“And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.”
Jesus had been invited to eat in the home of a Pharisee. While He was there, a woman from the city who was a notable sinner came and stood behind Jesus. She, weeping, brought an alabaster box of ointment with her and began to wash His feet with her tears and wipe them with her hair. She kissed His feet and anointed them with the ointment. The Pharisee was critical that Jesus would receive such a sinner. Jesus used the occasion to teach that her love for Him was greater because her sins, which were many, were forgiven. Jesus told the woman that her sins were forgiven, and then stated, “Thy faith hath saved thee.” What wonderful words these are to the seeking and repentant soul!
This woman knew she was a sinner and was as guilty as could be. She knew that she could not save herself. She realized that Jesus was the Savior; and by faith, she trusted Him. What was it that brought salvation to her heart? “Thy faith hath saved thee.” This is why Jesus came from Heaven: to seek and to save lost sinners. He came to forgive sins, reconcile the lost to Himself, and to give the gift of righteousness and eternal life.
The Pharisees criticized Jesus for His interaction with sinners. They could not relate to His compassion. Although they were religious, they had no genuine concern for those who were spiritually lost. There is something seriously wrong with any church or religion that does not demonstrate a commitment to reaching others with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus cared about those for whom no one else cared. He went where the sinners were. He wanted to see them converted, and all sinners are saved the same way: “Thy faith hath saved thee.” Every person who desires to be born again must place his faith in the shed blood and victorious resurrection of Jesus Christ.
This is our message to the unsaved – by and through faith, they can be saved. Many lost sinners do not understand this simple, yet powerful news. They think salvation must depend on some merit of their own or religious work they do. Yet, they can be saved just like this sinful woman in our text. They must humble themselves as guilty sinners, turn from their sin, and trust in Christ and Him alone for salvation. This is our message: salvation through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
“And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.”
I Kings 18:21
Elijah, in one of the most dramatic moments of the Scripture, was confronting the prophets of Baal and the prophets of the groves on Mt. Carmel. Eight hundred and fifty false prophets were present. All of Israel was summoned to the meeting. The first words out of Elijah’s mouth are presented in our text. There was no friendly or social greeting, only a piercing call for a public, spiritual commitment. This powerful question and challenge resonates down through the centuries of time and still stirs our hearts: “How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him.”
These children of Israel were compromisers in the worst way. Through His prophet, God was challenging them for a commitment. He wanted them to declare their position. Instead, the Bible says, “the people answered him not a word.” They had nothing to say to this bold and direct invitation from the fiery prophet. They were silent. They did not make a stand for Baal nor did they verbalize their allegiance to God. They simply had nothing to say. What a pathetic picture of the backslidden heart.
We need to be certain and consistent in our loyalty to Christ and His cause. In these perilous times, we need to take a public stand for the Lord. Most of us have been like Simon Peter at times and have denied the Lord instead of witnessing of His grace. Let us confess our failure and with new resolve, purpose to be the faithful witnesses we all desire to be. Our silence can only be interpreted as a lack of commitment and love for our Redeemer. The people assembled on Mt. Carmel “answered him not a word.” They were vacillating “between two opinions.” This is the problem still today, when someone wants to be associated with the Lord and also be accepted by the world.
The Bible is clear; it is not possible to be a friend of the world and a friend of God. We must make our choice and take our stand. “Stand up, stand up for Jesus, Ye soldiers of the cross!” Jesus deserves more than silence from His disciples. Strengthened by love for Christ and His empowering grace, let’s not be ashamed to identify with our Lord.
“Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry.”
During Paul’s first visit to Macedonia, he was persecuted in city after city, beginning in Philippi where he and Silas were beaten. From there, Paul and his company visited Thessalonica where they were driven away by opposition. They were also mistreated in Berea, and the disciples had Paul transported to Athens. In Athens, while waiting for Silas and Timothy to join him, “his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry.” The Greeks were known for their idolatrous worship, and Paul was moved by the spiritual blindness and bondage of the Athenian people. He was stirred by what he saw.
Wherever Paul went, he seemed to have a burden for the people. Most of us would agree that we need more of this concern in our lives. People are just as blind and lost in our day as they were two thousand years ago. Most people – if they have any religion at all – are deceived and hope in something other than the true Gospel and genuine salvation. They are worshipping some god other than the God of the Bible. They are content with their spiritual condition, not realizing that their religion is vain We need to see them as they are – lost and undone, and on their way to hell. Truthfully, we do not always see people the way a caring missionary like Paul saw them. We are often so busy or distracted, we fail to see people the way we should. We see them as people, but not as lost people, bound for eternal damnation. Because we do not see them in their true spiritual condition, we are not stirred in our spirit or burdened in our hearts.
Even as people serve God in various ministries, they may do so without the genuine compassion that is needed. We need a greater concern for the unsaved around us. One primary purpose for our lives is to preach the message of God’s salvation and influence others heavenward. In our personal lives, we need to be more conscious of the peril of those we see and know. In our churches, we need God to stir us in a greater way for the purpose of warning others and winning more to the Savior. May God help us to care – to see people as they really are, and to consider their needs as we should. If we could regularly take a serious and deliberate look at sinners, we might be stirred by what we see.
“I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope.”
Psalm 16: 8, 9
As David penned these words, he knew first-hand the comfort and help that comes from dependence upon God and reliance upon His presence. Our steadfastness is not found in personal resolve or human determination. It is a very unwise person who places his confidence in the arm of the flesh. The psalmist declared, “I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.”
We have the promise of God’s abiding presence with us at all times. It is in His presence and power that we “rest in hope.” He has said, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5.) This is a promise in which God’s people need to be completely confident. He is at our right hand. By night and by day, in times of rest and great activity, in private as well as in public, we are assured that we are never alone. We should train our minds to always know that God is with us. This assurance is not based on some feeling we have, but on the sure promises of God’s Word.
Because He is our constant Companion, we trust in His protection and care. To have Him at our right hand is to know He will defend us. We do not fight our battles alone. When our circumstances seem overwhelming and our enemies are multiplied against us, He has promised to sustain us. We rely upon His unceasing support, and we have confidence that He will enable us to be steadfast in our purpose; “I shall not be moved.” What peace, confidence, and joy this brings to those who trust in Him! How many we have known who have been moved from their place of devotion, obedience, and service. Since we can know that He is with us and will support and defend us, “Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope.”
Faith gives us the ability to have joy, knowing that it is in God that we place our trust. Where can joy be found in a world that assaults our values on every hand? Joy can be found in the heart of the trusting servant who learns to lean on his ever-present Friend for support and strength. Jesus told us we could be of good cheer in a world full of tribulation because He overcomes the world. When we know He is with us to help us and defend us, we too can say, “my heart is glad.”
“And Eliab his eldest brother heard when he spake unto the men; and Eliab’s anger was kindled against David, and he said, Why camest thou down hither? and with whom hast thou left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know thy pride, and the naughtiness of thine heart; for thou art come down that thou mightest see the battle.”
I Samuel 17:28
The three eldest brothers of David were a part of the army of Israel that was fighting with the Philistines and their leader, Goliath. David’s father, Jesse, sent David to take food to his brothers and check on their welfare. When David arrived at the Valley of Elah, he greeted his brothers. As he talked with them, the Philistine champion, Goliath, began to mock and challenge the men of Israel. Seeing how the men of Israel were afraid of Goliath, David began to inquire of them what might be done for the man who could kill this Philistine and restore dignity to Israel. Our text tells us that “Eliab his eldest brother heard when he spake unto the men; and Eliab’s anger was kindled against David.” David’s oldest brother began to rebuke him for expressing an interest in this military stand-off. Then Eliab began to make accusations against David, saying, “I know thy pride, and the naughtiness of thine heart; for thou art come down that thou mightest see the battle.”
The hurling of false accusations can do much harm. David’s motivation was noble. He was concerned about the nation of Israel and the honor of God. His response to his brother was, “What have I now done? Is there not a cause?” (I Samuel 17:29) We cannot know all the reasons Eliab was so quick to misjudge David. Perhaps it was partly because Eliab was ashamed that none of the other Israelite men were brave enough to face Goliath. The important thing is that David did not allow these harsh accusations to dampen his spirit or his willingness to face the Philistine giant.
We too will have to face false accusations and criticism. This is part of the spiritual warfare we experience. We must recognize these lies as spiritual attacks and press forward in God’s will. Also, we do not want the enemy to use us to direct accusations against others. Before expressing an opinion or critical remark, we should make certain our words are true. The person we discourage could be someone God plans to greatly use.
“For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.”
In this powerful passage, God used Paul to identify the spiritual position He would have every Christian to embrace, having “no confidence in the flesh.” If any man had reason to boast of his past position and accomplishments, it would be Paul. He was an Israelite of the tribe of Benjamin, and a zealous Pharisee. He testified, “If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more” (Philippians 3:4). However, Paul laid aside all of those things, wherein he might have confidence, that he might know and serve God by faith.
We all have a natural tendency to trust in some ability or accomplishment of the flesh. One can only wonder how many millions will die in their sin and spend an eternity without Christ and salvation because they thought they were somehow good enough to earn Heaven on their personal merit. Paul admonishes us to put no confidence in the flesh. There is absolutely nothing that man can produce that will gain any favor before God. If men are trusting in their good works, church membership, or baptism, etc., to get them to Heaven, they are going to be sadly and eternally regretful. As the old hymn, “Rock of Ages” declares, “Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to thy cross I cling.” Our confidence for salvation is not in ourselves or in anything we have done. Rather, it is in Christ and what He has done for us on the cross. He suffered and bled and died for our sins. Our faith is in His perfect sacrifice and bodily resurrection, that completely – and that only.
Likewise, as Christians, we put no confidence in our flesh when it comes to our Christian works or service for God. Just as there is a temptation for sinners to trust in some aspect of the flesh for their justification, there is a similar temptation for believers to trust in some fleshly talent or prior experience rather than to trust in the Lord and His great grace. We are to reckon ourselves to be dead to sin in the body of Christ and be raised again by His power that we might serve Him in the power of the Spirit rather than in the energy of the flesh.
The flesh cannot please God. But as we yield ourselves to the Holy Spirit and trust in Him to work through us, our confidence is in the Lord and not in our flesh. The Bible is clear – confidence in the flesh is sin.
“The law of the wise is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death.”
It is a wise person who lives by a system of rules and guidelines and conducts himself according to those principles. We often hear criticism of rules and accusations of legalism because we seek to adhere to the principles of godliness and behavior found in the Word of God. Satan has deceived many into believing that laws are only confining and restrictive, and that freedom and pleasure are found in the absence of rules. But, the Bible teaches differently. The Scripture says, “The law of the wise is a fountain of life.” Of course, the perfect law, which we should all seek to learn and live by, is found in the Holy Scripture. The person who will be taught by the Word of God, and will determine to follow its precepts, will find that it is a “fountain of life.”
God is the Creator of life and the Source of true life. He promises us eternal life in Heaven, as well as an abundant life on earth. Our Lord is very interested in our experiencing the best that life can offer. He wants us to know that life is not found in rejecting and rebelling against His Word, but in receiving and believing His Word and walking in His precepts. The doctrines of His Word are able to make us “wise unto salvation” (II Timothy 3:15). We come to know Christ as our Savior and receive the gift of everlasting life by obeying the Gospel declared in His Word. There is a fountain of living water that quickens dead sinners and refreshes the souls of weary saints.
The devil does not want us to enjoy the reviving power of that spring. In contrast to our life-giving Savior, Satan wants to destroy us. He wants to trap us in a life of sin, and doom us to an eternity of torment. While God’s Word will lead us to a fountain of life, Satan’s goal is to lead people to perpetual death. Our text refers to Satan’s traps as “the snares of death.”
We are to avoid the snares of sin and the world. They entangle men in their web and bring them to destruction and death. How can we avoid these entrapments? We avoid them by walking in the “law of the wise.” It is a wise person who chooses to live by the principles of the Bible. If we will be governed by the commands and promises of truth found in the Scripture, we will recognize and escape “the snares of death” which seek to capture those who forsake the “law of the wise.”
“And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt. And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I.”
Exodus 3:3, 4
God’s people had been slaves in Egypt for centuries. He was aware of their affliction and heard their cries. The Lord was about to deliver them out of their bondage, and He intended to use Moses as His instrument. It had been forty years since Moses had fled from Egypt. He was faithfully keeping the flock of his father-in-law when he saw something that arrested his attention. Moses witnessed a flame of fire coming from the midst of a bush. As he watched, he saw that the burning bush was not consumed. God used this phenomenon to call Moses to a great task.
Thank God that He still calls people to serve Him and to lead His children in His work. Moses’ response to the burning bush serves as a lesson for each of us. God does not call all of us to be leaders of His people, as Moses was; but He has a plan for each of us in His service. How can we discover God’s purpose for our lives? How can we hear God’s call for us? Notice Moses’ reaction to this unusual sight: “I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.” Moses gave his attention to what he knew was an extraordinary occurrence. He was determined to discover the significance of it. What if Moses would not have turned aside to see? What if he were not willing to divert his attention from the routine of his life? God was going to call Moses to one of the most important assignments any man has ever been given. However, the Lord did not call Moses until He knew that He had Moses’ attention. The Bible says that “when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I.”
The question that is worth our serious consideration is, “Does God have our attention?” How serious are we about God’s will? We have to wonder how many people would have a better understanding of God’s will if they were diligent about giving Him their undivided attention. When God is speaking to us and when He is trying to get our attention, we should be diligent to turn aside and see what the Lord wants us to know and what He would have us to do.
“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
Jesus teaches us to train our hearts and minds to think more in terms of eternal things than earthly things. We are either laying up treasures on this earth, or we are laying up treasures in Heaven. This is not the natural way for men to live, but it is a part of the transformation that is taking place in the sincere child of God. It only makes sense that we be thus minded. This life is brief, and the older we get, the more real this becomes. However, we are going to live eternally in the place that God is preparing for us. Treasures that we lay up on this earth will remain here after we are gone and will one day perish. Treasures that we lay up in Heaven will last forever.
This important question, “Where is your treasure?” should help guide us in our decisions and priorities. Just prior to this verse, Jesus told a parable about a man that was rich, whose farm was prospering abundantly. He had no room to store the harvest of his land, so his only solution was to build bigger barns. Jesus said this man’s reasoning was foolish, because he was going to die and leave it all behind. He then instructed His disciples to live more for the world to come than for this present world. This does not mean that we are not to earn money or provide for our families, or even leave an inheritance to our descendants. These things are not wrong; they are indeed our responsibilities. However, this world is not our priority. Jesus told these followers that if all we do is live for material things, we are no different from the world.
How is it then, that we lay up treasure in Heaven? Jesus instructed the listeners that by giving rather than hoarding, they would be laying up treasures in Heaven. The more we invest our resources in eternal things, the more treasure we will have in Heaven. What things are eternal? The first things we think of are the eternal souls of men, women, boys and girls. As we give to the work of God, as we pray for souls to be saved, as we teach and train others to serve the Lord, and support the work of missions and our local church, we are investing in eternity. And the more of our treasure we have in Heaven, the more our hearts will be there. The reason our hearts are so fixed on this world and on temporal things is because that is where our treasures are. As we obey the Lord and invest in heavenly things, we will find our hearts will be there also.
“When Saul heard that David was discovered, and the men that were with him, (now Saul abode in Gibeah under a tree in Ramah, having his spear in his hand, and all his servants were standing about him).”
I Samuel 22:6
Saul was the king of Israel, and no one can fault a national leader for having security around him. We see in our text that the king had “his spear in his hand, and all his servants were standing about him.” The thing that makes this so interesting is when we consider who Saul was defending himself against. Saul was in pursuit of David. He was jealous of David and sought to kill him on a number of occasions, but David never lifted a hand against Saul. David had the opportunity to kill Saul if he desired, but he refused to stretch forth his hand against God’s anointed. Saul’s insecurity and fearfulness was not because he was in any real danger from David. David loved Saul and purposed to honor him. Rather, the emotional and spiritual turmoil and insecurity that Saul was in was caused by unresolved conflicts.
A conscience that is not clear will produce insecurity and fears. Saul was in bondage, confusion, and fear because his heart was not right with God and not right with David. Saul never got the victory over his jealousy of knowing David killed Goliath, and how the Israelites praised David for it. David could have been the best friend Saul ever had. When an evil spirit troubled Saul, David played his harp; the evil spirit left Saul. He was comforted. David was a loyal servant of Saul, yet Saul was tormented by his presence. Bitterness, unforgiveness, and envy can destroy a person. Saul thought his fears were justified. In his mind, he needed protection from David. His imagination had him convinced that David was dangerous.
That is the way the devil works. When we do not forgive people and love them, our minds can be blinded by bitterness. False imaginations paint an inaccurate picture in our minds. When we are not willing to accept the truth, the only thing left to believe is a lie. Jonathan tried to convince Saul that David was not his enemy, but Saul did not believe his appeal and only grew angry toward Jonathan. Is there help for a person in such a state? Absolutely! If people will humble themselves and clear their consciences, they can be free from the insecurity of sin.