How to Be a World Class Nonconformist – Part Two

Romans 12:1-2

Jesus wants His followers to live a transformed life. The world wants to control your mind, so it exerts pressure from without. Jesus wants to control your mind, so He provided power from within. 

If the world controls how you think, you are being conformed. If the Holy Spirit controls your thinking, you are being transformed.

Isn’t it strange that those not controlled by Jesus often declare their rebellion against His will under the pretense of wanting to be free? Free?  They are instead conformists.

The Greek word translated “transformed” gives us our English word “metamorphosis.”  It indicates a total change. The change from a pupa in a cocoon to a butterfly is metamorphosis, a complete change. That is what God requires. The verb being present passive imperative, can be translated: “Stop allowing yourself to be conformed to the world, and start allowing yourself to be continually transformed.” This is in the passive voice which means it has to be done by someone else. That one is Jesus. 

This “renewing” isn’t accomplished by external restrictions, but by internal renovation.  This is both an act and a process. It is a life long, on-going process.

For this to be achieved we must “go on growing.” (II Peter 3:18)

Bible study, Scripture memorization, spiritual meditation, prayer, worship, sharing your faith, and fellowship with mature believers is essential. 

This change is as radical as a tadpole changing into a frog.

A believer’s life is to be conformed to be like Jesus. (Vss. 1 & 2)

The appeal to “present your bodies” is a command deserving a definite commitment to Him.

“Present,” translates the Greek paristemi. Para  meaning “along side of” or “by” and histemi meaning “to set” or “place.” When combined they mean to place yourself along beside someone to be an immediate source of help. It means to be at Christ’s disposal to help Him. We are to be at His disposal for Him to help the human race through us. 

This gift of our self is “acceptable,” well pleasing to God.

It is “reasonable.” That is, that which follows reason.

With the Holy Spirit within you there is nothing unreasonable about not letting the world squeeze you into its mold. It is a “service.” The Greek word translated “service,” is latreia which can be translated “worship.” Service is worship in action. Conversely, worship is service.

This is “good,” absolute good. It is good to you and for you. Thus, your Lord desires and designs good for you. Enjoy the challenge. Present your body as a living sacrifice daily, hourly, minute by minute. The logical result of a saved soul is a renewed mind, a submissive will, and a consecrated body.

How to Be a World Class Nonconformist – Part One

Romans 12:1-2

Jesus, in exhorting His followers to follow Him, became the world’s premier nonconformist. He didn’t fit the world’s mold. He established a new norm.

Jesus said His followers were to be “in the world but not of the world.” 

The Greek text begins “I beseech you,” (parakalito), primarily meaning “to come alongside.” It is pictured as an injured player whose teammate comes along beside to support and help. The word “beseech” is one that speaks of tenderness. Those beseeched are called “brethren,” a word that translated the Greek “adelphoi,” meaning blood kin. The blood we have in common is the blood of Jesus. Our common salvation makes us related through Christ’s shed blood. The basis of the appeal is “the mercy of God.” This is the highest of motivations. Together we form a common body. (Vs. 2a) “Do not be conformed.”

Don’t be fashioned according to another pattern. Don’t masquerade as if you belong to the world. “Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its mold.”

This is an appeal to avoid appearing to be something you aren’t. If you are a Christian, don’t give the appearance you aren’t.

“This world,” translates to “aion.” This is a reference to a social order contrary to God’s will. It is a summary for all contrary to the will of God.

For the Christian this poses some real hazards in our day when one’s job or social acceptability is dependent upon them being Politically Correct (PC). “Be not conformed” is present passive imperative plus a negative meaning: to stop being molded to the realm of worldliness.

Worldliness is a mental attitude. It is what you start thinking when you stop thinking from a Biblical perspective.

A Christian controlled by the Holy Spirit imitates Christ.

A Christian who is controlled by the old sin nature can do nothing but emulate an unbeliever.

This is an appeal not to use spiritual camouflage to blend into the world’s environment. Don’t let the evil world system dictate what you look or act like. For the believer there is a challenge in daily presenting our bodies and a consequence for not doing it. “I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified” a castaway.

There were basically two types of sacrifices. One was an offering that led to reconciliation. The second was an expression of celebration made after reconciliation had been achieved. 

Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary made possible reconciliation. Out of gratitude we celebrate by giving our bodies to Him as a living sacrifice. It is an expression of appreciation that is “holy and acceptable.”

Lydia: A Consummate Plodder 8/22/99

Acts 16:13-15

Jesus Christ had resolute determination. In the hour of pending crisis it is said of Him: “Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51).

Colorful speech depicts Him as having fixed His mind on going to Jerusalem where crucifixion awaited Him. That means He was a plodder. Plodders are people who know what they need to do and stay on course getting it done. The word “quit” isn’t in their mental dictionary.

Plodders rank among the greatest contributors to society.

Thomas Edison, considered by many the greatest inventor of all times, wasn’t always successful. As a youth he was inquisitive and tried juvenile experiments. He observed a hen sitting on eggs and hatching them. He tried unsuccessfully to sit on eggs and hatch them. He was told balloons fly because they have gas in them. He convinced one of his friends that if he took a triple dose of Seidlitz powders he could fly. This too failed.

Two dejected assistants to Thomas Edison commented regarding a project on which they had been working with no apparent progress: “We’ve just completed our 700th experiment and we still don’t know the answer. We have failed.”

“No, my friends, you haven’t failed,” replied Edison, “It is just that you know more about the subject than anyone alive. And we are closer to finding the answer, because now we know 700 things not to do. Don’t call it a failure, call it an education.”

Because Edison was a plodder he patented more than 1,100 inventions. He achieved this by working days at a time stopping only for short naps. Of this man who had only three years of school Henry Ford said the period of Edison’s life should be called the “Age of Edison.”

Edison, the plodder, defined success as “1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.”

Failure never discouraged him. As a youth he was trying to catch a ride on a freight train. A well-meaning conductor trying to help caught him by the ear and pull him aboard. It caused him deafness later. He considered even this an advantage in that it made it easier to concentrate.

After over 10,000 experiments with a storage battery a friend spoke discouragingly to him. He said, “I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work” as he pursued his project. He was a plodder.

Plodders produce because they persist.

Charles Schultz had his hopes of becoming an artist dashed by a discouraging teacher. As an awkward kid with a bad complexion he barely graduated from high school. Schultz submitted cartoons to his high school annual all of which were rejected. His teacher told him he lacked the ability to draw children. This plodder continued until he and his best known character, Charley Brown, and his little friends became some of the best known people in the world.

Louis L’Amour wanted to be a writer. Publishers nearly bashed his dreams. He received approximately 350 rejections before his first sale. He plodded along until one of his books was published. Ultimately this plodder had over 200 books published which sold over 200 million copies.

William Tyndale aspired to translate the Bible into English. His idea was such an affront to the established church of his day they put a bounty on his head. He plodded along teaching himself Hebrew in order to translate the Old Testament. Feverishly he worked from dawn to dark, six days a week, for eleven years until he completed the translation of the Bible into English. He was a plodder.

Now venture with me into the life of the admirable Bible personality Lydia, a plodder.

The setting is Philippi a city of historical importance. Philip of Macedonia, father of Alexander the Great gave the city his name. Here, Caesar Augustus won the battle that gained for him the emperorship of the Roman Empire. However, it is none of these who strutted on the stage of history for a short season that demands our attention. It is a woman with a hospitable nature who captures our imagination.

This story is a graphic illustration of God guiding in our lives. If Lydia had not been brought by her profession to Philippi she would not have been where she could hear of God’s love. Paul was also drawn there at that moment. He was turned back from where he wanted to go. He was shut out of Bithyania and silenced in Mysia. Human nature would have caused him great disappointment. God had him on a divine appointment. It is essential that we pray for God’s timing in our lives.

In a small group one day in the city of Philippi she heard the Apostle Paul speak and for her life took on new meaning. She and Paul both were where God wanted them. The Scripture exhorts us to not forsake the assembling of ourselves together for worship. Neither did.

Jews living away from Jerusalem normally had no synagogue in which to worship. In those cities where there was a river they would gather at the river. That would have been the coolest place. Knowing this to be the place of gathering Paul went there to meet with them.

Lydia was a Jewish woman in the group. She was an enterprising business woman from Thyratira, a city known for its trade guilds. As a merchant seller of purple (Acts 16: 14) she was doubtless on a selling trip to Philippi.

Purple was a dye collected drop by drop from a certain shell-fish. It was discovered by accident. A dog that had been eating Conchilis or Purpura was seen to have purple lips. This led to its discovery as a costly dye. At one time it was more valuable than gold. Garments dyed in it were worn only by sovereign princes. However in the affluent Roman society the very wealthy noble class wore it. Its scarcity made it costly. The value of her product made Lydia a wealthy woman.

Evidently she was an astute and successful business woman. This is ascertained by the fact she had a spacious house large enough to entertain guests and servants to accommodate them.

When she came to faith in Christ she stayed in her profession and served Him therein using her resources for kingdom causes.

A business man from Louisiana who has been richly blessed by our Lord recently sent a significant sum of money to a church in Russia. Upon being told it came from a wealthy American Christian business man the people responded in disbelief. “A business man who is a Christian? Such is virtually unknown in Russia.”

Going to a distant land to serve our Lord is the admirable calling of some. The call to stay home and serve is just as commendable.

Bill Shipp was a young medical student in New Orleans. He shared that all of his life he wanted to be a foreign missionary. His desire was heightened when the Lord called his best friend to be a missionary. Bill’s desire was never supported by God’s call of him to mission service. He then dedicated his life to serve the Lord in a different way. Through study he sought one of the most lucrative professions he could find and pursued it. He believed his calling was to make as much money as possible and give as much of it as possible to support missionaries such as his friend who had been called. He has spent his life fulfilling his “calling.”

Lydia used her profession to the glory of the Lord. She not only redeemed the time but her profession also.

She decided to bloom right where she was planted.

Occasionally I am told by an admiring of someone who has sold everything and moved to a distant place to serve the Lord of the act as one of great devotion. It is. However, it is no more so than one who knows it to be God’s will to serve Him right where they are.

Lydia didn’t have a distant mission field nor a vast congregation but she had a ministry like each of us. Her mission field, her congregation was her household. Evidently she shared her faith with them because when she trusted Christ she was baptized and so were they (Vs. 15).

Lydia was a seeker. She was religious but not a Christian. Her home town was a city devoted to worship of Apollo, the sun- god, under the name Tyrinnus. There was also a strong Jewish element in the city that maintained faith in Jehovah.

She was among them in that she is depicted as one “who worshiped God.”

Various surveys indicate the vast majority of Americans believe in God. So does the devil. Lydia went beyond mere belief in certain facts she sought the full truth. Often we think we know all we need to know and fail to listen, to be open.

Lydia was converted in a home Bible study and became the first European converted to faith in Christ. She listened and comprehended.

President Franklin Roosevelt abhorred reception lines. Once he decided to try an experiment. To everyone who came through the line he softly said, “I murdered my grandmother this morning.” People, assuming they knew what was coming responded with such comments as, “Wonderful,” “Keep up the good work,” “We are proud of you Mr. President.” Apparently not until the representative from Bolivia came through the line did anyone apparently actually hear what he was saying and he diplomatically responded politely, “I’m sure she had it coming.”

“Faith comes by hearing.” Are you listening?

When we like Lydia are seekers we find God is the revealer. “The Lord opened her heart to heed…” (Acts 16:14).

Jesus counseled us to “Seek first the kingdom of God…”

After His resurrection it is said “He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend Scriptures” (Luke 24: 45). He still does for those who seek. Him.

Many fail to understand life because they don’t take time to know God’s way to live it.

A ski instructor met one of his students at the bottom of the course and said, “The good news is that you reached the bottom of the course faster than any competitor. In fact your time was the fastest ever on this course. You likely beat the world record.” The student beamed as the coach continued, “The bad news is that you missed nearly every flag.”

The young skier replied, “Flags? What flags?”

Experienced skiers know the route one takes to get to the finish line is as important as how fast you get there.

“Study to show yourself a workman approved unto God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (II Timothy 2:15).

After Lydia learned of Christ’s love for her she responded to Him in love. The natural subsequent step of obedience was baptism. She and her household were baptized (Acts. 16: 15). She publicly professed and told her family and they were converted. Christ asked those who profess faith in Him to be identified with Him through the public, often humbling, but always joyous, act of baptism. We are not baptized to be saved but because we have been saved by Jesus Christ.

Our creative Lord, knowing our nature, realized we need visuals. We think visually. Therefore, he ordained baptism as a visual to picture the cleansing from sin. Throughout the Old Testament era persons participated in ritual cleansing, baptism. Christ elevated the act to depict the cleansing of sin.

In heaven the robes of this seller of purple were not purple but they had been “washed and made white in the blood of the Lamb.”

She aspired to be judged “faithful to the Lord” (Acts 16:15).

Two self evident facts stand out in the Biblical account of Lydia. She didn’t let her business interfere with her worship. She used her resources for the Lord.

Character like hers is depicted as “not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord” (Romans 12:11).

Like Lydia, once wrong is known it is no longer treated with courteous civility. Once that which is right is embraced casual Christianity is no longer an option. When Christ becomes Savior and Lord we become His follower and servant.

The text says “The Lord opened her heart…” (Vs. 14).

Jesus said, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him” (John 6:44).

Jesus in speaking of the Holy Spirit said, “When the Spirit of truth is come He will guide you into all truth” (John 16: 13).

The Lord takes the initiative in persons being saved. The Father draws, the Spirit guides, the Son seeks but the individual has of his own free will respond. It is your option.

Lydia receptively responded and obediently was baptized. Baptism is initiatory and introductory. By it we are identified with Christ and introduced into the church.

Like Lydia once we have expressed confidence in Christ as Savior we should evidence our submission to Him as our Lord by obedience. It is proof of sincerity and gratitude.

If Love Makes the World Go Round: What’s Your Spin on Life? 2/14/99

John 13: 34, 35
Page 1578 Come Alive Bible

JESUS CHRIST placed great value on relationships. He not only taught principles related but He was a role model evidencing how important it is to build good relationships.

His teachings were filled with examples of how to befriend people and who to befriend. Little children, beggars, rich young rulers, sickly women, prestigious national leaders, and the poor were all recipients of His acts and expressions of friendship.

Why did Jesus and why does the Bible put such emphasis on friendship? Because friendships fortify life. To love, and be loved, is the greatest happiness of existence.

Living in a community with others makes us part of them and them part of us. Jesus Christ, in eternity past, co-existed as a member of the Trinity. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are the perfect example of living together in community with one another. They are Exhibit A of friendship.

On earth Christ chose twelve disciples with which to associate in a small community of traveling companions. These were His friends. Thus, in heaven and on earth by His example He has taught us the importance of friendship.

Christ knew proper relationships are good for us. A number of years ago two brothers, Will and Carl Menninger, started an institution on the Kansas plains based on the therapy of love. Today the Menninger Foundation Hospital reports one of the highest incidents of recovery of mental and emotional patients treated with the technique Christ commanded. In a word “love.”

Studies show that persons who share love have a tendency to live longer and enjoy better health. Anything our Lord urges us to do is good for us physically and emotionally as well as spiritually.

Let’s unfold our text like a three petaled flower and look at each. Petal number one:

This is an appeal to – – –

Proverbs 18:24 says, “He who would have friends must show himself friendly.” It is a simple fact.

The Roman Seneca almost 2,000 years ago wrote: “If you wish to be loved, love.”

For Christ’s sake we must reach out. That is for the sake of reaching people for Christ we must aggressively express ourselves. Friendship evangelism is one of the most effective ways of attracting people to Christ. Week after week, people walk these aisles as a result of some friend who has capitalized on their friendship to share what a relationship with Christ can mean.

Love must have an object.

If you are not a Christian and have a friend who is that is trying to share Christ with you please be patient with your Christian friend. Here is why that person is doing so. Your Christian friend has had a pleasant experience with Jesus Christ. Loving you as he or she does there is a natural desire for you to enjoy a pleasant experience with Jesus Christ. It is the highest way of saying, “I love you.”

Now to the Christian community a question. Have you ever noticed why new converts are often the best soul winners? The reason is most of their friends are lost and they know where to find them. Most Christians have withdrawn into the church so completely that they don’t know any lost people. Go out and get to be friends with some. We must socialize before we evangelize. Build bridges out of acts of love.

The Apostle John must have had this command of Christ in the back of his mind when he wrote I John 4: 20 — “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?”

What this verse means is that love must have an object and if it can’t relate to the nearest object it can’t relate to a more distant one. There is no other medium through which to demonstrate your love for God than people — all people. People give us an opportunity in an objective way of demonstrating our love for God.

If a radio station in Marietta can’t reach Alabama it surely can’t reach Tokyo. If we can’t love the people near us, we evidence we don’t have the ability to love the One in whose image they were created.

Littering and pollution are not confined to the world of paper, glass, metals, and plastics. Look into the landscape of your mind and you will see a junkyard of people you have discarded. They are there because they did not come up to your expectation for them.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Men cease to interest us when we find their limitations. As soon as you once come up with a man’s limitations, it is all over with him…Infinitely alluring and attractive was he to you yesterday, a great hope, a sea to swim in; now, you have found his shores, found it a pond, and you care not if you never see him again.”

Count the number of people you have dumped recently while looking for the perfect one.

You can end people-littering once and for all by using the percentage method of acceptance. On a scale of 1 to 100, quickly determine how much you like a certain person. You likely will be delighted to find you like most persons at least fifty percent, some sixty or seventy. Perhaps some eighty five percent. All the time you have been thinking you hated them. Actually it is only part of them or perhaps an isolated incident you don’t like. You can accept that just like you accept a rattle or scratch on a new car. You don’t discard it because it isn’t perfect.

How many people do you suppose like you because you grade out 100% with them at all times? If others forgive you and overlook your limitations you can do the same for them.

People go to great lengths to recycle and get the maximum value from various products. For months I saved aluminum cans. I found it to be a great way to release frustrations. Stomp each one flat and they require less room. For six months I saved them and took them in to collect my fortune. My big bag of squashed cans brought $4.00. If we will go to that effort for such a small return it surely is worth an effort to recycle friends after you have found their limitations.

In Franklin, Ohio the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency set up a large machine called a “hydropulper.” An unimaginable assortment of garbage is fed into it. This mess would be impossible for persons to sort out and separate, but the hydropulper by using magnets, water, wind and other means sorts the mess and divides every bit of it into reusable products. You may have a former friend you need to put in your mental hydropulper and recycle the good in this person. Thus, a thrown away person can become no longer a thrown away piece of debris but a recycled usable friend.

That is a technique that can help us obey Christ’s command and “love one another.”

The Greek word used by Christ and translated “love” is AGAPE. It carries the connotation of unselfish regard for the welfare of another. Their language was rich with meaning. They had several words for “love.” One was our word for “lust.” The entertainment media has chosen to depict virtually all love in this light. The advertising media has elected to utilize lust to sell products. The internet is now a major market for lust.

A basic difference in love and lust is,

Sexual purity has been sacrificed on the altar of greed. Purity is still the appeal of Scripture. Parents I want to appeal to you to pattern purity for your family. It begins as it did with the teenager Daniel who “purposed not to defile himself.”

Resolve with the Psalmist: “I will set nothing wicked before my eyes; I hate the work of those who fall away; It shall not cling to me” (Psalm 101:3).

One of the most secretive moral sink-holes is a tool that otherwise offers great advantages —- the internet. Parents need to set a guard for themselves and their families.

Christ has given us a pattern. His love for us is the type love we are to show one another. What kind is that? Unconditional! That is, love without limits. That is the way He loves us. He doesn’t love us because we are perfect. He doesn’t love us because we are so lovable. He has found our limits and loves us still.

AGAPE is the form of love He has for us. Agape love is selfless love. It is love which has the welfare of its object in mind. You may not like a certain Christian or even agree with his or her ways but you can and must love that one.

Of all close friendships marriage is the closest. Conflicts occur in all relationships including marriage.

After years of research it has been determined there are only two primary reasons for marital conflict: husbands and wives.

Agape is the answer to wounds in relationships. This love has the capacity of scaling any wall of rejection. It is never deflected by unlovable behavior. It heals and blesses in practical ways. Most relationships are at the mercy of fluctuating emotions. Agape love imparts stability. It is the solution for relationships comprised of imperfect human beings.

How is it He has loved us and that we are to love?

“And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4: 30 – 32).

Have you ever been discarded by a person or persons you love? Perhaps pastors as much as any persons in society know what rejection by people you love is. At a time in my ministry I was discarded and attempts were even made to destroy me by people I love. It is bewildering! I resolved to respond in the spirit of this text. As a result I love those persons to this day as though they had never discarded me.

You know why? Two reasons. That is the way Jesus loves me and that is the way He has told me to love others. How about you?

1. Aggressively. “Herein is love; not that we loved Him, but that He loved us.” He didn’t wait for us to love Him before He loved us. We must not wait for others to love us before we are willing to love them.

2. Practically. His love did not consist of flowery speech or syrupy sentiment. His love expressed itself in deeds: “He went about doing good.” He did the greatest good in that He died for our sins.

3. Consistently. The love of our Model is everlasting. The mountains shall depart and the hills be removed but His love abides. We are not to love with a passive feeling but with a practical affection.

John said, “…this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God MUST love his brother also.” (I John 4:21).




Such love commends itself to others. It is a dead give away that something supernatural is at work. By this kind of love, which isn’t natural, the world can tell you are His disciple.

Only when the love inside the church exceeds the bitterness and hate outside the church are those outside going to want to come inside. The body of believers known as the church must maintain a loving environment if it is to please Christ and attract the lost world.

Christ wants to be your friend. He wants to establish a relationship with you. This friendship is called salvation. He wants to become your best Friend for eternity.

President Abraham Lincoln is one of the best known and loved of former presidents. One little known fact about him is that he often attended the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church on Wednesday nights. Life then was so simple he could slip out the side door of the White House and in the side door of the church without an entourage of secret service personnel. He chose Sunday nights so as not to disrupt Sunday morning worship. The pastor would leave his study door open when he knew Mr. Lincoln was coming so he could sit with the door slightly open and listen. He enjoyed the preaching of Pastor Phineas Gurley.

One evening as he walked home, his aid asked Mr. Lincoln for an appraisal of the sermon. The president, thoughtfully as always replied, “The content was excellent … he delivered with eloquence … he had put work into the message…”

“Did you think it was a great sermon?” questioned the aid.

“No,” replied the president.

“But you said that the content was excellent … it was delivered with eloquence … it showed much work.”

“Yes,” said the president, “but Pastor Gurley failed to ask us to do a great thing.”

I want to ask you to do a great thing.

If you have never trusted Christ and professed it publicly do it now.

If you have such faith in Him as Savior but have never experienced New Testament believers baptism come and let it be known you want to obey Him in this regard.

If you are a Baptist but do not have the right church home come by transfer of your membership today.

Do a great thing!

Painted Candles

Recently ABC featured a documentary on happiness. It involved extensive research. Their interviews of persons in Third World countries was interesting. When asked how happy they were, they most often answered indicating they had never thought about it. In America we think about it. It seems we have a constant monitor on our “happiness pulse.”

From a number of angles they showed money doesn’t add to our happiness unless we are in abject poverty. Then by relieving hardship it aids. Interviews were conducted with persons who had suddenly come into enormous wealth. Every one told of how it brought them problems, heartaches, and general misery. They were much less happy with it than before.

Interestingly their study showed that some persons are born with physical traits and a disposition for happiness. These physical factors they concluded are responsible for about 50% of our reason for happiness. Their study started with a three month old and went through adults to show such inclination.

One conclusion reached was that persons who had a practical Christian faith tended to be happier than those who did not. The reason is that a sense of commitment and purpose adds to happiness. Such persons have a sense that their life is in control because of their faith in God.

That is part of what Jesus was talking about when He spoke of the meaning of the lives of His followers “they may have it more abundantly.” With Him in control there is a sense of well being resulting in happiness.

May you be like the former evangelist Gypsy Smith, the Billy Graham of his day, who said, “I have never lost the wonder of being a Christian.”  Candidly, the awe of being a Christian is ever growing in the lives of those committed to Him. May you never lose the “awe” of being on the right side of the abundant life.

Our attraction to Jesus should be that of a flower for the sun. There should be a natural attraction. It results in supernatural peace and productivity. Examples abound of persons whose faith has sustained them in times of adversity. One such occurred at a time in England when Christians were being persecuted. Two who were loyal to Jesus were condemned to be burned alive. Their arrest under the rule of “Bloody Mary” in 1555 was typical.

One of the two, Hugh Latimer, said to the other, Nicholas Ridley: “Be of good comfort, Master Ridley, and play the man; we shall this day light such a candle by God’s grace in England as, I trust, shall never be put out.”  Indeed, they did. Latimer actually sang hymns as the flames licked out his life. 

In this day when the faith of Christians is being tested let us not be mere painted candles.

Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10) That is His purpose for you.

While rejoicing in that admirable and encouraging truth reflect on the first half of the verse which depict what our adversary is up to: “…the thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.”

Wisely choose which you long to obey. The contrasts are incomparable.