31) “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;”
32) “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
As Christ spoke to this crowd of Jews, there were only a few who got what He was saying and truly believed. The rest of them were critiquing His words and trying to show how He was wrong in what He spoke about as you read on in the following verses. The thing is, we need to take what Christ said at face value and believe it.
If we as Christians that believe on Him, as the verse 31 said, would spend more time in His Word and more time in prayer, a lot of things in our life that we consider problems that we are having trouble fixing would get better. How would this happen, we ask? Well, we know the answer already–we just can’t see the forest for the trees, as the old saying goes.
We say we love the Lord and believe the Bible, yet we cannot be free of worry and doubt. We cannot seem to relinquish control sometimes because we are not heeding to the truth as we should. We are human; and, yes, we have a sin nature; but we always have a choice. That is what is so encouraging in this passage. Christ tells us that if we CONTINUE in His Word–not just read it and bring it out when it is convenient, we will be His true disciple. Then in doing this, we will see the truth and through the truth, our walk will be closer to Him. Our fear and worries will diminish, and we will be free of those weights that so easily beset us. We will not be perfect, but we will be more like Him through this process. That is what a Christian should always be striving to do.
The first week in October marks five years ago that I was diagnosed with breast cancer. The details, explanations, surgeries, course of treatment, and much more followed that initial diagnosis. It was not until about nine months later that I was cleared except for monitoring from my breast surgeon and oncologist which continues even today.
The news was scary! How could this be happening to me? It had happened to many others—but not me! I remember lying awake in the dark of night praying and thinking and crying and imagining what was going to happen to me, my husband, and my family. Would this change my life forever?
The news of breast cancer and the experience of all that it entailed were overwhelming. The waiting—for test results, decisions about surgeries, treatment options, doctors to call with information—was horrible! I could not have imagined it except that I experienced it.
And it did change my life forever! It changed the way I cling to God’s promises. It changed the way I view life and those I love. It changed the way I sympathize and empathize with others that take this journey. It changed the way I pray for others diagnosed with cancer. It changed my view of God’s faithfulness. It changed my desire to share very personal details with others when it might help them.
It changed me—and today, I can say, I am thankful for the experience. I am thankful for a godly husband who never lost sight of the fact that God makes no mistakes. I am thankful for our three daughters who were by my side each step of the way. I am thankful for a church family and many friends around the world who prayed for me and helped out in many ways. I’m thankful for a faithful God who sees us through unbelievable situations!
Five years—I can only think of the following song:
God is so good; God is so good;
God is so good, He’s so good to me!
2 Tim. 1:6-14
The US census of 2010 counted three million Muslims in the United States. That number is inaccurate since many Muslims do not feel comfortable identifying themselves as such on an American document. Furthermore, the number of Muslims in America is rapidly growing. In 2015, the FBI did a study that estimates that the number of Muslims is nearly five million. How do we witness to them? They are infiltrating our cities speaking Arabic, Urdu, Bengali, Farsi, and Dari. They have built mosques across our land—as many as three hundred in New York City alone. They veil themselves behind long garments. Can such people really be won to Christ? Do we really have to witness to such people?
Don’t be afraid
2 Tim 1:6-14 has some helpful advice regarding our witness. This passage is more than a command to go and preach the Gospel. It gives several pointers on what should be included in our Gospel witness. In verses 6-7, Paul reminds Timothy to do what he was appointed to do. God had given Timothy the charge of being a witness in the city of Ephesus. Timothy had to be reminded of something that we often have to be reminded—our witness must not be mixed with fear. God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. So, when we are witnessing to a Muslim, we don’t need to assume he is a terrorist or that she is concealing a bomb. Rather, we must be convinced that God has given us the power to boldly share the Gospel. He has given us the spiritual strength to witness when we are discouraged and the physical strength to accomplish what He wants us to do. God has given us the ability to love other people. We can love those who don’t seem lovely. As we follow Christ’s example, we can learn to have compassion on the lost! God has given us a sound mind. We cannot trust our own intellect, but a sober mind is a gift from God to use as we talk to Muslims. We do not have to fear when our Gospel presentation is rooted on the Word of God! When witnessing to Muslims, we do not have to fear them. Neither should we fear our own failures. God gives us the strength, the ability to love them, and the ability to have a clear mind.
Don’t be ashamed
The next five verses indicate that also we should not be ashamed of the Gospel. Paul said in verse 8, “Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord…” Verse 12 says, “Nevertheless, I am not ashamed…” The context in both verses 8 and 12 is that we should not be ashamed or intimidated by persecution. Let the Muslim criticize me or even attack me or imprison me. How can we be so bold? How can we be ready for afflictions mentioned in verse 8 and suffering mentioned in verse 12? Such boldness does not come from personal resolve. It comes only from confidence in the reality and power of the Gospel. Do you feel intimidated or threatened when sharing the Gospel? Then maybe it is time to remind yourself of the reality of what we believe. Maybe it is time to memorize more verses about the new life that the Gospel brings. Maybe it is time to memorize more verses about whom we have believed. Let’s make sure that we are persuaded that God is able to keep our souls until the end.
Don’t be apathetic
The final challenge in this passage is to “hold fast” the Gospel and to “keep” it. The idea is to be on guard – to make sure that the Gospel message is always a standard for all to see. We have heard it from others. It has been entrusted to us. Let us gladly proclaim it in faith and love.
One teen girl recently expressed that when she sees people in Islamic attire, her first thought is often, “I wish they weren’t here.” Is that the attitude Paul described to Timothy? Or did the Apostle Paul encourage us to boldly believe and proclaim the Gospel? Muslims can be saved. They need the Gospel. Let’s get it to them!
Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.”
Has God ever called you into a period of “holy darkness” in which you clearly knew that He was in control of a situation in which you, personally, had no answers?
He did that recently with me. The stillness, the darkness, the lack of clarity, the absence of answers–these did not stir me up, but rather calmed me down. Due to my Saviour’s guiding hand alone (because my heart can be very naturally stirred up by events around me), I was able to rest, knowing with all my heart that He knew the answers I wished to know and that if/when He wanted me to know, I would be told these answers. If not, He is my answer, all life long.
The older I get, the more I understand that His holiness is often most present in those still moments in the darkness. If I seek to know His holiness, it is there I will find it. If I spend my life seeking to know answers about how one thing (or person) relates to another, that will be my focus, and I will be more focused on this world that will pass away than on the world that is coming (and the One who inhabits it).
We are to point others to His holiness but . . . do we know it ourselves? His holiness is not just a lack of sin—oh, yes, the Lord is sinless—but rather it is a living, breathing attribute pointing to the greatness of the Lord we serve.
Holy, holy, holy. He is thrice holy. Let all the earth worship Him. Let us worship Him!!!
Listening to voices of happy children singing the words “I want to be faithful, I want to be true” reminded me of my need to be faithful and true to the God I love and serve. This moment became an emotional one for me as I drove to work at Tabernacle Baptist Church. There have been a lot of God-given moments over the forty plus years I have made the daily trip to work.
A Christian knows that God is faithful to his children. “God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the Fellowship of his son Jesus Christ our Lord” (1Cor. 1:9). Our need to be consistently faithful is another matter. We know God is always faithful. I remember being introduced to the words, “Forsaking All I Trust Him.” As you can see the first letter of each word spells faith. These words are right on target. Real faithfulness requires letting go of a lot of things and clinging only to Him.
The children’s message renewed my desire to be faithful and brought a question to my mind. Will I hear, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant…” Christian friend this reminded me that without faith it is impossible to please God. Heb 11:6, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”
Will you join me today in a new pursuit of faith? We don’t need a new 21st century faith; we need a renewed faith. It must be one that is active and vibrant, one that motivates us to forsake all and trust him. Maybe today your faith is weak or you are without saving faith. Once you become a Christian, then you need to be faithful to God. We must become as little children and trust our heavenly father and do His will.
The heroes of the Bible are such because of their faith. Their stories are told in Hebrews Chapter 11. You say, but I don’t want to be a hero. I understand, but don’t you want to be faithful? I do! Please join me in the faith and live by faith. Eph. 2:8-9, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.”
For our heart shall rejoice in him, because we have trusted in his holy name (Psalm 33:21).
The world may try to satisfy
That longing in your soul.
You may search the wide world over
But you’ll be just as before.
You’ll never find true satisfaction
Until you’ve found the Lord,
For only Jesus can satisfy your soul.
From Only Jesus Can Satisfy Your Soul by Lanny Wolfe.
Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not (Jeremiah 33:3).
He giveth more grace as our burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength as our labors increase;
To added affliction He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials He multiplies peace.
His love has no limits, His grace has no measure.
His power has no boundary know unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.
From He Giveth More Grace by Annie J. Flint, ca.1932.
Change is hard especially when it comes unexpectedly and unkindly, but God is good in every situation. I have been reminded of God’s goodness recently because of an unpleasant situation that people I love have been going through. Some of God’s people are unkind, unforgiving, and harsh—BUT some others of God’s people are kind, very giving, and thoughtful! It is not our responsibility to look at God’s people, but it is our responsibility to keep our eyes focused on God. Too many times we focus on the negative when everything about God is so positive. We cheat ourselves out of blessings when we fail to focus on God! Even in this hard situation, God has been good—He has met every need and exceeded our expectations of what He could possibly do. Why does it surprise us that God takes care of us including supplying for every need? It shouldn’t! Our God is able—he DOES own the cattle on a thousand hills!
I’m thankful for the lessons of faith we have learned through this situation. Thank you, Lord, for your provision and your tender care!
Great is thy faithfulness, O God my father!
There is no shadow of turning with thee;
Thou changest not, thy compassions they fail not:
As thou hast been thou forever shalt be.
Great is thy faithfulness! Great is thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed thy hand hath provided–
Great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!
Great Is Thy Faithfulness by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1923.
And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place and rest a while . . . (Mark 6:31).
There is a place of quiet rest,
Near to the heart of God.
A place where sin cannot molest,
Near to the heart of God.
O Jesus, Blest Redeemer,
Sent from the heart of God.
Hold us who wait before Thee
Near to the heart of God.
From Near to the Heart of God by Cleland B. McAfee, 1903.
Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou has created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created (Revelation 4:11).
More love to Thee, O Christ, more love to Thee!
Hear Thou the prayer I make on bended knee.
This is my earnest plea; More love, O Christ, to Thee;
More love to Thee, more love to Thee!
Once earthly joy I craved, sought peace and rest;
Now Thee alone I seek, give what is best.
This all my prayer shall be: More love, O Christ to Thee;
More love to Thee, more love to Thee!
From More Love to Thee, O Christ by Elizabeth P. Prentiss, 1856