Don’t be Guided by the World (James 4:1-12)

James 4:1-12

Christians, Don’t Be Guided by the World

Sunday, May 31, 2020

I hate snakes! This is something that I have in common with Indiana Jones.

A newspaper reports of a taxidermist who was bitten by a frozen 10-pound rattlesnake as he cuts into it. Robert Herndon buys poisonous rattles, freezes them to death, and markets the preserved remains. And he usually tapes their mouths when cutting. But he missed the tape this time.[1]

You see, sometimes we don’t realize how bad something is. We think we are safe.

There was a woman who had a pet snake. This snake was a Boa Constrictor. The snake grew and got too big for its’ cage. So, she just started allowing it free roam in the house. Then for a while she noticed that it was not eating. She thought she should call the vet but didn’t call. One day she was taking a nap and woke up to find the snake lying next to her, stretched out as she was. So, she thought, “I better call the vet about his lack of appetite.” She calls the vet and the vet says, “You need to get rid of the snake. It is not eating because it is preparing itself for a big meal. It is lying next to you to size you up to see if it can eat you.”

We have the same problem with the world. We are around it all the time. We live in the world, we think it is not harming us, but in reality, we are being polluted.

We are going to look at James 4:1-12 and I intend to show you that James’ main point is that we must submit to God and not the world.

My theme is:

Christians, Don’t Be Guided by the World.

Let’s read James 4:1-12:

What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: “He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us”? But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit 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 purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.

11 Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge of it. 12 There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy; but who are you who judge your neighbor?

  • Allow me to start by connecting this passage to last week’s passage.
    • Last week we talked about two types of wisdom (3:13-18).
    • I believe that James is still talking about two types of wisdom. The wisdom of the world produces disorder and every evil practice.
    • The wisdom of God produces purity, peace-loving, considerateness, submissiveness, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial, and sincere.
    • Now James is going to show them that their problems are because they are using the wisdom of the world and they need cleaned up.
  • Now, let’s move to James 4:4
    • James says that friendship with the world is hatred or hostility toward God.
    • Remember when the Bible writes of the world it usually is talking about the world’s systems, the world’s cultures. Culture: cult of the populace, religion of the populace.
    • The noun for friendship with the world can also mean “love” of the world. This is the same word by which we get Philadelphia, brotherly love.
    • Look at the rest of verse 4: anyone who is a friend of the world is an enemy of God.
      • That is a really strong statement, isn’t it?
      • Well think of it this way: the world’s systems are sinful. Sin is against God. So, what is it like if we are befriending sin?
  • 2 Cor 4:4 says that the devil is the god of this age, meaning the god of this world. The devil is and has been trying to take what is God’s.
  • We must realize that whether or not something is wrong is not relative to opinion but to Scripture and the Spirit’s conviction.
  • The world is an offense to God because of sin. Psalm 66:18: If I had cherished sin in my heart the Lord wouldn’t listen. Sin is against God. He is too pure to look upon sin.
  • Now because of our friendship with the world we have disorder and evil. Look at verses 1-3
    • James uses a literature structure called diatribe. This is a bitter, sharply abusive denunciation.
    • Notice the repeated questions. What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?
    • Now notice the repeated sentences that start with the second person pronoun “you.”
    • You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
      • What a picturesque passage. You really want something and you are willing to go to extremes for it.
      • The term used for pleasures is the same word we get hedonism from. The doctrine of pleasure and happiness.
  • lust, fight, murder, have, ask, battle are all verbs
  • Look the way of the world is about sin and self. The way of God is about His way.
    • How are you doing?
    • Are you befriending the world?
    • Or, are you submitting to God?
    • Do you look at sin and think, “oh well?”
    • Do you condone sin?
    • Do you try to excuse it?
    • When you are watching a movie or television show and there is outright sexual sin, such as sex outside of the bonds of marriage, how do you feel?
    • When you are watching television and you see disrespect for parents, how do you feel? Are you offended? God is.
      • Pray to God that you can see sin the way He does.
      • I read something the other day:

Evangelism, fine as it is, is not revival. After a successful meeting, Billy Graham was asked, “Is this revival?” Graham replied, “No. When revival comes, I expect to see two things which we have not seen yet. First, a new sense of the holiness of God on the part of Christians; and second, a new sense of the sinfulness of sin on the part of Christians.”

  • Now let’s look at the antidote to the pollution from the world found in verses 7-10
    • Submit yourselves to God. Submit to God rather than the world. You are all, we are all, submitting to something in the spiritual.
    • The key idea is to “be subject.” The verb translated “submit” literally means to “be subject.” Are you subject to God?
    • àYou see many times we want God to be sovereign but not in control
    • àWe cannot be in the driver’s seat at the same time as God. We must let God be in the driver’s seat, we must be in the passenger seat. But wait, if you are in the passenger seat you can still control the driving, so you must be in the back seat. But wait, back seat drivers, have you ever heard of them? We must let God be the driver so we should be in the trunk. Submit to God. Be subject to God.
    • Now James references the devil. Resist the devil.
      • Eph 4:27: don’t give the devil a foothold; 1 Pet 5:8f: the devil goes around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.
      • àIs James saying that the devil has something to do with the problems?
    • I wonder; do you try to resist the devil? Do you recognize that the devil is trying to tempt you and be the source of your problems? James says to “resist the devil.” And what? The devil will flee. We must recognize that this is Scripture. This means you must believe it. You may have to resist the devil for a while, you may have to be persistent, but God’s Word says that the devil will flee.
    • Look at verse 8: draw near to God and what He will draw near to you. Or, the NIV says come near to God and He will come near to you.
      • You may wonder, “Why am I not that close to God?” I have heard people tell me, “I don’t feel close to God.” I will ask, “Are you involved in a church? Are you reading the Scriptures and taking time for prayer? “They might say, “No.” Look if you are not working on your relationship with God you will not feel His leading. Draw near to God.
    • Now look at the next phrase. This is very direct, wash your hands you sinners, and purify your hearts you double minded.
      • This phrase is reminiscent of the Old Testament prophetic books. This is about ceremonial cleansing. We need cleansed from our sins. We must get rid of the sin.
      • And how are they double minded? They are trying to have both the world’s wisdom and God’s wisdom. We cannot have both. They are contrasting. We must get rid of the world. We must cleanse the world off of us and then go to God.
    • Now verse 9 is about mourning, why? This is because they are taking sin too lightly, they should be resisting sin. They should be mourning over sin.
    • Now, humble yourselves to God. This kind of goes with verse 7, submit, be subject to God. And the Lord will lift you up. This is the antidote for being polluted by the world.
  • Now before James moves on he talks about the tongue once again in verses 11-12.
    • Again, this goes back to our words. James is saying that we must not gossip and talk bad about each other. We must submit to God and that means submitting to God’s law.
    • It appears that their gossip and slander was unbiblical judgment and God is the only judge. We are told to confront sin (See James 5:19-20). However, we must always confront sin using the Scriptures. When we use the Scriptures we are quoting God and His Word.
      • The wisdom of God is and must be evidenced by our works, our words and our life.
      • We must submit to God and not to the world. We must recognize the sinfulness of sin and the holiness of God. We must have the wisdom of God.


Do you like snakes? The snake is there just trying to wrap its’ way around you. It is coming up your legs, but it is going up slowly, not fast. It will eventually try to kill you, not your physical body, but your spiritual. The snake is the world. The world is trying to gradually and slowly take you from God. Don’t let it! Stick close to God.

Look again at verses 7-10:

Submit 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 purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.

That is how you keep from being polluted by the world. You submit to God.


[1]Tan, Paul Lee: Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations : A Treasury of Illustrations, Anecdotes, Facts and Quotations for Pastors, Teachers and Christian Workers. Garland TX : Bible Communications, 1996, c1979

James 3:13-18: Two Types of Wisdom

James 3:13-18: Two Types of Wisdom

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Sunday, May 24, 2020

Last week we continued our discussion on the New Testament epistle of James. Last week we looked at James 3:1-12. This passage talked about our language. Our language cannot be hypocritical. Blessing and cursing should not come out of the same mouth.

This week we will talk about wisdom; our language should be guided by wisdom from God.

How do you know if someone is wise? What is the test? Is there a difference between worldly wisdom and the wisdom of God?

In a commentary on 1 Cor by New Testament scholar Gordon Fee, on page 81 a man named Celsus is quoted. He wrote this during the early church and his goal appears to be against the church. He says:

Their injunctions are like this. [that is an act or instance of enjoining.] ‘Let no one educated, no one wise, no one sensible draw near. For these abilities are thought by us to be evils. But as for anyone ignorant, anyone stupid, anyone uneducated, anyone who is a child, let him come boldly.’ By the fact that they themselves admit that these people are worthy of their God, they show that they want and are able to convince only the foolish, dishonorable and stupid, and only slaves, women, and children.” Footnote shows that this is quoted by Origen in Contra Celsum

In other words, to this man, the early church was full of ignorant and unlearned people. Now, there certainly were many very learned people in the early church, but to him there was a different type of wisdom in the church than in the world.

Today, we will look at two types of wisdom, one from the world and one type from God. Wisdom must guide our language and our actions, and the wisdom of God should be evidenced by our works and our words.

Read James 3:13-18

Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. 18 And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

  • In verse 13, we see a test of wisdom.
    • James starts with a question, who is wise? Before anyone can answer he gives a self-test.
    • Let him show it by his good life.
    • Now before I talk more about this good life, allow me to talk about wise and understanding. James asks: who is wise and understanding?
      • Are they the same? Are wisdom and understanding the same?
      • They are listed as two different things, two different adjectives.
        • John MacArthur says:

Notice again back at verse 13, he says, “Who is wise and understanding?” Now I don’t want to make a big distinction between those words because I think basically they’re synonyms put there for emphasis. But they do have a bit of a shade of difference in their meaning. This is the only time in the whole New Testament these two words appear together…… The simple distinction is that wisdom probably relates to the application of principles whereas understanding relates to the understanding of those principles or the knowledge of those principles. One would have more impact on the mind and one might have more impact on the conduct. But basically they have to do with the same thing. You can’t be wise if you don’t understand and you can’t really understand if you’re not wise.

  • Swindoll says: “Wisdom is the ability to see with discernment, to view life as God perceives it. Understanding is the skill to respond with insight. Knowledge is the rare trait of learning with perception—- discovering and growing. [1]
  • So, there is a hair of difference and I believe that James gave both of those adjectives for a reason.
  • Wisdom, according to MacArthur is the application of principles and understanding is understanding those principles.
  • Wisdom, according to Swindoll, is to see with discernment as God perceives things. Understanding is the ability to respond with insight. Let’s move on.
  • If you are wise, show it with your life. Godly wisdom is evidenced by our works, our words, and our life.
  • James says to show this by your good deeds done in humility. Those deeds they come from wisdom. Again, Godly wisdom is evidenced by our works, our words, and our life.
  • How many people have you known that are wise, at least by the world’s standards?
  • How many people have you known who are highly learned, but hard to be around?
  • How many people have you known who have great knowledge, but they don’t help anyone?
  • They are selfish?

In the next few verses James will talk specifically about this wisdom of the world.

  • Verses 14-16 show us a little about wisdom of the world.
    • Verse 14 starts with a conjunction that shows contrast “but” and it is a “big but” too.
    • And then there is this conditional conjunction, “if.” “If” is a conjunction showing a condition. Now what is the condition?
    • If you have bitter jealousy, you don’t just have envy, your envy is bitter.
      • If you have bitter jealousy this means that you are so envious, so jealous that you cannot bear to think of someone, you cannot bear to see someone, you cannot bear to look at their house. You think, “I cannot believe they can afford the new fishing boat. I deserve a new fishing boat.” No that’s just what my bitter jealousy might be. Point is the jealousy is advanced and it will cause damage.
      • And this bitter jealousy is about “you,” who “YOU.” Look at the next phrase: “and selfish ambition.” It is about SELFISHNESS.
        • Listen there is nothing wrong with ambition.
        • Selfish ambition is wrong, ambition is not wrong. I will watch Star Trek and watch Captain Kirk or Captain Picard and think I want to captain my own space vessel. Is that wrong? If so, it is the motivation that is wrong. Do I want to do something because I believe God has called me to do so and I believe that I can help out people? That is good ambition. However, if my motives are selfish, that is selfish ambition, and that is wrong (Phil 2:3-5).
  • Well, James writes if you have these two traits, don’t boast about it. If you talk about your wisdom, yet your life is full of selfish ambition and bitter envy, you are missing the truth. Where is the truth? The truth is in your actions. The truth is in your words.
  • The wisdom of selfish ambition and bitter envy is of the devil, earthly, unspiritual. This means it comes from our sin nature. The devil is alive and active, don’t think he isn’t. Read Eph 6:12.
  • How do you know if your wisdom is this way? Verse 16. This kind of wisdom leads to disorder, and evil practices.
    • Now, let’s talk about you. Do your practices produce disorder?
    • Do your words produce disorder or evil?
  • Before we go into the wisdom of God, let me give some of the differences of the two types of wisdom: The world versus God’s wisdom:
  • The world’s wisdom: Look like a model.
  • God’s wisdom: you are beautiful. God created you the way you are.
  • The world’s wisdom: Have a sarcastic answer which makes you look good and others bad.
  • God’s wisdom: Love your enemies (Phil 2), return evil with good.
  • The world’s wisdom: Do what you have to do to get to the top.
  • God’s wisdom: Jesus gave up everything and went to the bottom.
  • The world’s wisdom may say to drink, do drugs, have fun.
  • God’s wisdom says, these things harm you. They take you out of control of your actions. Your body belongs to God.
  • The world’s wisdom may say your voice isn’t good enough, your body isn’t good enough, you are too fat, too tall, too short, your hair is ugly, and your clothes are too cheap.
  • God’s wisdom says, “I created you the way you are for a reason.”
  • The world’s wisdom: Disrespect your parents or others.
  • God’s wisdom says, be submissive to authorities. Respect all people. Jesus was submissive to authorities that were corrupt.
  • The world’s wisdom: It is ok to have sex, just use protection.
  • God’s wisdom says, that sacrifices your purity. Sex is a gift God has given you for reproduction and joy with someone you have a lifelong commitment with in marriage. Sex is emotional and emotions are hurt if the intimacy of sex is shared with more people.
  • The world’s wisdom: Have fun! Life is short and there is no eternity.
  • God’s wisdom says we will all face judgment someday and there is an eternity. There is one way to Heaven.
  • The world’s wisdom says, if life doesn’t seem fun or you have had some trauma it is ok to end your life.
  • God’s wisdom says that He created you for a purpose. Life will get tuff but lean on God.
  • The world’s wisdom skews our view. We see through a haze. When I was 24 years old I realized that I needed glasses. I was so excited to be able to have perfect vision once again. But when I went to work as a McDonald’s manager my view got skewed again. I would leave work and my glasses would be coated with grease. I would have to clean them off. Just as my glasses were coated with grease so is our view of reality. The world’s wisdom skews our view.
  • We need God’s wisdom. Godly wisdom is evidenced by good works.

Verses 17-18 show us a little about the wisdom of God.

    1. God’s wisdom produces purity.
    2. God’s wisdom produces peace.
    3. I am sure there have been several people in the world who were wise yet their words didn’t produce peace.
    4. God’s wisdom is gentle, this means you think of others first (Phil 2:3-5).
    5. God’s wisdom is reasonable.
    6. God’s wisdom is full of mercy.
    7. God’s wisdom produces the good fruit.
    8. God’s wisdom is impartial, unwavering without hypocrisy, objective.
    9. Verse 18 wraps it up. If you do things in peace the outcome is righteousness.


How do you know if someone is wise? What is the test? Is there a difference between worldly wisdom and the wisdom of God?

The test of wisdom is right here in Scripture. Do an individual’s actions produce disorder and evil practices? Or, do an individual’s actions, an individual’s life, show purity, peace loving, considerateness, submissiveness, mercy, good fruit, impartiality and sincerity?

Apply this to yourself, by looking at your life: Do your actions produce disorder and evil practices? Or, do your actions, does your life, show purity, peace, gentleness, reasonableness, mercy, good fruit, objectivity?

Now, you can examine yourself, but it would be better to ask a close friend.



[1] Swinoll, Charles R. The Strong Family. Read in Swindoll’s Ultimate Book of Illustrations & Quotes. Thomas Nelson. Nashville, TN 1998. Page 613.

Our Tongue is a Dangerous Weapon (James 3:1-12)

James 3:1-12: Our Tongue is a Dangerous Weapon

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Sunday, May 17, 2020

I want to tell you about a weapon that causes a lot of harm. This weapon is allowed on airplanes, you don’t have to check the weapon prior to boarding the plane. This weapon is allowed in schools. The teachers try to keep this weapon controlled by the students, but the teachers cannot, and do not, remove the weapon. The weapon is in the White House and all the other places of government. They have this weapon in other countries as well. Infants have this weapon, though they have not mastered its use. This weapon has been around as long as humanity. This weapon is the tongue.

The tongue allows us to form words.

Words can make us laugh.

The tongue forms words and words can make us cry.

Words can hurt.

Words can lie:

When I was about 4 years old my dad got a new car. My dad worked for a company that provided company cars for their employees. Now I was on the sidewalk in the front yard when my dad arrived home. I saw the car and thought, “this car would look better with a stripe down the side.” I had some keys which somehow, I had acquired. My parents were about to regret that I had acquired those keys. I took a key and scratched the car all the way down the side. Later on, my dad would mention what happened and I said that the cat did it. My dad always knew that the cat didn’t do this and later on the truth would come out. My point is that I lied. With my tongue I could have told the truth, but I didn’t.

Words can share important information.

Words can make us feel good.

Words come from the tongue.

Let’s read James 3:1-12 and see what James says about the tongue.

Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment. For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well. Now if we put the bits into the horses’ mouths so that they will obey us, we direct their entire body as well. Look at the ships also, though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, are still directed by a very small rudder wherever the inclination of the pilot desires. So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things.

See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell. For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by the human race. But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; 10 from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. 11 Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water? 12 Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Nor can salt water produce fresh.

  1. In verse 1 James introduces a way the tongue is commonly used, to teach.
    1. Do not be too quick to become a teacher.
    2. By this time, it has been at most 15 years since Jesus’ resurrection. The church was young.
    3. Maybe they had a problem appointing teachers too hastily.
    4. James says that teachers will be judged more strictly.
      1. Wow! James used the “J” word. James talks about judgment.
      2. The Bible affirms that there will be a judgment and the New Testament affirms a high bar for spiritual leadership. To ignore that and teach something contrary to Scripture is a grievous mistake.
    5. In verse 2 James gets to the argument about our speech.
      1. Notice how James doesn’t talk down to them. He uses the inclusive first person pronoun “we.” We all stumble. We all mess up. He includes himself.
      2. Look at the rest of the verse: If anyone is not at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check.
      3. James introduces the idea that what we say can control our whole body.
  • In verses 3-12 James talks about the tongues ability to cause great danger and our lack of ability to tame the tongue.
    1. Look at verses 3-4:
      1. We can control big horses with a bit in their mouth.
      2. We can control big ships with a small rudder.
    2. In verse 5 James says the tongue is small too. The tongue is small like the rudder that guides a ship or the bit that guides the horse. Yet, the tongue causes great danger.
    3. James compares the tongue to the spark that starts a forest fire.

A fire can begin with just a small spark, but it can grow to destroy a city. A fire reportedly started in the O’Leary barn in Chicago at 8:30 p.m., October 8, 1871; and because that fire spread, over 100,000 people were left homeless, 17,500 buildings were destroyed, and 300 people died. It cost the city over $400 million.

  1. How are you doing right about now?
  2. Have you started any forest fires with your words? Proverbs 26:20: for lack of wood the fire goes out and where there is no whisper the gossip stops.
  3. The tongue forms our words and our words can start a fire of gossip. Have you been guilty of this? Have we been guilty of this? These days this can also happen through Facebook, email, twitter, or text messaging.
  4. We all best take this warning. We all should be careful with our communication.
  5. A few years ago, I was upset with the way someone said something in a meeting. I didn’t say anything for a few days, but then after sitting on it for so many days; I realized that I was not going to let it go. I sat down and typed a very harsh email to the individual. I don’t think the email said anything untrue, yet it was too much truth and too little grace. It was unloving.
  6. Our conversations can get this way, even in church. We may have a responsibility in the church and others must help with this responsibility. Well, when we think that someone else is not taking it seriously, we let them have it, all truth, and no grace. That is wrong. That is really what James is writing about, being hurtful to someone else.
  7. I don’t know if you have seen the movie, The King’s Speech. There is an amazing moment where the main character enters a room and sees his daughter (the young, not yet Queen, Elizabeth) watching the news on filmstrip. She is watching Hitler speak in German. “What’s he saying daddy,” she asks. He says, “I don’t know but he seems to be saying it well.”
    1. Destructive regimes use the voice and use the pen. They use words, they use the tongue, and they start a forest fire.
    2. That is why James writes verse 6: And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell. 
  8. Skip to verse 9: with the tongue we praise our Lord and we curse men.
  9. When I was in youth group I was told that this passage is where we get instructions not to use curse words, or cuss words, or swear words.
  10. This passage is not about any particular list of words. This passage is about using our words against people.
  11. Sure, if I am using a word that is generally considered a cuss word against someone else; this verse applies.
  12. James concludes this passage by stating that blessing and cursing should not come out of the same mouth.

Close: Words can curse or bless

The Language of God, Francis S. Collins pages 159-160

Francis Collins writes:

My Junior year in college, 1968, was full of deeply troubling events. Soviet tanks had rolled into Czechoslovakia; the Vietnam War had escalated with the Tet offensive; and Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King had been assassinated. But at the very end of the year, another much more positive event occurred that electrified the world— the launch of Apollo 8. It was the first manned space craft to orbit the moon. Frank Borman, James Lovell, and William Anders traveled through space for three days that December, while the world held its breath. Then they began to circle the moon, taking the first human photos of Earth rising over the moon’s surface, reminding us all just how small and fragile our planet appears from the vantage point of space. On Christmas Eve, the three astronauts broadcast a live television transmission from their capsule. After commenting on their experiences and on the starkness of the lunar landscape, they jointly read the first ten verses of Genesis 1. As an agnostic on the way to becoming an Atheist at the time, I still remember the surprising sense of awe that settled over me as those unforgettable words— “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” —- reached my ears from 240,000 miles away, spoken by men who were scientists and engineers, but for whom these words had obvious powerful meaning.

Shortly afterward, the famous American atheist Madalyn Murray O’Hair filed suit against NASA for permitting this Christmas Eve reading of the Bible. She argued that U.S. astronauts, who are federal employees, should be banned from public prayer in space. Though the courts ultimately rejected her suit, NASA discouraged such references to faith in future flights. Thus, Buzz Aldrin of Apollo 11 arranged to take communion on the surface of the moon during the first human lunar landing in 1969, but that event was never publicly reported.

The astronauts used their words to bless, while the atheist used words to curse.

Let’s use our words to bless. Let’s pray that we can use our words to bless. You’ll mess up, we all will, when we do, use our words to apologize then try to do better.




[1] The Holy Bible : New International Version. electronic ed. Grand Rapids : Zondervan, 1996, c1984, S. Jas 3:6

Hannah, a Godly Mother (1 Samuel chapters 1 and 2)

Mother’s Day Sermon

Hannah, a Godly Mother (1 Samuel chapters 1 and 2) Prepared and Preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, Ohio on Sunday, May, 10, 2020

The mother has an important part in God’s plan. Would Samuel have been born apart from Hannah’s prayers?

The story is told of William C. Burns, the man who mightily blessed Hudson Taylor and Murray McCheyne, of how when he was only a boy of seventeen he visited the city of Glasgow with his mother for the first time in his life. The mother suddenly lost her boy in the crowd and after many anxious moments discovered him in an alley with his head buried in his hands, sobbing with a broken heart.

“What ails you, lad?” asked the Scottish mother. “Oh, Mither, Mither,” said the country boy, “the thud of these Christless feet on the way to hell breaks my heart.” One can understand how he grew up to be the mighty revivalist of Scotland and China.

—Alliance Weekly[1]

Prayer, what does it matter? Seeking the Lord, who cares, dependence upon the Lord, not that important, is it? Well, obviously I think all of these things in our lives are very important. Prayers, seeking the Lord, dependence on God are important as they affect our whole life. But when you are a parent these affect more than you, but your children, even if your children are not born yet. Unfortunately, in my ministry I have worked with children who haven’t had godly parents. Unfortunately, I have worked with children who have had absent parents. It is always refreshing to see a good family. It is refreshing for me to see a family that puts God first. I know there are many families in this church that seek the Lord, depend upon God and have a vibrant prayer life.

I am not the only one who thinks that prayer and seeking the Lord are very important, in the Old Testament there was a woman who sought the Lord and she was rewarded because of this. I know as soon as I mentioned the Old Testament you thought of Hannah in 1 Samuel. But for those of you who haven’t thought of Hannah, she is the one I am thinking of. Hannah was a very godly woman. I want to talk about her for a few minutes and I intend to show you that she was a godly mother and because she was a godly mother she gave birth to one of the greatest Old Testament prophets. The prophet Samuel ordained King Saul and King David, Israel’s first two kings. Because of Hannah we have the Old Testament narratives of first and second Samuel. Let me explain this as we walk through chapter 1. But let me add a note, a very important note: As I talk about 1 Samuel 1 I will talk about Hannah’s devotion to the Lord and her husband’s support. My challenge is that you also are devoted to the Lord. But just because you are devoted to the Lord this doesn’t mean that your kids will also grow up to be godly. If you have an adult or teenage child that you are struggling with it is easy to blame yourself. But I know of parents that have been and are very godly and yet their children rebel.

My theme:

Hannah went to the Lord with her need and so should we.

We will read 1 Samuel 1 as we talk about it.

  • Let’s talk about Hannah’s devotion to the Lord.
    • Let’s read verses 1-8: Now there was a certain man from Ramathaim-zophim from the hill country of Ephraim, and his name was Elkanah the son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephraimite. He had two wives: the name of one was Hannah and the name of the other Peninnah; and Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children. Now this man would go up from his city yearly to worship and to sacrifice to the Lord of hosts in Shiloh. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were priests to the Lord there. When the day came that Elkanah sacrificed, he would give portions to Peninnah his wife and to all her sons and her daughters; but to Hannah he would give a double portion, for he loved Hannah, but the Lord had closed her womb. Her rival, however, would provoke her bitterly to irritate her, because the Lord had closed her womb. It happened year after year, as often as she went up to the house of the Lord, she would provoke her; so she wept and would not eat. Then Elkanah her husband said to her, “Hannah, why do you weep and why do you not eat and why is your heart sad? Am I not better to you than ten sons?”
    • In the first couple of verses we have an introduction to the passage. We have a little bit about their lifestyle. Hannah was married to Elkanah. Elkanah had two wives.
      • It is most likely from context and wording that Elkanah was married to Hannah first. But when Hannah could not have children he took a second wife named Peninnah. Hannah means “grace” and Peninnah means “ruby.”
      • It was important back in those times for a man and woman to be able to have children. Back then children grew up and were expected to take care of their parents as they grew older. Children helped with the family business as well.
  • I believe we still expect children to help take care of their parents as they get older. My dad set a very good example for me. I remember many Saturdays watching my dad fix his mom’s car, fix the plumbing in the basement of her house, fix the flooring, electric and much more. Then, my grandmother lived with us later as well.
  • The IVP Bible Backgrounds Commentary shows that a barren woman would often be shamed/discarded, or ostracized, or given a lower status. Mesopotamian prayers and legal texts show that this was common throughout the middle east.
  • So, the text shows us that Hannah was barren. This was a big deal. It was tragic.
  • As we talk about Hannah’s commitment to the Lord, we must also talk about Elkinah’s commitment to the Lord. Verse 3 shows that Elkinah would take his family to Shiloh to worship and make sacrifices. He gave sacrifices to his two wives and to his children.
  • Now, this was a big commitment. Shiloh was about 15 miles from Jerusalem and Shiloh was about a two day journey. Now many of you are thinking, “Why Shiloh? What about Jerusalem?” I am glad you asked. At this point Jerusalem had not yet been conquered by King David. So, at this point the Ark of the Covenant, Israel’s temple and worship center were in Shiloh.
  • But as stated, it was a two day journey. How are you guys doing taking your family to church? When I was a kid we went to church several times a year but sometimes only two or three times a year. We would go to church on Mother’s day because my dad knew that was what mom wanted.
  • I know it is hard to get up on Sunday mornings, the devil makes you extra tired. But it was a two day walk for them!
  • Now you may think: “It was only once a year.” You are right, this is only talked about once a year. But it was at least 4 days of travel and they probably stayed over a week. Then there was the cost of the sacrifices.
  • So, men take a lesson from Elkanah—lead your family in worship.
  • Verse 5 shows that Elkanah loved Hannah more. But also that “the Lord had closed her womb.”
  • Major principle: The Lord is in control. I was at a doctor’s office and there was a sign—“Physicians treat, God heals.”
  • Verses 6-8 show the pain that Hannah experienced being barren. Peninnah is described as a rival. She would provoke Hannah as Hannah had no children. It is possible that she provoked Hannah because Elkanah loved Hannah more.
  • So, the Scriptures show that God controls the womb and now Hannah believes that. She believes it so much that she spends extra time in prayer about a son.
  • Hannah prays.
    • let’s read verses 9-18:
    • Then Hannah rose after eating and drinking in Shiloh. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat by the doorpost of the temple of the Lord. 10 She, greatly distressed, prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly. 11 She made a vow and said, “O Lord of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and a razor shall never come on his head.” 12 Now it came about, as she continued praying before the Lord, that Eli was watching her mouth. 13 As for Hannah, she was speaking in her heart, only her lips were moving, but her voice was not heard. So Eli thought she was drunk. 14 Then Eli said to her, “How long will you make yourself drunk? Put away your wine from you.” 15 But Hannah replied, “No, my lord, I am a woman oppressed in spirit; I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have poured out my soul before the Lord. 16 Do not consider your maidservant as a worthless woman, for I have spoken until now out of my great concern and provocation.” 17 Then Eli answered and said, “Go in peace; and may the God of Israel grant your petition that you have asked of Him.” 18 She said, “Let your maidservant find favor in your sight.” So the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad.
    • She prays for a son. She prays so intensely that Eli, the priest, thinks she is drunk. She is praying with her mouth but her lips are moving without sounds coming out.
    • Now, Hannah prays for a son but also makes a vow. If the Lord gives her a son, she will dedicate him to the Lord his whole life, and no razor will touch his head.
    • Even beyond the Bible vows were common in the ancient Middle East: usually these went to a deity. This includes Hittite, Ugaritic, Mesopotamian, and less often, Egyptian. In Ugaritic literature King Keret makes a vow in requesting a wife who could produce offspring. In return he offered gold and silver corresponding to his bride’s weight.
    • Now, that is the Nazirite vow which is usually a temporary vow but she promises that Samuel will have that vow his whole
    • It is not that this was uncommon: gifts of children to the temple are evidenced in Sumerian texts from the beginning of the second millennium.
    • Have you ever wanted something so very badly? Well, Hannah did in this case so she went to the One who could ultimately provide it.
  • The Lord rewarded Hannah’s vow
    • Let’s read verses 19-20.
    • 19 Then they arose early in the morning and worshiped before the Lord, and returned again to their house in Ramah. And Elkanah had relations with Hannah his wife, and the Lord remembered her. 20 It came about in due time, after Hannah had conceived, that she gave birth to a son; and she named him Samuel, saying, “Because I have asked him of the Lord.”
    • God provided a baby and they name him Samuel. So, Hannah follows through and after the child was weaned she brings him to the temple.
    • So, Samuel was probably two to three years old when he was dedicated to the temple.
    • I read this and think, “That is amazing, she dedicates her son to serve in temple service his whole life.”
    • I am thinking it is quite likely there were more people to help raise Samuel than just Eli. And if you want, later on I encourage you to read 1 Samuel chapter 3. That tells about Samuel when he was about 12 years old.
    • But I don’t want Hannah’s dedication to go unnoticed. Mom’s care for their children unconditionally.
    • Mothers are committed, mothers love their children. This mother gave her child up to serve the Lord. She was that committed to the Lord. She knew the Lord will take care of her son.
  • Now, for a minute I want to talk about Elkinah’s support for Hannah.
    • Yes, Elkinah led them to the annual festival, or festivals but he also supported her in her turmoil.
    • Verse 8 is a verse that shows Elkanah’s support. Now we think, “what! What is he saying? He is better than ten sons.” Well it is possible what is meant is “don’t I treat you better than if you had ten sons.” Either way, he is trying to comfort her.
    • Then in verse 23, they have already given birth to the boy and it is time to sacrifice again. But she says, let me stay home until the boy is weaned. And what does Elkanah say? He supports her. He says do what seems best.
    • You know, Hannah made this vow to the Lord to dedicate the boy to God for his whole life. Elkanah could have made the vow invalid. According to Numbers 30:6-15 a husband can revoke a woman’s vow. But Elkanah doesn’t do this. He supports her.
    • They take the boy Samuel to Shiloh to minister before the Lord and Elkanah supports her decisions.
    • How are you guys doing with this? How are you doing with supporting your wife? How are you doing with supporting her emotionally when she may be going through hard times? How are you doing supporting her decisions?
    • I know many men who are unsupportive. I heard a counselor say it is possible that for a long time a marriage is dead. The two are living together but simply fulfilling the needs of life. That is not what God meant for in marriage. Marriage is supposed to be joyful and we are supposed to support each other.
    • I know that many of you are great supports for your wife as well.


There is great value in raising godly children. This value starts when moms and dads are seeking the Lord at home.

A mother in New England was helping pack a box to be sent to India. Her son, aged four, insisted on putting in an offering all his own, a little leaflet entitled “Come to Jesus.” His name was written on it with the little prayer, “May the one who gets this soon learn to love Jesus.” When the child’s leaflet reached that far-off land it was finally given to a Hindu priest who was teaching the missionaries the language. He took it without looking at it, but on his way back to his mountain home he thought of the leaflet, took it out, and read the writing on the outside.

The child’s prayer so touched him that he was then eager to read further. He soon gave up his idols and became a devoted missionary to his own people. Fifteen years after that, American missionaries visited his mountain village, and there found the converted Hindu priest with a congregation of fifteen hundred people who had learned to love Jesus as their Saviour, through the influence and teaching of that leaflet.

That 4 year old had to have learned it from his mother and father. We need godly mothers like Hannah. We need supportive fathers. Unfortunately, it is far too often that the mother teaches about faith and not the father. In this case it was Hannah who spent time in intense prayer, it was Hannah who made the vow, it was Hannah who went through the turmoil. But at least Elkanah was supportive.

Praise God for godly mothers. Praise God for a mother’s work.

A little boy looks up at you,

With eyes opened wide.

He puts his trusting hand in yours,

And something stirs inside

He leads you to the window,

Where you stand and stare …

A robin hops out on the lawn,

But you didn’t see it there.

Your mind is deep in thought;

The years are racing past.

A small hand moves in yours …

“Why do they grow so fast?”

Soon you’ll watch him go off to school,

So full of promise and hope;

And suddenly you can’t speak,

For the lump that’s in your throat.

Time will pass so quickly;

The days will turn to years.

You’ll treasure every moment;

All the laughter and the tears.

One day he’ll meet that special girl,

And want her for his wife.

He’ll take her hand in his,

And build a brand-new life.

Suddenly … your thoughts come back,

To all the living he’s not yet done.

You whisper a grateful prayer …

And embrace your tiny son.

—Patricia J. White[2]

I pray that you will seek the Lord in your life as Hannah did.

I do understand that for many of you this mother’s day may be sad. You have lost your mother, she has passed away. My prayers are with you. Or, maybe you have not been able to have children. Or, maybe you are single, you have a gift of celibacy. There is certainly such a thing as spiritual children. These are adults and children that you mentor and take on a parental roll with. And praise God for that. My prayers are for God’s comfort.

Let’s pray

Happy mother’s day

[1]Tan, P. L. (1996, c1979). Encyclopedia of 7700 illustrations : A treasury of illustrations, anecdotes, facts and quotations for pastors, teachers and Christian workers. Garland TX: Bible Communications.

[2]Tan, P. L. (1996, c1979). Encyclopedia of 7700 illustrations : A treasury of illustrations, anecdotes, facts and quotations for pastors, teachers and Christian workers. Garland TX: Bible Communications.

Our Faith is Validated by Our Works (James 2:14-26)

I have a very interesting quote about the growth of Christianity. I will use this often; the quote is from the fourth century.

Emperor Julian (332-63)

Atheism [Christianity]has been specially advanced through the loving service rendered to strangers, and through their care for the burial of the dead.  It is a scandal that there is not a single Jew who is a beggar, and that the godless Galileans care not only for their own poor but for ours as well; while those who belong to us look in vain for the help that we should render them.[1]

The early church grew by helping others, taking care of people.

I want to look at James 2:14-26 and show you that faith and good works must go together.

Read James 2:14-26

14 What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? 17 Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.

18 But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” 19 You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. 20 But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? 22 You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God. 24 You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 In the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.

  1. In verse 14 James give an exhortation by a question (verse 14).
    1. I actually count 6 questions in this passage. It seems that James communicated by questions.
    2. Notice in verse 14 James says “if a man ‘claims to’ or ‘says he has’ faith…”
    3. You see this is an example of a person saying they have faith. This is not something observable. This is not someone saying, “so and so has faith, I can tell.”
    4. But read the rest of verse 14: this man has no deeds. He has no good works. His actions don’t match his words. He claims to have faith but that is not observable.
    5. Answer the question. What do you think? Do you think it is good if a man or woman says they are a Christian, but their life doesn’t match up?
    6. To be a Christian means to be “like Christ” or “little Christ.”
    7. Some people are now calling themselves “Christ followers” in order to distinguish themselves from all the people who are “Christians” in name only.
    8. Read the next question: Can that faith save him?
    9. Now, let me ask you a question: Are we saved by works or are we saved by faith?
    10. When reading the Bible always remember that Scripture interprets Scripture. If we read Ephesians 2:8 it says we are saved by faith not by works. But Ephesians also says that we are saved for good works (Eph 2:10).
    11. So, I believe what James is really asking is: Do the works validate their faith? What we do should show we are Christians.
  2. In the next ten verses James gives 4 illustrations. One of those illustrations is a case study (verses 15-25).
    1. James gives us a very straightforward example. What good is it when we simply say, we’ll pray but we don’t help? Now, I know that many times you may not be able to physically help and prayer is very important. However, it is imperative that we do help as we can.
    2. Faith is dead without actions.
    3. Christians are the best and worst witnesses for and against Christianity. People are watching. People are watching now more than ever. As America’s culture becomes more and more secular this will allow Christians to shine. Or, this will allow Christians to look very bad to the world.
    4. Trouble is too many Christians, alleged Christians, don’t want to get their hands dirty.
    5. What do I mean?
    6. Many Americans are eager to send money but will not go help themselves.
    7. One way Americans are eager to send money but not get their hands dirty is that many times we are eager to pay towards a homeless shelter but not go and serve ourselves.
    8. There may be many reasons:
    9. It is in a bad section of town.
    10. We are too busy.
    11. It isn’t my gift.
    12. There is a book called: Same Kind of Different as Me.
    13. This book is a true story that follows two people’s paths in life until they meet up.
    14. One person was raised in a middle class white family. He grows up and becomes very successful and very wealthy.
    15. The second person is a poor uneducated black man. He grew up as a modern-day slave. His parents worked a farm and he did too. He experienced heavy racism. Eventually this man ran away. However, he never had been educated. He lived homeless and learned how to fend for himself.
    16. Eventually the wealthy white man, now married, is convinced by his wife to begin helping at a homeless shelter. They had committed their life to Christ and she wanted to go deeper. He was willing to give money, but she wanted to do more. So, they start helping at a homeless shelter. She then says that she wants to take one group from the homeless shelter to dinner and a play.
    17. Now, the relationship grows between this wealthy man and woman and this uneducated poor black man.
    18. The wealthy white man asks to take the uneducated black man out to breakfast. At breakfast the black man asks, “Why are you doing this?” the white man says, “To be your friend.” The black man says, “I like to fish, but I notice when white people fish they catch and release. I don’t want a ‘catch and release’ friendship.”
    19. Well, this wealthy husband and wife decided to do more than give money and because they did they touched many lives. One of those lives was that uneducated black man. Later on, they formed a friendship that will last the rest of their lives and has lasted the rest of her life, as he was there for the woman’s death. The wealthy white man and the uneducated black man published this book together.
    20. Let’s go back to James’ illustrations.
    21. James says he will show his faith by what he does.
    22. In verse 19, James begins to make the case that our belief doesn’t mean anything without actions. Even the demons have orthodox beliefs. Even the demons believe in one God, and they shudder.
    23. In verses 21-25, James give some Old Testament evidence.
    24. Abraham’s faith was verified by what he did, being willing to offer up Isaac.
    25. Verse 24: a person is justified by what he does, not by faith alone.
    26. Now, it appears that James uses “justify” in a different way than Paul does. Justify usually means to declare righteous. But from context it appears that James uses this verb to mean that their faith is declared right. James is saying that your faith is validated by your works.
    27. You are not saved by works, but your works validate your faith.
    28. Verse 25 shows that Rahab’s faith was validated by her aid to the Israelite spies.
  • The exhortation (verse 26)
    1. The body is dead without the spirit.
    2. So, we also have not real faith without works. Our faith is dead, it has no life, without works.

Chuck Swindoll shares:

Persistence pays.

It’s a costly investment, no question about it. But the dividends are so much greater than the original outlay that you’ll almost forget the price. And if the final benefits are really significant, you’ll wonder why you ever hesitated to begin with.

A primary reason we are tempted to give up is other people . . . you know, the less than 20 percent whose major role it is in life to encourage others to toss in the towel. For whatever reason. Those white-flag specialists never run out of excuses you and I ought to use for quitting. The world’s full of “why-sweat-it” experts.

I’m sure Anne Mansfield Sullivan had a host of folks telling her that the blind, 7-year-old brat wasn’t worth it. But Anne persisted—in spite of temper tantrums, physical abuse, mealtime madness, and even thankless parents. In her heart she knew it was worth all the pain. Was it ever! Within two years her pupil, Helen Keller, was able to read and write in braille. She ultimately graduated cum laude from Radcliffe College (where Miss Sullivan had “spelled” each lecture into her hand), and Helen Keller devoted the rest of her life to aiding the deaf and the blind.

Want another for instance? Well, this particular man was told that if he hadn’t written a book by age thirty-five, chances were good he never would. He was almost forty, I should add. There were others who reminded him that for every book published, ninety-five became dust-collecting manuscripts. But he persisted. Even though he was warned that stories like he wanted to write weren’t popular. Nor were they considered worthy of top prizes in the literary field (his work later won the Pulitzer). Hollywood hotshots also told him such a book certainly held no dramatic possibilities. But James Michener hung tough. He refused to wash the desire out of his hair as he persisted. And he presented to the public Tales of the South Pacific. Oh, by the way, the Broadway critics had warned, “It’ll never make a musical.”

How many military battles would never have been won without persistence? How many men and women would never have graduated from school . . . or changed careers in midstream . . . or stayed together in marriage . . . or reared a mentally disabled child? Think of the criminal cases that would never have been solved without the relentless persistence of detectives. How about the great music that would never have been finished, the grand pieces of art that would never have graced museums, cathedrals, and monuments the world over? Back behind the impeccable beauty of each work is a dream that wouldn’t die mixed with the dogged determination of a genius of whom this indifferent world is not worthy.

Think also of the speeches, the sermons, the books that have shaped thinking, infused new hope, prompted fresh faith, and aroused the will to win. For long and lonely hours away from the applause—even the awareness—of the public, the one preparing that verbal missile persisted all alone with such mundane materials as dictionary, thesaurus, historical volumes, biographical data, and a desk full of other research works. The same could be said of those who labor to find cures for diseases. And how about those who experiment with inventions?

I once heard about a couple of men who were working alongside the inventor Thomas Edison. Weary to the point of exasperation, one man sighed, “What a waste! We have tried no less than seven hundred experiments and nothing has worked. We are not a bit better off than when we started.”

With an optimistic twinkle in his eye, Edison quipped, “Oh, yes, we are! We now know seven hundred things that won’t work. We’re closer than we’ve ever been before.” With that, he rolled up his sleeves and plunged back in.

If necessity is the mother of invention, persistence is certainly the father.

God honors it. Maybe because He models it so well. His love for His people, the Jews, persists to this very day, even though they have disobeyed Him more often than they have loved Him in return. And just think of His patient persistence in continually reaching out to the lost, “not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). And how about His persistence with us? You and I can recall one time after another when He could have (and should have!) wiped us out of the human race, but He didn’t. Why? The answer is in Philippians 1:6:

He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (NIV)

The One who began will continue right up to the end. Being the original finisher, He will persist. I’m comforted to know He won’t be talked out of a plan that has to do with developing me. I need help! Don’t you?[2]

Persist in good works.



[1] Neill, Stephen. A History of Christian Missions, Second Edition, Revised by Owen Chadwick. 1991. Pages 38.

[2] Excerpted from Come Before Winter and Share My Hope, Copyright © 1985, 1988, 1994 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.