Today With God

At that time a great disturbance took place concerning the Way.

[Acts 19:23 NET]

Wherever the gospel goes it wakes up opposition. Especially when it touches men’s business adversely does it excite their worst passions.

Here it was the silversmith’s business that was imperilled. The harangue of Demetrius shows that Paul’s preaching was of the right kind. Some preaching does not disturb sin nor alarm sinners. But Paul’s stirred up those who heard it. He denounced idols – said they were not gods. This frightened the silversmiths, for their chief business was in making shrines of Diana.

A good test of a revival is when it touches the sins of a community, and draws people from them.

About the sanest man in Ephesus that day was the town clerk. He was a loyal believer in Diana, but he had sense enough to know that it would be foolish to do any harm to the missionaries.

The preachers had said nothing against their goddess, they had only preached their own religion, and to harm them would only bring trouble upon those who did it.

Today With God

He began to speak out fearlessly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained the way of God to him more accurately.

[Acts 18:26 NET]

We should know the whole gospel if we would do Christian work well.

Apollos was a Christian, and was earnest and eloquent, but he had gone in his knowledge of Christ only as far as the Baptist’s teaching. Priscilla and Aquila heard him preach, and saw the defect.

They saw that he did not know of Christ’s death and resurrection. When they had taught him the whole gospel, he became a powerful preacher.

About the best service we can do to most people we meet is to encourage them. More than half the men and women we meet any day need encouragement. One of the worst sins we can commit against others is to be a discourager.

Perhaps the trouble with a good many Christians is the same that ailed the dozen men whom Paul found at Ephesus. They had not even heard that the Spirit was given. We can have power in witnessing for Christ only when we are filled with the Spirit.

Today With God

While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, his spirit was greatly upset because he saw the city was full of idols.

[Acts 17:16 NET]

A believer in God cannot look upon the world’s treatment of holy things without sore pain.

Athens was a city of idols. There were more gods there than men – it was said. It was not easy to confess Christ in Athens, amid such exhibitions of idolatry as were seen everywhere. Yet that was just the place the true God should be proclaimed, and Paul was the only witness God had there.

It is not enough for us to speak for God only where His name is honoured, where all the people are, in a way, His friends. If we do this and then shrink from mentioning His name where all are hostile, we have failed in loyalty.

Paul spoke words at Athens which the people had never heard before. He told of the one God in a place where hundreds of gods were worshipped. He declared God as spiritual and unseen, where all the people worshipped statues they could see.

Today With God

They had a sharp disagreement, so that they parted company. Barnabas took along Mark and sailed away to Cyprus,

[Acts 15:39 NET]

Only the generous interest of Barnabas in him gave John Mark his second chance. He had sadly failed in his first.

He started with Paul and Barnabas on their missionary tour, but returned home. He now wanted a chance to redeem himself, and Paul would not take him again. Barnabas was his friend, however, and thus Mark got a new start and became a worthy and useful man.

Barnabas seems to have been right, though this cost him the friendship of Paul. The two men quarrelled and separated. But Mark was worth saving from his failure.

Paul did not mean to go into Europe, but other doors which he sought to enter were shut against him, and a divine vision called him to the new continent. It was a beautiful beginning, there on the river bank, that Sabbath, when Paul found a little company of women at their worship, and told them about Christ, and when at least one woman opened her heart to Christ and her home to the missionaries.

Today With God

Since we have heard that some have gone out from among us with no orders from us and have confused you, upsetting your minds by what they said, — Acts 15:24 NET

There are some people who are always troubling others with words, as “certain” had been doing at Antioch. There are contentious persons still, who are never so much in their element as when they are picking a quarrel.

There are those who think they are fond of Bible study, but who really are fond only of quibbling over controverted passages. Those who are set to instruct such Christians should deal with them most gently and patiently. The religion of Christ never lays needless burdens on any disciples.

There are certain essential things, and these should be plainly set forth. Then there are things not essential, and these should not be bound on the backs of the followers of Christ.

A distinguished clergyman says that the text, “Do justly, love mercy, walk humbly with thy God,” is the greatest saying of the Old Testament. It presents in the simplest words the whole of what God requires. Surely men need not require more of others than God does!

Today With God

So Peter was kept in prison, but those in the church were earnestly praying to God for him.

[Acts 12:5 NET]

Some of His followers Christ wants to witness for Him by dying for Him. The ministry of James was short. It seems strange to us that he was not spared to live longer, to tell others of his Master. But he did the work which had been given him to do.

Others Christ wants to serve Him by living long for Him. Peter was delivered from Herod’s hands that he might continue to preach and be a blessing to many. No prison can hold a man when Christ wants him outside. Gates count for nothing when God proposes to open them. It was prayer that opened Peter’s prison.

The Christians met together and besought God for Peter’s release. Their prayer was heard, and, while they were still pleading, Peter knocked at the door. Sometimes the answers to our prayers surprise us. Peter’s friends could not believe it was him at the door, though they had been praying all night for his deliverance.

Today With God

He ordered Judah to seek the Lord God of their ancestors and to observe his law and commands.

[2 Chr 14:4 NET]

Repentance is not complete unless we get back to God and renew our allegiance to Him.

One of our Lord’s parables tells of the casting out of an evil spirit, the man’s heart then being left empty. By and by the demon, returning after many wanderings, found his old house swept and garnished, but still empty; and, gathering up a number of other demons worse than himself, he returned into his old place. That is always the story when evil is cast out and the life is not filled with God.

There is a verse in one of Paul’s epistles in which the apostle calls upon Christians to present their bodies as living sacrifices to Him. He wants our body that He may purify it and give it back to us cleansed.

We must not think that it is merely for the help that we can give to God that He so earnestly desires the consecration of ourselves to Him; it is that He may take us, with all our sinfulness, and make us holy and beautiful, like Christ.

Today With God

while he went a day’s journey into the desert. He went and sat down under a shrub and asked the Lord to take his life: “I’ve had enough! Now, O Lord, take my life. After all, I’m no better than my ancestors.”

[1 Kgs 19:4 NET]

Elijah was in a state of despondency when he uttered this unworthy prayer. It was not fright that produced this condition of mind – it was discouragement. It seemed to him that all the struggle on Carmel had amounted to nothing.

It is a sad picture – this great prophet lying there under a little bush in the wilderness, begging that he might die. This is one of the unanswered prayers of the Bible, and it is well for Elijah it was not answered. If he had died then, what an inglorious ending would it have been to his life! As it was, however, he lived to do further glorious work, and instead of dying in the wilderness, he missed death altogether.

It is never right to wish ourselves dead. Life is God’s gift to us, a sacred trust for which we shall have to give account. As long as God keeps us living He has something for us to do. Our prayers should be for grace to bear our burden and do our duty bravely unto the end.

Today With God

Absalom would then say, “If only they would make me a judge in the land! Then everyone who had a judicial complaint could come to me and I would make sure he receives a just settlement.”

[2 Sam 15:4 NET]

It is very easy to criticize others and imagine how much better we would do if we were in their place.

First Absalom poisoned the people’s mind toward David by making the impression that the king was neglectful, and that the people were suffering wrong through his neglect; next he suggested how different matters would be if he were judge in his father’s place. The treachery of such words we can see. He cared nothing for the people’s real or imaginary wrongs. He thought only of destroying their confidence in David and winning them to himself.

There always are people who think of no way of getting up but by pulling others down. It is very easy for any of us, by careless words, and even unintentionally, to disparage others and indirectly suggest how much better we would perform their duties if they were ours.

It requires a noble heart and most watchful care to be always loyal to our friends.

Today With God

When Joab saw that the battle would be fought on two fronts, he chose some of Israel’s best men and deployed them against the Arameans.

[2 Sam 10:9 NET]

This is a picture of our condition in this world. Whichever way we move we find enemies facing us. Joab teaches us a lesson in the art of war. He prepared to assault both the foes in the front and those in the rear. He turned no back to any enemy.

This would seem to teach that the Christian should never expose his back to the foe, but should always keep his face toward him.

Another good lesson from Joab’s movements is, his picking out his best men to fight the hardest battle, to meet the most dangerous foes. Our great Captain gives His best soldiers His hardest fighting to do. If any of us think we have sorer temptations than others have, that the enemies who come against us are harder to overcome than those our neighbors have to meet, let us remember that Christ picks His soldiers, putting the best and bravest where the battle will be hardest.