, going, serving, and praying are not in vain. Our investment in the lives of others is not wasted. The time and energy we have poured into people and ministries are not a mistake. It is always too early to quit. We should continue with “well doing.” It is always right to do right. We should not allow our minds to entertain the notion that our labor might somehow be in vain.
But, when will we reap? The Bible says that “in due season” we will reap, if we do not faint. We know we will reap, but we do not know when that will be. We do know that it will be IN DUE SEASON. It will be when God ordains. We will reap when the time is right. Quite frankly, there are many things that we have done in service to the Savior that we may not know the results of until we get to Heaven.
Some may say, “That is not soon enough. I need to see the fruit of my labor now.” We need to leave the timing of our reward in God’s hands. He will make sure that we reap IN DUE SEASON. Our responsibility is not to determine nor dictate the time of the harvest. It is not wise to give God deadlines concerning such things. We leave the final results to God. Our duty is to remain faithful at our post. We are to keep doing what is right, and believe that God will bring the harvest IN DUE SEASON.
“But my servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him, and hath followed me fully, him will I bring into the land whereinto he went; and his seed shall possess it.”
It would be a wonderful world if everyone had the right kind of spirit. Obviously, that is not the case; and it certainly wasn’t in Moses’ day. Numbers 13 records how Moses sent spies into the Promised Land to search the land and report back to the congregation. Unfortunately, only two of those spies came back with a positive report — Joshua and Caleb. Ten of the men were pessimistic and unbelieving, urging the people not to obey God. But our text tells us that Caleb had “another spirit with him.” He had a spirit of faith.
We should all work to have A SPIRIT LIKE CALEB. Caleb’s spirit was different from the majority of his brethren. When they were negative, he was positive. When they were doubtful, he believed. When they were hesitant, he was ready. Where they were discouraging, he was encouraging. Where they were fearful, he was courageous. We need more Christians with A SPIRIT LIKE CALEB. The unbelief of the other spies brought great consequences to the Israelites and cost the nation dearly. God judged their disobedience by delaying their entrance into the Promised Land for forty years. The older generation would die in the wilderness because they listened to and believed those who had a spirit unlike Caleb.
The kind of spirit Caleb had is greatly needed in every generation. There will always be those who procrastinate about doing what needs to be done. There will always be people who are doubters when it comes to spiritual progress, and their pessimism can be contagious. Their unbelief has the power to infect the rest of the congregation. We want to be people of faith.
It was not a difficult matter for Caleb. For him, it was reasonable. He was not simply guided by his optimism or gifted with a positive attitude. He knew that it was God’s will that they occupy the land, and anything less than that would be rebellion. He also knew that God would be with them. With these beliefs firmly in his heart, Caleb was absolutely certain that the mission could be accomplished. Having the same confidence that God has made His will known in His Word, and that He has promised to be with us, let us go forward with A SPIRIT LIKE CALEB.
“And he went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold therein, and them that bought; Saying unto them, It is written, My house is the house of prayer: but ye have made it a den of thieves.”
Luke 19:45, 46
What does God want His house to be? Quoting from Isaiah, Jesus said, “My house is the house of prayer.” As He visited the temple in Jerusalem, our Lord was displeased with what He found. It was not “the house of prayer” that He intended for it to be. God’s house should be a place of spiritual activity, a place to meet with and converse with God, a place free from worldly and carnal distractions. After all, it was God’s house. It was the place where He chose to dwell and manifest His presence. It was where He would meet with His people.
God dwells today in the heart of every one of His born-again children. The Bible says, “his Spirit that dwelleth in you” (Romans 8:11). What a wonderful truth! The heart of the Christian is God’s dwelling place. His Spirit lives within us.
The Word of God also teaches that God calls His churches His house. I Timothy 3:15 declares, “the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” He dwells in the assembly of His churches, and calls it His house. Could we not assume that God still desires that His house be a “house of prayer”? All churches will not be the same, but one thing should be true of every congregation and its services. It should be a place of genuine spiritual activity. The services of the church should be distinctly Christian and sacred as opposed to secular.
A great transition has been occurring in recent years, and it is quite troubling. In the name of “church growth” and with the aim of making sinners more comfortable, churches are changing. Deliberate attempts are made to entertain those who attend the services of the church. Other activities are taking the place of preaching and teaching. The music of worship is becoming worldlier. Dress is more informal. The time allotted for the services is abbreviated.
The question that needs to be asked is this, “Whose house is it?” The Biblical answer is, “It is God’s house.” He never intended that it be a house of entertainment, but a “house of prayer.” When God visits His house, may He find us being and doing what pleases Him, rather than what pleases the carnal person.
“And she named the child Ichabod, saying, The glory is departed from Israel: because the ark of God was taken, and because of her father in law and her husband. And she said, The glory is departed from Israel: for the ark of God is taken.”
I Samuel 4:21, 22
This was a devastating day for Israel. It was a time of great spiritual decline. The priesthood, as far as the sons of Eli were concerned, was corrupt. The Philistines defeated Israel, killing thirty thousand of their men. In addition to this, the two sons of Eli were killed and the Philistines captured the ark of God. When Eli heard this news, he fell from his seat, broke his neck, and died. When his daughter-in-law heard of these events, she went into labor and died giving birth to a son. The child was named “Ichabod,” which means, “the glory is departed from Israel.” The ark of God was gone. What a sad testimony. The glory of God was gone. Without God’s presence, things could hardly be worse.
This account from the Scripture reminds us that God can remove His glory from a place and from a people. One has to wonder how many churches there are in our world where God no longer visits. Like the Laodicean congregation, Jesus is on the outside seeking entrance. This is the way it was with Samson. He went out, assuming that God was with him, only to discover that the Lord had departed from him. Paul wrote to Timothy that in the last days it would be common to find those with “a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof” (II Timothy 3:5).
God wants to empower His churches. To the church at Ephesus, Paul said, “Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end” (Ephesians 3:21). He wants to manifest His power and glory in His churches. We are thankful that we can never lose our eternal salvation, but we can lose His power. We can lose His glory. What caused Israel to lose the glory in the days of Eli? It was their compromise and disobedience. Sin was not repented of. God will not give His glory to a sinful people.
The reason we see so little of God’s powerful presence manifested is because there is too much sin and worldliness, and too little hunger for righteousness and holiness. We need His power and blessing. We ought to set our hearts to seeking Him wholly and begging Him for His power and glory to shine forth in our dark world.
“Then rose up Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and began to build the house of God which is at Jerusalem: and with them were the prophets of God helping them. At the same time came to them Tatnai, governor on this side the river, and Shetharboznai, and their companions, and said thus unto them, Who hath commanded you to build this house, and to make up this wall?”
Ezra 5:2, 3
In the Book of Haggai, it is recorded that God, in very strong language, reprimanded His people for their neglect in rebuilding the temple. To their credit, the people responded to the message of Haggai and resumed work on the Lord’s house. Our text in Ezra tells us that “at the same time” that Zerubbabel and Jeshua “began to build the house of God,” they were visited by Tatnai and others who questioned their authority to build.
Tatnai and his companions were not as antagonistic as some of the adversaries that resisted this work of rebuilding, but they were a good illustration of something we also experience. It seems more than coincidental that “at the same time” God’s people get stirred up to do something that He wants, a voice of division or difficulty is raised. How is it that an inspiration to reform or change in some positive way is often accompanied by an attempt to discourage or hinder? I have seen this personally or heard others speak of it many times. When one decides to make noble steps to obey God, he should be prepared for some form of difficulty to be introduced.
One source of this opposition can surely be attributed to the devil. He hates to see the work of God go forward. When a child of God gets stirred up about living for the Lord, the devil will get stirred up about trying to prevent it. Let it not surprise us. If one has not been informed about this possibility, the opposition he faces can be discouraging. To the natural mind, it would seem that a step in a Biblical direction would be so blessed of God that He would not allow anything to hinder. However, the Bible teaches us otherwise. After Jesus was baptized and ready to initiate His preaching ministry, Satan immediately tempted Him sorely.
The enemy will always seek to distract God’s people. We should not let that deter us. If anything, we ought to allow this testing to be used to strengthen our resolve to serve God.
“No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.”
I John 4:12
What a miracle Biblical salvation is! It is not an effort or endeavor on our part to achieve some spiritual state. It is the divine work of God. The moment we turn from our sin and receive Christ by faith, He regenerates us by His power, saves us by His grace, and permanently indwells us by His Spirit. This Scripture speaks of the reality and power of the indwelling presence of God. The statement of John the beloved is, “God dwelleth in us.” Because He lives in us, His life will be manifested in us and through us. Our text concludes with this truth, “his love is perfected in us.” It is not our ability to imitate His love, it is His unconditional, supernatural, unexplainable love being “perfected in us.”
There are many verses in the Bible that are directed to the subject of our responsibility to love others. We are to love our friends and family. We are to love our husbands or wives. We are to love one another as Christians. We are to love God. We are even commanded to love our enemies. Where will all this love come from? Is it possible for mortal and sinful men to produce this kind of love? The answer is found in our Bible passage. God wants to channel His love through us.
We would all agree that He loves in ways that we cannot love, and He loves people that we find it difficult to love. As He was hanging on the cross, He forgave His executioners. His love supersedes any natural love that we might have. In order for us to obey His commandment to love others, we need for His love to be directed through us. Most of us have been frustrated and disappointed with ourselves at some time when we have found ourselves failing in this area. Where we knew there should be love, there was anger or bitterness. Instead of forgiving in love, we have harbored resentment.
God wants to love people through us. Our natural love will definitely have limits of endurance. But, God’s love never fails. How is it that God’s love will be expressed through us? We know, if we are born again, that He lives in us. The fruit of His Spirit will be manifested in us. The “fruit of the Spirit is love” (Galatians 5:22). The more He controls us and the more we trust Him to live His life of love through us, the more His love will be “perfected in us.”
“I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.”
God, in His wisdom and grace, reveals Himself to us in ways that enhance our understanding of His nature and thus edify us. He declares Himself to be “the door,” “the way,” “the truth,” “the life,” “the living bread,” “the light,” etc. Our text describes His watch care metaphorically as “the good shepherd.” What better way to see Him than as the One watching over our souls, and over us as members of His protected flock?
As our Shepherd, He cares for us. None need ever wonder if He has our best interest in mind. Actually, He cares so much for us that He “giveth his life for the sheep.” He loves us so much that He was willing to sacrifice His life on the cruel cross of Calvary that we might be saved and be part of His flock. As our Shepherd, He cares so much for us that He feeds us in nourishing pastures and provides refreshing drink. Fulfilling the role of the Shepherd, He leads us in paths that are good for us. He protects us from danger and has promised that He will always be with us. He will not allow us to stray far from His will and will lovingly correct us.
God would have us to recognize and appreciate our relationship to our Shepherd. It is a personal relationship. He knows His sheep individually. We love Him because of the unexplainable way that He loves us. We are comforted in His care. We feel safe in His flock. We need not be afraid, for our Shepherd is always on guard. Jesus is not just our Shepherd; He is our “good shepherd.” We may not always understand the things that He allows into our lives, but we can be confident that our Shepherd is in perfect control and only does what is good. We are the sheep of His pasture.
Just as we benefit from seeing Jesus as our Shepherd, we can better understand our place by realizing we are His sheep. The wise sheep knows that his safest place is near the Shepherd. We do not want to be distant from Him; but to the contrary, we want to stay close by His side. We should follow the paths that He leads us in. There are dangers and problems for the sheep that resist the direction and diet of the Shepherd. You never see sheep leading a Shepherd, only the opposite. As His faithful sheep, we want His will more than ours. We will then gladly submit to His plan and purpose for our lives.
“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 14:7
Jonathan, intending to make an attack against a garrison of Philistines, asked his armorbearer to accompany him. The two of them would be greatly outnumbered by this company of troops. Despite the odds, the armorbearer immediately agreed, saying to Jonathan, “Do all that is in thine heart: turn thee; behold, I am with thee according to thy heart.” The brave Jonathan would not be alone when he faced the Philistines. Together they killed about twenty of the enemy.
Support, fellowship, and encouragement are so important in the Christian fight. Like Jonathan, we realize how terrifically outnumbered we are in this world. The values we hold, the priorities we live by, the Bible we believe and obey, and the Savior we serve put us in the minority. As true soldiers of Jesus Christ, we want to stand true to our Master and His Word, even if it means standing alone. However, it definitely strengthens our resolve knowing that we are not alone. What an encouragement when someone comes alongside us and says, “I am with thee.” Thank God for family and friends who share our convictions and accompany us in this journey. Thank God for those who are there to lift us when we fall. “Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up” (Ecclesiastes 4:9, 10).
It is for this reason that we should make sure we are associated with the right kind of friends. We need companions who will encourage us in the right direction, not influence us away from the Lord. This is also one of the important benefits of church membership and fellowship. We need the support and encouragement of the brethren in a sound church family. Even if they do not always vocalize it, we know our brothers and sisters in Christ are there for us. We are not alone. For some, the assembly of the church is only a place to occasionally meet for some spiritual food; but for us, it is much more than that. We belong to Christ and to each other.
And remember, our Lord is always with us. He says, “I am with you alway” (Matthew 28:20). When we feel there are more against us than for us, Christ is by our side. Through Him, we can be victorious.
“Cease, my son, to hear the instruction that causeth to err from the words of knowledge.”
Teaching or instructing is a powerful tool. Truth can be communicated and received in such a way that it will stay permanently in the mind of the learner. In the same manner, error can be taught and explained so convincingly that students enthusiastically embrace it. Our text warns us about the importance of carefully screening our sources of information. Simply stated, we are to stop listening to teaching that will cause us to depart from the truth.
We are taught to respect the power of truth; but too often, we fail to respect the power of lies. Error can lead us away from the truth. The sometimes overlooked fact is that error can become “perceived truth” in the unsuspecting mind. Those who have been successfully indoctrinated in error will stubbornly defend it. Cults are convinced that their false beliefs are the absolute truth. We need to be careful about who our instructors are and who is teaching our children.
Lest we think this is not really all that relevant, remember what the New Testament says: “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (Galatians 5:9). How much error does it take to corrupt the truth? It was this passage of Scripture that convinced me, many years ago, not to allow our children to be taught in the government schools. We did not want our children to be taught the godless theory of evolution or the revised history of our nation, which ignores our Christian heritage. Who are our teachers?
One of the most powerful and dangerous mediums of information is the media. The valueless system of this world is being communicated through music, movies, television, and the printed page. Minds are being conformed to a way of life that is opposed to the Word of God. Medical professionals who should be trained to protect life have been brainwashed to believe that aborting a living human is permissible. Judges in our nation have had their judgment defiled until they believe it is their duty to protect society from the message of Christianity.
Where did all this nonsense begin, and how has it been sustained? It has been promoted and propagated through teaching. We need to take this caution from the wise writer of Proverbs seriously. We are to quit listening to teachers whose error can cause “to err from the words of knowledge.”
“Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.”
I Corinthians 15:34
On two occasions, the Bible records that Paul spoke something to shame the members of the Corinthian church. Webster defines shame as “a painful sensation excited by a consciousness of guilt, or of having done something which injures reputation; dishonor or disgrace.” Shame produces an emotional pain brought on by the feeling of guilt. Though shame is almost always perceived in our day as a very negative emotion, in this case, it is both desirable and healthy. Paul wanted the Christians who read these words to feel personal failure and pain because of their negligence, which was sinful. They needed to be ashamed. They needed to feel the pain of shame.
One reason there is so little true repentance in our generation is because of the absence of shame. Society has taught people that they bear no personal responsibility for their choices. There is no connection between their decisions and the sad condition of their lives; and it is not productive to accept blame and thus shame. However, shame has an incredible power to help us improve because we feel pain about where we have been wrong. Paul knew that the church of Corinth probably would not change the way they were unless they were made to feel ashamed of themselves. In their case, the Christians were guilty of neglecting their responsibility to tell others about the Lord Jesus Christ, and the man of God wanted them to take this very seriously.
What about us? Should we be ashamed of ourselves? Paul said, “some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.” They were to be ashamed that there were people in their area of influence that did not have the knowledge of God’s grace and the gift of salvation. It should cause them pain to know that people were destined for hell, and had not heard the Gospel. They had not fulfilled their responsibility, and Paul wanted them to feel the guilt of their neglect. Could the same not be said of us?
God does not want His children to live in continued guilt of forgiven sins, but He does want us to take sin seriously. We need to face the facts when we have failed to be obedient to God. It is good for us to own up to our wrong and feel the shame of being guilty, that we might turn from our sins and be forgiven by God’s grace.