Light In The Midst Of Darkness – III

Lamentations 3:21-26

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

The featured Scripture, Lamentations 3:21 through 26, surprises me! The vast majority of the book’s’ 154 verses contain Jeremiah’s description of a ruined land, city, and temple; trampled under the boots of the invading Babylonian army! It is not just a bystander’s impartial telling either. The prophet is horrified at what he has witnessed, and he weeps many tears over the suffering, sickness, and death of his fellow Jews! But he also has suffered as well! The surprise is that in the midst of all this, Jeremiah breaks forth into six verses of hope and praise:

     This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. [It is of] 
     the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compas-
     sions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your 
     faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, there-
     fore I hope in Him. The LORD is good to those who wait for 
     Him, to the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should 
     hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.

In the middle of personal and national suffering, Jeremiah, through God’s promises, had hope! (Lamentations 3:21).

  • He found God’s “…mercies, new every morning…” (Lamentations 3:22). What is meant by God’s mercies? Mercy means that the LORD does not give what is deserved!
     ✡   What do we deserve? We deserve God’s condemnation and 
         eternal hell because we have broken God’s laws by sin-
         ning against Him! For instance, in Mark 12:29 and 30, 
         Jesus tells us, “...the first of all the commandments  shall love the LORD your God with all your 
         heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with 
         all your strength.” In Matthew 22:38, the Lord calls 
         the commandment “...the greatest and the first command-
         ment.” (Lexham English Bible); and we are to love Him 
         like this all the time!

         ➔   But in John 14:15 Jesus also said, “If you 
              love Me, keep My commandments.” The Living 
              Bible translates John 14:15 this way: “If 
              you love Me, obey Me....” So loving the Lord 
              must result in obeying the Lord! 

         ➔   It stands to reason, then, that the first of 
              all the commandments could be written this 
              way: “ shall obey the LORD your God 
              with all your heart, with all our soul, with 
              all your mind, and with all your strength.And who does that........all the time?

     ✞   So if we have broken the greatest commandment, doesn’t 
         that make us the greatest of sinners?! Yes, all of us, 
         every human being......stands condemned before God! (see Romans 
              3:10, 19, 23).

         ➔ in desperate need of the LORD’s mercy 
              – not giving us what we deserve – condemna-
              tion and hell! 
  • Mercy, emphasized in the Old Testament is often paired with grace in the New.
     I Timothy 1:2 – “Grace, mercy, and peace from God our 
         Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.II Timothy 1:2 – “Grace, mercy, and peace from God the 
         Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.Titus 1:4 – “Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father 
         and the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior....Hebrews 4:16 – “...let us come boldly to the throne of 
         grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help 
         in time of need.II John 1:3 – “Grace, mercy, and peace will be with you 
         from God the Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the 
         Son of the Father, in truth and love.

But there is a difference between mercy and grace:

  • While mercy is not giving us what we deserve…
  • grace is giving us what we do not deserve!

In James 4:6 we are told, “…He gives more grace…to overcome the sinful world! And Paul writes in Romans 5:20, “…where sin abounded, grace abounded much more.What does it mean for us to receive from God more, much more abounding grace? What don’t we deserve that He so richly gives us?

  • He sent His Son Jesus to die in our place, completely paying for our sins! When we accept Him as our Savior…
     ✞   ...we were guilty! He paid the price for our sins! (see 
         II Corinthians 5:21).

     ✞   ...we are accounted as clean in His sight! (see I John 1:7).

     ✞   ...we become His sons and daughters! (see II Corinthians 

     ✞   ...we gain eternal life, now in this earthly life, and for-
         ever in heaven! (see John 5:24; II Corinthians 5:8).

     ✞   ...God through His Holy Spirit resides permanently in our 
         hearts to empower us to live for Him! (see Ephesians 3:16).
  • II Peter 1:2 through 4 beautifully sums it up:
     Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God 
     and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all 
     things that pertain to life and godliness, through the know-
     ledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have 
     been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that 
     through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, hav-
     ing escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 

Not only are the LORD’s mercies new every morning, so are His compassions, and His faithfulness! (Lamentations 3:22).

  • His compassions are His tender yearnings to help us in our troubles! Eerdmans The New Bible Dictionary says that mercy and pity are synonyms for the Old Testament idea of compassion. We can all use such synonyms applied to our lives, especially when we are facing hard times!
  • God’s faithfulness is always dependable! In Psalm 119:89 and 90 the psalmist points out, “Forever, O LORD, Your word is settled in heaven. Your faithfulness endures to all generations….
     When He says to His children in Hebrews 13:5 and Matthew 
         28:20, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you....I am 
         with you always, even to the end of the age...,you can 
         stake your life on it, for the Lord is faithful!

     ✡   When He inspired Isaiah to write in Isaiah 43:1 through 
          3, He meant it!

              But now thus says the LORD, who created you...
              and He who formed you...‘Fear not, for I have 
              redeemed you; I have called you by your name; 
              you are Mine. When you pass through the waters, 
              I will be with you; and through the rivers, they 
              will not overflow you. When you walk through the 
              fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the 
              flame scorch you. For I am the LORD your God, 
              the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

There are so many other faithful promises in the Bible, God’s word to us!

  • Read it! Study it! Meditate on it! Memorize it!
  • As Paul wrote in Colossians 3:16, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly….

One more Gem, and we will complete our study of Light In The Midst Of Darkness!

Light In The Midst Of Darkness – II

Lamentations 3:21-26

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

Jeremiah’s book of Lamentations is rightly named, because it is his lament over the destruction of the LORD’s temple in Jerusalem, the ruin of the holy city itself (the capital of the Judean kingdom)! But the devastation was not confined to just Jerusalem. The entire kingdom felt the oppressive boots of the Babylonian army!

Lamentations contains 154 verses. Almost 96 percent of the verses describe what Jeremiah witnessed, and his horror over it. But the remaining four percent (six verses) stands out as light in the midst of darkness!

Here, again, is our featured Scripture, six verses from Lamentations 3:21 through 26:

     This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. [It is of] 
     the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compas-
     sions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your 
     faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, there-
     fore I hope in Him. The LORD is good to those who wait for 
     Him, to the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should 
     hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.

We need to be aware of an important fact: Due to the devastation of the Babylonian invasion and conquest that tore the Judean society apart, the Jews experienced tremendous upheaval, death, and suffering! And Jeremiah was in the midst of it! But ever since he was called to be the LORD’s prophet years before, called to preach against the unbelief and idolatry of those Judeans around him, Jeremiah experienced a great deal of hostility and opposition to the message of God he was delivering! Both before and after he wrote these six verses quoted above, the prophet did not have many blessings in his life to recount!

  • Jeremiah 1:6 – When the LORD called him, he argued with God that he was unfit to be a prophet: “Ah, LORD God! Behold, I cannot speak, for I am but a youth.” He was probably no more than twenty-two at the time.
  • Jeremiah 1:8 – God told him that those to whom he prophesied would not hear him! Many would turn against him!
  • Jeremiah 11:21 – “…the men of Anathoth [Jeremiah’s hometown]…seek your life, saying, ‘Do not prophesy in the name of the LORD, lest you die by our hand.
  • Jeremiah 16:2 – “You shall not take a wife, nor shall you have sons or daughters in this place.” Most likely because they would have been affected also by Jeremiah’s continual rejection, and then subjected to terrible suffering in the soon-coming invasion.
  • Jeremiah 16:6 – “…even your brothers, the house of your father, even they have dealt treacherously with you….Jeremiah’s own family was rejecting him!
  • Jeremiah 20:1, 2 – “…Pashur…the priest…[and] chief governor in the house of the LORD…struck Jeremiah…and put him in the stocks… …for preaching the truth!
  • Jeremiah 26:8 – “…when Jeremiah [spoke]…all that the LORD had commanded him…the priests…the prophets and all the people seized him, saying, ‘You will surely die!’
  • Jeremiah 26:1-17 – Hananiah, a false prophet mocked Jeremiah, and accused him of lying! Hananiah was saying the Babylonian captivity would only last two years! Jeremiah prophesied that, as a result of his false claims, Hananiah would die that same year – and he did!
  • Jeremiah 36:23, 26 – Jehoiakim, king of Judah, would not heed the Jeremiah’s warnings, but burned the prophet’s scroll of prophecies bit by bit, as it was read to him, and then threatened the prophet and his amanuensis Baruch! Jeremiah then wrote another rendition of his prophecies and experiences. “And besides, there were added to [the account]…many similar words.” (Jeremiah 36:32).
  • Jeremiah 37:15 – Wrongly accused of trying to defect to the Babylonians, the prophet was arrested. And “…the princes were angry with Jeremiah, and they struck him, and put him in prison….
  • Jeremiah 38:6 – Jeremiah had prophesied the Babylonians would prevail against Jerusalem. All who stayed in the city would perish, but all who surrendered to the invading army would live. He was then accused of being a traitor!So they took Jeremiah, and cast him into the dungeon [a deep cistern no longer in service),…the dungeon of…the king’s son….and in the dungeon there was no water, but mire. So Jeremiah sank in the mire.Surely it would soon be the end of the prophet’s earthly life! But he was graciously rescued by Ebed-Melech the Ethiopian (see Jeremiah 38:7-13).
  • Jeremiah 40:1 – Jerusalem had fallen to the Babylonians! King Zedikiah fled, but he was captured. He was then forced to watch his sons butchered. After that scene was forever burned into his mind, he was blinded, then shackled and taken to Babylon in chains. Jeremiah, with other Judean prisoners, was also put in chains! For we are told, “…Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard…let… Jeremiah…go from Ramah [five miles from Jerusalem], when he had taken him bound in chains among all who were carried away captive from Jerusalem and Judah…to Babylon.
  • Jeremiah 40:5, 6 – After his release, “…Jeremiah went to Gedaliah [appointed governor over Judah by Babylon’s king, Nebuchadnezzar]…to Mizpah, and dwelt with him among the people who were left in the land.
  • Jeremiah 41:1 and 2 – Just three months later, as the governor ate a meal together with some guests, “…Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and ten men…struck Gedaliah…and killed him.” Ishmael then murdered those who sided with Gedaliah, and also killed the Babylonian soldiers who were stationed there, plus murdering many others.
  • Jeremiah 41:10-15 – “Then Ishmael carried away captive all the…people who were in Mizpah [including Jeremiah]…and departed to go…to the Ammonites. But…Johanan… and all the captains of the forces…went to fight…Ishmael….And they won, and released the captives!
  • Jeremiah 42:9 and 10 – Johanan and his soldiers were afraid of what the Babylonians would do after the murder of the governor Gedaliah and those loyal to him, killing also Nebuchadnezzar’s soldiers. So they decided to go to Egypt! Jeremiah spoke God’s message to them: Don’t go to Egypt!Thus says the LORD…’If you…abide in this land, then I will build you and not pull you down, and I will plant you and not pluck you up.’But they wouldn’t believe that Jeremiah was actually delivering God’s word! They again considered him a traitor, this time in pay of the Ammonites.
  • Jeremiah 43:4, 7 – “…Johanan…all the captains of the forces, and all the people would not obey…the LORD….So they went to the land of Egypt.And they forced Jeremiah to go with them!
  • Jeremiah 43:10, 11 – Jeremiah prophesied to them in Egypt: “Thus says the LORD… ‘Behold, I will…bring Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon…and…he shall strike the land…and deliver [you]…to death…to captivity…to the sword….
  • While there is no biblical record of Jeremiah’s death, tradition has it that he died in Egypt about 570 BC, stoned to death by the Jewish remnant who tired of his prophecies against them!

But in the midst of all this, Jeremiah, because of God’s promises, could boldly say, “This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope.” (Lamentations 3:21).

Do you have that confidence in God? Are you familiar enough with your Bible that you can recall His promises of His presence, His power, His provision, His protection, His plans for you…and so much more? Maybe I will write a series on the alliteration of The P’s of God’s Promises.

No matter what you are experiencing, remember what is written in Romans 8:38 and 39:

     For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels 
     nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things 
     to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, 
     shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is 
     in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Light In The Midst Of Darkness – I

Lamentations 3:21-26

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

Judah and Jerusalem were experiencing devastation in Jeremiah’s time by the invading Babylonian forces! It was much like Ukraine is experiencing today, especially in the city of Mariupol, located on the coast of the Sea of Azov. I found in a carefully researched weblog, (, the following information concerning the destruction the Kingdom of Judah suffered in 586 BC during the last of three Babylonian invasions of Judah:

…the horror of the Babylonian invasion is also shown in the remains of the destroyed cities and massacred people.

  • A large number of towns were destroyed and did not recover, including Beth-Shemesh and Tell Beit Mirsim. Jerusalem was destroyed and the Temple sacked.
  • Jeremiah states [in Jeremiah 34:7] that before Jerusalem fell, there were only two towns still standing against the Babylonians. These were Lachish and Azekah. Some of the letters were written by a military officer, Hashayahu (Hosea) to his commanding officer in in Lachish, Yaush. Hoshayahu in letter four states that he was watching for the fire signals from Lachish, but they were no longer visible from Azekah. This suggests that Azekah had fallen, and dates the letter to the period just after Jeremiah reported that Azekah and Lachish were still standing.

But Lachish did fall!

  • Excavation of Lachish found a layer – level three – where the town had been totally destroyed….The extent of the destruction is shown in the amount of debris covering this level of the city. At the town gates there was eight feet of debris between the floor of this level and the next….The palace-citadel had been razed. There was a mass of burned, calcined bricks above its foundations.
  • Outside the city was a mass grave, into which 2,000 bodies had been thrown through a hole in the roof. Some of the bones had been partly burnt, which suggested that the bodies had been pulled away from burning buildings.

Jerusalem, the capital city of Judah, was next to be conquered! And the destruction was complete! (Read the account of the devastation in II Kings 25:1-21; II Chronicles 36:13-21;Jeremiah 52:1-30).

It is no wonder Jeremiah is calledThe weeping prophetHe wept over the impending and actualized destruction of Judah, Jerusalem, and its people!

  • Jeremiah 9:1 – “Oh, that my head were waters, and my eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people.
  • Jeremiah 9:10:
     I will take up a weeping and wailing for the mountains, and for 
     the habitations of the wilderness a lamentation, because they are 
     burned up, so that no one can pass through them; nor can men hear 
     the voice of the cattle. Both the birds of the heavens and the 
     beasts have fled; they are gone.
  • Jeremiah 13:17 – “My soul will weep in secret for your pride; my eyes will weep bitterly and run down with tears because the LORD’s flock has been taken captive.

Jeremiah predicted in Jeremiah 25:11 (Contemporary English Version) that the Babylonian captivity of the Jews would last 70 years! This country will be as empty as a desert, because I will make all of you the slaves of the king of Babylonia for seventy years.” (see also Jeremiah 25:12; 29:10; Lamentations 5:48-51; Daniel 9:2).

Jeremiah not only wrote the book that bears his name; he also wrote Lamentations, the five-chapter book that follows the book of Jeremiah. This book is well-named, for in it Jeremiah laments the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of his people! In 144 verses the prophet graphically describes the horrible conditions of which he is in the midst. In Lamentation 5:10 through 15, he summarizes the horror of what he has witnessed (see also Lamentations 2:11, 12; 20-22; 4:10, 11):

   Our skin is hot as an oven, because of the fever of famine. They 
   ravished our women in Zion, the maidens in the cites of Judah. 
   Princes were hung up by their hands, and elders were not respected. 
   Young men ground at the millstones; boys staggered under loads of 
   wood. The elders have ceased gathering at the gate, and young men 
   from their music. The joy of our heart has ceased.

But in the midst of the destruction of Judah and Jerusalem; in the midst of the horror described in the book of Lamentations, we come upon just six verses in chapter three, verses 21 through 26:

   This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. [It is of] the 
   LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail 
   not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. “The 
   LORD is my portion,” says my soul, therefore I hope in Him. The 
   LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. 
   It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation 
   of the LORD.

Obviously, ‘the Weeping Prophet’ did not lose his faith in God’s mercy. It was devastation all around, yet, when he looked above, Jeremiah found faith and hope to believe in the LORD’s care for His people, even in apparent desolation! What could inspire such hope and faith in the prophet?

  • He called to mind how God, centuries before, had redeemed the Israelites from slavery in Egypt! (see Exodus 12:40-43).
  • He remembered that the Egyptian army pursued the fleeing Israelites, and how Moses interceded with God, and the LORD opened a path through the Red Sea! When the Egyptian army followed, they are all drowned!
  • He remembered how the LORD showed mercy as He provided for His people during the forty years of wandering in the desert.
     ✡   Exodus 13:21 – “...the LORD went before them by day in a 
          pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar 
          of fire to give then light, so as to go by day and night.”

     ✡   Exodus 16:35 – “...the children of Israel ate manna forty 
          years...until they came to the border of the land of 

     ✡   Deuteronomy 29:5 – The LORD said to the Israelites, “...I 
          have led you forty years in the wilderness. Your clothes 
          have not worn out on you, and your sandals have not worn 
          out on your feet.”

     ✡   Exodus 31:18 – “...He gave to Moses two tablets of the 
          Testimony [the Ten Commandments]...written with the 
          finger of God.
  • Jeremiah might have read in the Deuteronomy scroll, “…as your days, so shall your stength be…The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms….” (Deuteronomy 33:25 and 27).
  • He remembered so many blessings that the LORD had poured out upon His people, Did he call to mind Psalm 68:19? “Blessed be the LORD, who daily loads us with benefits, the God of our salvation.
  • Perhaps he sought out the scroll of the minor prophets, and read the last lines of the prophet Habakkuk, who wrote these words about twenty years before, when the threat of the Babylonian invasion was looming:
     Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; 
     though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yeild no 
     food; though the flock be cut off from the fold, and there be no 
     herd in the stalls — yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy 
     in the God of my salvation. The LORD God is my strength; He will 
     make my feet like deer’s feet, and He will make me walk on my 
     high hills. (Habakkuk 3:17 through 19)

And so Jeremiah wrote “This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. [it is of]…the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfullness.” (Lamentations 3:21-23).

More on Light In The Midst Of Darkness, in the next Gem.

Healing or Resurrection?

John 11:21-27

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

Yesterday, I heard on the JOY FM Atlanta area station a preacher giving a minute teaching on the Lazarus story. I thought, “Wow! That would be a good subject for a Gem!” So here it is, and I call it ‘Healing or Resurrection!’ The featured Scripture is John 11:21 through 27:

     Then Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my 
     brother [Lazarus] would not have died. But even now I know 
     that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.” Jesus 
     said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said 
     to Him, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at 
     the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection 
     and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he 
     shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall nev-
     er die. Do you believe this?” She said to Him, “Yes, Lord, 
     I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is 
     to come into the world.”

Martha, and then her sister Mary, both said the same thing to Jesus, Lord, if You had been here, ny brother would not have died.” (John 11:21 and 32). Why did they both believe this?

  • The sickness and death of Lazarus apparently took place near the end of the Lord’s earthly ministry. John chapter 12 records a dinner party at Lazarus, Martha, and Mary’s house in Bethany. If chapter 12 follows closely after the events in chapter 11, John 12:1 tells us that the dinner celebration took place just “…six days before the Passover…,less than a week before Jesus was crucified!
  • The Lord Jesus had been healing hundreds, if not thousands of people throughout His ministry of three and a half years! And most certainly the three siblings who lived in Bethany, about two miles from Jerusalem, had heard about many of His miracles and healings.
        There are 33 healings recorded in the gospels that 
         Jesus performed including raising Lazarus from the 

     ✞   Twenty-five of those healings were before Lazarus was 
         raised from death!

     Yes, the two sisters had certainly heard of the heal-
         ing power of Jesus! And they both believed He could 
         heal their ailing brother!

When Martha and Mary “…sent to Him, saying, ‘Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick…” (John 11:3), they expected Jesus to drop everything and come and heal their brother! After all, the Lord had healed hundreds, even thousands of others!

And besides…

  • …they had hosted Jesus and His disciples multiple times at their house!
  • …as the sisters said in their message to Him, “Lord, behold, he whom you love is sick.” (John 11:3). Obviously, in the sisters’ minds, if Jesus loved them, He would come and heal Lazarus!
  • So, when Jesus heard that he [Lazarus] was sick, [why did] He wait…two more days in the place where He was…? (John 11:6). Where was He?
     It says in John 10:40 that “...He went away again 
         beyond the Jordan [River] where John was baptizing 
         at first, and there He stayed.Where was John baptizing at first? John 1:28 iden-
         tifies it as “ Bethabara beyond the Jordan, 
         where John was baptizing.Bethabara is on the 
         east side of the Jordan River.
  • From where Jesus and His disciples were, it would take at least three days’ march to reach Bethany (covering 15 or more miles a day).

When Jesus arrived in Bethany, Lazarus had died four days previously, according to John 11:39. Why did Jesus wait to show up four days after Lazarus died? Four days is significant! From the website,, this is instructive:

     It was extremely significant that Lazarus had been dead 
     4 days as Judaic law taught that through to the third day, 
     the spirit remained with the body and there was hope of 
     resuscitation to life....On the fourth day, the spirit 
     left the body and went to Sheol or Hades, and there was 
     no hope for life without a miracle. Also, by the fourth 
     day in Israel’s hot climate, advanced decay would be des-
     troying the body and the stench would have been overwhelm-
     ing. When Jesus called Lazarus to life from the dead and 
     healed his rotted corpse, the people [hopefully would 
     know]...that He was the true Messiah, performing genuine 
     miracles as the prophets had foretold!

Jesus was giving proof to the Jews from their Scriptures that He was the Messiah, the One sent from God to redeem His people! Of His power it says in…

  • …Genesis 18:14 – God said to Abraham, “Is anything too hard for the LORD?
  • …Job 42:2 – “I know that You can do everything, and that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You.
  • …Jeremiah 32:27 – “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?
  • …Jeremiah 32:17 – “Ah LORD God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm! There is nothing too hard for You.

Now, let’s get to the point of this Gem! As referred to in the title, Healing or Resurrection?:

  • Martha and Mary wanted Jesus to give them a healing for their brother!
  • Jesus gave them more! He gave them a resurrection!

Which is the greater miracle in Jewish thinking – especially after four days?

Have you been praying to God, asking Him to give you a specific blessing? Has it been a long time and the Lord does not seem to have answered your prayers?

  • Maybe He has said,No,” or Wait,” because, in His perfect timing, He wants to give you something better, a greater miracle than that which you have been asking!
  • And maybe God wants to teach you more about Himself (concerning His love, His power, His promises, His provision) that you have not yet experienced!

Have patience, dear Christian!
If you are asking for a healing,
He might be waiting to give you a resurrection!

Dangerous Confession!

Hebrews 6:4-6

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

Some years ago my wife and I had a friend, Dan, who, though raised in a Christian family, was pursuing a deepening interest in a cult called Unity Church of Practical Christianity. From the website, I found this description of Unity, and it is a good synopsis of the cult’s teaching:

     Unity is a church that derives its system of beliefs from 
     the Unity School of Christianity founded by Charles and 
     Myrtle Fillmore. It is rooted in the concepts of metaphys-
     ical or "divine" healing. Unity is considered a cult be-
     cause of their beliefs and teachings that deviate signi-
     ficantly from the biblical truth about God, Jesus, Bible, 
     sin and salvation. Heavily influenced by many other reli-
     gions, Unity attempts to incorporate the best parts of all 
     religions, cults, and beliefs. Additionally, it has many 
     similarities with other cults arising in the mid-19th cen-
     tury such as Christian Science, although the teachings 
     differ at various points.

     The core Unity beliefs that make it a cult include:

     •	God is a principle, not a personal God, and the "force" 
        of love in all people and things.

     •	Jesus the man represents the path toward a higher con-

     •	Jesus the Christ is the universal love and wisdom with-
        in all of us-the perfection of consciousness-independent 
        of religious beliefs.

     •	The Bible is not the inerrant Word of God nor the final 

     •	The fall of man is spiritual amnesia from his evolution 
        toward the divine correctable by changing thought patterns 
        from negative to positive thoughts, which is the process 
        of salvation.

     •	There is no literal heaven or hell, but the heaven or hell 
        created by a person's thoughts, words, and actions.

     •	Reincarnation is the means by which believers are regener-
        ated for eternity.

     It is clear from their core beliefs that Unity abandons many 
     fundamental Christian tenets, thereby it is considered a cult 
     [opposed] to the truth of Christianity.

After researching the doctrines of Unity Church of Practical Christianity, I challenged Dan concerning the direction he was heading. What I was focused on in this challenge was…

  • …the Unity teaching that orthodox Christianity was wrong by emphasizing the need to be cleansed of sin by the blood of Jesus Christ!
  • …the related Unity teaching that salvation through a crucified Christ was not needed! We must focus instead on the God within all of us!

But Dan rebuked what I was saying: “I don’t believe that! You don’t need the blood of Jesus to go to heaven! If that’s what being a Christian is all about, then I am not a Christian!

Another Christian friend who had known this man from childhood was standing nearby listening to the conversation. Not being able to stay quiet any longer, he blurted out, “Dan, you accepted Christ as your Savior when you were a teenager!

Dan shot back, “If that is what it takes to be your kind of Christian, then I unaccept Him!

Oh, what a dangerous statement! For it says in Hebrews 6:4 through 6:

     ...for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the 
     heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, 
     and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the 
     age to come, if they fall is renew 
     them again to repentance, since they crucify again to them-
     selves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.

Now Dan, who made this dangerous confession, was someone my wife and I deeply cared about. And it broke my heart when I recalled this Scripture in Hebrews 6, considering what he had just said! I did not challenge him again concerning his confession, but I began to pray for him earnestly! My prayer went something like this:

     I know Dan is in dangerous territory by rejecting Christ when 
     he had accepted Him some years before. I know what Hebrews 6 
     says. Please, Lord, is there any way you can restore Dan to 
     faith in Your Son? Is there an escape to this “impossible” 

I remembered the story of Ruth the Moabitess, recorded in the four-chapter book of the Old Testament bearing her name as the title. It tells of this Moabite woman who migrated to Israel, and was accepted into the Israelite nation.

  • However in Deuteronomy 23:3 and 4, God had told Moses:
     “An Amonite or Moabite shall not enter the the congregation 
     of the LORD; even to the tenth generation none of his des-
     cendants shall enter the congregation of the LORD forever, 
     because they did not meet you with bread and water on the 
     road when you came out of Egypt, and because they hired 
     against you Balaam the son of Beor from Pethor of Mesopo-
     tamia, to curse you.”
  • But Ruth the Moabittess was welcomed into Israel, she being the first generation of Moabite extraction! Not only that, but she is listed in the genealogy of Jesus Christ, being King David’s great-grandmother! (see Matthew 1:5, 6).
  • Did God make an exception to His own stated law? No! For in Ruth 2:12 we hear her future husband Boaz make this statement: “The LORD repay your work, and a full reward be given you by the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge. Ruth trusted God, and put her faith in this One who is the Savior of all mankind!

It is much the same for us! We are told in Ezekiel 18:4 and 20, “The soul who sins shall die.” This is more than physical death. For it says…

  • …in Revelation 21:8 – “…the…unbelievers [who reject Jesus Christ – see John 3:36]…shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.
  • …in Revelation 14:11 – “And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night….

But God makes the exception, the way of escape for those who put their faith in the Son of God, and all He has accomplished by His suffering, death, and resurrection:

  • Paying for their sins! (see Galatians 3:13; I Peter I:18, 19).
  • Conquering death and the fear of death! (see I Corinthians 15:51-57; Hebrews 2:15).
  • Giving us His own righteousness! (see Isaiah 61:10; II Corinthians 5:21).
  • Making us acceptable before the Father! (see Ephesians 1:6).

So we who had…no hope, and [were] without God in the world…now in Christ Jesus…[we] who once were far off have been made near by the blood of Christ.” And that is accomplished only by putting our faith in Jesus!

Back to Dan: I don’t know exactly when the miracle happened. But, not only did Dan and his wife Liz come back to God through faith in Jesus Christ, they are now in ministry, faithfully serving the Lord Jesus! And He is even blessing their ministry with miracles!

  • But I also have received a miracle! I prayed that somehow God would forgive Dan for his dangerous confession of rejecting Christ, and restore him and Liz to genuine faith in Himself!
  • It is written in Ephesians 3:20 that the Lord, “…able to do exceedingly abun-dantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us…by Christ Jesus….” I figure that is where their dedicated ministry comes in! They are not just Christians, they are active and outstanding Christians serving their Lord with all their might!

God is so good!

‘Give, Take, And Make’

Psalm 116:12-14 (1965 Bible in Basic English)

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

As I was searching for an appropriate picture for this Gem, ‘Give, Take, And Make’, I came across the above representation of a cup and bread obviously signifying communion! And it brought to mind an unusual communion service we had at Olive Branch Baptist Church in Belle Vernon, Pennsylvania, where I was the pastor for almost twelve years. Now this does not have much to do with ‘Give, Take, and Make’ from Psalm 116:12 through 14, but I just wanted to share with you a memorable communion!

In February of 1996, my wife Hope and I, along with dear friends Marlin and Wilma Miller (then the pastor of Fells United Methodist Church), hosted a group of Christians on a tour of Israel and Egypt. We were due to be back in the United States on Friday, March 8th. In my church, we usually celebrated communion on the first Sunday of each month. But since I was away, we postponed it one week, until March 10th.

One of the street venders in Israel (there were lots of them) was selling small olive wood communion cups. So I ordered 100 of them, to be delivered the day before we were leaving Israel. As I remember, the cost for the hundred cups was about $25. That same day also we toured the Market section of Old City Jerusalem. The sights, sounds, and smells of the Old City are amazing! At one shop I bought a couple of round loaves of bread fresh from the baker’s oven! Everything went through customs with no problems.

That Sunday morning, as we prepared to participate in the Lord’s Supper, I announced that bread from Jerusalem would be offered, and olive wood communion cups filled with the blood of grapes would be passed out as well! These cups were to be kept and taken home as souvenirs! We celebrated communion together that day — a day none of my parishioners, nor I, would ever forget!

Now, let’s get to our Gem, ‘Give, Take, And Make’! The featured Scripture is Psalm 116:12 through 14 (1965 Bible in Basic English):

     What may I give to the Lord for all the good things which He 
     has done for me? I will take the cup of salvation, and give 
     praise to the name of the Lord. I will make the offering of 
     my oath to the Lord, even before all His people.

What I find a bit strange in the first two of these verses is…

  • …in verse 12, the psalmist asks, “What may I give to the Lord…?
  • …in verse 13, he declares, “I will take the cup of salvation….

He will give to the Lord when he will take something from Him! That’s why I call this Gem, ‘Give, Take, And Make’! (We will get to the ‘…And Make’ part after awhile).

There are many Scriptures in the Bible that tell us how abundantly God gives to man, both general gifts, and to His children (through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ) specific gifts! Here are some verses that come to mind:

God gives general gifts (to all mankind):

  • Job 5:10 – “…He gives rain on the earth, and sends water on the fields.
  • Matthew 5:45 – “…He makes the sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
  • Acts 17:25 and 28 – “…He gives to all life, breath, and all things…for in Him we live and move and have our being….

God gives specific gifts (to His children):

  • Psalm 68:19 – “Blessed be the LORD, who daily loads us with benefits, the God of our salvation….
  • Matthew 6:31 through 33 – Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, taught:
       “ not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or 
       ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For 
       after all these things the Gentiles [unbelievers] 
       seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need 
       all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God 
       and His righteousness, and all these things shall be 
       added to you.” 
  • Philippians 4:19 – Paul writes, “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
  • I Timothy 6:17 – “…the living God…gives us richly all things to enjoy.

Yes, He gives believers a lot. But the greatest gift the Lord gives us is described…

  • …in John 3:16 — “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
  • …in John 5:24 – Jesus said, “He who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.
  • …in I John 4:9 and 10 (God’s Word to the nations):
       God has shown us His love by sending His only Son 
       into the world so that we could have life through 
       Him. This is love: not that we have loved God, but 
       that He loved us and sent His Son to be the payment 
       for our sins. 
  • …in I John 5:11 through 13:
       ...this is the testimony: that God has given us 
       eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who 
       has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son 
       of God does not have life. These things I have writ-
       ten to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, 
       that you may know that you have eternal life.... 

God has definitely given humanity the ultimate gift of His Son Jesus Christ! It cost Him more than we could ever imagine – Jesus’ incarnation, His life, His suffering, His death, His resurrection, His ascension to heaven, and His reign there! The transaction that Jesus accomplished on our behalf by all He went through can be summed up in one verse, II Corinthians 5:21: “For He [the Father] made Him [the Son], who knew no sin, to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.

  • He took our sins (the sin of all humanity for all time) upon Himself and fully paid for our sins before the Father!
  • He made available His own perfect righteousness for us to wear before God instead of our own damning sin!

He saved us from eternal death in hell!
And He gave us eternal life
here and now, as well as forever in heaven!

Does it then make sense that the best gift we can ever give back to Jesus Christ is to take what He has offered us and fully appropriate His gift?

Have you, have I, fully taken what He gives to us?

What about the ‘…Make’ part? Verse 14 of our featured Scripture reads thus: “I will make the offering of my oath to the Lord, even before all His people.

  • Once you have realized what God in Jesus Christ gives us…
  • Once you have taken His divine gift of Himself into your life…
  • The next step is to Make an offering back to the Lord, a voluntary offering of yourself so all can see it and rejoice with you! Yes, you can make a private decision to give yourself to God, because He gave Himself for you. But making such an offering of yourself to Him ought to result in a visible manifestation of the outworking of that offering, so others can see it, rejoice with you, and be encouraged to do the same!

My favorite offering story is of a young boy who attended a special service where a missionary home on leave from a distant land gave an inspiring account of all that was happening there! It came time after the missionary’s message to receive a special offering for the Lord’s work in that far away land. But the boy came from a poor family, and he had no money in his pocket to give, not even a nickel! As the ushers proceeded down the isles toward the rear pew where the boy was seated, he hung his head and a tear slipped down his cheek. But then he brightened! As the usher holding the offering plate approached, the boy slipped out of his seat and stood in front of the usher.

Put the plate on the floor!the boy fairly shouted!

But the usher, totally confused as what to do, just stood there.

Put the plate on the floor!the boy loudly demanded again!

The usher, still confused, complied, and set the offering plate on the floor.

The little boy stepped into the plate and proclaimed, I give me!

Was Jesus Being Rude?

John 12:20-24

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

John 12:20 through 24 records a puzzling instance of some Greeks who wanted to meet Jesus:

     Now there were certain Greeks among those who came up to wor-
     ship at the feast [of the Passover]. Then they came to Philip, 
     who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and asked him, saying, “Sir, 
     we wish to see Jesus.” Philip came and told Andrew, and in turn 
     Andrew and Philip told Jesus. But Jesus answered them saying, 
     “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. Most 
     assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the 
     ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces 
     much grain.”

It almost sounds like Jesus was being rude, ignoring totally these non-Jews who wanted to meet Him! When I first started regularly reading and studying my Bible, I had trouble reconciling this scripture with other statements such as…

  • John 3:16 – “For God so loved the [whole] world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
  • Romans 3:29 – “…is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not also the God of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also.
  • I Timothy 4:10 – “…we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe.
  • I John 2:2 – “And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.

Jesus Himself laid out His clear purpose statement in Luke 19:10: “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” So why did He refuse to interact with these Greeks, who were obviously sincere in seeking the Savior? How do we know they were sincere in their seeking Him? It says in verse 20 of our featured Scripture that they were “…among those who came up to worship at the feast.They were probably Gentile proselytes of the Jewish religion! Or they were ‘God seekers’! On Pentecost, when the Lord Jesus poured out the promised Holy Spirit upon His followers (recorded in Acts Chapter 2), we are given a list in verses 9 through 11of sixteen different countries, cities, or areas represented by “…both Jews and proselytes…who were hearing in their…own tongues the wonderful works of God.

So if these non-Jewish Greeks were sincerely seeking Jesus, why did the Savior so obviously ignore them? He didn’t! If God’s plan was to bring salvation to all mankind, as the work of the Lord then stood, He was severely limited by the incarnation of His Son in human flesh!

  • How many people did Jesus reach with His message of salvation?
      It is recorded in Luke 9:11 that “...multitudes...
          followed Him; and He received them and spoke to them 
          about the kingdom of God, and healed those who had 
          need of healing.And then He fed them with two fish 
          and five tiny loaves of bread! (see Luke 9:12-17).

          ➔   In Matthew 14:21 – The multitudes were said 
               to be “...about five thousand men, besides 
               women and children...” Including the woman 
               and children, various estimates run from 
               8,000 to perhaps as many as 20,000 people! 

          ➔   By the way, from the account of this miracu-
               lous feeding in John chapter 6, the multitudes 
               consisted predominately of Jewish men, women, 
               and children!

     In Matthew 15:29 through 38 (see also Mark 8:1-9) there 
         is recorded another miraculous feeding! 

          ➔   Verse 38 states that “...those who ate were 
               four thousand men, besides women and children. 
               So perhaps the total estimated multitude could 
               be 7,000 to 15,000 people!

          ➔   According to Mark 7:31, Jesus ...came through 
               the midst of the region of Decapolis to the Sea 
               of Galilee.” This was a Gentile region, so this 
               multitude was probably non-Jews for the most part!
  • There are other instances where the Lord drew multitudes of people to Himself (see Matthew 5:1; 6:1; 6:18; 9:8; 9:33; 9:36; 11:7; 12:15; 13:2; 19:2; Luke 5:15; 14:25).

Did Jesus, in His earthly ministry, personally reach a hundred thousand people? Or two hundred thousand? What was the population of Palestine in Jesus’ day? Many historians estimate that the total Jewish population of Palestine in Jesus’ day was approximately three million people!

  • So if Jesus reached two hundred thousand, what about the other two million, eight hundred thousand unreached people?
  • Of course, relatively few of the multitudes that the Lord taught, healed, and fed, continued to believe in Him and faithfully follow Him! As it says in John 6:60 and 66, after Jesus laid down some difficult teaching, “…many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, ‘This is a hard saying; who can understand it?’ …From that time many… went back and walked with Him no more.
  • How many people, then, were saved by the Lord’s personal earthly trek?

The estimates of the world population in Jesus’ day run from 170 million to 400 million. And the total world population through the last two thousand years is (very roughly) estimated to be 56 billion people! Add another nine to ten billion if we include the population from Adam to Jesus!

What has this got to do with Jesus Christ rejecting the plea of Greek Gentiles who wanted to meet Him? Everything! Here again is the second half of our featured Scripture:

     But Jesus answered them saying, “The hour has come that the 
     Son of Man should be glorified. Most assuredly, I say to you, 
     unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it 
     remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.”

Jesus was the single grain of wheat that had to fall into the ground and die! Only then could He produce much grain! In His incarnated human form, He was only one man…

  • But when He suffered and died, He paid the price for all sin of all sinners for all time!
  • When He rose again, He conquered death and the fear of death for every mortal person!
  • And when the Lord ascended into heaven, He sent the Holy Spirit to indwell believers!

Now we are the much grain, millions of Christians divinely empowered who can potentially reach billions of people who need to hear that Jesus…came to seek and to save that which was lost…!

But remember, much grain is made up of individual kernels!

Are you, individual Christian,
actively producing
an even bigger harvest?

By the way, the Greeks are still waiting!

“Speak Of [TO] The Devil…!”

James 4:6-10 (English Standard Version)

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

Speak of the devil…!is an idiom!This phrase, in its current usage, is a light-hearted way of referring to someone who has unexpectedly come in when being talked about.” (www.theidioms. com). An example would be, “Well, speak of the devil! There’s Bob, and we were just talking about him!” But I would change the title of this Gem this way: “Speak Of [TO] The Devil…!

  • The wordOf is crossed out (Of)!
  • The wordTOis inserted and underlined (TO)!

According to the Bible, we are commanded to speak TO the devil! Here is what is written in James 4:6 through 10 (English Standard Version):

     ...He gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, 
     but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. 
     Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and 
     He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and pur-
     ify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. 
     Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Hum-
     ble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you.

How would you go about resisting the devil? The same way Jesus did! In Luke 4:1 through 12, on the Mount of Temptation…

  • …three times Satan tempted Jesus!
     Luke 4:2 and 3 – After the Lord had fasted forty days, 
         “...the devil said to Him, ‘If You are the Son of God, 
         command this stone to become bread.’Luke 4:5 through 7 – The devil “...showed Him all the 
         kingdoms of the world...[and] said to Him, ‘All this 
         authority I will give to You, and their glory...if You 
         will worship me...all will be Yours.’Luke 4:9 through 11 – “...he brought Him to...the pin-
         nacle of the temple, and said, ‘...throw Yourself down
         ...for it is written: “He shall give His angels charge 
         over You...lest you dash your foot against a stone.”’
  • …three times the Lord Jesus spoke to the devil, rebuking him until he left!
     Luke 4:4 – “But Jesus answered him saying, ‘It is writ-
         ten, ‘“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every 
         word of God.”’Luke 4:8 – “And Jesus answered...him, ‘Get behind Me, 
         Satan! For it is written, “You shall worship the LORD 
         your God, and Him only you shall serve.”’Luke 4:12 – “And Jesus answered and said to him, ‘It has 
         been said, “You shall not tempt the LORD your God.”’

We are told…

  • …in Hebrews 4:12:
     ...the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-
     edged sword, piercing even the the division of soul and spirit, and 
     of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents 
     of the heart.
  • …in Ephesians 6:11 – “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
  • …in Ephesians 6:17 – An essential part of this armor of God is “…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God….This sword is only one of two offensive weapons listed of God’s armor! The second is …praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit….” (Ephesians 6:18).

When the devil or his demons attack, and you speak the Word of God against him, you are thrusting the Spiritual sword into his body! And that hurts!…and he will flee from you.

But notice: There are some requirements that are necessary, some spiritual military training, if you will, before we can successfully don and use the whole armor of God! And it is in our featured Scripture of James 4:6 through 10:

  • Actually, we can start with James 4:4 – “Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
     Satan is called “...the god of this world...” in II Corinth-
         ians 4:4. Above, I listed the three temptations the devil 
         offered Jesus. For the second temptation, he offered, “...
         the kingdoms of the world...and their glory....” 

         ➔   Satan could not have offered this as a valid tempta-
              tion if he was not in charge of...the kingdoms of 
              the world...and their glory...!How did this happen that the devil was in charge of 
              it all? In Genesis 1:28, God told Adam, “Be fruitful 
              and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dom-
              inion over...every living thing...on the earth.” But 
              when Adam bowed to Satan (see Genesis 3:1-7), he 
              transferred that dominion to the devil!

         ➔   It is not until Revelation 11:15 that the angel announ-
              ces, “The kingdoms of this world have become the king-
              doms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign 
              forever and ever.✞   So to seek the things of this world (to seek its friendship), 
         is to turn away from God and be His enemy!
  • James 4:6 – “…He gives more grace. Therefore it says, ‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’
     ✞   If you arelocked into seeking the things of this world 
         (check out the first 26 commodities in the merchant’s list 
         of Revelation 18:12 and 13!), you need to be humble and seek 
         God’s grace to......recognize on what you are focusing (pray the last 
              two verses of Psalm 139).

         ➔   “...turn from [your]...wicked ways...and seek His 
              face...” (II Chronicles 7:14).

     ✞   And if the sin seems greater and harder to forsake,...He 
         gives more grace...”!

     As Paul wrote in Romans 5:20, “...where sin abounded, grace 
         abounded much more....
  • James 4:7 – “Therefore submit to God…This must be done first before any action against Satan and his troops!
  • James 4:7 – “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
     ✞   We dare not face him on our own!

     ✞   We must do our the name of Jesus Christ! His power, ...because He who is in you 
              [Jesus through the Holy Spirit – see John 14:16
              -18] is greater than he [the devil] who is in 
              the world.” (I John 4:4).
  • James 4:8 – “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.
     Ephesians 2:12 and 13 – “ were without Christ...having 
         no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus 
         you who once were far off have been made near by the blood 
         of Christ.Jesus says to those who have been made near: 

         ➔   “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 
              (Hebrews 13:5).

         ➔   “...I am with you always, even to the end of the 
              age.” (Matthew 28:20).

     But here in James 4, we are told as believers to draw near first!
  • James 4:8 – “Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double minded.
     Jesus said in Matthew 15:18 through 20:

         “...what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the 
         heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the 
         heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual 
         immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These 
         are what defile a person.”

         ➔   It is not the hands that sin, it is the heart (the 
              mind)! The hands just do the mind’s bidding!

         ➔   As it says in Proverbs 4:23, “Keep your heart with 
              all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of 
              life.So the battle begins (and is won or lost) in the mind! (see II Corinthians 10:3-6).
  • James 4:9 – “Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom.
     ✞   This is not a general admonition! In the context of 
         James chapter 4, we are lamenting, mourning, weeping, 
         and being gloomy over sin manifesting itself in the 
         lives of believers – our own and others!

     As Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount, in the 
         Beatitudes of Matthew 5:3 and 4, “Blessed are the poor 
         in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed 
         are those who mourn [over sin], for they shall be com-
  • James 4:10 – “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up. How much better it is to be lifted up by God, than in pride to lift ourselves up? (see Luke 14:8-11).

So in James 4:6 through 10, James summarizes the requirements (the military preparations) to “…resist the devil….

  • But now (and if) you are prepared, follow the example of the Lord Jesus, and Speak TO The Devil!
  • Use …the sword of the Spirit…” (Ephesians 6:17) against him, and quote appropriate verses of Scripture to counter his temptations!
  • Oh, and there is one more preparation to properly use …the sword of the Spirit…!

Memorize appropriate verses
so you can have your sword handy
when Satan attacks!

Do You Have A Mary Heart?

Luke 10:38-42

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

Three times this phrase is found in the book of Proverbs, and once in Ecclesiastes: “…a merry heart….

  • Proverbs 15:13 – “A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance, but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.
  • Proverbs 15:15 – “All the days of the afflicted are evil, but he who is of a merry heart has a continual feast.
  • Proverbs 17:22 – “A merry heart does good like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones.
  • Ecclesiastes 9:7 – “Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart; for God has already accepted your works.

In each case, “…a merry heart…” refers to a mindset defined by what is called in Galatians 5:22 and 23 as the fruit of the Spirit: “…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (International Standard Version).

But for this Gem, I am engaging in a play on words! Instead of a merry heart, let’s explore what it is like to Have A Mary Heart! The featured Scripture is Luke 10:38 through 42:

     Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; 
     and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. 
     And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus' feet 
     and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, 
     and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my 
     sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help 
     me.” And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you 
     are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is 
     needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be 
     taken away from her.”

There were three in this wealthy family living in Bethany, a town two miles southeast of the city of Jerusalem. These three were siblings – Lazarus, Martha, and Mary.

  • The Lord had a close relationship to these three.
     John 11:5 – “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and 
         Lazarus.John 11:11 – Speaking to His disciples, Jesus referred 
         to Lazarus as “...our friend....John 11:36 – When Jesus wept at the grave of Lazarus, 
         “...the Jews said, ‘See how He loved him.
  • Jesus and His disciples often visited this family.
     ✞   Three times in the gospels it mentions the Lord and 
         His disciples were guests at the house of Lazarus and 
         his sisters.

     Because Jesus was close to these three siblings, it 
         is probable that there were more visits than the three 
         mentioned, perhaps many more!
  • They were an upper-classfamily!
     Luke 10:38 – They had a large enough dwelling to accom-
         modate the Lord and His entourage for extended stays. 

     John 12:1 through 3 – They were wealthy enough to gra-
         ciously feed and entertain all thirteen of them (Jesus 
         and His twelve disciples).  

     John 12:3 through 5 – A ‘snapshot’ of their wealth is 
         when Mary anointed Jesus’ feet with a jar of pure nard 
         worth three hundred denarii! (A denarius was one day’s 
         pay for the common laborer. So three hundred denarii 
         would be a full year’s pay!).   

The personality of the three siblings:

  • Lazarus – was the one Jesus raised from the dead! (read the account of this amazing miracle in John chapter 11).
     In the male-dominated Jewish society of the time, Lazar-
         us might have been the one who made the family decisions, 
         and the (successful) financial moves. I say, “...might 
         have been...” because Martha seems to be portrayed as the 
         dominate personality of the three!

     He, being called “...our friend...” by Jesus (see John 
         11:11), meant Lazarus would be seated close to the Lord 
         (implied in John 12:2 where it says he of 
         those who sat at the table with...Jesus).

     Other than being well-known because he had been resurrected, 
         Lazarus is not presented with an outstanding personality!
  • Martha – may be the predominate family member who took charge!
     Her possible preeminent place in the family is shown thus:

         ➔   In the first verse of our featured Scripture, 
              Luke 10:38, it is written, “Now it happened as 
              they [Jesus and His disciples] went, that He 
              entered a certain village [Bethany]; and a cer-
              tain woman welcomed Him into her house.” I want 
              to emphasize “...HER house...”! In light of the 
              afore-mentioned “...male dominated...society...,” 
              this identification is quite unusual!

         ➔   In John 11:5 it says, “Now Jesus loved Martha 
              and her sister and Lazarus.” Notice that Martha 
              is named first, and Mary is not named at all!

         ➔   But in John 11:1 we are told, “Now a certain man 
              was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the town of Mary 
              and her sister Martha.Here Mary is named first!

     ✞   Martha obviously had the Spiritual gift of serving! 

         ➔   John 12:2 – “...they made Him [Jesus] a supper; 
              and Martha served....” 

         ➔   Romans 12:7 (International Standard Version) – 
              “If your gift is serving, devote yourself to 
              serving others.However, she comes across as overly focused on serving; 
         which suggests, she was not doing it for the glory of 
         God! She was serving because...somebody has to do it!”

         ➔   Luke 10:41 – “...Jesus...said to her, ‘Martha, 
              Martha, you are worried and troubled about many 

         ➔   Luke 10:40 and 42 – “...Martha was distracted 
              with much serving...,” even neglecting what 
              Jesus called “...the good thing...of sitting 
              at the Master’s feet and learning as He taught! 
              (see Luke 10:39). So, at least on this Luke 10 
              occasion, Martha was settling for second best!

     Yet Jesus revealed to her first and alone one of His 
         greatest teachings!

         ➔   John 11:25 and 26 (Jubilee Bible) – “I AM the 
              resurrection and the life; he that believes in 
              Me, though he is dead, yet shall he live; and 
              whosoever lives and believes in Me shall never 
              die. Believest thou this”

         ➔   John 11:26 – Martha was one of the few who comp-
              rehended who Jesus really was:Yes, Lord, I be-
              lieve that You are the Christ, the Son of God, 
              who is to come into the world.
  • Mary – She was a thoughtful and spiritual person!
        Luke 10:39 – “...Mary...sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His 
         word.Luke 10:42 – Jesus commended her when Mary chose to lis-
         ten and learn from Him, saying, “ thing is needed, 
         and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be 
         taken away from her.John 12:1 through 3:

             ...six days before the Passover, Jesus came 
             to Bethany, where Lazarus was who had been 
             dead, whom He had raised from the dead. There 
             they made Him a supper; and Martha served, 
             but Lazarus was one of those who sat at the 
             table with Him. Then Mary took a pound of 
             very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the 
             feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her 
             hair. And the house was filled with the fra-
             grance of the oil.

         ➔   Several times Jesus had hinted to His followers, 
              or told them outright, that He was soon to suffer 
              and die! (see John 13:33; 14:25; Matthew 16:21; 
              17:22, 23; 20:17- 19 – Mark and Luke also relate 
              the three listed in Matthew). But from the disci-
              ples’ reaction, Christ’s followers just didn’t 
              get it! (see Matthew 16:22 and 23).

         ➔   ...all except Mary! When she poured that very 
              expensive pure nard oil on Jesus’ feet (on His 
              head, according to Matthew 26:7 and Mark 14:30 
              and the disciples began to criticize her, Jesus 
              rebuked them, saying “Let her alone. Why do you 
              trouble her? She has done a good work for Me....
              She has come beforehand to anoint My body for 
              burial.” (Mark 14:6 and 8). Mary understood that 
              Jesus was going to suffer and die!

     ✞   How did Mary know when so many others did not see it? 
         She sat at Jesus’ feet and listened to Him as He opened 
         the prophetic Old Testament passages concerning Himself! 
         These passages, such as Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53, spoke 
         quite plainly of the Messiah’s suffering and death!

Now, consider again the title of this Gem: Do You Have A Mary Heart? A heart (mind, spirit) like Mary’s that will direct you to…

  • …choose…that good part…” – focusing on Jesus, and not too intently on the multitude of tasks that beckon you!
  • …sit at the feet of Jesus and learn from His Word!
  • …understand who He is and why He came from heaven to earth!For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10).
  • …worship Him!
  • …give Him our very best gifts!

The best thing about having A Mary Heart is you will someday hear the most wonderful words ever from the lips of your Savior and Lord:

“Well done, good and faithful servant!”

(Matthew 25:23)