Suggested Preaching Program for
• Sunday Mornings
The theme for the Sunday morning Services this month is stewardship. Stewardship concerns every area of life. In the background of each suggested message is the basic philosophy of Jesus expressed in the beatitude “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
• Sunday Evenings
“Great Hymn Titles” is the theme for Sunday evenings this month.
• Wednesday Evenings
The theme for the Wednesday evening Services is “Responding to the Holy Spirit.”
Sunday Morning, August 2
Title: The Value of Making Vows
Text: “I will pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence of all his people” (Ps. 116:14).
Scripture Reading: Psalm 116
Hymns: “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling,” Wesley
“May God Depend on You?” Martin
“O Jesus, I Have Promised,” Bode
Offertory Prayer: Holy Father, today we thank you for all of your precious promises to us. We enjoy your gracious provisions for us. We thank you for abundantly providing the physical necessities of life. Today as we bring our gifts and offerings, we ask that you will bless them for the preaching of the gospel of grace to this community and to the world. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Our life is what it is because of our vows or lack of vows. Most of us avoid making vows for a variety of reasons: (1) we have a natural inclination to avoid obligations, (2) we have a natural love of the easy life, (3) we have a fear of the future that causes us to be hesitant about committing ourselves to any endeavor, and (4) we have a tendency to be selfish. We are inclined to put self at the center and then hope that everything will revolve around us.
We should recognize that our decisions determine our destiny. Visions must be matched with vows if our castles in the air are to become realities.
I. The high cost of refusing to make vows.
A. Refusing to make vows exposes one to the danger of living an aimless life. Vows should be made with a definite objective in mind (Prov. 4:26).
B. Refusing to make vows exposes one to the danger of living a shallow life. Vows help us to channel our efforts and energies toward that which is worthwhile. The peril of drifting is a very real threat to each of us. It is a tragedy to live a life that has no higher authority than the whim, mood, or impulse of the moment.
C. Refusing to make vows exposes one to the danger of living a nonproductive life.
II. The necessity of making vows.
A. Vows are necessary for a sound economic system.
B. Vows are necessary for the stability of home life.
C. Vows are necessary for the preservation of a just and orderly government on the community, state, and national level.
1. Local officials.
2. State officials.
3. National officials.
4. Members of the armed Services.
D. Voluntary vows are absolutely essential for progress in your personal life.
1. School life.
3. Economic affairs.
E. Voluntary vows are absolutely essential for spiritual growth and success.
1. We must make vows concerning regular worship.
2. We must make vows concerning a devotional study of the Bible.
3. We must make vows concerning our prayer opportunities.
4. We must make vows concerning our financial stewardship.
III. The vows of the psalmist: “I will pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence of all his people” (Ps. 116:14).
A. “I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living” (Ps. 116:9). This is a vow that lifts us to a new level of spiritual experience.
4. Desire for divine approval.
B. “I will take the cup of salvation, . . .” (Ps. 116:13). This is a vow that deepens our personal experience with God.
1. The bitter and the sweet.
2. The pleasant and the difficult.
3. God’s full program for life.
C. “I will . . . call upon the name of the Lord” (Ps. 116:13). This is a vow that transforms all of life. “I will stay in contact with divine headquarters so that I can be instantly at his Service.”
D. “I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving” (Ps. 116:17). This is a vow that releases joy. Your life can be an anthem of praise.
Your life is the result of choices, responses, and vows as you have faced your burdens and your opportunities. Your vows and inward decisions will determine your future.
May God help each of us voluntarily make personal vows that are purposeful and productive. Let us make vows that will be worthy of the praise of our Lord. To stagger back from the opportunity to make vows is to stumble into oblivion.
Sunday Evening, August 2
Title: “Trust and Obey”
Text: “So Abram went, as the Lord had told him” (Gen. 12:4 RSV).
Scripture Reading: Genesis 12:1 – 8
The hymn “Trust and Obey” could well be the theme song of the life of the patriarch Abraham, for he is well known for his trust in God and obedience to him. Today we will look at his life to learn how we too can honor God with our trust and obedience.
The flood is over. Humankind has started again with Noah’s family. Sin, however, does not cease its ugly work! Once more the world is in trouble. The Tower of Babel causes the populated world to be scattered in various directions. Idolatry has become the order of the day. What will God do? He has promised that he will not destroy the world by water again. The first worldwide judgment did not change things: man is still a sinner and must be redeemed to live righteously.
God begins a new approach: he will take a man and start a new race. Through this person’s descendants, God will do two things. First, he will reveal his character as holy. This would be in contrast to that of the false gods who have no life and, therefore, no moral qualities to challenge humankind to proper conduct. Second, in the fullness of time, he will send a Redeemer to bring salvation and forgiveness to all people regardless of who or where they are.
Where can God find such a person? All the world is contaminated by sin. Here is a man named Abram in Ur of the Chaldees. Abram’s father, Terah, is a moon god worshiper (Josh. 24:2), but Abram has not adopted this terrible habit. An old Jewish tradition tells us that Terah ran a store where idols were sold. His son Abram did not like the idols and protested often to his father. One day when the boy was left in charge of the store, he took a metal stick and broke the idols into pieces. When his father came home and saw the ruins, he asked his son what had happened. The boy replied, “They all got in a fight and destroyed each other.” The father insisted, “But they can’t fight. They have no life.” The boy replied, “Then why do you worship them?” This is the kind of man God needed to begin his redemptive program, and he called Abram to a new job and gave him a new name — Abraham.
I. Get into a new environment.
Though one’s surroundings do not always determine his Service, there are times when we need to get into a new location to start a new work.
A. God had reserved the land of Canaan for the place he would put his new people. He, therefore, relocated this man who would begin the new program. From secular history we know that there was a general migration westward of a number of Semitic people about this time. The Hyksos, a group from the same ethnic background as Abram, went as far as Egypt, where they were successful in taking over the throne and holding it for several centuries. The call to Abram, however, was personal. Although he went with his father and other kinspeople, he knew it was only a matter of time before he must go out on his own.
B. God reveals himself to all people, but he selects certain ones at certain times for certain tasks. He had chosen Abram but knew Abram must make a break with the old land. Too many memories remained there, and the temptation to yield to the customs of that environment might be too strong. Abram needed to move to a new area to serve God best. We, too, must leave the old behind.
II. Learn that life is for being a blessing.
A. To do what Abram did required an awareness that God was with him. How long he pondered the decision, we do not know, nor can we be certain of how his father Terah and the others fit into the scheme of things. Despite these questions, one thing is certain. Faith and obedience played a major role in the starting event and all that subsequently took place.
The writer of Hebrews chose Abraham’s faith as an illustration of his definition of this glorious trait that he calls “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (11:1). Future things do not have an existence for someone unless he believes in them. Faith makes eternity as real as today. Why? Because it gives a reality to the new and limitless future where we will have time to forget the sorrows and live past the losses of our present world.
B. As great as faith is, we need, however, to ask an important question about it. Faith in what? The answer is simple: God’s provision. What, though, did God offer Abram? This promise at first reading sounds fabulous, for God offered him so much; but look closer and see that the material things offered were not the most important.
God offered Abram an opportunity to bless the world. The superficial reader emphasizes that God promised to make of Abram a great nation, to bless him, and to make his name great. The perceptive reader, however, sees something more. God said, “Thou shalt be a blessing” (Gen. 12:2). In fact, the literal Hebrew is imperative: “Be thou a blessing.” Read a little further. The immature reader only notices, “I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee” (v. 3). The dedicated Christian emphasizes, “In thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed” (v. 3).
C. Which is more important, to be blessed or to bless? Unfortunately, too many of us become Christians for the wrong motivation or at least for a lesser one. Initially, we want to escape hell and go on to heaven. Though this is a legitimate motive, it is not the highest one. We should come to Jesus because of who he is and because of the life of Service he offers. Usually, however, we must grow much before we make this the supreme motive of our lives. Abram did receive blessings, but most of all, God chose him as an instrument. Through him the world would be blessed. This is the meaning of life, for it is the one thing Jesus emphasized above everything else.
III. Serve where you are.
Although we emphasized at first the necessity of leaving home to gain a new identity, the time comes when we must settle down where we are and serve God in that place. We cannot be constantly moving every time things get tough.
A. Abram served God where God put him. At first, God willed that Abram stay in Haran for a period of time. Perhaps it was to care for his father who may not have shared Abram’s vision to go on to Canaan. For whatever reason, Abram waited patiently for a further word from the Lord. In the book of Acts we learn that after Terah’s death Abram heard a new command from God. He then left Haran and went to Canaan. Notice that Abram “went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came” (Gen. 12:5). Nothing stopped Abram from doing God’s will as he understood it.
B. One thing that characterized Abram was that wherever he went, he built an altar and called on the name of the Lord (Gen. 12:8). We need to worship where we are. The other side often looks better, but we must adjust to where God puts us.
Why has Abraham gone down in history as such a great person? He had faith! He trusted God and obeyed him! Abraham’s faith was proved by his faithfulness. God counted this faith as righteousness, and through his seed salvation has come to the world. We, too, can be a blessing if we trust and obey.
Wednesday Evening, August 5
Title: The Unredeemed May Resist the Holy Spirit
Text: “Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye” (Acts 7:51).
On the day of Pentecost, Peter interpreted the events taking place as the beginning of a new era in the program of God. He declared that they were witnessing the fulfillment of a prophecy spoken by Joel to the effect that the day would come when God would pour out his Spirit upon all flesh. Joel had looked forward to the time when every believer would be equipped by the Holy Spirit to be a spokesperson of God’s message to the world. The Holy Spirit came on the day of Pentecost so that every believer might be a witness of the wonderful works of God (Acts 2:11).
In seeking to bear a Christian witness to the unsaved, we must trust in the Holy Spirit to do the work of convicting and even converting the unbeliever. It is not our assignment to condemn sins; this can be accomplished only by the Holy Spirit. You should not be unduly discouraged if your message is not received with gratitude, because a study of both the Scriptures and the experience of the church through the ages reveals that the unredeemed will often resist and rebel against the efforts of the Holy Spirit to bring them to faith in Jesus Christ. Instead of interpreting their response as a rejection of you personally, you would do well to recognize that it is Christ they are actually rejecting.
I. The unredeemed resist the Holy Spirit because they do not understand or appreciate the person of God.
God has been misrepresented to them. They have a false concept of the nature of God.
II. The unredeemed resist the Holy Spirit because they resent the purpose of God.
The natural mind is at enmity with God because of the rebellion that is within the heart. Unbelievers see God as an intruder or thief who would rob them of that upon which they have set their hearts.
III. The unredeemed resist the Holy Spirit because they do not really believe the gospel.
The gospel is more than good advice. It is the good news of God’s love for sinners as revealed in and through Jesus Christ.
IV. The unredeemed resist the Holy Spirit in a number of ways.
A. They will refuse to attend worship Services where it is possible for them to hear the Word of God.
B. They will avoid the Christian who is concerned to the extent that he or she will express hope that they might come to Christ.
C. They will offer all kinds of excuses for not trusting Jesus.
D. In some instances they will manifest anger. He who is seeking to witness to this type of an individual needs to be very cautious, compassionate, and in tune with the Holy Spirit.
Those who would be effective witnesses need to be aware of the manner in which people may resist the Holy Spirit. Instead of being depressed by the refusal of the unbeliever to respond to Jesus, we should give ourselves to more earnest prayer for guidance and help to lead the one who is resisting the Spirit to yield his or her heart to Jesus Christ.
Sunday Morning, August 9
Title: A Command with a Great Promise
Text: “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again” (Luke 6:38).
Scripture Reading: Acts 20:25 – 38
Hymns: “Glorious Is Thy Name,” McKinney
“Give of Your Best to the Master,” Grose
“Take My Life and Let It Be,” Havergal
Offertory Prayer: Holy Father, we thank you for your generosity toward us. You have bestowed your mercy upon us in a lavish manner. You have bestowed spiritual blessings upon us extravagantly. You have given your Son to die for our sins. You have given your Spirit to dwell within our hearts. Help us this day to give you a faithful, trusting, loving heart. Help us to give you the thoughts of our minds and the strength of our hands. Accept our tithes and offerings as an indication of our desire to give our all to you. Through Jesus Christ. Amen.
Every command of our Lord involves a promise. To see only the command is to interpret life in terms of duty and responsibility. To see the promise without the command is to neglect to meet the essential condition for receiving the promise.
All of us have developed certain attitudes and concepts of life that make it difficult for us even to see some of God’s promises. It would appear that we are blind to many things that God is trying to communicate to us. Is it not true that all of us have read certain passages of Scripture for years before the real message penetrated our consciousness? Our text is a case in point.
What do you hear the Savior saying when you read the following text? “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again” (Luke 6:38).
One person might reply, “This text teaches me that I should give full measure. It should be pressed down, shaken together, and overflowing.” Another person might say, “I see in this a gimmick for the receiving of an offering.” Both of these interpretations miss the point of the text by a country mile. The text contains one word of command and the balance of the text is a promise.
I. The Lord commands his disciples to concentrate on giving.
“Give. . . .” From earliest childhood we are taught to be conservative with our money. We are taught that others would try to secure our money by one method or another. Because of this early teaching, combined with actual experience, most of us have developed what someone has called “a pocketbook-protection instinct.” This instinct immediately begins to function when we hear the word give. Most of us experience a mental block at this point, and consequently most of us have failed to recognize the promise that is attached to this commandment.
A. The reason for this command.
1. Giving is the way to real maturity. We are born with a selfish, acquiring instinct. We can claim to be mature only after we have learned to share.
2. Giving is the way to happiness. While there is a happiness that comes as a result of receiving, the highest happiness that the human heart can know comes to those who are givers.
3. Giving is the way to usefulness. Only as we give some Service to others can we feel useful or can we be useful.
B. The focus of the Christian’s attention and effort is to be on giving. This refers to every area of life and is not to be confined to the offering plate.
1. Be a giver at home.
2. Be a giver at school.
3. Be a giver at work.
4. Be a giver in business.
5. Be a giver at church.
C. The Christian’s continual course of action is to be in terms of giving. Many labor under the mistaken impression that the highest form of giving is in terms of gadgets or trinkets that can be purchased and wrapped up in a package. Often these are but poor substitutes for something else that is needed more.
1. You can give love.
2. You can give mercy.
3. You can give forgiveness.
4. You can give praise.
5. You can give encouragement.
6. You can give inspiration.
7. You can give gratitude.
8. You can give time.
II. The Lord promises a rich reward from people.
“Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom” (Luke 6:38). This is not only a promise. It is a principle that works in every area of life.
A. The husband who lives to give happiness to his wife and family will find such returning to him in abundance.
B. The wife and mother who lives to be a giver will experience far more happiness than she who thinks only in terms of her own interests.
C. The businessman whose primary concern is to meet a need and render an excellent Service to and for others will find his place of business crowded with customers. His success will be beyond his expectations. He will find that people have repaid him “good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over.”
III. We must give lavishly if we would live abundantly.
A. God gave lavishly and extravagantly when he gave his Son to be our Savior.
B. Jesus Christ gave himself freely and fully for us when he went to the cross to die for our sins. As difficult as it may be for us to believe, there was more joy for him in connection with the cross than there would have been by avoiding the cross. “Who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2).
C. If you would experience abundant life, you must come to accept the basic philosophy of Jesus: “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
Helen Steiner Rice has put this thought in poetic form:
The more you give, the more you get,
The more you laugh, the less you fret —
The more you do unselfishly,
The more you live abundantly. . . .
The more of everything you share,
The more you’ll always have to spare —
The more you love, the more you’ll find
That life is good and friends are kind. . . .
For only what we give away,
Enriches us from day to day.
When Jesus Christ said, “Give,” he was referring to everything that we are and have. If we want to experience abundant life, we must give every day. It is only as we give that we receive. The hand that greedily grips that which it possesses is automatically closed so that it is unable to receive.
Sunday Evening, August 9
Title: “It Is Well with My Soul”
Text: “Run now, I pray thee, to meet her, and say unto her, Is it well with thee? Is it well with thy husband? Is it well with the child? And she answered, It is well” (2 Kings 4:26).
The hymn “It Is Well with My Soul” expresses the joy of a Christian poet over the glad consciousness of a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. Assurance of salvation is possible for every believer (1 John 5:13).
Assurance makes peace of mind and heart possible and also makes effective Service possible. There are many who lack assurance, for some lack salvation, some misunderstand salvation, some lack faith, and some have sin in their lives.
I. It is well with my soul because salvation is by grace.
“By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph. 2:8 – 9).
II. It is well with my soul because of the presence of God’s Spirit within my heart.
A. “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God” (Rom. 8:14, 16).
B. “And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us” (1 John 3:24).
III. It is well with my soul because of the keeping power of God.
A. “For I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day” (2 Tim. 1:12).
B. John 10:27 – 30.
C. Romans 8:35 – 39.
IV. It is well with my soul because of the testimony of God’s holy Word.
Instead of basing our assurance of salvation on feelings, we should recognize that our feelings are determined by our understanding of certain facts. One must believe and accept the statements of Scripture in order to have assurance of salvation.
A. John 3:18, 36.
B. John 5:24.
If the believer will give serious thought and study to the great salvation that comes through faith in Jesus Christ, he can join with Horatio G. Spafford in singing:
When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea-billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.
Wednesday Evening, August 12
Title: The Holy Spirit May Be Grieved
Text: “And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption” (Eph. 4:30).
Paul encouraged the followers of Christ at Ephesus to conduct themselves in a manner so as not to grieve the Holy Spirit of God. The word grieve means “to make sorrowful.” This reveals both the personality and the tenderheartedness of the Holy Spirit who dwells within each believer.
A study of the context of this challenge not to grieve the Spirit indicates the manner by which the Spirit can be grieved.
I. If we do not walk worthy of our Christian calling, we will grieve the Holy Spirit.
“I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called” (Eph. 4:1).
II. If we do not walk differently from the unregenerate world, we will grieve the Holy Spirit.
“This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind” (Eph. 4:17).
III. If we do not walk in love, we will grieve the Holy Spirit.
“Be ye therefore followers of God; . . . And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour” (Eph. 5:1 – 2).
IV. If we do not walk in the light, we will grieve the Holy Spirit.
“For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light” (Eph. 5:8).
V. If we do not walk carefully, we will grieve the Holy Spirit.
“See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise” (Eph. 5:15).
As sensitive parents grieve when their children fail to respond to their opportunities, even so the Holy Spirit grieves when we neglect to respond in a manner that would enable us to experience and manifest the beauty of Jesus Christ in our lives. The Holy Spirit is saddened when we are not instantly obedient to his commands of love. He wants to guide us and use us to bless others. Instead of grieving him, let each of us respond so as to bring joy to the Holy Spirit.
Sunday Morning, August 16
Title: Do You Love the Lord?
Text: “I love the Lord, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications” (Ps. 116:1).
Scripture Reading: Psalm 116:1 – 19
Hymns: “Love Divine,” Wesley
“My Jesus, I Love Thee,” Anonymous
“O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go,” Matheson
Offertory Prayer: Holy Father, today we pray that you would open our eyes and help us to see how richly blessed we are by your grace. Deliver us from blindness to your generosity. Help us to recognize that we can prove our love for you by sharing the rich blessings that you have bestowed on us with others. We desire to share the story of your love with the multitudes who continue to dwell in spiritual darkness. Take these tithes and offerings and bless them in the hands and lives of missionaries who seek to communicate the message of your love to a lost world. Help each of us to give as an act of worship. Through Jesus Christ. Amen.
Do you find it difficult to love God with all of your heart, with all of your soul, and with all of your mind (Matt. 22:37)? Some find it exceedingly difficult to love God in this manner because of false concepts of God. Some think of him as being an absentee God who is far away. They fail to recognize that he is always present. Others think of God as being a bully. Jesus came that people might know him in a father-child relationship. Some consider God to be stern and harsh, but Jesus revealed him to be a tender, kind, and loving heavenly Father. Some think that God is too busy to be concerned about them. Jesus had time to take children into his arms and bless them. He declared that the God who is aware of the falling of a sparrow is also concerned about each of us.
There are some who look upon God as being spiteful and vengeful. Jesus revealed him to be full of mercy and grace. It is easy to love the God whom Jesus came to reveal once we discover his beauty and love. On one occasion Jesus said to Philip, “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father” (John 14:9).
Even though the psalmist lived hundreds of years before Jesus came to reveal the grace of God, he had discovered in his own experience the gracious love and continuing mercy of God. In fact, he sang a hymn of love in which he enumerated a long list of reasons why he loved God. The message of the morning, like the message of the psalmist, takes the form of a personal testimony.
I. I love the Lord because “he hath heard my voice and my supplications.”
David was declaring his love for the Lord because the Lord had answered his prayers. You and I should be able to bear the same testimony.
A. David had prayed for help in times of trouble, and God had heard and delivered him.
B. David had experienced times of great uncertainty when he needed guidance. When he prayed, God directed his path.
C. David had prayed in times of weakness, and God had given him strength. Particularly was this so when he fought Goliath the giant. David expressed his confidence in the strength that God would give in a conversation with King Saul. He said, “The Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine” (1 Sam. 17:37).
From the beginning to the end of the Bible there is continuous testimony that our God is a prayer-hearing and prayer-answering God. Barren and empty is your life if you have never experienced a definite answer to your prayers. Your blessings at this point will be in proportion to your faithfulness in coming before God’s throne of grace for help in time of need. “Ye have not, because ye ask not” (James 4:2).
II. I love the Lord because “[he hath] delivered my soul from death.”
“For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36). Our most valuable possession is our soul, our very being.
A. We are grateful to our physician, who saves us from the effects of disease.
B. We are grateful to our teachers, who challenged our minds and delivered us from the blight of ignorance.
C. We are grateful to those who have given us counsel that has saved us from professional or economic failure.
D. While we should be grateful and manifest love for those who have rendered great personal Services, we should also recognize that Jesus Christ has rendered the greatest Service to us by dying for our sins on the cross to deliver us from spiritual death. Through faith in him we have the delightful privilege of passing out of the realm of death into the realm of eternal life. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life” (John 5:24).
III. I love the Lord because “[he hath] delivered . . . mine eyes from tears.”
When John saw the new heaven and the new earth, he declared, “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Rev. 21:4).
Has it ever occurred to you that God has already wiped away many of the tears that would have flooded your eyes if you had not known him as a personal Lord and Savior? If it had not been for his guiding presence in your mind and heart, you would have walked in the way of the transgressor where there is no peace and happiness and contentment. You would have known the frustrations and agony of facing life without the resources that God has made available to you. There would have been no comfort in the time of sorrow. There would have been no guidance in the time of uncertainty. There would have been no hope in the time of defeat. Our Lord has already wiped many of the tears from our eyes by removing the cause for those tears. Because of this great ministry, we should find it easy to love him and to praise him.
IV. I love the Lord because “[he hath] delivered . . . my feet from falling.”
The salvation that our Lord seeks to accomplish in our life extends beyond the forgiveness of sin. He is eager to deliver us from the power and practice of sin in our daily life. Not one of us has followed him faithfully all of the way at all times. In spite of our deafness to his gentle warnings and our momentary rebellions against his gentle guidance, we can all bear testimony to his abiding presence in every time of need.
A baccalaureate sermon was preached to a group of young graduates. The title of the speaker’s address was “The Infallible Leadership of Jesus Christ.” The speaker declared to the students that they could put their faith always in the guidance of Jesus Christ because he was an infallible leader who would always lead them right. Jesus declared, “He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12). If we walk in the light, we can be assured that Jesus will deliver our feet from the danger of falling into some abyss of evil.
Do you love the Lord? There are many reasons why we should love him. We should love him because he is our Savior, our Leader, and our Friend. We should love him for the privilege of serving that he has granted to us. We should love him because he has promised to deliver us from death and the grave and to prepare for us a home at the end of the way.
There are those who do not love Jesus because they have not yet responded by faith to the love that he demonstrated on the cross when he died for their sins. They know that they should love him, and they intend to love him someday. These ones would be wise to trust him as their Lord today.
Sunday Evening, August 16
Title: “Jesus Is the Friend You Need”
Text: “Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth now what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends” (John 15:15).
Scripture Reading: John 15:13 – 15
Perhaps no fact in the Bible is more convincingly established than that Jesus is the Friend of sinners. The Pharisees and scribes found fault with Jesus and criticized him severely because of his association with those who were considered irreligious. The parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin, the lost son, and the waiting father were his reply to the charge of being a friend of publicans and sinners.
The earth’s greatest man is the sinner’s best friend.
I. Jesus proves that he is the sinner’s friend.
A. His words will convince you (Luke 15).
B. His life reveals this fact.
C. His compassion convinces us.
D. His death proves it.
II. The blessed privilege of Jesus’ friendship.
In the words of the hymn writer, “Jesus Is the Friend You Need.”
A. Do you need a friend with infinite power?
B. Do you need a friend with infinite wisdom?
C. Do you need a friend with unlimited love?
D. Do you need an ever-present friend who can go with you all of the way? (Prov. 17:17; 18:24; Matt. 28:20; Gal. 2:20).
Proverbs 18:24 says that “there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” Thomas Fuller said, “They are rich who have true friends.” Henry Adams said that one friend in a lifetime is much, two are many, and three are hardly possible. Jesus is the greatest Friend we can have.
III. The transforming friendship.
A. Jesus offers his friendship as a gift. We must respond in faith to receive it.
B. Our obedience to Jesus shows that we are his friends (John 15:14).
Friendship with Jesus can begin right now. It is personal, it is real, and it is transforming. I. E. Reynolds would encourage you to begin this friendship with Christ tonight:
When the sun shines bright and your heart is light,
Jesus is the Friend you need;
When the clouds hang low in this world of woe,
Jesus is the Friend you need.
If you’re lost in sin, all is dark within,
Jesus is the Friend you need;
God alone can save thro’ the Son He gave.
Jesus is the Friend you need.
When in the sad hour, when in death’s grim pow’r,
Jesus is the Friend you need,
If you would prepare ’gainst the tempter’s snare,
Jesus is the Friend you need.
When the cares of life all around are rife,
Jesus is the Friend you need;
Glory to His name, always He’s the same.
Jesus is the Friend you need.
Wednesday Evening, August 19
Title: Do You Quench the Spirit?
Text: “Quench not the Spirit” (1 Thess. 5:19).
The presence and power of the Holy Spirit carry with them new responsibilities. Where there is responsibility, certain perils are created. Each of us finds the peril of making a negligent response to the ministry of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
The purpose and power of the Holy Spirit is not something that we are merely to enjoy. Ours is to be a response of recognition, surrender, and cooperation.
The picture in our text is that of pouring water on a fire. The inspired writer is saying to us, “Do not pour water on the fire that the Holy Spirit kindles within your heart. Do not choke the life out of the impulses that come from the Holy Spirit.”
I. Do you ever feel a deep need to go apart for prayer and communion with God?
How many of us would have to plead guilty to disobeying the Holy Spirit’s invitation to the closet of prayer? There are times when God has a rich blessing for us, and by means of the Holy Spirit he calls us to the place of prayer and communion that he might bestow this blessing upon us. When we quench the Holy Spirit’s leadership at this point, we impoverish ourselves and rob others of the greater blessing that we could be to them had we responded to the invitation to pray.
II. Do you ever feel a great heart hunger to study the Word of God?
Do you permit something else to occupy your time so as to make it impossible to open up God’s Word that you might feast on the Bread of Life and quench your thirst with the Water of Life? Did it ever occur to you that the Holy Spirit was trying to lead you to some message that you desperately need and that could be revealed to you through the written Word of God? The Holy Spirit is able to open up the Scriptures and to make the truth of God relevant and real to the life situation in which we find ourselves. To neglect the daily devotional study of God’s Word is to quench the Spirit.
III. Have you experienced a deep inward impulse to speak to someone concerning spiritual things?
Do you suppose that such an impression could possibly come from the Devil? Satan would never motivate you to encourage another in a conversation concerning the grace and goodness of God.
The Holy Spirit dwells in your heart and would utilize your experiences, your conversation, and all of your contacts for the glory of God and for the spiritual well-being of others.
Generally you can assume that when a deep inward inclination causes you to become concerned about another, the Holy Spirit has been working in that person’s heart also. He is seeking to use you as the medium through which a portion of the message of God can be communicated to the other person.
If you will respond by faith in an attitude of humility, you will experience the joy of being used by the Holy Spirit to bring the blessings of God into the lives of others.
The Holy Spirit will utilize you in giving praise to God and bringing the blessings of God into the lives of others if you will but recognize his presence and cooperate with his leadership. Not to do so is to pour water on the fire. Not to do so is to choke the life out of something that God is seeking to bring to fruition.
Sunday Morning, August 23
Title: The Habit of Giving Thanks
Text: “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thess. 5:18).
All of us are creatures of habit, and each of us has some good habits and some bad habits. We are what we are largely because of the habits we have developed. Some of these habits have been developed carefully and deliberately. Others we have just drifted into and adopted without deliberation. When I was a boy, my father would always say to me, “Now, Son, what are you supposed to say?” This was his reminder to me to say “thank you” when one of my uncles would give me a nickel. My attitude of gratitude occasionally produced another nickel. My father was trying to instill within me the habit of expressing thanks. The words of our text say, “In every thing give thanks.” Let us develop the habit of giving thanks.
I. The giving of thanks is a habit to be learned.
A. We do not become grateful instinctively.
B. We acquire the attitude of gratitude that expresses itself in words and actions. We wonder why only one of the lepers returned to give thanks (Luke 17:11 – 19). Perhaps that one had developed the habit of recognizing good things and then expressing gratitude for them.
C. We need to give attention to our habits. We talk much about bad habits. We first make our habits, and then our habits make us. You are what you are because of the habits that you have developed. If you are ungrateful, it could be that you have never opened your eyes and developed the habit of expressing thanks for things that come to you.
The Thankful Heart
For all that God in mercy sends —
For health and children, home and friends;
For comfort in the time of need,
For every kindly word or deed,
For happy thoughts and holy talk,
For guidance in our daily walk —
In everything give thanks!
For beauty in this world of ours,
For verdant grass and lovely flowers,
For songs of birds, for hum of bees,
For the refreshing summer breeze,
For hill and plain, for stream and wood,
For the great ocean’s mighty flood —
In everything give thanks!
For the sweet sleep which comes with night,
For the returning morning light,
For the bright sun that shines on high,
For the stars glittering in the sky —
For these and every thing we see,
O Lord, our heart we lift to Thee;
In every thing give thanks!
— Ellen Isabelle Tupper, Quest and Conquests
William Law said, “If anyone would tell you the shortest and surest way to happiness, he must tell you to make it a rule to yourself to thank and praise God for everything that happens to you. For it is certain that when whatever seems calamity happens to you, if you thank and praise God for it, you turn it into a blessing.” We should look for things for which we can thank God.
II. The giving of thanks is a habit that should be learned.
A. The giving of thanks will produce joy. It should be maintained and developed not just to show courtesy but because it will produce joy for all concerned.
1. The expression of thanks and gratitude brings joy to the heart of the heavenly Father. I do not know of anything that brings more delight to my heart than to hear one of my children say, “Dad, I love you” or “Dad, I am grateful.” I believe that something in the heart of God rejoices when we come to him saying, “Thank you.” Most of us go to him with our hands out.
2. The offering of thanks brings great joy to others. How long has it been since you have thanked your husband or wife and showed your appreciation for him or her? How long has it been since you wrote a letter to your mother and expressed gratitude for all she meant and did for you?
3. Joy will come into your own heart when you stop to say thank you. A boy was counting up the good things and the bad things that had happened in his life. He counted the good things first and became so happy about them that he forgot the bad things.
B. The giving of thanks will always strengthen faith in the goodness of God. John R. Bisagno, author of The Power of Positive Prayer, says that the first step in effective prayer is praise. Go into the presence of God thanking him for all that he has done for you. It will do something for your heart, your faith, and your gratitude. Paul had this in mind when he wrote, “Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God” (Phil. 4:6). If you do not thank God for his blessings upon you, you will weaken your own faith.
C. To be habitually thankful is to deepen your love for God and for others. This love can be cultivated, and it grows. One of the finest ways to cultivate love for each other is to develop the habit of giving thanks. An expression of gratitude does much for you and also for others.
D. To be habitually thankful will encourage an optimistic and hopeful outlook on life. We all have more pessimism than we should. We can always see the hole instead of the doughnut. This is because we are selfish.
The Latin word optimus means “best,” while the Latin word pessimus means “worst.”
E. To be habitually thankful is to discover the beauty of living. Life can be beautiful if we look for the flowers. If we develop the habit of being sensitive and aware of the good things that come along in life, life will be more beautiful.
III. The habit of giving thanks can be developed. How do you develop this habit?
A. We must begin by being grateful today. Gratitude is the memory of the heart. We should determine that we are going to be grateful, again and again, until it becomes the automatic expression of our soul. Surely every one of us, even the most unfortunate among us, have many things for which we can be grateful.
B. We must search for things to be grateful for.
C. We need to express gratitude even for small things. We can bring joy into the life of a waitress or clerk by being thankful for the Service she has rendered. Teachers will be greatly delighted if we tell them that we sincerely appreciate what they are doing for us. How long has it been since you have sent a letter to someone expressing sincere thanks for what they have meant to you and have done for you?
D. We must search for ways to express thanks. “In every thing give thanks, for this is the will of God for you.” God wants us to develop the habit of expressing thanks, for he is glorified not by our groanings but by our expressions of thanks.
The art of thanksgiving is “thanksliving” — gratitude in action. It is applying Albert Schweitzer’s philosophy: “In gratitude for your own good fortune you must render in return some sacrifice of your life for other life.” It is thanking God for the gift of life by living it triumphantly. It is thanking God for all that men and women have done for you by doing things for others. It is thanking God for opportunities by accepting them as a challenge to achievement. It is thanking God for happiness by striving to make others happy. It is thanking God for beauty by helping to make the world more beautiful. It is thanking God for inspiration by trying to be an inspiration to others. It is thanking God for health and strength by the care and reverence you show your body. It is thanking God for each new day by living it to the fullest.
— Wilferd A. Peterson, The Treasure Chest
Sunday Evening, August 23
Title: “Take Time to Be Holy”
Text: “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:15 – 16).
The hymn “Take Time to Be Holy” contains a challenge for the heart of every believer. It brings to our attention a needed challenge that is misunderstood by many people.
I. Our God is a holy God.
The biblical concept of holiness is strange to the ears of modern people. By the word holiness, the biblical writers were referring to the very essence of deity. God’s holiness is that part of his nature that reacts against sin. They used this word to describe the unique difference that existed between God and man.
A. Exodus 3:5 – 6.
B. Isaiah 6:1 – 6.
II. The holiness of God calls for holiness on the part of his people.
The concept of the holiness of God came to refer to his flawless character, his moral nature, and the moral requirements that he placed on his people. What was dedicated to God was considered holy unto God: it belonged to God, was available to him, and was for his use only.
III. A holy nation.
The purpose of God for us is that we be a holy nation. This we cannot be accidentally or incidentally. The hymn writer challenges us.
A. “Take time to be holy.”
B. “Speak oft with the Lord.”
C. “Abide in him always.”
D. “Feed on his Word.”
E. “Make friends of God’s children.”
F. “Help those who are weak.”
G. “Forgetting in nothing his blessings to seek.”
To be holy is to be dedicated to God and available for his use. To be holy is to know the joy and peace and usefulness for which every human heart hungers. (Quote the other stanzas of the hymn if you like.)
Wednesday Evening, August 26
Title: Full of the Spirit
Text: “Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18).
On the day of Pentecost, those who were assembled together in prayer waiting for the promise of the Father were filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:4). Being filled with the Spirit was not a once-for-all experience reserved only for those who were present on the day of Pentecost. We read that Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit as he spoke to the rulers and elders (Acts 4:8). When the church prayed, they were all filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 4:31). The first deacons were said to be full of the Holy Spirit (Acts 6:3). Stephen spoke with great power because he was full of the Holy Spirit (Acts 7:55). Barnabas was a man full of the Holy Spirit (Acts 11:24). We read also that Saul, who became Paul, was filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 13:9). We should not be surprised when we read in Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians that he exhorted them, “Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18).
I. To be filled with the Spirit is to be God-intoxicated.
Evidently there are some similarities between being filled with the Spirit and being intoxicated with alcohol, for Paul would not have said, “Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit.” Someone has listed these similarities as follows:
A. Those filled with the Spirit are brave.
B. Those filled with the Spirit are happy.
C. Those filled with the Spirit are talkative.
D. Those filled with the Spirit are generous.
E. Those filled with the Spirit are unworried about tomorrow.
II. To be filled with the Spirit is to be emptied of self.
When self is on the throne, the Christ is forced to the circumference of life.
A. The Spirit leads us to put spiritual life ahead of material life.
B. The Spirit leads us to set our affections on things above rather than on the perishable things of the present.
III. The pathway to the fullness of the Spirit.
A. We must have faith to believe that the Holy Spirit has come to dwell within our hearts (1 Cor. 3:16).
B. The Holy Spirit is permitted to enter fully as we give ourselves to prayer (Acts 4:31).
C. The Holy Spirit can take charge completely only when we yield ourselves to a life of grateful obedience to the will of God (Acts 5:32).
Sunday Morning, August 30
Title: A Certain Rich Man
Text: “There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day” (Luke 16:19).
Scripture Reading: Luke 16:19 – 31
Hymns: “My Soul, Be on Thy Guard,” Heath
“Ye Must Be Born Again,” Sleeper
“Why Do You Wait?” Root
Offertory Prayer: Our heavenly Father, our prayers ascend to you this day in the name of our Savior. We ask you to bless these tithes and offerings given to you out of grateful hearts. Bless them to your use and the building up of your kingdom. Amen.
Jesus, the master storyteller, related a disturbing and thought-provoking parable about a rich man, but many of us miss his point. The parable has been used to verify the fact of hell as the destiny of the unbelieving, and it has been used as a basis for discussing both the temperature and the geography of the home of the doomed. It should bring tears to the eyes of everyone who contemplates what it will mean for a person to enter eternity outside of the favor and the salvation of God.
It is very possible that Jesus told this parable, not to describe hell, but to insist on people making a proper response to the message of Moses and the prophets (cf. Luke 16:29 – 31). The primary message of the parable is to be found in the rich man, his condition, his response, and the catastrophe he experienced. Many of us miss the point of the parable because we identify with Lazarus. We read about how Lazarus was poor, sick, and ignored in this life and how he eventually died and went to heaven. Many of us say, “That is talking about me. I am poor and ignored and mistreated, and when I die I have hope of going to heaven.” We never identify with the rich man, and consequently we fail to hear the warning that comes to each of us personally in this powerful parable.
I. Consider the rich man’s riches.
A. Evidently he was rich in money. We usually measure riches in monetary terms.
B. He was rich in food and clothing, for the parable says that “he was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day.”
C. Perhaps he was rich in friends. Usually those who are wealthy have many wealthy friends.
D. He was rich in leisure in that it was not necessary for him to struggle to earn his daily bread to keep from starving.
E. He was rich in his family, for the parable says that he had at least five brothers in his father’s house (Luke 16:19).
F. He was rich in good health, at least for a time. The parable indicates that he had a good appetite, which is usually an indication of good health (Luke 16:19).
G. He was rich in talents, for unless he inherited his estate, he had been successful in acquiring material goods.
H. If we would be honest, we would discover that the rich man, rather than Lazarus, is the ideal of most of us. He is the one whom we are inclined to envy. For us to fail to recognize this and to identify with him in this parable is to miss the cutting edge of what Jesus Christ was trying to communicate.
II. Consider the rich man’s blindness.
Did I hear you say that you did not know that the rich man was blind? The parable does not say so, but he was.
A. The rich man was blind to his opportunities. He had the opportunity to meet the desperate needs of a man who was lying at his gate at the point of death, and he also had the opportunity to make preparation for eternity.
B. The rich man was blind to the needs of others (Luke 16:20). Perhaps the rich man turned his head to avoid looking at Lazarus, as the priest and the Levite had done concerning the man who was robbed between Jerusalem and Jericho in Jesus’ parable of the good Samaritan (Luke 10:30 – 32). Perhaps he was so preoccupied with his business that he never even saw Lazarus.
C. The rich man was blind to the issues of eternity. He failed to recognize the eternal significance of both his attitudes and his actions in the present. How terrible it is to be blind. Are you rich and also blind to your opportunities, to the needs of others, and to the issues of eternity?
III. Consider the rich man’s deafness.
Did I hear you say that you did not know that the rich man was deaf? The parable does not say so, but he was.
A. The rich man was deaf to the voice of God. In speaking about his brothers and his desire that they repent, he revealed that he had opportunities to respond to the voice of God but for one reason or another had declined. For all practical purposes, he who hears and refuses to respond is acting as if he were deaf.
B. The rich man was deaf to the cries of distress about him. Lazarus the beggar lay at the rich man’s gate full of sores and at the point of death. We can assume that as the rich man entered the gate, Lazarus would lift his hand and make some audible plea for alms.
How tragic is the deafness of those who consider themselves to be God’s people today. We fail to hear the desolate cries of distress of those about us who are in spiritual darkness and loneliness and who in one way or another continuously give voice to the emptiness of life as they experience it away from God. We have the message of him who can bring light and life and love to them. We have acted as deaf people to our Lord’s commission to evangelize the world, beginning at our own home and continuing to the uttermost part of the earth (Acts 1:8).
IV. Consider the rich man’s misery in time as well as in eternity.
The parable does not say anything about the rich man being miserable while on earth; it does emphasize that fact after he entered eternity (Luke 16:23 – 28). A study of the parable reveals the rich man’s selfishness.
A. The rich man was self-centered, and self-centeredness never produces the highest possible human happiness. We are not stretching the evidence at all to assume that even though he was rich and fared sumptuously, he was also miserable. His self-centeredness in life is revealed by his blindness to the needs of Lazarus and his deafness to his cries for help while enjoying the bounty of his own riches. Someone has said that when an individual is wrapped up in himself, he makes a mighty small package.
B. The rich man was self-centered in death. Notice the plea that came from his heart: “Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame” (Luke 16:24). His sole interest was his own comfort, and he immediately requisitioned the assistance of Lazarus as a servant to contribute to his comfort. It had been his habit in life to issue orders and to use men for his own personal well-being. He continued to be self-centered in hell.
The rich man again requisitioned the Services of a man who had laid at his gate for days, ignored and unhelped, to render a Service for his five brothers. While the concern of the rich man for his brothers has been used to illustrate the compassion that we should have for others, it should be recognized that in his particular case it was but a further expression of selfish concern for his own.
V. Consider the rich man’s brothers (Luke 16:28 – 31).
A. Mention has been made of our tendency to identify with Lazarus rather than the rich man. Perhaps we would be getting very close to the heart of this parable if we considered the possibility of identifying with these five brothers who are still among the living. Are you one of the brothers of the rich man who was not only rich but blind and deaf as well as foolish to live a self-centered life?
B. Do you make the decisions of life primarily on a materialistic basis? Do you live by the philosophy that a person must have bread in order to live? Are you constantly concerned with the questions, “What will it cost me? What’s in it for me?” Do you look upon success in terms of being clothed in purple and fine linen and faring sumptuously every day? Lord, forgive us and bring us to our senses.
C. Do you place spiritual values in second place rather than first place? Do the demands of your stomach have precedent over the needs of your soul? As a creature of eternity living in time, do you act as the grasshopper who lives for the present unaware of the fact that the frost is going to fall and the grass is going to die?
D. Have you accepted a false scale of values that puts the material before the spiritual, the temporal before the eternal?
E. Have you for some reason neglected to repent? (Luke 16:30). To repent is something infinitely more than just being filled with remorse for past failures. Positively, repentance is both the act and the continuing attitude of making Jesus Christ the Lord of our lives. To really repent toward God is to change your attitude from an attitude of ignoring him to recognizing and acknowledging him. Instead of resenting him and rebelling against him, it is to respond to his love with a glad surrender of both the will and the emotions.
The rich man of the parable was rich in many things, but because of his blindness to the things that really mattered and because of his deafness to the call of God and the inner hunger of his own soul, as well as to the cries of distress of those about him, he was inwardly miserable in life and forever miserable in eternity.
May God help you to open your eyes to your spiritual poverty and to your need for the spiritual riches that can come to you through repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus. May God help you to hear today the warning of the rich man that you might avoid his destiny. May God help you to hear the message of Moses and the prophets concerning the Savior who came and died for our sins. He is risen from the dead and will be your Savior today if you let him become the Lord of your life.
Sunday Evening, August 30
Title: “I Will Sing of My Redeemer”
Text: “And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them” (Acts 16:25).
Scripture Reading: Acts 16:16 – 25
Did you ever hear prisoners who had been cruelly beaten and unjustly imprisoned sing of the grace and love of God? It was indeed a strange turn of events for the prisoners in the jail of Philippi when Paul and Silas were placed in the inner prison. Instead of complaints and curses, they heard these men give utterance to prayers and hymns of praise to God. Why were they able to react in this strange manner?
I. Paul and Silas had discovered that God is love.
This is the supreme truth of Christianity revealed in the life, death, resurrection, and living presence of the Savior.
II. Paul and Silas had experienced the forgiveness of sins.
They could rejoice that though they were condemned by the officials in Philippi, they were not condemned before the bar of God’s holiness (Rom. 5:1; 8:1; John 3:17 – 18).
III. Paul and Silas were assured that death had been defeated.
They were completely convinced that through faith in Jesus, who had conquered death and the grave, they likewise would have full and complete victory over death and the tomb. Jesus had demonstrated the reality of immortality, and they did not cower in fear before the prospect of death. Because of this confidence, they were able to sing.
IV. Paul and Silas were experiencing the living presence of Jesus Christ.
The Savior had attached a thrilling promise to his command that his disciples busy themselves in the task of witnessing. His promise was, “Lo, I am with you alway” (Matt. 28:20). Although the prisoners could not see Jesus, he was very real to Paul and Silas. He is always real to those who through faith obey.
When Charles Wesley contemplated the wonder of our great salvation, he wished, “O for a thousand tongues to sing my great Redeemer’s praise. . . .”