Examined Yourself Lately?

In the closing decades of the 1800s, the world’s most well-known evangelist was a man named D.L. Moody. Moody’s quick wit and humor made him immensely likable. He once met a drunk who was tottering along, barely able to walk. The drunk said, “Oh, it’s you, is it, Mr. Moody? Don’t you know me? I am one of your converts.” Moody put his arm around the man to steady him and said, “Well, my son, you look like one of mine — you’re surely not one of the Lord’s.”

Moody was merely pointing out the obvious fact that salvation should lead to a measurable degree of godly living. The New Testament is replete with verses that teach this fundamental basic of Christianity. It’s such a shame, then, that so many professing Christians exhibit so much unholiness in their conduct. I’m not talking about being saved by good works; I’m talking about good works inevitably flowing out of a true salvation experience. Consider the following sampling of passages, all written to Christians (all from the N.K.J.V.):

…as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:14-16)

Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: (Hebrews 12:14)

Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. (2 Corinthians 7:1)

He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. (1 John 2:4)

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)

We shouldn’t take these passages to mean that the true Christian will never sin. No, as long as our souls remain housed in these sin-polluted bodies, the sinful nature we received at birth by being part of Adam’s fallen race will cause us to miss the mark sometimes. But there’s a big difference between dropping the ball every now and then and not even being able to find the stadium where the game is played. Do you see what I mean?

The apostle Paul often wrote about the importance of the Christian exhibiting personal holiness, and he frequently coupled the topic up with the idea of self-examination. For example, in Galatians 6:4, he says, “But let each one examine his own work…” In 1 Corinthians 11:28, he says, “But let a man examine himself…” And in 2 Corinthians 13:5, he says, “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves…”

Again, the tell-tale marks of authentic salvation have nothing to do with the professing Christian reaching a level of sinless perfection. They do, however, have plenty to do with that professing Christian living out a reasonable amount of personal holiness as evidence that he or she truly is a new creation in Christ. To use D.L. Moody’s terminology, if you are “one of the Lord’s,” that evidence should be there. And if it isn’t, the shortcoming could very well be due to the fact that, in reality, you simply aren’t one of His.

Posted in Addiction, Alcohol, Change, Character, Doing Good, Dress and Appearance, Drugs, Homosexuality, Lust, Lying, Personal Holiness, Rebellion, Repentance, Salvation, Sanctification, Sin | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


Two of the Bible’s best passages concerning the fall of Satan and the other rebellious angels are Isaiah 14:12-14 and Ezekiel 28:1-19. But what makes these passages a bit confusing is the fact that each one also deals with an earthly ruler. Isaiah 14:12-14 pronounces God’s coming judgment upon the king of Babylon, while Ezekiel 28:1-19 pronounces it upon the king of Tyre.

You ask, “So if the passages talk about two earthly rulers, why do we bring Satan into the context?” We do it because certain parts of the passages simply cannot refer to anyone but Satan. Consider the following examples, all cited from the New King James Version, and I’ll accompany each one with an explanation for why the passage can’t be referring to any earthly king.

“How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!…” (Isaiah 14:12) No earthly king of Babylon ever fell from heaven.

“For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God…’” (Isaiah 14:13) No earthly king of Babylon would think that he could ascend to heaven and exalt his throne above God.

“You were in Eden, the garden of God…” (Ezekiel 28:13) No earthly king of Tyre was in the garden of Eden.

“You were the anointed cherub who covers…” (Ezekiel 28:14) A cherub is a type of angel.

“You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, till iniquity was found in you.” (Ezekiel 28:15) Because every human being is a sinner from birth, no earthly king of Tyre could be described as being perfect from the day he was created.

In light of these examples, it’s clear that God is speaking to more than the kings of Babylon and Tyre in these passages. Sure, He’s pronouncing judgment upon them, but He’s also speaking to Satan. You see, the implication is that Satan was the real power behind the thrones of those two kings. As a matter of fact, Satan was so closely associated with those two kings that God could speak to him while speaking to them.

Okay, with this understood, now let me explain the name “Lucifer,” which is used in Isaiah 14:12. I’ll begin by saying that the King James Version and the New King James Version are the only two major English translations that use this name “Lucifer.” The Hebrew word these two translations render as “Lucifer” is helel. Bible scholars are in agreement that helel literally means “shining one,” “bright one,” or even “light-bringer.” Translators have often translated it as the so-called “morning star” or “day star,” which is actually the planet Venus appearing in the east just before sunrise.

As evidence that translators agree on this meaning for helel, consider the renderings that modern translations give to Isaiah 14:12:

“How you have fallen from heaven, You star of the morning, son of the dawn!…” (New American Standard Version)

“How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn!…” (New Revised Standard Version)

“Shining morning star, how you have fallen from the heavens!…” (Holman Christian Standard)

“How have you fallen from heaven, O light-bringer and daystar, son of the morning!…” (Amplified Bible, Classic Edition)

“How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn!…” (New International Version)

“How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, Son of Dawn!…” (English Standard Version)

“How you are fallen from heaven, O shining star, son of the morning…” (New Living Translation)

Alright, now that we understand the literal meaning of helel, the question becomes, “Why do the King James Version and the New King James Version render the word as “Lucifer”? Actually, since the New King James Version simply sticks with the King James Version rendering, the question is really, “Why did the translators of the King James Version go with the name ‘Lucifer'”?

The answer is found in the fact that before the Bible was ever translated into any kind of English, it was translated into Latin. That Latin translation was called the Vulgate. And what is the Latin word for “morning star”? It is “lucifer.” You see, when the King James Version translators came to Isaiah 14:12, they decided to just carry the name “lucifer” over from the existing Latin translation. In other words, “Lucifer” is not an English word. It is, instead, a Latin word that was incorporated into an English translation.

It’s sad that modern translators have been criticized by some for simply doing their job. When these translators came to helel in Isaiah 14:12, they actually translated it rather than go with some long-standing Latin word that would need translating itself because so few people know Latin. In doing so, these translators left themselves open to the charge of attempting to rob the Bible of one of its greatest teachings on the devil. Even worse, since Jesus calls Himself “the Bright and Morning Star” in Revelation 22:16, they’ve been accused of associating Jesus with Satan or even promoting the lordship of Satan.

On this whole subject, Merrill Unger, the highly respected Bible scholar and commentator, has helpfully pointed out that Isaiah 14:12 isn’t the only Old Testament passage where the morning star and angels are linked together. The other passage is Job 38:7, which speaks of the time when “the morning stars” sang together and all the “sons of God” shouted for joy. (Job 1:6 and 2:1 plainly show that the term “sons of God” refers to angels in the book of Job.) So, you see, based upon the fact that Job 38:7 refers to angels as “morning stars,” it really isn’t so strange that the original Hebrew of Isaiah 14:12 would describe Satan (a cherub angel) as the “morning star.” And as for Jesus using that description for Himself, that’s just His emphatic way of saying that He is the true “morning star,” one far brighter and far greater than any angel, including Satan.

Posted in Angels, Bible Study, Demons, King James Only, Satan, Scripture, The Bible, The Devil | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

How Many Angels Are There?

In Hebrews 12:22, the New Testament’s original Greek uses the word murias to describe the number of angels that God created. It is from this word that we get our word “myriads.” While it isn’t hard for translators to understand the basic meaning of murias, they do struggle somewhat with figuring out the best way to translate it into English. Take the translators of the classic King James Version for instance. In Hebrews 12:22, they go with “innumerable” to translate murias, but they render it “ten thousand times ten thousand” in Revelation 5:11-12. In Acts 19:19, they translate it as “fifty thousand,” but in Luke 12:1 they again use “innumerable.” In Acts 21:20, it’s “many thousands,” while in Jude 1:14 it’s “ten thousands.”

The challenge of precisely translating murias has led some translators to basically jam the Greek word straight into the English by rendering it “myriads.” This could be called a transliteration rather than a translation. For example, in the New American Standard Version, Hebrews 12:22 reads “myriads of angels.” Likewise, Revelation 5:11 reads “myriads of myriads.”

While I understand why murias might be translated as “innumerable,” we shouldn’t think that God created an infinite, limitless, never-ending number of angels. To the contrary, there really is only a certain number of them. No doubt it is an exceedingly high number, but it is a countable number, at least countable by God.

How do we know this? We know it because Revelation 12:4 says that when Satan fell from heaven, “His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth” (N.K.J.V.). Obviously, Satan doesn’t have a literal tail, and the angels that followed him in his rebellion against God aren’t literal stars. Nevertheless, the point is made. A third of the angels that God created can now be classified as “fallen” with the angel Satan. And to have a third of something, that something must have a set number, right? There simply is no such thing as one-third of innumerable.

So, now that we understand all this, how do we answer the question, “How many angels are there?” Well, it’s clearly impossible for us to calculate an exact number, but we can feel very safe in saying that there are at least many tens of thousands. I myself wouldn’t argue with anyone who believes there are hundreds of thousands. Truth be told, I suspect that there are millions, perhaps even billions. I guess that all we can really know for sure is that however many angels there are, the more the better, because the majority (two-thirds) of them are still out there doing God’s bidding and opposing the one-third who are doing Satan’s bidding.

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A Big, Black Door

A spy was captured by the Persian army and sentenced to death. As he soon learned, the Persian general who issued the death sentence carried out executions in an unusual way. The general would give the condemned the choice of being slain by the sword or walking through a certain big, black door.

After being offered this choice, the spy chose death by the sword and was quickly executed in that way. Not long afterward, a curious onlooker asked the general what lay behind the big, black door. The general answered, “Freedom, but they always prefer the known to the unknown. People are afraid of that which is undefined and less certain. We gave him a choice. Behind the door is freedom, but few men are brave enough to take it.”

Christian, could it be that God has recently placed some “big, black door” in front of you? And could it be that your fear of the unknown is keeping you from having the faith to walk through that door? If that describes you, rest assured that God doesn’t operate like that Persian general. He isn’t playing games with you, and He’s not seeking your demise. Instead, what He’s trying to do is build your faith in Him. In order to do that, He wants to take you out of your comfort zone to a place where you are less confident in yourself and more prone to lean on Him.

What am I saying? I’m saying that God’s “big, black doors” are portals into a deeper walk with Him. But you’ve got to have the faith and courage to step through them. It’s Satan who wants you to spend your life fearful, unchallenged, underdeveloped, and wrongly satisfied with the status quo. God, on the other hand, wants you to experience all that He has planned for you so that you can become the person He wants you to become.

Consider the verses listed below as the close to this post. They are all written to Christians and they all have to do with fear. My prayer is that God will speak to you through them if He is truly calling you to walk through a big, black door that will lead you into the freedom of His will for your life.

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (John 14:27, N.K.J.V.)

For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” (Romans 8:15, N.K.J.V.)

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7, N.K.J.V.)

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. (1 John 4:18, N.K.J.V.)

Posted in Choices, Courage, Decisions, Doubt, Faith, Fear, God's Will, Obedience, Satan, The Devil, Trusting In God, Worry | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Is the Story of Jonah True?

A little girl got saved during the local church’s summer Bible School. Sadly, her parents didn’t share her newfound faith in Jesus and refused to take her to church or even buy her a Bible. So, each Sunday morning she would use the city sidewalk to walk herself the short distance from her house to the church. As she walked, she always carried the Bible that her Sunday School bought her when she began attending class.

Well, it just so happened that the little girl’s route to church took her directly past the home of an atheist professor who taught at a university. Once he noticed that the girl walked past his house every Sunday morning, he began to feel increasingly sorry for her. In his way of thinking, she had bought into what he called the “nonsense” of the Bible and Christianity. Finally, his interest in the girl became so great that one Sunday morning he went out to meet her and enlighten her. He politely stopped her in front of his house and struck up a conversation.

The professor said, “Little girl, you don’t really believe that book you are carrying, do you?” Surprised by what she considered to be a strange question, she replied, “Yes, I do.” Already knowing where he was taking the conversation, the professor asked, “So, have you read the story of how Jonah got swallowed by a whale and stayed in there three days and three nights before coming out alive?” Excitedly, the girl answered, “Oh yes, we studied that story in my Sunday School class a few weeks ago.”

Continuing to probe, the professor said, “But how could Jonah do that?” The little girl was stumped as she tried to scientifically reason out an explanation, but in the end she gave up trying and gave the simple answer, “I don’t know, but when I get to heaven I’ll ask him.” Now the professor felt confident that he had her childlike faith on the run, and so he said, “And what if Jonah isn’t in heaven?” To that, the little girl immediately replied back, “Oh, well, then you can ask him.”

In my study, I have several excellent commentaries on the book of Jonah, commentaries written by men who believe the Bible is the inspired word of God. Concerning Jonah being swallowed by the “whale,” these commentators make two main points. First, it would have been simple for the God who created all of creation and performs miracles as simply as you and I breathe to have had Jonah swallowed whole and kept alive. Second, even if we take the miraculous out of play, the whole story is even possible on a naturalistic level.

In regards to the naturalistic level, the Hebrew term that is used to describe the monster that got Jonah is gadol dag, a term that can generically refer to any kind of large sea creature. For example, the sulfur-bottom whale (which is commonly referred to as “the blue whale”) can reach a size of over one hundred feet and have a mouth as wide as twelve feet. This whale has multiple compartments in its stomach, any one of which could provide more than ample room for a man to live. The head of the whale can be seven feet high, seven feet wide, and fourteen feet long, and actually serves as an air storage chamber. Also, this whale has no teeth. It feeds by swimming along with its mouth open, straining out the water, and then swallowing whatever is left.

A sperm whale is another candidate for the creature that swallowed Jonah. Its mouth can be twenty feet long, fifteen feet high, and nine feet wide. According to one famous story, a sailor named James Bartley was lost at sea in February of 1891 during an attempt to harpoon a sperm whale in the Falkland Islands region. A short time later, the whale was killed and drawn to the side of the ship to be worked up and have its blubber removed. The following day the stomach was hoisted on deck, and when the stomach was opened, Bartley was found unconscious, but alive, inside. He was revived and not long afterward resumed his duties aboard the ship. Admittedly, however, this story has been diligently researched in recent years, found lacking in its historical details, and now gets classified as a piece of fiction that got passed off and passed along as fact for the better part of a century.

Nevertheless, the creature that got Jonah didn’t have to be a whale at all, and there is another well-known story (this one vetted and verified) that tells of a sailor who got swallowed whole by a whale shark and remained alive inside the creature for two days before being rescued. The account comes from the early 1920s as the Literary Digest ran the story of an English sailor who was swallowed by a whale shark in the English Channel. Two days later, the creature was spotted again and killed, and when it was cut open, the sailors found the man unconscious but alive. He was rushed to the hospital, only to be discharged a few hours later after being found to be physically fit. In 1926, Dr. Harry Rimmer, the President of the Research Science Bureau of Los Angeles, actually met the man. Rimmer described the man’s physical appearance as being odd in that he was devoid of hair and had patches of skin that were marked by a yellowish-brown color.

In more recent times, June of 2021 to be precise, a commercial lobsterman named Michael Packard was in his scuba gear diving for lobster off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, when he felt a huge bump and everything suddenly went dark. At first, he thought he had been attacked by a large great white shark, but then he realized that he hadn’t been bitten and the creature didn’t actually have any teeth. Being an experienced seaman, he thought, “I’m in a whale’s mouth and he’s trying to swallow me.” But then Packard saw light and felt the whale, which turned out to be a humpback whale, shake its head and blow him out of its mouth. After being shot into the air, the unharmed lobsterman landed safely in the water and was hauled back into his boat by his crew, who had been anxiously scanning the waves for him.

You see, those who attempt to criticize or explain away the story of Jonah do so at their own peril. The God of the miraculous is certainly not on their side, and neither are these historical accounts of “Jonahs” from modern times. Then, of course, there is the one piece of evidence that should settle all doubt about the matter. You ask, “And what is that piece of evidence?” It’s the fact that Jesus Himself not only taught that the story of Jonah was literally true but even used it as an illustration of His resurrection. Therefore, I offer Christ’s own words as the close to this post. Never forget that He said:

For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. (Matthew 12:40, N.K.J.V.)

Posted in Bible Study, Children, God's Word, Heaven, Hell, Scripture, The Bible | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why the Christian Will Be in Heaven

“Your heart must not be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if not, I would have told you. I am going away to prepare a place for you. If I go away and prepare a place for you, I will come back and receive you to Myself, so that where I am you may be also. You know the way to where I am going.” “Lord,” Thomas said, “we don’t know where You’re going. How can we know the way?” Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:1-6, HCSB)

Evangelist Dr. A.J. Fristoe used to tell the story of something that happened to him when he accepted an invitation to preach a revival in London, England. Upon his arrival in London, he was met by those who had invited him. They told him he would be staying in one of the finest palaces in all of England due to the fact that the couple who owned the home had requested that he be allowed to stay with them.

As Fristoe made his way to the home, the question of why the wealthy couple were being so gracious to him weighed upon his mind. Unfortunately for him, the mystery only deepened when he arrived at the home and realized the couple were strangers to him. It wasn’t until they were all comfortably seated in the home’s exquisite living room that he got his explanation.

The couple’s son, who was an officer in the Royal navy, was stationed on the other side of the world, but he had heard that Dr. Fristoe was to be in London. It was the young man who had sent instructions for his parents to be so hospitable to Dr. Fristoe. Once the couple described their son, Dr. Fristoe did remember him. Years earlier, the officer had been on a ship that had put into Norfolk, Virginia, for repairs when Fristoe had been serving as the pastor of a church there. The officer had attended Fristoe’s church and gotten to know the preacher quite well. Fristoe had even invited the young man into his home for dinner on multiple occasions. There, the two had enjoyed long discussions on the subject of religion, and those discussions had led the young man to believe in Christ as Savior and be baptized by Dr. Fristoe.

After the officer’s ship had pulled out of Norfolk, he had kept in touch with Fristoe. Upon hearing that Fristoe was going to be preaching a revival in London, the officer had cabled his parents and instructed them to extend the invitation to the evangelist. That was why the couple had specifically requested that Fristoe be allowed to stay with them. Once they had explained it all to him, they summed up the situation by saying, “Dr. Fristoe, you are here because of our son.”

The spiritual parallel isn’t hard to spot. Christian, when you journey to heaven and arrive at that indescribably beautiful place, God the Father could rightly say to you, “You are here because of My Son.” So, with this spiritual application in mind, let me encourage you to take a moment right now and thank Jesus that heaven awaits you when you leave this world. You will be welcomed there because of Him because He is, after all, the only way that you or anybody else can ever get there.

Posted in Belief, Christ's Death, Eternal Security, Eternity, Evangelism, Faith, God's Love, God's Provision, Grace, Heaven, Praise, Salvation, Thankfulness, The Gospel, Witnessing | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

What Two Wrong Clocks Can Teach Us About God’s Will

Did you know that a clock that is five minutes off is more dangerous than one that is five hours off? Think about it. If a clock is five hours off, you will see that it is obviously wrong and not use it to tell the time. But a clock that is just five minutes off will fool you, and the deception can cause you to burn a meal, miss an important appointment, or be late to pick up your child.

Okay, now let’s apply this same idea to the realm of you discerning God’s specific will regarding a given situation. Oftentimes, the most dangerous alternative to God’s will is the one that is just “five minutes” off as opposed to the one that is “five hours” off. As a way of illustrating this, I’ll use an example that involves house-buying.

Let’s say that it’s God’s will for a newlywed couple to buy a specific house. We’ll call this house House A. The couple likes the house and can see themselves enjoying a wonderful life there, but they want to have the experience of at least looking at some other houses before they purchase House A. So, they find two other houses to tour and line up appointments with realtors to visit those houses. We’ll call the first of these two other houses House B and the second one House C.

House B is everything the couple could ever want in a home, but the house’s expensive price tag makes the purchase all but impossible for the couple. Consequently, when they tour the house, there is a lot of oohing and aahing but that’s as far as things go because they understand that the house is a pipe-dream for them. Using the terminology of “five minutes” and “five hours,” this house is like a clock that is five hours off. As such, there really isn’t much of a threat that the couple will miss God’s will by buying the house.

Now it is time for the couple to tour House C, and they can afford this one because it’s about the same size and style as House A (the house God wants them to buy). Actually, the main difference between House A and House C lies in the neighborhoods of the two houses. What the couple doesn’t fully understand is that House A sits in a neighborhood that features godly neighbors, solid churches, and schools with teachers that will better reach the two children that God knows is in the couple’s future. As for the neighborhood of House C, it is respectable enough itself, but it simply isn’t as good a fit for the young couple and the plans that God has in mind for them.

This brings us to the question: Which of the two alternative houses (House B or House C) serves as the greater temptation for the couple to miss God’s will in house-buying? Obviously, it is House C, the one that is the most like House A in terms of size, style, and price. That makes it the alternative that is just five minutes off while House B is five hours off.

I hope this practical illustration will help you whenever you find yourself trying to discern God’s will regarding multiple opportunities. While very few people step out of God’s will by chasing opportunities that are hopelessly far-fetched, many people do step out of it by chasing opportunities that are very doable. It’s the difference between driving a Ford or a Chevrolet, between attending one local school or another, or between working in an office building on 1st Avenue or one on 2nd Avenue. Yes, the slight difference might seem as harmless as a clock that is five minutes off, but God knows that just that little bit of difference can make all the difference in the world in terms of the course of your life.

Posted in Choices, Decisions, Desires, Discernment, God's Omniscience, God's Will, Temptation | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

“You Almost Missed Me”

The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise. (Proverbs 11:30, K.J.V.)

Dr. Louis Evans was the pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood, California. He used to tell a story about his father, Dr. William Evans, who was also a prominent pastor. As the story went, one day a man came knocking on William Evans’ door and presented himself as a typewriter salesman. The man said, “Dr. Evans, I know that you write a lot, and I would like to show you this new machine that we have.” Evans said, “I’m sorry, but I’m working on a manuscript for a new book and I’ve got a deadline to meet. I just don’t have the time.” So, the man went away.

A couple of days later the same man knocked on Dr. Evans’ door again. He said, “Dr. Evans, I thought you might have some time for me today to show you this machine.” This time Dr. Evans wasn’t as cordial as he had been the first time. He said, “I thought I made it clear to you that I don’t have the time. I’m pressed with this deadline that I’ve got to meet.” So, the man went away.

But a few days later the man again knocked on Dr. Evans’ door and asked to be allowed to show the new machine. Dr. Evans again declined the offer, but this time, just as he was about to close the door, the Lord spoke to him in that still, small, inner voice and said, “Why don’t you tell him about Me?” So, in obedience to the Lord’s nudging, Dr. Evans invited the man into his home and told him about Jesus.

And how did the man respond to the conversation? He broke down somewhat and said, “Dr. Evans, I’m so glad that you spoke to me today. I’ve come here three times now, but I’m not really in this kind of business. I’ve been coming here because I knew that you were a preacher of the word and I hoped that you would share with me. And Dr. Evans, you almost missed me.”

Tell me, Christian, have you recently found yourself in the somewhat unusual situation of consistently ending up in the company of a particular person? Well, have you gotten around to telling that person about Jesus? If you haven’t, be careful, you don’t want to miss them!

Posted in Evangelism, God's Work, Influence, Ministry, Obedience, Salvation, The Gospel, Witnessing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mona Lisa

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. (James 1:17, N.K.J.V.)

In 1911, the famous Mona Lisa painting was stolen from the Louvre Museum in Paris and remained missing for the next two years. Interestingly, more people came to the museum to see the blank space than had come to view the masterpiece itself in the previous twelve years. What does that teach us about human nature? If nothing else, it teaches us that we take masterpieces for granted until they are gone.

Now let’s spiritually apply this illustration to our lives. God faithfully hangs countless masterpieces upon the walls of our lives, only to have us walk past them each day without appreciating them for the blessings they are. But the moment we realize that one is gone, we finally begin to understand just how wonderful it was and we start staring at the vacant spot, reminiscing about the happiness the blessing used to bring us.

I, for one, constantly need to be reminded to focus on the good in my life rather than the bad. Stating it simply, I need to spend more time appreciating all the Mona Lisas that God has granted me. Everything about my life can’t be categorized as a “good gift” or a “perfect gift,” but I’ve certainly got abundance enough of such gifts to know that God the Father (the Father of lights) has been exceptionally good to me.

Getting back to my opening illustration, my life is a figurative Louvre with its walls lined with masterpiece after masterpiece. Therefore, if I don’t give each one its proper appreciation, that says a lot more about me than it does the blessing. It means the blessing is doing its job of adding value to my life but I’m not doing my job of appreciating that value. Frankly, that makes me an ingrate, and I doubt that God is in much of hurry to pour out more blessings upon someone who doesn’t appreciate the ones he already has.

Posted in Attitude, Complaining, Contentment, Covetousness, God's Love, God's Provision, Grace, Praise, Thankfulness, Thanksgiving | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A True Masterpiece

An artist visited a museum where one of his masterpieces was on exhibit. He approached the painting and noticed that the museum had placed one of his earlier, lesser-known works beside it. As he stood there comparing both paintings, he began to feel sad. Just then someone recognized him and complimented him on his masterpiece. But the artist couldn’t enjoy that word of praise. Instead, he replied, “All I know is that it grieves me that I realized so little of the promise I showed in my youth.”

Truth be told, many Christians would have to say the same thing about their Christian growth. Oh, they showed so much promise when they were young! They went to church. They studied the Bible. They prayed. They gave. They witnessed. They lived lives of holiness. But then they got older and ran into some trouble.

When conflict within the church caused them to become disillusioned, they stopped attending. When differing doctrinal interpretations made studying the Bible harder, they gave up on it. When their prayers weren’t answered to their satisfaction, they quit praying. When their financial situation took a downturn, they eliminated their giving. When they saw no fruit from their witnessing, they hushed. When God didn’t seem to reward their life of holiness, they turned to worldly pursuits and pleasures.

Christian friend, does any of this description fit you? If it does, I urge you to find your way back to the fellowship you once had with Jesus. And, please, work on the fellowship before you start working on the service. If you can get the fellowship where it needs to be, the service will inevitably flow. By contrast, service without fellowship just becomes drudgery. Therefore, you should strive to rediscover the simple, childlike faith that you once had, a faith that was shown even in those classic rhyming prayers:

“God is great, God is good. Let us thank Him for our food. By His hands we all are fed. Thank you, Lord, for daily bread. Amen.”

“Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take. Amen.”

You should also consider Matthew 18:1-4, which says:

At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (N.K.J.V.)

Did you notice that Jesus said we must “become as little children” AFTER we are “converted”? Why did He make that the order? He did it because He knew that we are prone to become more hardened, cynical, and doubtful as we age. Yes, the adult life surely has a way of knocking the childlike faith out of us, and even authentic Christian conversion doesn’t eliminate that problem. That’s why even us Christian adults must become “as little children.” Is that a tall order? You’d better believe it. But is it one worth meeting? Absolutely, because when we meet it, that creates a true masterpiece.

Posted in Adversity, Aging, Atheism, Belief, Bible Study, Children, Church Attendance, Disappointment, Doubt, Evangelism, Faith, Giving, God's Work, Perseverance, Personal Holiness, Prayer, Prayer Requests, Problems, Salvation, Scripture, Service, The Bible, Trials, Trusting In God, Witnessing, Youth | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment