Proof Is Derived Through Perseverance

Jesus descended from a mountain top where He selected the twelve, “whom also he named apostles” (Luke 6:13). Having arrived in the plain, our Lord was met by a great multitude of people out of all Judaea, Jerusalem, and the sea coast of Tyre and Sidon. They were there to hear and for healing; “which came to hear him, and to be healed of their diseases” (vs.17). Having spoken to them on a multitude of subjects, in verse 39-49, He enlightened them to at least five basic principles of fruitfulness. We have already addressed four of five, “Progress is dictated by your partner”, “Promotion is determined by your professor”, “Pride is destroyed by your perception” and “Product is the display of one’s person.” At this time, I want to enumerate on the fifth.

Proof is Derived Through Perseverance

Luke 6:46-49 “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.”

When considering the fourth aspect of fruit bearing, we discover that it is imperative that we remember that God has put into place certain laws and principles that cannot be broken, made invalid, or ignored! In our approach to the fifth principle of fruit bearing, we discover that those laws are still in effect! God’s law will always prove to be relevant and in force; to think otherwise is to assure oneself of an undesirable end!

In this particular text, our Lord will build upon the previous thought or principle of fruit bearing; “Product is the display of one’s person.” Jesus pointed out that good fruit comes from the contents of a good heart, and corrupt fruit comes from the contents of an evil heart. In essence, the fruit is nothing more than a revelation of the true nature of the person. Our Lord brings the previous text to a close with these words, “for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh” (verse 45). In other words, the things that are uttered from the lips are the overflow of the inner man, and the nature of the overflow depicts the true nature of the man.

Our Lord opened the next thought magnifying the utterance of certain men’s lips; “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord.” While it is true that the utterance depicts the nature of the heart, it is imperative that one discern the nature of the utterance with respect to truthfulness. Those that are void of discernment assume that all that call Jesus Lord, will go to heaven, but our Lord said, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). Within our text, Jesus said that there is an element of people that are respectful with their lips, but not responsible with their lives. They talk the talk, but don’t walk the walk! As a means of discernment, Jesus will set forth the test of perseverance to prove the validity of the utterance which in turn reveals the true nature of one’s heart.

The Reason For Testing

“why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not”

The reason for testing is that there is a discrepancy between the declaration of the lips and the dedication of the life! This is very apparent from the Lord’s use of the word, “why” which is an interrogative pronoun used in direct or indirect questions. Those, to whom our Lord is making reference, have properly declared aloud that Jesus is the supreme authority, controller, and master of life and yet, their life style gives clear evidence that they have rejected the principles and commandments that He has set forth in His Word. You will note from the phrase in verse 47, “cometh to me, and heareth my sayings” and verse 49, “he that heareth”; the discrepancy between lips and life doesn’t stem from the absence of knowledge or understanding. Both individuals “heareth.” The word not only means to hear in various senses or come to the ears, but also has the thought of understanding; “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin” (James 4:17). The fact that both heard, reveals that the real problem stems from man’s heart and not his head!

The Regions Of Testing

“laid the foundation on a rock . . . without a foundation built an house upon the earth”

The testing process will be that of contrast; Jesus said, “I will shew you to whom he is like.” The word “shew” means to exhibit under the eyes, to instruct or admonish. Jesus exhibits the activities of two different individuals with respect to two areas! The first area of investigation is that of a foundation; does one exist? Jesus makes it very clear that while both men will build a house; both men didn’t take the time to lay a foundation! One man has a house with a foundation and one has a house without a foundation. There is one thing that we must be mindful of; within this text, there is a difference between “a rock”, and “a foundation.” I believe that Jesus’ reference to the foundation that must precede the building process is that of faith! While both hear, both don’t enact faith in what they heard; “For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it” (Hebrews 4:2). Listen to the words of Stuart Holden, “The man who digs deep must throw out the earth as he digs, and rid himself of that which prevents his naked soul attaching itself to the Rock. He must renounce that which comes between himself and the Saviour, and in such loss he will find eternal gain.” It is only by the means of faith that one can attach himself to the Rock of Ages!

The second area of investigation is that of footing; “on a rock” or “upon the earth.” There are a multitude of truths that can be derived from this thought. Will your life come to rest on the eternal or the temporal, will it rest upon the spiritual or the secular, will it rest upon the solid or the shifting?

The Revelation of Testing

“and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it . . . against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.”

With respect to testing, please pay close attention to the phrase, “and when the flood arose.” It is not if we are going to face the storms and adversities of life, but when! The difference between the two is clear and simple; perseverance! Pause to think how impressive this statement is; “and could not shake it.” The word “shake” means to wavier, to disturb, to agitate, or to stir up. This is what one can expect when their foundation and their footing is correct. Not the case with all those that have cast aside the need for the foundation of faith and begun to build upon on the shifting sand of the temporal secular principles of this world; the end is “ruin.” The word means something torn apart or fragmented.

With respect to our relationship to Christ the proof is derived though perseverance!

Product is the Display of One’s Person

Jesus descended from a mountain top where He selected the twelve, “whom also he named apostles” (Luke 6:13). Having arrived in the plain, our Lord was met by a great multitude of people out of all Judaea, Jerusalem, and the sea coast of Tyre and Sidon. They were there to hear and for healing; “which came to hear him, and to be healed of their diseases” (vs.17). Having spoke to them on a multitude of subjects, in verse 39-49, He enlightened them to at least five basic principles of fruitfulness. We have already addressed two of five, “Progress is dictated by your partner”, “Promotion is determined by your professor” and “Pride is destroyed by your perception.” At this time, I want to enumerate on the fouLuke 6:43-45 “For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.”

In our consideration of the fourth aspect of fruit bearing, it is imperative that we remember that God has put into place certain laws and principles that cannot be broken, made invalid, or ignored! While there must be the awareness of what it is, as well as a desire for it; producing good fruit requires more than desire. I believe that those of sound spiritual minds desire to produce fruit that would earn the respect of others while exalting and magnifying the Lord Jesus Christ. Yet, there is a vast difference between desire and delivery. Within this parable, Jesus is going to set forth three divine principles related to fruit bearing.

The Principle of Reproduction

“For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.”

With respect to this principle, our Lord is emphatic; “a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit.” Everything reproduces after its own character without exception! Note the word “not” in the text; it is an absolute negative and means no, nay, never. You will never find corrupt fruit on a good tree and you will never find good fruit on a corrupt tree. The specific words that Jesus used in speaking of the good fruit and the corrupt fruit call for close examination. The word “good” is not the common word which means good in any sense, but beautiful, chiefly good, valuable or virtuous for appearance or use. “Good”, that is only this type of tree that reproduces plucked fruit that is valuable, virtuous, and useful. The word “corrupt” means rotten, worthless and comes from a word which means to putrefy or to perish. A rotten and worthless tree will produce a harvest that is worthless and destined to perish. Jesus magnifies this principle of reproduction when speaking to Nicodemus; “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6). Try as you may; if you have a fleshly nature, you will reproduce fruit that bares the similitude of the flesh. Likewise, if you demonstrate a spiritual nature you bring forth the fruit of the Spirit; “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23). You generate what you are and not what you want!

The Principle of Revelation

“For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes.”

While it may not be true in everything; with respect to fruit bearing, “What you see is what you get!” Note the first word that the Holy Spirit used, “For.” It is a primary particle assigning a reason; it is used in an argument, explanation or intensification. The outgrowth of the principle of reproduction is the principle of revelation! When you see a particular fruit, you immediately recognize the tree that generated it. Jesus is saying, “As a point of argument or explanation, when a person sees the fruit, they have a clear understanding of the specific tree that yielded it; when a person sees a tree, they have full knowledge of the fruit it will produce.” Knowledgeable of this truth, men don’t expect to gather figs among the thorns or grapes from a bramble bush. Could this explain why folks don’t come to you in time of need? They have discerned what type of tree you are and they know that what they need to glean, you can’t produce! Proverbs says, “Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a broken tooth, and a foot out of joint” (Proverbs 25:19).

The Principle of Resource

“A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.”

You will note that Jesus reiterates the principle of reproduction; “A good man . . . bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man . . . bringeth forth that which is evil.” Secondly, He reiterates the principle of revelation; you know the man is good because the fruit is good and the fruit is good because the man is good; likewise, the man is evil because the fruit is evil and the fruit is evil because the man is evil! These two principles yield a third; the principle of resource, the man is good and the fruit is good because the resource from which the fruit originates is good. Likewise the man is evil and the fruit is evil because the resource from which the fruit originates is evil. Simple but yet profound; “You can’t change the man or the fruit until there is a change in the resource from which they originate!” It all has to do with what Jesus calls the “treasure of his heart.” Jesus said, “out of.” The phrase denotes origin or point whence action or motion proceeds. The fruit that defines the man finds its origin or point from which the action begins in the “treasure of his heart.” Please note two words, “treasure” and “heart.” The first means a deposit, wealth, and comes from a word meaning to place. The second word means the heart, the thoughts, the feelings, or the mind. Here is the truth that is sometimes missed, both the good man and the evil man have that which Jesus calls the “treasure of his heart.” The distinguishing difference is the deposit that has been placed there; one is good and the other is evil. A good deposit generates good fruit that testifies of the man being good and a evil deposit generates evil fruit that bears witness that the man is evil. The only means of changing the man or the fruit is by changing the deposit that resides within the heart; control the deposit and you control the man and the fruit: “for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.”

The truth that Jesus wants to magnify with respect to fruit bearing is that “Product is the Display of One’s Person.” The outer man and the fruit that is representative of his live are nothing more than the manifestation of the inner man! The treasure determines the talk and the talk determines the testimony.

Pride Is Destroyed By Your Perception

Jesus descended from a mountain top where He selected the twelve, “whom also he named apostles” (Luke 6:13). Having arrived in the plain, our Lord was met by a great multitude of people out of all Judaea, Jerusalem, and the sea coast of Tyre and Sidon. They were there to hear and for healing; “which came to hear him, and to be healed of their diseases” (vs.17). Having spoken to them on a multitude of subjects, in verse 39-49, He enlightened them to at least five basic principles of fruitfulness. We have already addressed two of five, “Progress is dictated by your partner” and “Promotion is determined by your professor.” At this time, I want to enumerate on the third.

Pride Is Destroyed By Your Perception

“And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother’s eye.” Luke 6:41-42

Of the many things that can destroy and deter fruitfulness in the life of an individual, pride is one that ranks near the top. Pride was an attribute that surfaced continually in the lives of Jesus’ disciples; “And he came to Capernaum: and being in the house he asked them, What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way? But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest” (Mark 9:33-34). It was true of the disciples is equally true of most people! Pride is an evil within us that is usually recognized by others previous to being acknowledged by one’s self. Pride is the fountainhead of shame, contention, and destruction (see Proverbs 11:2, 13:10, & 16:18). Pride will ultimately rob the Lord’s disciple of effective service and future rewards.

The Vision of Pride

“And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye?”

The very first thing that must be understood is that the vision of pride is farsighted and faulty! The vision of pride is forever looking at a distance at the weakness of others while maintaining a distorted perception of that which is closest to them. Pride “beholdest” in others, but never “perceives” in self. “Beholdest” means to look at as to be aware of, to regard. Pride not only sees the imperfections, but continually focuses on them, making them the constant object of attention. “Perceives” means to discover or consider, to observe fully. Because of pride’s constant outward look; it fails to discover personal areas of weakness and if these areas are apparent, pride quickly minimizes their importance and fails to pursue them fully. Pride’s vision perceives itself as being superior to all others; if others could only see as it does, they too would be disturbed by the apparent weaknesses and shortcomings of those around them.

The Volition of Pride

“Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye?”

If there was a positive thing to be said about the vision of pride, it would be the fact that pride is not idle. Pride is actively seeking every opportunity to “pull out the mote.” Pride is energetic! While it is motivated by a false perception, it will not rest until it has rid those it perceives as less fortunate of motes! Pride will assert itself in every situation. The only problem to pride’s energetic activity is pride’s ineffectiveness! While pride’s motivation is to help, pride’s hindrance will not permit it; “thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye.” While pride’s vision is sufficient enough to discover the mote, it proves to be defective in removing the mote because of the beam protruding from its own eye. The “beam” is a stick of timber and gives the idea of that which supports or holds up. The word “mote” means a withered twig or piece of straw, sawdust or a shaving off of the beam. Some old writers had pointed to the fact that it is possible that the mote in the brother’s eye was a speck of sawdust from the beam protruding from the other person’s eye. That’s a new twist; trying to solve everyone’s problems which you are the instigator of!

The Victory Over Pride

“Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother’s eye.”

There is victory for those that will do first things first; “cast out first the beam out of thine own eye.” When one gains the proper perception of one’s self, pride is smitten! This Biblical truth is set forth in Galatians 6:1. A brother has been overtaken in a fault and the body of Christ has become aware of it. If the brother is to be effectively restored, it will require the aid of fellow believers. What is to be the first response of the body; “considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” Only those that have effectively removed beams from their own eye are qualified to remove motes from a brother’s eye.

The satanic nature of pride is a destructive force in the life of a believer. It renders them ineffective in the work and makes the prospects of rewards void. Pride can be smitten by a change in perspective by gaining the proper perspective of self. Consider an inward inspection of self before participating in the outward gaze of a critical spirit. The proper perception of self is the answer to the destructive force of pride.

Promotion Is Determined By Your Professor

Jesus descended from a mountain top where He selected the twelve, “whom also he named apostles” (Luke 6:13). Having arrived in the plain, our Lord was met by a great multitude of people out of all Judaea, Jerusalem, and the sea coast of Tyre and Sidon. They were there to hear and for healing; “which came to hear him, and to be healed of their diseases” (vs.17). Having spoken to them on a multitude of subjects, in verse 39-49, He enlightened them to at least five basic principles of fruitfulness. We have already addressed the first of five, “Progress is dictated by your partner.” At this time, I want to enumerate on the second of the five.

Promotion Is Determined By Your Professor

“The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master.” Luke 6:40

In the first principle, our Lord dealt with progress or the idea of forward motion. In this principle, He dealt with promotion or that which can be attained through the dedication of one’s self to a task. The Apostle Paul’s dedication to a task can be seen in Philippians 3:13-14, “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” What is it that you desire to accomplish, or be recognized for achieving? While the future goal begins with an eager desire, it must be followed by enlightened and elevated directions; every athlete needs a coach, every violinist needs a tutor, and every pupil needs a professor!

Liken unto the first principle, there are certain areas in which we are given no choice. Yet, there are times and situations in which we will be held accountable for the fountain from which we draw enlightenment and education. Knowledgeable of this great truth, let us chose our professor wisely! The text falls into two natural divisions that are worthy of our consideration.

The Superiority of Promotion – “above his master”

Within the context of the text there is a “disciple”, a learner or a pupil, one that learns in any way, and there is a “master”, an instructor or one that teaches. The learner has chosen to set under the instructor for the purpose of receiving a quality of enlightenment that will lift the student from their present state, promoting them to a desired destination or goal. The disciple’s choice of master is critical; for the master can’t dispense to the disciple a greater volume of enlightenment than the master’s personal capacity of enlightenment! The word “not” is an absolute negative. With respect to promotion, the student will never rise above, go beyond, become superior to, or assume a dominate place over the source of their enlightenment or education.

While you may never reach the summit of your expectations, you will never supersede the heights attained by the one you chose to lead your expedition! It is admirable to possess lofty desires so long as one understands that aspiration and achievement are not one in the same! Find a master that supersedes your dreams; allow them to become the fountain from which you draw the rays of enlightenment and the riches of education and you will be assured of not falling short of your desires.

The Similarities of Promotion – “as his master”

Having warned about superiority, our Lord warns about similarities. Please notice a couple of words. The phrase “shall be” means will be or what will follow, and it comes from a word that is future for I exist. The word “as” means in that manner or according as it has been. The truth that is being set forth is quite simple; when the process of enlightenment and education is complete, the pulpit has become a replica of the teacher! There are the similarities of accomplishments. Your master is not only limited as to the distance he can take you, but the destination he can take you. Masters that have accomplished a secular goal, no matter how impressive, can’t assure success with respect to spiritual goals; it is not their area of expertise. You must not only have a master that can go the distance, but get you to the destination. When it comes to the choice of a master, there are the similarities of attitude. If the educational process works the way it is designed to work, the opinions of the master are mimicked by the student! Make sure as a student; that you like the character and nature of your master for that is what you are destined to become! The master, disciple relationship is one of reproduction!

Pause for a moment and give some consideration as to the master you have chosen for enlightenment and education. Can you achieve your desired goals under their leadership? Secondly, do you want to become who and what they are? When it comes to the master disciple relationship; it is necessary that you chose wisely!

A Principle For Fruitfulness

Jesus descended from a mountain top where He selected the twelve, “whom also he named apostles” (Luke 6:13). Having arrived in the plain, our Lord was met by a great multitude of people out of all Judaea, Jerusalem, and the sea coast of Tyre and Sidon. They are there for hearing and healing; “which came to hear him, and to be healed of their diseases” (vs.17). Having spoke to them on a multitude of subjects, in verse 39-49, He enlightens them to at least five basic principles of fruitfulness. At this time, I want to enumerate on the first of the five.

Progress Is Dictated By Your Partner

“And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch?” Luke 6:39

The purpose behind Jesus’ parable is to make use of a physical example to set forth a spiritual truth. One such truth that is readily made know is; “With respect to spiritual fruitfulness, your progress is dictated by your choice of partners.” This truth is revealed in three principles set forth in the parable.

Their Union Is Entered – “lead the blind”

Through the process of mutual agreement, one has consented to lead and the other has consented to follow; they have become one for the purpose of progress. While they have been few in number, I have been privileged to help someone that is visually impaired to get to a desired destination. This was accomplished when they would either grasp my arm just above the elbow or place their hand on my shoulder; thus forming a union and making us one in the same. With respect to personal unions, some are entered without our consent; the family we are born into, the teachers we are assigned in school, or the social class we are born into. Yet, there are multitudes of other unions that we determine for ourselves; the friends we associate with, the individual we chose to marry, the church we attend; just to mention a few. The thing that we must be mindful of is that when we establish that union, we are joining ourselves to them and become one with them. Now, our progress is linked to their progress, our direction is linked to their direction, our destination is linked to their destination. In the parable the union has been establish for the purpose of progress and this can only be accomplish by the means of being led. In the text the word “lead” means to show the way or to teach, to guide. The way you are shown, the things you are taught, and the direction you are taking is being determined by those with whom you have become one!

Their Abilities Are Equal – “the blind lead the blind”

The first thing to take note of is an unwise choice; a blind person has chosen to form a union with another blind person. The only thing that could be possibly worse is for the blind to choose one that is blind and halt. The word “blind” means opaque as if smoky by analogy to be blind physically or mentally. It comes from a word meaning to envelop with smoke or figuratively to inflate with self-conceit. In this case, it doesn’t matter who leads because there is the equality of ignorance! Both have the same perspective of the way. Both have the same mental aptitude with respect to wisdom and knowledge. Both are void of the ability to direct the other. In this union, the best that can be hoped for is that you don’t lose ground. In II Samuel 13, Amnon entered into a union with an equal which led to his death. In II Chronicles 10, Rehaboam entered into a union with his equals and it cost him his kingdom. While we are admonished by God’s Word to “not unequally yoked together with unbelievers” (II Corinthians 6:14); it might be just as wise to not be yoke to one that is your equal!

Their End Is Established – “fall into the ditch”

In the parable, we see that a union is made between individuals that are equally impaired and two become as one. Remember that the union was made for the purpose of progress. There is but one problem, any attempt at progress made by this union brings an established end; “shall they not both fall into the ditch?” While that may not be the desired end, it is still the end result of an unwise choice! The spiritual truth that is being illustrated is; “Progress Is Dictated By Your Partner.” You can never go any farther, rise any higher, or achieve any more than the partner that you become one with.

It is in the understanding to this divine truth that we see the importance of making a wise choice as to whom we enter a union with; to whom we chose to led, instruct, and guide us in the path of life. An unequal yoke in unscriptural; and some equal yokes can prove to be unwise.

Speaking unto His disciples, Jesus said, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.  If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit” (John 15:4-8).

Making Decisions

I would like to call your attention to a story that you are more than familiar with in the life of the Apostle Paul. If you could take the time to read Acts 27:7-44, it is the account of Paul being transported to Rome to appear before Caesar. In verse 6, the centurion has found a ship of Alexandria that is sailing for Italy. He has secured passage for him and his prisoner, the Apostle Paul. Because of unfavorable wind conditions, they have made very little progress in reaching their destination. The ship has passed under Crete and over against Salmone before arriving at a place called, “The fair havens; nigh whereunto was the city of Lasea.” It is at this time that Paul and the entire party on the ship must make a decision; lodge or launch? Do they lodge in a less than desirable port for the winter or do they launch in less than desirable conditions and try to make it to Phenice? These men are faced with a decision.

You may never be faced with the exact same decision that these sailors were, but the everyday affairs of life call for us to make decisions in our daily lives. Like these sailors, each decision brings with it repercussions that not only impact us personally, but those that accompany us in life’s journey. In spite of the fact that times may be different, and conditions surrounding the choice aren’t the same; we all basically use a similar decision making process. Look with me at the various aspects of making decisions.

(I) Comfort and Common Sense – vs. 12 “the haven was not commodious to winter in”

Sailing has been slow and difficult for some time now. While they haven’t arrived at their final destination or made the progress they desired, they have arrived at a port near the city of Lasea. It is at this point a decision must be made; lodge or launch. The first factor that enters into the process of making a decision is comfort and common sense. The sailors consider the aspects of comfort. Whether it was known before hand or after investigation, it was discovered that the harbor was not the most desirable. The word “commodious” means well set or convenient and this was not the case with this port! We are not told what was lacking; it may have been the food supply, the quality of lodging, or the attitude of the people toward sailors. All we know is that this port is not some place you want to spend the winter unless it’s necessary! The second consideration that must also enter into the process is common sense; is it advantageous to try to sail to another port; is there enough wind and will the weather permit it.

In the decisions that we make, we use comfort and common sense. When linked with discretion, there is nothing wrong with being comfortable. Some would have you believe that the only way to be godly is stand in a strain, and starve yourself of any pleasures life has to offer; thus making a smile the unpardonable sin. Sometime the right choice is determined by weighing out all the facts and using the discernment man has been given.

(II) Councilors – vs. 12 “the more part advised”

The next element to be considered was that of wise council. It appears that the centurion sought council in several areas. He spoke with the owner of the ship as well as the captain of the ship. They would have considerable knowledge worthy of consideration. Together, their years of experience in sailing and working around the various ports would prove to be invaluable. It appears that he also sought the advice of those that were manning the ship; those that worked closely with the captain and the owner. While the centurion might know something concerning the various aspects of being a soldier, he was deficient in the area of ships and sailing; thus causing him to seek out council from the most reliable sources available at the time.

We too, are admonished to seek council in the process of making a decision, “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety” (Proverbs 11:14) and “Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counsellors they are established” (Proverbs 15:22). When faced with a decision, take the time to seek out those who are much wiser and older; those that have experience in the various fields surrounding the area in which you must make a decision.

(III) Command – vs.9 “Paul admonished them’

There was a third element to be considered in the process of making a decision, the command. Everyone, but the Apostle Paul chose to ignore this element! In verses 9&10, Paul spoke up and advised against leaving the harbor and trying to sail any farther at this time. Since Paul was not a sailor and had no great wealth of knowledge with respect to ships and sailing, what was his source of inspiration? I believe that the same God that spoke to Paul in verse 23 spoke to Paul and gave clear direction as to the dangers of trying to sail on to the next port. God had spoken to His servant and Paul made known God’s clear command. While they were willing to consider comfort and common sense, and counselors; they chose to reject God’s command in the decision making process.

I am grieved to have to say it, but this is the practice of many folks today; they consider comfort, common sense, and counselors, but choose to totally reject the clear commands of the Word of God. This is not only true of the lost, but it is the practice of many that name Christ as their Saviour.

(IV) Crisis – vs. 14“there arose against it a tempestuous wind”

This is not an element of the decision making process that one wants to come to. Because they made a poor decision on whether to lodge or launch, they are now in a crisis at the mercy of this powerful storm. They make a decision to undergird the ship with helps (vs.17), they lighten the ship (vs.18), and they cast out the tackling of the ship (vs.19). After many days of not seeing the sun, and fearing being cast upon the rock, they cast out four anchors and wish for day. They are in a terrible state and have suffered much loss, but God in His mercy spoke through the mouth of His servant. While there will be the loss of the ship, the lives of all on board will be spared. In an attempt to save themselves, some of the men race for a life boat. It is then that they are faced with a choice, use the elements of common sense and council and attempt to save ourselves by using the life boats or cut the boats loose and stay in the ship. Common sense and council said get in the life boat; the clear command was stay in the ship. Having made the choice to be obedient to the command, all the men were delivered safely to shore. Even in the time of crisis, it was not the time to disregard the command.

There are repercussions for making a bad decision and you can find yourself in a state of crisis. But, even in the midst of crisis, never go against God’s clear commands.

In the process of making a decision; consider the elements of comfort, common sense and council, but never fail to take into consideration the most important element in the decision making process; the clear command. It may be comfortable, it may make good sense, and it may be the consensus of the masses, but if it is in conflict with God’s command, you will always be better off going with God!

A Priceless Friendship

Please forgive us for being off line for awhile; we were changing servers and the transition was more trouble than we thought it would be!

Two things that I want to draw your attention to: First, our latest book, I Timothy is now in print and available for purchase. It will appear on the website shortly.

Second, we have already begun work on II Timothy and the article before you is a subject that I deal with in one of the chapters. I hope you enjoy it.

A Priceless Friendship

II Timothy 1:3-5 “I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience, that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day; Greatly desiring to see thee, being mindful of thy tears, that I may be filled with joy; When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.”

When I think of the subject of friendship, my thoughts turn to the words found in a sermon by the seventeenth century author, John Donne; “No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.” None of us are self-sufficient within ourselves; we all rely on others. The blessing is when reliance evolves into a relationship; that priceless commodity called friendship! This is the priceless commodity that Paul’s memory set before him; a commodity that would transform Paul’s spirit; “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7).

Having turned his attention to friendship, Paul ponders the various facets that give this priceless jewel such great worth. Paul’s attention has come to rest upon the supplication of friendship, “I thank God.” The phrase “I thank” comes from two words and when combined means to hold or possess a spirit of graciousness or gratitude, especially the divine influence upon the heart. This gratitude is directed toward “his” God, “the” God; the supreme Deity of heaven and earth! Paul knew that friendship is a priceless commodity that was given to him by God himself. While the subject of friendship may be man, the source and strength of this friendship is the Master. As Paul enterd into the throne room before his Heavenly Father, he found it necessary to express his gratitude for the priceless gift of friendship; “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17). Paul must offer up thanks to God for this priceless commodity that has been lavished upon him.

Paul turned his attention to the season of friendship, “without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day.” In this particular case, when Paul makes reference to his “prayers”, he is speaking of the practice in which he is offering up praise rather than that of making a petition. Having the understanding that friendship is a gift from God, he offers up praise to God. The text not only reveals something of the prolonged and perpetual season of Paul’s prayer life, but Paul’s friendship. When writing to the Thessalonians; Paul encouraged them to “Pray without ceasing” (I Thessalonians 5:17). Paul uses the same words here when making a reference to the season of friendship that existed between these two comrades. The words, “without ceasing” are best described by their use in secular writing. These words were used of someone who had a persistent cough; “Bill has a cold and coughs constantly.” It does not mean that Bill has one long continual cough that never stops, but it does mean that of a uniform or persistent recurrence! The season of friendship is reinforced by Paul’s use of the word “remembrance.” The word means recollection and comes from a word having the idea of fixture in the mind or of mental grasp. This priceless commodity of friendship is a fixture in the mind of the Apostle Paul; it will not be soon removed. Friendship is not some temporal trinket lightly esteemed and quickly discarded, but a priceless commodity that resists the challenges of adversity, retains its union even at a distance, and refuses to lessen its grip in the passing of time! It has been said of some, “They have an enduring friendship.” Truth is; if the friendship was genuine, it will be enduring!

Paul turned his attention to the spirit of friendship; “desiring to see thee, being mindful of thy tears.” While acquaintances may be confined to the intellect, friendship is a matter for the heart! Of the many things that contribute to the spirit of friendship, two will be set forth within the text. Paul begins by magnifying the companionship or comfort of friendship, “desiring to see thee.” There is the comforting affect that one feels in the presence of a friend; a time when one freely casts aside the cloak of pretense and is at peace being one’s true self. It has been said that a friend is one that can take the chaff and the wheat; and with the breath of kindness, blow away the chaff and keep the wheat. The word “desiring” means intensely craving the possession of. While Timothy’s presence will not change the circumstances, just being there will serve as a comfort to the heart of a man standing in the shadow of death. Paul magnified the compassion of friendship, “being mindful of thy tears.” “Being mindful of” is from the same root word as “remembrance.” There as a fixture within Paul’s mind that was not only the commodity of friendship, but the compassion of friendship; that which has the ability to bless as well as break! While it is thought by most that Timothy displayed a compassionate spirit toward sinners as well as the Saviour; the heartache that manifested itself with the production of tears was due to separation! There is much debate as to the timing and the reason for the separation, but it is the emotion and not the event that Paul is magnifying. Because of his love for the Apostle Paul, Timothy’s spirit was touched when it became necessary to separate himself from his dear friend and companion.

Paul now addresses the solidifying of friendship, “When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee,” In our approach to this thought, it is necessary to look at the word “remembrance.” The word that Paul uses here isn’t the same as the one he used earlier. Here the word means a reminding or a reflex recollection; it comes from a word meaning to remind quietly or suggest to the memory. There must be a bonding agent that solidifies the priceless commodity known as friendship. Friendships can be formed around secular events like sports, school activities, social events, and the like. It is the appreciation or active involvement of such that serves as the bond that holds the friendship together. When Paul speaks of remembrance, I believe that it is the sweet Holy Spirit that is quietly reminding him of that which brought him and Timothy together. Peter spoke of it in II Peter 1:1, “to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” The friendships that exist around the secular elements of this life are good; but far superior to them is that spiritual bond that exists in the hearts of those that share a “like precious faith” or as Paul called it, “unfeigned faith.” At this moment the Holy Ghost is quietly reminding me of one such friendship. With respect to personality and the physical pursuits of life, we were polar opposites, but the solidifying element to our friendship was the passionate pursuit for truth found within the Word of God. While he is at rest with the Lord, our friendship continues to be a reflex recollection when I found myself in pursuit of the precious and eternal truths of God Word. Because of the solidifying element of “faith”, the friendship that existed between Paul and Timothy would not be confined to this present world, but leap the boundaries of time into eternity!

Paul concludes with the satisfaction of friendship “that I may be filled with joy.” In consideration of this thought it is necessary to point out that the text doesn’t say that Paul was void of joy! The presence of his dear friend and companion, Timothy, was so “that I may be filled.” The word “filled” means to replete, to cram a net full, to level up a hollow, to finish a task or complete, to fill up. It would be a serious mistake to minimize the circumstances surrounding Paul’s incarceration. It is apparent that Paul is more than puzzled at the desertion of fellow servants and the degree of adversity that has come upon him; yet, Paul comforts himself with this the knowledge of the Lord’s presence; “Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me” (II Timothy 4:17). God has come along side His child for the purpose of imparting divine enablement that will translate into peace in the midst of the storm. Paul is at peace in the will of God; “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). Yet, the personal presence of his dear friend, Timothy would finish the task, fill up and make things complete! His presence would bring about cheerfulness, a calm delight within Paul’s spirit. John Stott said, “Wonderful as are both the presence of the Lord Jesus every day and the prospect of his coming on the last day, they are not intended to be a substitute for human friendships.”

As a comforting companion, Paul’s memory has placed before him the priceless friendship of Timothy, Paul’s young comrade and brother in the faith. God promised sufficient grace for the journey and the presence of his dear friend would complete that promise.

Breaking Out of the Ranks

I Chronicles 4:9-10 “And Jabez was more honourable than his brethren: and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, Because I bare him with sorrow. And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that thine hand might be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! And God granted him that which he requested.”

In the opening chapters of I Chronicles, you are confronted with a lengthy list of names. In most cases, it is nothing more than who begat who with an occasional comment for clarity. That is with the exception of a man by the name of Jabez; the man who “Breaks Out of the Ranks.” I have been saved for over fifty years and it is refreshing to occasionally see someone breaking out of the ranks of nominal Christianity! Jabez is an example of that type of individual!

(I) The Testimony of the Sovereign – vs.9

It is necessary to be mindful of who is doing the speaking; “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (II Peter 1:21). Being a God-breathed book, our Bible is the words of God. When we read that “Jabez was more honourable than his brethren”, that is not the testimony of mortals, but the Master! The God that “is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12), looked over the sea of humanity and after complete knowledge of all men’s hearts said that Jabez was more honourable than his brethren. The thought behind the phrase “more honourable” is that of being weighty, to abound with, to promote to honor. God saw attributes and actions that when placed in the balances of Divine discernment were worthy of acknowledging or calling to attention. While it may not be the case, this is the type of life I wish to have; a life that the Sovereign, the saints, and society takes notice of. I am sure that most have a similar desire, but while we may possess the desire we lack the determination to accomplish such a notable deed.

(II) The Temperament of the Saint – vs.10a

Sometimes profundity is found in simplicity! The thing that made Jabez’s life so profound was the simplicity of his desires. Jabez was a man that pursued the spiritual at the expense of the secular. While it is not palatable to the taste, you are as spiritual as you want to be! The greatness of Jabez’s character is marked by his pursuit of a person; “And Jabez called on the God of Israel.” Jabez knew that the spiritual desires of his heart could never be accomplished in the energy of the flesh; were it not for the divine intervention of God, he would be confined to the ranks of mediocrity. Jabez sought God’s blessing in at least three areas of life. Jabez sought God for habitation, “enlarge my coast.” Jabez sought God for help, “that thine hand might be with me.”Jabez sought God’s holiness, “that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me!” What would never be accomplished in the futile efforts of the flesh was certain to come to pass with the enablement of His Heavenly Father.

(III) The Triumph of the Supplicant – vs.10b

As I ponder Jabez’s triumph, God’s promises resonates through my spirit; “Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass” (Psalm 37:4-5). When you want what God wants and God wants what you want; it is bound to come to pass.

The only thing better than seeing someone break through the ranks, is being the one that does it. Oh that my determination would be equivalent to my lofty desires! May I leave the ranks of mediocrity and passionately pursue His habitation, His help, and His holiness!