Have you ever felt like you were the only one serving God? Perhaps you are the only one in your family that is a Christian? Are you the only person at work who is a Christian? When we feel alone, it can be challenging to remain faithful to God, but we still need to do it (I Cor. 15:58; Rev. 2:10b).
You might find it ironic for me to say that if you are the only one who is serving God in your immediate family, or at your job, etc., you are not alone! Yet, this is true. God catalogs several who served Him and had to do it alone.
Joseph was one who served God alone. After being sold to Potiphar (Gen. 39), he prospered in the house. However, there came a day when Potiphar’s wife lusted after him and tried seducing him “day by day.” However, Joseph would not yield to the temptation (Gen. 39:7-13; I Jn. 2:15-17; I Cor. 6:18). No doubt, he felt alone, but thankfully, he did not give in to her and refused to sin with her.
Mordecai was another who had to stand alone. When he refused to bow to Haman, the king’s servants and others “spake daily” to him about this action (Est. 3:2-4). Yet, Mordecai refused to give in as he was approached daily about bowing to Haman.
As we continue to read about Joseph, we see that things got worse for him after refusing Potiphar’s wife. He ended up in prison for the next two years (Gen. 39:20-41:9). Yet, after this, he was promoted to Pharaoh’s second-in-command (Gen. 41:39-40). After it was over, Joseph gave God credit for putting him in this position (Gen. 45:5, 7-8, 50:20). He recognized God’s providence. Think about what might have happened had Joseph yielded to temptation in Potiphar’s house! Perhaps he would not have ended up in the same place!
Similarly, Mordecai suffered for his decision early on. He suffered as he learned about a law going into effect that would see his death and the death of his nation (Est. 3:12-4:1). Yet, God meant to turn this into a blessing. By the end of the book, we see Haman dead and Mordecai serving as second-in-command in Persia (Est. 8:2, 10:3). Just as in Joseph’s day, God was able to reverse the fortune of Mordecai.
God still knows how to bless us. When we stand alone for God, we know that there will be people who will not be happy with that decision (Jn. 15:18-20). Yet, it is the best decision! Have you given in to the crowd? Repent of this and turn back to God! Are you worried that being a Christian means standing alone at times? Worry no more about it because it does! Even though one might stand alone among men, know God is faithful and will not leave you (Jas. 4:7-8). He will not let you down (Heb. 13:5-6). Learn a lesson from Joseph, Mordecai, and many others in Scripture who knew that following the Lord, even when others do not, is the best decision we can make.
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
“Remember Lot’s Wife”
Luke 17:32 is a short verse, and it has reference to what happened to Lot’s wife as the family fled from Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19. As Lot and his family were leaving (II Pet. 2:6-9), they were warned not to look back to the city lest they “be consumed” (Gen. 19:17). And as humans are wont to do, when Lot’s wife was told not to look back, she did that very thing and “became a pillar of salt” (Gen. 19:26). Having been promised safety by God through obedience, when she sinned, she paid the penalty for her disobedience. Certainly, when we think about our lives and the experiences that we have had; we can see that remembering is vital to our not repeating the same mistakes over and over again. Let us consider Lot’s wife and learn lessons from her error.
Luke 17:32 teaches us that God keeps His promises. Just as God promised destruction on whoever looked back to Sodom in Genesis 19, God has promised eternal damnation for those who do not know God and do not obey His word. Paul said, “Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power” (II Thess. 1:6-9). God has promised “rest” for the people of God (Heb. 4:9). God has also promised an eternity of living in the presence of God and Christ in Heaven to those who are His children (Jn. 14:1-6; Rev. 7:15-17). Seeing that God kept His word in the Old Testament, we know He will keep it today (Rom. 2:7-11)!
In remembering Lot’s wife, we learn that God will not allow the wicked to continue indefinitely. Sodom and Gomorrah came to an end in Genesis 19. When God was through, there was nothing left but ashes and smoke (Gen. 19:28)! The lesson we must remember is that regardless of the sin, whether “public” or “private”, God knows about it, and we will answer for it. In Numbers 32:23, we learn, “Be sure your sin will find you out.” Solomon said, “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good” (Prov. 15:3). Yes, God knows when we have sinned, and we will answer for it if we do not repent and turn to God (Ecc. 12:13; Rom. 2:16; I Tim. 5:24-25; Acts 3:19)!!
By remembering Lot’s wife we learn that just because a place seems great, this does not tell you what is on the inside! Lot, in Genesis 13, “pitched his tent toward Sodom” because he saw the well-watered plain (v. 12). By Genesis 14:12, he was in the city, and by Genesis 19, he was sitting in the gate of the city. Though rich, this city was wicked because of homosexuality and simply put, they were “sinners before the Lord exceedingly” (Gen. 13:13, 19:5). This “vexed” Lot’s righteous soul (II Pet. 2:7). Yet, remember that he went there voluntarily because of the physical goods he thought he could enjoy! Let us not be fooled into thinking that physical prosperity equals spiritually soundness! Many times, it is exactly the opposite!
“What Prevents Me From Being Baptized?”
The above question was asked by an Ethiopian many years ago. As Philip preached Christ to him (Acts 8:35), they came to a certain water and “the eunuch said, See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized? … and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him” (Acts 8:36-39). The question the eunuch asked is still valid. What is preventing you from being baptized?
Is false teaching preventing you? Many people today are taught that baptism is not necessary for salvation. They are told to simply believe or to say a sinner’s prayer for salvation. Isn’t it telling to see that when the preachers of the New Testament taught folks, those listening wanted to be baptized! Yet, when many preach today, people do NOT want to be baptized!
Please read Acts 8 and notice that when Philip preached Christ to the people in Samaria (Acts 8:5), he taught them about “the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ” and baptism (Acts 8:12). “Simon the sorcerer believed, and after being baptized, he continued with Philip” (Acts 8:13). When Philip spoke to the eunuch and “preached unto him Jesus” (Acts 8:35); the first time he saw plenty of water, he wanted to be baptized. Are we seeing a pattern? The teaching concerning baptism began with Christ (Matt. 28:19; Mk. 16:16). The apostles and disciples of the Lord then carried this message to the world (Acts 2:38, 10:48, 18:8, 22:16; I Pet. 3:21; Col. 2:12; Gal. 3:26-27). When the people heard the New Testament heroes preach, they wanted to be baptized. What is hindering you from being baptized?
Are friends and family preventing us? Depending upon our friends and family, they can pressure us to do the right things or the wrong things. Have they pressured us into not obeying the Lord? The Bible says: “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). Jesus said: “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Matt. 10:37). In order to please our Lord, we must obey His command to be baptized for the remission of sins regardless of what others might say about us (Phil. 3:8). What is hindering you from being baptized?
Does the urge for popularity prevent us? It is not popular to be a Christian. In fact, Jesus promised His apostles that men would hate them for no other reason than they served the Lord (Jn. 15:18-20). Peter said that some men would be “surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery” (I Pet. 4:4). We need to decide whether we wish for popularity with this world or to be the friend of God. We cannot have it both ways (Jas. 4:4)!
Could selfishness be preventing us? Some people refuse to do anything unless it is their idea. Could that be my attitude? Have I not been baptized simply because I didn’t want to? The Bible says that I need to put away such attitudes and place Christ’s kingdom first (Matt. 6:33). I need to love God even more than my own life (Lk. 14:26-27).
Whatever is hindering you from being baptized, realize that this hindrance is keeping you from enjoying spiritual blessings (Eph. 1:3); from being in a covenant relationship with Christ (Gal. 3:27); from having your sins forgiven (Acts 2:38, 22:16); from being a child of God (Rom. 8:16-17); and from a home in Heaven (Col. 3:1-4; Rev. 2:10). Is this really worth it?
Once You Admit It, Will You Stop It?
There was a cartoon several years ago in the Saturday Review of Literature in which little George Washington had cut down the famous cherry tree. He made his admission that he did it -- after all, he “cannot tell a lie.” Also pictured was his exasperated father, who said, “All right, so you admit it! You always admit it! The question is, when are you going to stop doing it?”
The cartoon was amusing, but it makes a good point that deserves our attention. Once we admit that we have committed certain sins, will we stop? Perhaps you know of those who readily admit that they are a sinner and in need of salvation. At the same time, these people will not take that next step, which is to turn from those sins and obey the Gospel (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38). Many have said that one of the most difficult aspects of any problem is admitting that you have one. It seems like some people have “conquered” this fear of admitting their sin, but will do nothing beyond this. A friend of mine said when it gets to this point, the person is no longer confessing sin, but bragging! I agree.
In the Bible, we learn that God not only demands that men admit they are sinners but also demands that men act! In Old Testament days, Solomon said, “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy” (Prov. 28:13). Notice please that God expects men to confess AND forsake the sin in order to have mercy. It is not enough to merely confess (admit?) the sin and then go on living in sin! In New Testament days, Christ said, “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Lk. 13:3). What does “repentance” mean? It means turning away from the way you used to live, and living in accordance with Christ’s will! An example of repentance is found in the book of Matthew. Christ spoke a parable concerning two sons who were told by their father to go work in the vineyard. One son said he would go but did not. The other refused, but later “repented and went” (Matt. 21:29). Read Luke 15:11-21, and see another son who was in the same position. In repentance, we see one not only recognizing the guilt of his sin and confessing sin but also stopping sinful behavior!
When the apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians, he told them that he knew what he wrote in the first letter would make them sorry, but he rejoiced because that godly sorrow led them to repentance (II Cor. 7:9-10). Notice that when we sorrow over an act that we know is wrong, we still have not done what is right! Godly sorrow leads us to repentance, but we must still repent!
When one learns that he has sinned in the sight of God, he must not only admit/confess the sin, not only be sorry about the sin but also turn from sin and do what is right! Only then can one be in a right relationship with God.
Dear friend, examine your life. Are there things you are doing which contradict the will of God? In what areas of life are you guilty of sin? In those cases, not only must you face up to the fact that you are guilty, but then also take the necessary steps to get out of that sin. If you’re outside of Christ, then waste no time in repenting of your sins, confessing Christ as the Son of God and being baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:36-38, 8:36-38; Mk. 16:16). If you’ve done those things already, but have been caught up in various sins, then turn from your error in repentance, confess those things and pray for God’s forgiveness (Acts 8:22; I Jn. 1:9). It is not enough to admit you have a problem. You must stop the sin and do what is right (Isa. 1:16-17)! God is longsuffering. Therefore, let us repent and live for Him (II Pet. 3:9; II Cor. 5:14-15).
A Second Chance
When growing up, many of us remember being offered “second chances.” Little children play games, and sometimes say, “do-over!” I think about second chances when I think of that beloved “delete” key that is attached to my computer! How many times I have needed a “do over” in writing, and found the “delete” key a welcome sight! In fact, computers have an option called “undo” where we can go back to an earlier version of our document. In many aspects of life, it seems we can have second chances.
Yet, are we really providing people with “second chances” when we speak of a “do over”, an “undo” option, or a “delete” key? In truth, we cannot re-live and readjust the mistakes made in life. We cannot go back in time and relive the past so as to not make the mistake we made. The best we can do in such cases as a “do-over” is to reenact the event and change the mistake! Whether we speak of sporting events, computer work, etc., the best we can do is pretend like the mistake did not happen, for we all recognize that it happened! Time moves in only one direction, so man cannot truly go back and offer people a “second chance.”
Yet, unlike the examples above, we see that in Christ, we truly have a second chance! This is because in Christ, we can have forgiveness of sins. In such forgiveness, it is not merely “pretending” that a sin has not occurred and retracing our steps so as to avoid the sin. In the case of forgiveness, Christ actually will erase the guilt of sin and make the filthy sinner clean! This is what Peter taught when he told the Jews, “Repent therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out ...” (Acts 3:19). Isaiah said, “though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow, though they are red like crimson, they shall become as wool” (Isa. 1:18). Yes, Christ is the only One who can truly offer people a “second chance”!
Christ came into the world, and by the shedding of His blood, offers a way by which man can be saved and free from the guilt of sin (Matt. 26:26; Rev. 1:5). Does this action erase a man’s history? By no means! Sins (acts contrary to God’s will, I Jn. 3:4; Jas. 4:17) have been committed by man (Rom. 3:23). Yet, Christ is willing to forgive us and will erase the guilt of our sin when we accept His conditions for forgiveness in loving faith and obedience (Mk. 16:16). Christ allows us a true “second chance”!
There is a reason why Christ calls being born into His kingdom being “born again” (Jn. 3:3, 5; I Pet. 1:23). It is because in Christ we have an opportunity to truly start afresh, and begin again. Having been baptized into Christ, our sins are washed away, our guilt is no longer over us, and we become “as white as snow”! Truly, Christ offers a “second chance,” but we need to take advantage of His offer while we still can (II Cor. 6:2)!
No man can offer what Christ offers us; because with man, we are only pretending! No one can truly go back in time. However, Christ offers us true forgiveness, true pardon, and “newness of life” (Rom. 6:3-4)!
How thankful I am for a “delete” key on the computer! Only God Himself knows how many mistakes I have made on this short document! Yet, I am even more grateful for God sending His Son to die for me (Jn. 3:16). Through Him, I can have true forgiveness, a real “second chance” and a home in Heaven!