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He Treads Above The Wite-Capped Waves

Jesus’ apostles had been waiting for Him in the boat but He had been a long time in reaching them. He told them He would meet them but He first had to dismiss a crowd that had been listening to Him teach (Matt. 14:22) and then He spent some time afterward in prayer in the mountain alone by Himself (Mark 6:45,46). But from His place of prayer, Jesus saw His disciples toiling and fighting the wind and waves and went to them in the fourth watch, walking on the water (Matt. 14:23-25; Mark 6:48).

The apostles were understandably afraid when they saw Jesus walking to them on the water in the early morning hours. They were undoubtedly tired, having battled a tempestuous sea all through the night (Matt. 1423-25; Mark 6:34, 45-48). They were so afraid, in fact, that when they saw Jesus they literally cried out or screamed in their fear because they thought they were seeing a ghostly apparition (Mark 6:49).

The Lord immediately allayed their fears and spoke to them saying “Be of good cheer; it is I, be not afraid” (Matt. 14:27). The ever impetuous Peter immediately blurted out, “Lord, if it be Thou, bid me to come unto Thee on the water” (Matt. 14:28). And for just a moment, he did. He stepped out of the boat and was able to walk on the water going to Jesus. But when he began to look around at the waves and the wind, he began to be afraid all over again and began to sink. He cried out in fear to the Lord “Save me!”

On another occasion, the Lord was asleep in the hinder part of the ship while the wind and waves covered the boat. The apostles were afraid for their lives and rushed to wake Jesus, rebuking Him, saying, “Carest Thou not that we perish?” (Mark 4:38)? Jesus returned the rebuke by asking them, “Why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith?” (Mark 4:40). He rebuked the sea also and at His voice the winds bowed down in reverence. The apostles’ fear was born out of lack of faith in the Lord. If they had considered Who it was that was in the boat with them and what He was to do, then they should not have been afraid.

How easy it is in this world to be afraid. There are all sorts of threats to our well-being and they seem to be increasing daily. Muggings, terrorists, war, financial disaster, immorality affecting our families, thugs, oppression etc. Sometimes we feel as though we are all alone and we just want cry out, “Lord, don’t you care?” We often cry out “Lord, save me!” As faithful Christians, however, we should know just what and whom to fear.

The Bible says that we should not fear anything that can happen to us in this life. David said he was not afraid even of a great army that should come against him (Psalm 27:3). If we know that God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble, then we “will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof” (Psalm 46:1-3).

The apostle Paul, quoting the sentiments of the Psalms, writes “we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me” (Hebrews 13:6). The most that any person can do to us is to take our life. A prospect that from the human perspective is to be avoided at all costs. But Jesus said not to be afraid of them for that (Luke 12:4). Rather, He said, be afraid of Him who can destroy both body and soul in hell (Matt. 10:28).

“And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good? But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled” (I Peter 3:13,14). As Isaiah assured Israel:

“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. Behold, all they that were incensed against thee shall be ashamed and confounded: they shall be as nothing; and they that strive with thee shall perish…For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee” (Isaiah 41:10-13).

Paul once asked the rhetorical question: If God be for us, who can be against us (Rom. 8:31)? As long as the Lord is on board, no Euroclydon wind can ever capsize our vessel (Acts 27:14). God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and love and of a sound mind (II Tim. 1:7). Never charter a vessel with the name S. S. Fear or sail under Captain Terror. Our Captain commands even the winds and the sea and He treads above the white-capped waves of doubt and fear!

Eric L. Padgett

ANGER: An Historical Survey

Cain was angry when God did not respect his faithless offering (Gen. 4:5; Heb. 11:4). His anger manifested itself visibly in his sullen deportment (Gen. 4:6) and he took his anger out on his brother, Abel, by taking his life (Gen. 4:8). He was condemned by God to be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth (Gen. 4:9-12).

Esau was angry at Jacob for obtaining his birthright and blessing (Gen. 27:41-46). His anger was such that he hated Jacob and sought to kill him (Gen. 27:41). Jacob had to flee for his life (Gen. 27:43). Ultimately, these brothers were reconciled (Gen. 33).

Jacob was angry at his wife Rachael because she blamed him for not being able to have children (Gen. 30:1,2).

Pharaoh was angry at the chief butler and baker because they had somehow offended him. He put them in prison, later releasing one and putting the other to death (Gen. 40).

The sons of Jacob were angry at Shechem for the rape of Dinah, their sister. They took their anger out on the Shechemites by killing Hamor, Shechem and all the males of the city, took captive their wives and made spoil of the land. Their anger is described as fierce and cruel (Gen. 49:7). Jacob rebuked his sons and expressed his fear that the other inhabitants of the land would destroy him and his house in retaliation (Gen. 34).

Potiphar became angry when his wife falsely accused Joseph of trying to force her to lie with him (Gen. 39:13-18). His anger resulted in Joseph being imprisoned for something he didn’t do (Gen. 39:19-21).

Moses was angry at Phaaroah because he would not let the children of Israel go and it would result in the death of the firstborn of Egypt (Ex. 11:4-80.

Moses was angry at some of the children of Israel when they disobeyed his command not to keep the manna until the morning. When some of them did so, it bred worms and stank (Ex. 16:19,20).

Moses anger waxed hot when he came down from the mount with the tables of stone containing the ten commandments written with the finger of God and saw the children of Israel worshiping the golden calf and dancing (Ex. 32:15-19). In his anger he broke the tables of the law and ground down the calf and made the children of Israel to drink of it (Ex. 32:19-21).

Moses was angry with Eleazar and Ithamar because they did not dispose of the sin offering as he had commanded them (Lev. 10:12-18).

Moses was angry when the sons of Eliab, who, along with Korah, rebelled against Moses’ leadership, did not respond to his call. Moses prayed the Lord that He would not respect their offerings (Num. 16:12-15).

The tribe of Ephraim was offended and angry that Gideon did not call them to aid in the battle against the Midianites but Gideon assuaged their anger when he complimented them on their later successes (Judges 8:1-33).

Zebul, governor of Shechem, was angered when he discovered that Gaal the son of Ebed conspired against Abimelech. He informed Abimelech and they were able to quash the rebellion (Jud. 9).

When Saul was informed that the Ammonites were going to take Jabesh-gilead, he was angered and sent word to all Israel that they were to come and help him defeat the Ammonites (I Sam. 11:1-11).

David’s oldest brother Eliab was angry with David when he spoke defiantly of the Philistine Goliath (I Sam. 17:26-28).

Saul was angry through jealousy when he learned that the people praised David more than they praised Saul (I Sam. 18:8).

Saul was angry with his son Jonathan when he believed that Jonathan favored David even over his own ambition. Jonathan likewise was angry when he learned that his father intended to kill David even though he had done no wrong (I Sam. 20:24-34).

The princes of the Philistines were angry because David was with Achish in the battle and they feared he might turn on them. David was sent back to placate their anger (I Sam. 29:1-7).

Ishbosheth angered Abner when he said he had desecrated his father’s concubine (II Sam. 3:7,8).

David was angry at the man Nathan described in his parable, which turned out to be a description of David, himself (II Sam. 12:1-7).

David was angered when he heard of Amnon’s abuse of Tamar, but he, himself, did nothing in the matter II Sam. 13:1-21).

The tribes of the northern kingdom were angry with David and the southern kingdom of Judah because David went back with Judah and did not give preference to Israel, even though they had more people and more tribes (II Sam. 19:40-42).

Naaman, the Syrian commander, was angry with Elisha and went away in a rage because he did not come out and make a great fanfare of healing him of leprosy (II Kings 5:9-14).

Elisha was angry with Joash because he did not signify that he was going to defeat Syria by striking the ground with his arrows five or six times (II Kings 13:18,19).

Asa was angry with Hanani the seer because he did not like his preaching and he put him in prison for it (II Chron. 16:7-10).

Israel was angered by Amaziah because, when he had negotiated with them to send a hundred thousand men of valor to fight against the children of Seir, the prophet of God warned him not to take them with him because God was not with Israel. When Amaziah sent them home in accordance with the commands of God they became very angry (II Chron. 25:1-11).

In his pride, King Uzziah went into the temple and usurped the work of the priests, violating God’s order of service. When the priests confronted him over this he became angry. While he was in the temple and while he was attempting to burn incense, God struck him with leprosy at that moment he became a leper until the day of his death (II Chron. 26:16-21).

Sanballat and his cohorts were angered when they knew that Israel was building the wall and repairing the breaches (Neh. 4:1,7).

Nehemiah was angry at his brethren for taking advantage of the poor of his own country (Neh. 5:6).

Ahasuerus the king was very angry with an anger that burned within him when Vashti, his queen, did not come when he called for her (Esther 1:10-12). He commanded that Vashti come no more before him and a contest was arranged to see who would take her place. When certain laws were put in place that kept women from doing the same again, the king’s wrath was appeased (Esther 2:1).

Two of ahasuerus’s chamberlains were angry at the king and sought to kill him, but MordecaI revealed the plot to the king and he was saved (Esther 2:21-23).

Haman was angry because he felt that Mordecai did not show him the proper reverence ans sought to have him all Jews killed ((Esther 3:5).

King Ahasuerus was again angered when he learned of Haman’s plot and had Haman hung on the gallows he meant for Mordecai (Esther 7:7-10).

Young Elihu was angered at Job because he thought he justified himself rather than God and he was angry at Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar because they could not answer Job (Job 32:1-5).

Jonah was angry when the citizens of Nineveh repented at his preaching (Jon. 3,4). God taught him a lesson through a gourd that He caused to grow up and protect him from the sun that he had pity on the gourd but not on the great city of Nineveh.

Herod was angry when he felt the magi had mocked him. In his anger he had all children two years old and under killed in Bethelehem and surrounding areas (Matt. 2:16,17).

The Jews in the synagogue in Nazareth were filled with anger at the Lord because He claimed to be the fulfillment of the scriptures prophesying the Messiah. In their anger they sought to stone Him (Luke 4:15-30).

The Jews were angry at the Lord because He healed a man on the sabbath (John 7:14-24).

When the worshipers of Diana felt their silver shrine businesses and religion were threatened by the preaching of Paul they became very angry and caused an uproar in the city (Acts 19:23-34).

The Lord was angered because of the hardness of the people’s heart (Mark 3:1-5).

His emotions ran high when He saw the Jews making His house of prayer a den of thieves. In His zeal He overthrew the money changers tables and drove them out of the temple (John 2:12-17).

More than anyone else, God is angry with the wicked every day (Psalm 7:11). Though He is slow to anger (Psalm 103:8), His wrath, once it is kindled, is fierce (Psalm 78:49). His wrath will be revealed against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who hold the truth in unrighteousness (Rom. 1:18).

Eric L. Padgett

The Christian and the World

Jesus prayed to the Father:

I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth (John 17:14-19).

The Lord said several important things about His followers in His prayer that we need to know and remember. First, He said that those that follow Him are not of this world (John 17:16). Of course, He did not mean that His disciples were aliens or that they should charter a flight with SpaceX and leave this earth. Rather, he was highlighting the fact that as Christians we should live on a higher moral plane than the rest of the world. We have a higher standard by which to live and a higher goal to obtain.

Paul, quoting Isaiah regarding Israel’s need to separate from ancient Babylon, said that as Christians we need to “come out from among them, and be separate and touch not the unclean thing” (II Cor. 6:17; cf. Is. 52:11). If we are risen with Christ, we need to seek those things that are above and set our affections on things above and not on things on this earth (Col. 3:1-10). We are to be set apart from the world.

The second thing He said about His followers was that, while we are not of this world, we cannot remove ourselves from it. He said “I pray not that Thou shouldest take them out of the world” (John 17:15). Our obligation as Christians keeps us from separating ourselves from the rest of the world because we have a responsibility to go into all the world and preach to them the gospel (Matt. 28:18-20). We are the light of the world and the salt of the earth (Matt. 5:13-16). We have work to do and we must work while we can (II Tim. 2:21).

As Christians then, we must maintain a balance between living in this world and keeping it from living in us. God created man as a part of this physical world. He created man with a physical body that has certain physical attributes and desires. Our senses are very powerful forces in our lives that can either be harnessed and used for good or unbridled and lead us into great temptations and sin.

The third thing that Jesus said about His disciples is that they are separated from the world by means of the truth. Jesus said “sanctify them through Thy truth, Thy word is truth” (John 17:17). Jesus said “I have given them Thy word” (John 17:14). God’s word is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction and instruction in righteousness that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works (II Tim. 3:16,17). We purify our souls through this truth (I Pet. 1:22,23).

The fourth thing that Jesus said is that world hates those who follow the Lord just because they follow the Lord. The world hates those that are not of the world. The reason the world hates those who follow the Lord is that the devil is the god of this world (I Cor. 4:4). The god of this world has nothing to do with Jesus (John 14:30). We should not be surprised, then, if the world hates us because it first hated the Lord (John 15:18).

As Christians, then, we fight a constant battle of keeping the world out of our lives while living in the world. We know that the whole world lieth in darkness (I John 5:19). Our job is to reflect the light of Jesus Christ and the glory of God into a world steeped in darkness.

Eric L. Padgett

Some Reflections on Prayer

Prayer is such an important part of the Christian’s life that Jesus gave us an example of how to do it (Matt. 6:13-15). It is therefore something we should consider seriously. Prayer can be divided into two groups for the purpose of this article: public and private. To start with, let us note a few observations regarding public prayers.

First, while every prayer is personal, and the heart of those praying must always be right with God, public prayer must account for more than just the personal needs of the individual leading the prayer. The person who leads the public prayer should be cognizant of the fact that others are participating in this act of fellowship and should make them feel that they are a part of the prayer. Others need to be able to say “amen” at the end of that prayer (I Cor. 14:16). Therefore, the prayer cannot be too specific about one’s own needs.

Second, when it is time in the public assembly for prayer, it should be announced that prayer is going to be begun. This is especially important when there are visitors in the assembly. I have seen instances where visitors have been left confused because they didn’t hear what was going on and finally realized that prayer had been begun. If it is not announced, the person praying could simply say, “Let us pray” to alert those in the congregation that prayer is about to begin.

Third, public prayer should not be used to attack any individual. I have seen instances where the person praying brought in their own personal conflicts. It was prayed something to the effect, “I know there are some here that don’t like me…” This is very inappropriate. If you do have that kind of problem, go to that person first and if the problem is not solved take it before the congregation (Matt. 5:23,24). But to attack another in prayer is not only inappropriate but unbecoming of a Christian.

Fourth, prayers should reflect a certain kind of reverence and awe before the Lord. It seems that we have lost something of reverence in our assemblies since many have left the use of solemn personal pronouns in addressing the Father in heaven. I would not be dogmatic about it, but it would evince a bit more reverence if we could go back to that practice. I know the arguments that the Greek did not have such pronouns. This is true, but English does and it makes sense to honor His majesty by setting apart and reverencing His name (Palm 111:9).

Now, concerning private prayer, we should, first of all, pray often. Paul said to “pray without ceasing” (I Thess, 5:21). God is our Father and it should be natural for us to approach Him in prayer. He wants us to make known our requests unto Him (Phil. 4:6) even though He already knows that of which we stand in need (Matt. 6:8). Don’t become estranged from your heavenly father.

Second, pray from the heart. As noted above, while God already knows our hearts and so there is nothing you could say He does not already know (Heb. 4:13), yet read the psalms and see how David poured out his heart to the Lord. He was passionate. He was even argumentative. He reminded God of what He had done before for His saints and that He was able to do the same for him (cf. Psalm 35).

Third, find time to pray to God alone. Jesus often went off to a secluded place to pray to God (e.g., Matt. 14:23; Luke 9:18). Sometimes there are things we have to say to God that others do not need to hear. Publicly led prayer has to be inclusive but private prayer is personal prayer. Jesus said when we pray we should enter into our closet and shut the door (Matt. 6:6).

Finally, don’t let your prayers be hindered by sin in your life. Pray with holy hands (I Tim. 2:8). God hears the prayers of the righteous man but His face is against those who do evil (I Pet. 3:12). Our sins separate us from God (Is. 59:1,2).

Prayer is important for us as Christians. We have access to the Father by this means, which others do not. Let our prayers therefore be acceptable to God.

Eric L. Padgett

Practical Suggestions For Worship

Worship is an important and necessary part of the Christian’s life. However, some Christians complain that they don’t get anything out of worship. We must remember that worship is not primarily for us, but for the Lord. But here some basic, practical suggestions to make worship mean something to us, too,

First, get some sleep and be rested for the morning worship and Bible study. It is hard to worship God and study God’s word when you are struggling to keep your eyes open (Matt. 26:40,41). There are so many distractions in our lives these days and many of them are very important. But there are none as important as obeying the Lord and worshiping Him. We make certain we get our rest when we know we have to go work. How could the Lord’s work and worship be any less important?

Second, don’t bring your family problems to worship. If your mind is on your disagreement with your wife or husband or on the children’s behavior, then it is going to be difficult to meditate on your worship to God. The same is true of any other problem that you may be facing (Matt. 5:22-24; 6:33,34).

Third, don’t become distracted with the internet or Facebook or texting while worshiping God. Our technology today can be a great blessing. Many people use a Bible app on their phone (Heb. 12:1,2). However, there are also many temptations available to the person who uses their phone this way. There is always a temptation to read your mail or look at Facebook or some other site instead of focusing on the subject of the lesson. If you must use a phone Bible app, make an effort to not become distracted.

There is also a benefit to carrying a Bible to church and Bible study. Carrying a Bible allows people to know where you are going when they see you lave your house. It is a simple but effective way to be an example to others.

Fourth, know what you are going to wear to services Sunday morning before Sunday morning gets here. If possible, lay out the clothes you are going to wear to services on Sunday the night before, so that you will not be in a rush to try and find something that fits or that is clean. And wear clothes that are fitting to the occasion of worshiping the God of heaven. This will also increase your sense of worship and awe before the Lord.

Fifth, follow the song leader as he leads the songs. Don’t try to lead from the pew. Keep in time and follow his lead (I Cor. 14:33,40).

Sixth, while good singing can be very pleasing to the ear, the song service is not for your entertainment. It is for the worship of Almighty God. Sing enthusiastically as if you were before His throne because you are! When you sing, understand what you are singing (I Cor. 14:15,26).

Seventh, if you know the subject of the class, be prepared. If there is any scripture reading given in advance, have it read before you get to the building. If your children have Bible class work to be done, help them get it done before the class begins.

Finally, keep your children off the electronic devices while worshiping. While having them play games on a tablet may keep them quiet, it does not teach them the importance of worship. It is o.k. if your children become restless during services. You can correct that through discipline. But they must learn from an early age the importance of worshiping God (Prov. 22:6).

Eric L. Padgett

THE HEART

In the Bible, the heart is the controlling center of man. Every action–mental, physical and spiritual–can be said to have its origin in the heart. Imagination (Gen. 8:21), consideration (Deut. 4:39), thought (Esther 6:6), speech (Deut. 9:4), the ability to be deceived (Deut. 11:16), sorrows (Lev. 26:16), hatred (Lev. 19:17), love (Deut. 30:2), discouragement (Num. 32:7), stubbornness (Deut. 2:30), gladness (Psalm 16:9) and every other emotion or action starts in the heart of man. Therefore, the heart is very important.

There is a view that has currency in the denominational world that says that man is so totally depraved that in order to be redeemed it takes God’s Spirit working directly on his heart to make the change. But is this what the Bible teaches? The following are a few great statements made in the Bible about the heart of man that also expose this view as erroneous.

First of all, Jeremiah does state that “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9). However, Jeremiah is not saying that the heart of man is depraved or sinful at birth. The Bible is clear that children are innocent and, thus, their hearts pure (cf. Matt. 18:1-3; Jer. 18:). However, being free moral agents we do seem to have a general tendency to do that which is contrary to God’s will. That is why God destroyed the world in the flood because “the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and every imagination of the thoughts of their heart was only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5).

But that the heart of man is not depraved and in need of a direct operation of the Holy Spirit is seen in the fact that when we obey the gospel we obey from the heart (Rom. 6:17). One could not obey from the heart if the heart was totally depraved. Again, David was a man after God’s own heart (). During the Mosaic dispensation, before the New Covenant, men and women gave freely from the heart (cf. Ex. 35:21,26,29). The heart is not depraved but we do have a propensity toward disobedience.

In the second place, the fool says in his heart there is no God (Psalm 14:1). This is understandable when you consider the fact that “a fool hath no delight in understanding, but that his heart may discover itself” (Proverbs 18:2). The foolish heart cannot see the greater picture, all it sees is its own self. The fool is a fool because he allows his foolish heart to be darkened and thus reject God (Rom. 1:21). However, not everyone is foolish enough to deny God (cf. Psalm 19:1). The implication is that if we do not deny the Lord we are not fools and this means that our hearts can chose to accept the evidence and believe it.

Third, the Lord looks upon the heart of man to judge him (I Sam. 16:7). Again, God could not do this if man’s heart was totally depraved. There would be no need to look on a man’s heart for his heart would already be known to be depraved and wicked. But when God looks at a man, He looks directly into the heart of man and knows just who and what that man is. Every way of man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord considers man’s heart (Prov. 21:2).

Fourth, we are able to control how our hearts work. Paul said, “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God” (Hebrews 3:12). If we are able to take heed and avoid this evil heart of unbelief, then it cannot be totally depraved. The wise man said “Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life” (Prov. 4:23). Just as our physical hearts are protected by a rib cage, we can protect our moral heart by building up defenses around it.

Finally, Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matt. 6:21). We are free to choose what we value most in life. We can choose to value spiritual things, heavenly things over material things. This would not be possible if our hearts were depraved and needed a direct operation of the Spirit of God.

The heart of man is not sinful. We chose how we want our hearts to be. “Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart” (Psalm 73:1). Therefore, “cleanse your hands ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double-minded” (James 4:8). Indeed, “The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit (Psalm 34:18).

Eric L. Padgett

My Peace I Give Unto You

Before Jesus left this earth He told His apostles, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27). Later Jesus told them “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Jesus promised peace to His apostles. Just what did this mean?

Every year around Christmas, certain local companies put up signs quoting Luke chapter two declaring “Peace On Earth” and “Good Will Toward Men” (Luke 2:13,14) Most people take this to mean that the Lord is going to literally bring peace to this earth and that nations will no longer rise in war with one another. Bing Crosby and David Bowie famously sing together about a time when men will live in peace again, the day of glory. But is this what Jesus was describing?

Certainly it will not be denied that as Christians we enjoy blessings that no others do. All spiritual blessings are in heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Eph. 1:3). Peace is among those spiritual blessings afforded Christians (Gal. 5:21-23). We are allowed to partake of the divine nature having escaped the pollutions that are in the world through lust (II Pet. 1:4). The Lord of peace Himself gives us peace always by all means (II Thess. 3:16).

Indeed, there is a peace that passeth all understanding (Phil. 4:7). It is the kind of peace that allowed Paul and Silas to sing in the face of persecution (Acts 16). In nearly everyone of his epistles, the apostle Paul began by addressing the letter with “grace and peace from God the Father” (cf. I Cor. 1:3; II Cor. 1:2; Gal. 1:3; Eph. 1:2; Phil 1:2; Col.1:2; I Thess. 1:1; II Thess. 1:2, etc.). We are enjoined to follow peace with all men (Heb. 12:14) and live peaceably with all men, as much as lieth in us (Rom. 12:18).

But this calmness of soul and lack of conflict with our fellow man derives from a deeper source of peace. Before we can have any real, meaningful peace of mind, we must first have peace with God. In describing the sinful condition of man Paul quoted Isaiah and affirmed that the way of peace we have not known (Rom. 3:17; Is. 59:7,8). Both Jew and Gentile fall under this condemnation for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). This puts us at enmity with God (Rom. 8:7; 5:10).

But Jesus is our peace and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us–that is, between man and God (Eph. 2:14). The middle wall of partition refers to the curtain that separated the holy place from the most holy place in the tabernacle and in the temple (Ex. 26:31-33). The ark of the testimony with the mercy seat was in the most holy place (Ex. 26:34).

Thus, the most holy place, or the holy of holies, represented Heaven and God’s throne (Heb. 9:24) and no one but the High Priest could go in and approach God (Heb. 9:7). Now, Jesus, our High Priest, has broken down that wall so that the way into the holiest of all has been made available by our forerunner, providing us a sure and steadfast hope (Heb. 9:8; 10:19; 6:18-20). By His own blood He entered once into the holy place having obtained eternal redemption for us (Heb. 9:11,12).

Therefore, Christ has slain the enmity and reconciled both Jew and Gentile unto God in one body by the cross, so making peace (Eph. 2:14-17). God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself (II Cor. 5:19). Being the Prince of Peace He came and preached peace with and reconciliation to God. Peace always comes after belief in and obedience to the Lord (cf. Luke 8:42, 8:48). Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God (Rom. 5:1).

Yes, the world may be able to give a temporary cessation of conflict, but it cannot give the kind of true, lasting, inner peace that the Lord gives. The world has tribulation; Jesus gives peace. The world will continue to have conflict and it will only get worse and worse (II Tim. 3:13). Because we have been reconciled to the Father and because Christ has redeemed us by the blood of His cross, we can have peace with God and our fellow man. No God, no peace. Know God, know peace.

Eric L. Padgett

Count It All Joy

It was midnight, though they could not tell what time it was where they were. Their ankles were secured and legs stretched out so that their bodies were forced to lie uncomfortably on their backs on the cold, damp prison floor. This damp floor was found in the inner prison where no natural light could find its way. The air was foul and still, reeking with the odors of the other prisoners before them, for they were cut off from fresh air as well as light. Their bodies undoubtedly still stung from the severe beating they had taken not long before their confinement.

Many men might break under these conditions if they had to endure them for very long. Their spirits would be broken. But Paul and Silas not only endured these conditions but bore under them with an amazingly supernatant attitude. Whatever sounds may have filled the prison–moaning or crying, the seeping of water from the walls and floors, or the sounds of a rat chewing in the corner–new sounds would be heard. Paul and Silas broke into these old sounds with the new and surprising sounds of prayer and praise (Acts 16:22-25).

Paul and Silas had an abiding joy that allowed them to endure such circumstances with cheer. But where does the source of that kind of joy originate? David said, “Let all those that put their trust in Thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because Thou defendest them: let them also that love Thy name be joyful in Thee” (Psalm 5:11). The one thing that the child of God knows is that God is on his side. And if God be for us, who can be against us (Rom. 8:31)? That knowledge should bring confidence, peace and joy.

God being on our side means that He has provided amply for us. We have great joy because He has provided for us the atonement (Rom. 5:11). When we know what that entails, what the cost of it was for the Lord and what the cost of it would be for us if He had not, then our hearts ought to be overwhelmed with the greatest joy, with a joy unspeakable and full of glory (I Pet. 1:6-11). The Lord, Himself, provides for us our pattern of joy in the face of trials.

The Lord faced the greatest of all trials. Not only was He despised, oppressed, rejected and afflicted, but He suffered one of the most excruciating and humiliating deaths the world has ever devised (Is. 53). He endured the cross and endured the contradiction of sinners against Himself yet He did it for the joy that was set before Him, though He despised the shame (Heb. 12:1-3). How could the Lord have joy in the face of these trials? Because He knew the Lord was at His right hand and as long as that was the case He could not be moved (Psalm 16:8,9).

No matter what we face in life, as long as the Lord is with us, or, rather, as long as we are with the Lord, we know that we will reap joy. David said even when walking through the valley of the shadow of death, we know that God is with us (Psalm 23). One set of footprints in he sand only means the Lord has carried us through. For the child of God, weeping may endure for the night, but joy is sure to come in the morning (Psalm 30:5). The promise of God is that they that sow in tears shall reap in joy (Psalm 126:5).

That is how Paul and Silas were able to face such harsh conditions with such a cheerful disposition. We may not always have the best in this life. Jesus had not a place to lay His head but He looked forward to the joy that was set before Him at the right hand of God. We, too, can take joyfully the spoiling of our goods knowing that in heaven we have a better and an enduring substance (Heb. 10:34). Therefore, we have need of patience, that after we have done the will of God, we might inherit the promises (Heb. 10:36).

As long as we serve the Lord and walk before Him in righteousness we can know joy for in His presence is the fulness of joy (Psalm 16:11). When the Lord presents us faultless before His presence it will be with great joy (Jude 24). Therefore, “count it all joy when you fall into divers temptations, knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing” (James 1:2-4).

Eric L. Padgett

LOVE

God is a God of love because God is love (II Cor. 13:11; I John 4:8). When John says that God is love we know, therefore, that it is an intrinsic part of His nature and that it is perfect in every respect. It’s expression is also perfect. When God stated that He loved Israel He says that He loved them with an everlasting love (Jer. 31:3). It is a love that does not end or fail.

In describing His relationship with Israel, the Lord presents Israel as a child, newly born from Egyptian bondage (Hos. 11:1). God said that though He loved Israel as a son and drew him with bands of love (Hos. 11:4), though He took them by the arm and led them, they did not know that He healed them (Hos. 11:3). THey were bent on backsliding and rejection of the Lord’s call. But even so, God’s love for them was such that He could not give them up (Hos. 11:8). His love tempered His anger against their rebellion (Hos. 1:9).

Because Israel is His people, formed and created by Hs power, called by name, there should be no fear (Is. 43:3,4). Through the most difficult of times, through high water and hot fire, God’s beloved will neither drown nor burn (Is. 43:2,3). God’s people are precious in His sight (Is. 43:4) and therefore should not fear for God will be with His people (Is. 43:5).

The fullest expression of God’s love toward man was manifested when the Saviour appeared (Tit. 3:3,4). Though we were “sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another, nevertheless, God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).

Eric L. Padgett

WISDOM

Wisdom is inherent with God alone (Jude 25; Rom. 16:25). No man can claim to be wise who rejects the most basic facts of life or ignores reality. Instead of being called wise this person would be considered a fool. Those who reject God’s very existence are fools indeed, the exact opposite of wise (Psalm 1:1). If we would be wise, then, we must understand the fear of the Lord and seek after it as one might search for some hidden treasure (Prov. 2:1-5). How much better it is to get wisdom than gold or silver or rubies or anything else sought after in this world (Prov. 16:16; 8:11)! It is the Lord that gives wisdom because He alone possesses wisdom inherently (Prov. 2:6).

But if we lack wisdom and we sincerely seek it then we may apply to God for wisdom and He who gives liberally to all men will also give us wisdom (James 1:5). Of course, God limits His response to those who are His children (I Pet. 3:12). The world does possess a semblance of wisdom (I Cor. 1:19,20). Worldly wisdom, however, is earthly, sensual and devilish (James 3:15). But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy (James 3:17). But none of the princes of this world really knew wisdom for if they had possessed true wisdom they would not have crucified the Lord of glory (I Cor. 2:8).

O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out (Romans 11:33)! If we know that we lack wisdom, we can gain wisdom by asking God for it and we can gain wisdom by receiving God’s word. The Bible says a person wise in heart will receive commandments but a prating fool shall fall (Prov. 10:8). Wisdom is not acquired just by experience for there are many who experience life in greater quantity than others but never learn. But wisdom, true wisdom, comes from fearing the Lord and consequently departing from evil (Job 28:12-28).

The Lord presents to us an image of wisdom as crying with a loud voice from the roof tops and every public place seeking to be understood and used (Prov. 8:1-4). Those that honestly seek wisdom early in life shall find it (Prov. 8:17). Wisdom is found in hearing and obeying God’s word (Prov. 8:32-36). All of our earthly days should be spent in seeking wisdom from the Lord (Psalm 90:12).

Truly it is in Christ where wisdom finds it’s fullest expression (Eph. 1:8). When we know Christ we know wisdom for Christ is the wisdom of God (I Cor. 1:24, 30), for in Him “are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” ( Colossians 2:3). The Lord has revealed Himself unto us through His apostles in the wisdom of God’s perfect plan (I Cor. 2:6-13) “To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God” (Ephesians 3:10).

It is by the scriptures that we can be made wise unto salvation (II Tim. 3:15-17). Thus, we should let the word of Christ dwell in us richly in all wisdom (Col. 3:16). We should cease from our own wisdom and buy true wisdom and never sell it (Prov. 23:4; 23:23).

Having obtained unto wisdom, we should walk in wisdom toward those who are not members of the body of Christ (Col. 4:5). We should preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus (Colossians 1:28). If we act according to His wisdom, no man would be able to resist the wisdom with which we speak His word (Acts 6:10). He that winneth souls is wise (Prov. 11:30).

Eric L. Padgett