Others think: if they could just go to a foreign land and work among the heathen, draw people to Christ there, send back home great reports of what they've accomplished, have their names published in the paper and have people talking about them, then that would be worth while. But since they're only ordinary people and can do only ordinary things, it seems to them that it hardly pays to try. They'll just follow the line of least resistance, and do all the things the easiest way. Of course they want to do something really worthwhile.
And now, what IS really worthwhile in life? Is it only those things that make a great show? Is it only those things that the world counts great? A lady said to me in a letter, "I used to think that I couldn't do anything worth while, but I've found that just simply "living salvation" before people is a great work." Now, that Christian sister has learned a wonderful lesson. She's found truth so great that most people don't recognize it as truth, when they do find it. It's one of those truths that have the peculiarity of seeming small and insignificant...though they're very fundamentals of truth.
Just simple Christ-like living before people---yes, that's what counts, and it counts more than anything else. That's one of the very great things that an individual has ever done in this world. Talk's cheap, and many people can talk all day and say scarcely anything either. Some people can sway great crowds by their eloquence, they can accomplish wonderful things, but still they can't "live salvation"...or, at least, they don't. There's no power so great in this world as the simple power of a holy, quiet life. The Christian sister mentioned can never hope to do great things as other people might count them. She's in frail health; she's isolated from other Christinas and can't "attend meetings" as many others; she doesn't have the ability to preach or to do anything "very great", as greatness is usually reckoned; but she has learned the great fact that she's not shut out from doing a grand work.
If all God's people could learn this lesson---if they should learn that it really counts...just simply to live right, just simply to be an ordinary every-day Christian; if they could once get that thoroughly fixed in their minds and hearts, it would glorify their lives, it would exalt the common service, it would shed a halo over their lives, and they wouldn't feel discouraged.
When Moses was at Pharaoh's court, I suppose he thought that he was doing something really worth while. He amounted to something there. But when the Lord let him be driven, or rather frightened, away from that court and he went out into the wilderness, I suppose he thought his occupation there was hardly worth while. Why, what was he doing, anyway? Just taking care of the sheep, leading them out in the morning to the pasture, bringing them back to the fold at night, seven days---just doing this and nothing more. I suppose it didn't look very big to Moses, but it did to God. God thought it worth so much that he kept him at that work for forty years. Then Moses, at the age of eighty...when it looked as if he were about done with this world, was called to go to do something for the Lord. That forty years in the wilderness counted, now. It had given him experience that helped to qualify him for the work to which God had called him. He came out of there worth while because he had done something worth while in those years. He had learned about God---oh, so many things he had learned! And now he was ready to put that knowledge into practice.
Sometimes we have wilderness periods in our lives when God lets us be "shut up in a corner", as it were, and do little things that don't seem to count. But they count to us if they don't count anywhere else. There's one thing----and just one----that stands out above all other things in the human life, and that's faithfulness. No matter what our life may be, where we may be---or what our situation...if we're just faithful, it's sure to count, and to count a great deal. That's one thing that we can do: we can be faithful to the Lord. We can do what he wants us to do. We can live pure, holy, undefiled, and keep shining everyday, no matter what the circumstances may be. Let's remember to keep shining. That's the thing that counts. Keep living clean and as God wants us to live. If we do this, He'll know where He can find somebody who's faithful when he wants something else done. But let's ever keep this before us: there's no greater, nor more necessary work in the world, than putting the truth of God into visible form...
in a pure and quiet life!
Now, let's make an Eternal Difference!
"His bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were
made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob."
That strength which God gives to "His Josephs" is real devine strength; it's not a boasted valour, not "a fiction", not a thing of which men talk, but which ends in smoke; it's true---divine strength! Why does Joseph stand against temptation? Because God gives him aid---just what he needs! There's nothing---zip! that we can do without the power of God. All true strength comes from "the mighty God of Jacob." Notice in what a blessedly familiar way...God gives this strength to Joseph---"The arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob." God is represented as putting His hands on Joseph's hands, placing His arms on Joseph's arms. Like as a father teaches his children, so the Lord teaches them that fear Him. He puts His arms upon them. Marvellous condescension! God Almighty, Eternal, Omnipotent, stoops from His throne and lays His hand upon the child's hand, stretching His arm upon the arm of Joseph, that he may be made strong! This strength was also covenant strength, for it's ascribed to "the mighty God of Jacob."
Now, wherever we read of the God of Jacob in the Bible, we should remember the covenant with Jacob. Members of God's family love to think of God's covenant:
All the power, all the grace, all the blessings,
all the mercies, all the comforts, all the things we have,
flow to us from the well-head, through the covenant.
If there were no covenant, then we should fail indeed;
for all grace proceeds from it, as light and heat from the sun.
No angels ascend or descend, save upon that ladder which Jacob saw,
at the top of which stood a covenant God.
Christian, it may be that the archers have sorely grieved you,
and shot at you, and wounded you, but still your bow abides in strength;
be sure, then, to ascribe all the glory to Jacob's God.
Alien Air Power...
“The Prince of the Power of the Air” (Eph. 2:2)—who or what is it? Are there men arriving in spaceships to invade our earth? Many think there are such creatures. Whether or not such beings exist, we know that there's a negative power—a field of power, if you will—that militates against our spiritual progress. It's a little like the principle of gravity. Gravity's no immediate problem as long as we're not trying to lift something. But when we try to move a large stone, the force of gravity is very real. In the same way, if we're not trying to live by spiritual laws, we don't feel the pressure of the power of evil. But when we make a serious attempt to pray, to fast, to study God’s word, or to witness, we feel the resistance of something—or someone. Paul calls this the Prince of the Power of the Air, the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience.
In our world, the devil is caricatured as having a red suit, a pointed tail, and horns like a young goat. If he were so attired, we could laugh him away and tell him that the masquerade party was in the next apartment. But it's not that easy.
Disobedience is the door by which he enters, or perhaps he's the one who knocks on the door of disobedience, making us believe that it's "the door of opportunity". At any rate, we disobey not only because of who we are, but because of who he is.
In the first chapter of Ephesians, Paul, in celebrating the power of Christ, says: Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but in that which is to come (Eph. 1:21).
Obviously there are powers all around us. Jesus gives us victory over them, but let's not imagine that we're free from conflict.
If disobedience (at every level) is all around us, there must be an author of it. Not only must we wrestle against our humanity (our nature/the flesh), but we also must wrestle against these powers. Later in this letter Paul gets specific:
Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places (Eph. 6:11–12). There would be no victory without a struggle. And without the power of God’s spirit, there would be no victory. The "gravity of the world" drags us down and the power of the ultimate adversary shoots us down. Only in Christ do we triumph!