"Woe is me, that I sojourn in Mesech, that I dwell in the tents of Kedar."
As a Christian you have to live in the midst of an ungodly world, and it is of little use for you to cry "Woe is me." Jesus did not pray that you should be taken out of the world, and what he did not pray for, you need not desire. Better far in the Lord's strength to meet the difficulty, and glorify him in it. The enemy is ever on the watch to detect inconsistency in your conduct; be therefore very holy. Remember that the eyes of all are upon you, and that more is expected from you than from other men. Strive to give no occasion for blame. Let your goodness be the only fault they can discover in you. Like Daniel, compel them to say of you, "We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his God." Seek to be useful as well as consistent. Perhaps you think, "If I were in a more favourable position I might serve the Lord's cause, but I cannot do any good where I am"; but the worse the people are among whom you live, the more need have they of your exertions; if they be crooked, the more necessity that you should set them straight; and if they be perverse, the more need have you to turn their proud hearts to the truth. Where should the physician be but where there are many sick? Where is honour to be won by the soldier but in the hottest fire of the battle? And when weary of the strife and sin that meets you on every hand, consider that all the saints have endured the same trial. They were not carried on beds of down to heaven, and you must not expect to travel more easily than they. They had to hazard their lives unto the death in the high places of the field, and you will not be crowned till you also have endured hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. Therefore, "stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong."
"Hast thou entered into the springs of the sea?"
Some things in nature must remain a mystery to the most intelligent and enterprising investigators. Human knowledge has bounds beyond which it cannot pass. Universal knowledge is for God alone. If this be so in the things which are seen and temporal, I may rest assured that it is even more so in matters spiritual and eternal. Why, then, have I been torturing my brain with speculations as to destiny and will, fixed fate, and human responsibility? These deep and dark truths I am no more able to comprehend than to find out the depth which coucheth beneath, from which old ocean draws her watery stores. Why am I so curious to know the reason of my Lord's providences, the motive of his actions, the design of his visitations? Shall I ever be able to clasp the sun in my fist, and hold the universe in my palm? yet these are as a drop of a bucket compared with the Lord my God. Let me not strive to understand the infinite, but spend my strength in love. What I cannot gain by intellect I can possess by affection, and let that suffice me. I cannot penetrate the heart of the sea, but I can enjoy the healthful breezes which sweep over its bosom, and I can sail over its blue waves with propitious winds. If I could enter the springs of the sea, the feat would serve no useful purpose either to myself or to others, it would not save the sinking bark, or give back the drowned mariner to his weeping wife and children; neither would my solving deep mysteries avail me a single whit, for the least love to God, and the simplest act of obedience to him, are better than the profoundest knowledge. My Lord, I leave the infinite to thee, and pray thee to put far from me such a love for the tree of knowledge as might keep me from the tree of life.
Today's reading: Psalm 146-147, 1 Corinthians 15:1-28 (NIV)View today's reading on Bible Gateway
Today's Old Testament reading: Psalm 146-147
1 Praise the LORD.
Praise the LORD, my soul.
2 I will praise the LORD all my life;
I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
3 Do not put your trust in princes,
in human beings, who cannot save.
4 When their spirit departs, they return to the ground;
on that very day their plans come to nothing.
5 Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the LORD their God.
the sea, and everything in them-
he remains faithful forever.
7 He upholds the cause of the oppressed
and gives food to the hungry....
Today's New Testament reading: 1 Corinthians 15:1-28
The Resurrection of Christ
1 Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.
3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles,8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born....
The Woman Whose Dressmaking Made Her Famous
Scripture Reference - Acts 9:36-43
Name Meaning - Dorcas implies "the female of a roebuck," "a gazelle" - an emblem of beauty. Dorcas is the first Greek name of a female in the New Testament, its Hebrew equivalent being Tabitha which is the Syro-Chaldaic form of the Hebrew Zibiah, or Tsibiah , the name of a princess of Judah, the mother of King Joash. Wilkinson says that "the Greek equivalent for her Syriac name may be accounted for by her residence at Joppa, a seaport much frequented, and no doubt partially inhabited by foreigners speaking chiefly the Greek language."
Family Connections - The Bible is silent concerning the parentage and genealogy of Dorcas. In the seaport town of Joppa she became known for her acts of charity and is the namesake for a charitable group named the Dorcas Society. Here was a woman "who with her needle embroidered her name ineffaceably into the beneficence of the world." Where did she learn to sew, make garments for the poor and become notable for her charitable works? It could possibly have been in a godly home that she was taught how to use her fingers and her funds for the comfort and relief of the needy. Dorcas must have been a woman of means to serve humanity as freely as she did. We have five glimpses of her witness and work in the historical account Luke gives us.
She Was a Christian
She is called, "a certain disciple," and is thus included among the numerous disciples mentioned in the New Testament. Through the Spirit-empowered ministry of Philip the evangelist, a Christian Church was established at Joppa - now known as Jaffa - and from an early date the church was not only a center of fervent evangelism but also of a well-organized social service. Possibly Dorcas came to know Christ as her Saviour in this church, and there caught the vision of how she could serve Christ with her money and her needle. Dorcas knew what it was to have a regenerated heart and this was the source of her unselfish life and charitable acts. Behind her sewing of garments was a saved soul. Giving of alms, and the making of garments in themselves gain no merit with God who, first of all, claims our hearts before our talents. It was only when Mary Magdalene was recovered from her stained past, that Christ accepted her desire to minister to His wants.
In our churches and also in commendable societies there are many public-spirited women who, with humanitarian ideals, are engaged in various relief activities, and whose sole object is to do good. But they are not actuated by Christ. Trying to emulate Dorcas, they lack her Christian discipleship, forgetting that caring for widows and others in need springs from "pure religion" which also reveals itself in keeping oneself unspotted from the world (James 1:26, 27 ). When Luke says that Dorcas was full of good works, he meant the word "full" to refer primarily to her inward grace, which prompted the outward deeds. "Good works are only genuine and Christian when the soul of the performer is imbued with them." The cup of cold water to be acceptable must be given in His name. With Dorcas, then, being good meant doing good. Her manifold good works flowed from a heart grateful to God for His saving grace.
Lange the commentator says that "The gazelle is distinguished for its slender and beautiful form, its graceful movements and its soft but brilliant eyes; it is frequently introduced by the Hebrews and other Oriental nations as an image of female loveliness, and the name was often employed as a proper name, in the case of females." Whether Dorcas, whose name means "gazelle," was a beautiful woman or not we are not told. She certainly lived a lovely life, and had eyes reflecting the compassion of the Master whom she so faithfully served. All whom she influenced and helped saw in her the beauty of Jesus. As a disciple she certainly had faith in the One who had called her, but she came to see that faith without works is dead. She also knew that works without faith gained no merit with God, and so the hands that dispensed alms and made garments were inwardly inspired by Him whose hands were nailed to a tree.
She Was a Philanthropist
Dorcas the believer was likewise Dorcas the benefactress. "This woman was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did ." How significant are these last three words! Too many well-meaning people sit around and talk about charitable works they never do. Sometimes they propose these works and leave others to execute them. Dorcas not only thought up ways of relieving the needy, but she also carried out her plans. Which she did! She knew what she could do, and did it. Studying the female characters of Scripture it is interesting to discover how several of them are conspicuous for one grace or work of mercy, or for another.
Rizpah we remember because of her loving care of the dead.
The widow of Zarephath for giving bread to the hungry.
Anna the prophetess for her fastings and prayers day and night.
Martha, as the queen of gracious hospitality.
Mary for her box of fragrant ointment.
Joanna, and her ministering unto Jesus.
Dorcas, for her care of widows and clothing the poor.
Further, a few Bible characters have inspired profitable institutions for the welfare of human society -
Mary Magdalene - home for wayward and lost girls.
Lazarus - whose name has been given to hospitals caring for the sick and poor.
Dorcas - source and inspiration of Dorcas Societies all over the world.
Among her good works was that of fashioning coats and garments for widows and the needy of her church and community with her own loving hands. The practical, unselfish service of this Christian philanthropist has filled the world with fragrance, for there flowed out of that little city of Joppa a multitude of benevolent and charitable organizations in which women have been prominent. The question came to Dorcas as it did to Moses when he felt he was not the man to deliver Israel from Egyptian bondage, "What is that in thine hand?" And Moses answered, "A rod" (Exodus 4:2 ). And that rod became the symbol of delegated divine power. "What is that in thine hand?" the Lord asked Dorcas. She said, "A needle," and He took what she had and she stitched for Christ's sake. All praise, then, to the needle that represented practical benevolence among the needy. The garments Dorcas cut out and sewed represented Christian faith in action. "I was naked and ye clothed me," said Jesus of those who clothed His poor and destitute children.
She Was Mourned and Missed
It was a sad day for the church at Joppa when one of its most beloved and devoted members died in the midst of her works of charity. "Death loves a shining mark, a signal blow," and death certainly found such a mark in the bountiful Dorcas whose passing was a blow to the community. The vessel containing the costly ointment was broken, and the odor filled the house as never before. Kind hands washed the corpse and placed it in the upper chamber, with feelings expressed by the poet -
Sister, thou wast mild and lovely,
Gentle as the summer breeze,
Pleasant as the air of morning
When it floats among the trees.
While Dorcas doubtless owned her home, she seemed to have no relatives to mourn her going. The widows she had clothed and to whom she had been a friend laid her out; and great grief prevailed. Although so diligent on behalf of others, Dorcas died in the midst of a useful life. The writer had a preacher-friend who always said that he would like to die with his boots on - and he did, one Sunday morning, while preaching the Gospel. Is it possible that Dorcas had a sudden call with her needle in hand? What a grand way to go!
She Was Raised From the Dead
Her fellow disciples at the church where she had worshiped, learning that Peter was nearby, sent two members to beseech the apostle to visit the grief-stricken company. They knew that he had exercised supernatural power, and doubtless entertained the hope that their greatly-loved benefactress might live again. Like the faithful minister that he was, Peter did not delay in accompanying the two men to the death chamber at Joppa where the weeping widows were assembled. The apostle must have been moved as they reverently exhibited the coats and garments Dorcas had made for them. Then after Christ's example at the raising of Jairus' daughter, "Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed" (see John 11:41, 42). When he felt his request had been received, Peter spake the word of power and authority, "Tabitha, arise," and life returned. Dorcas sat up, and Peter presented her alive to the saints and widows (compare Matthew 9:25; Mark 5:40, 41).
What a moving scene that must have been! What joy must have prevailed among her fellow-saints and the widows, now that their much-loved Dorcas was alive again, and in her resurrected life, with fuller dedication to the service of the Master, was willing to take up her needle again. Her return from death must have been a great gain to her church. Her only pang was that she would have to sicken again and for the second time enter the gates of death.
She Was the Cause of Revival
The resurrection of Dorcas had a twofold effect. First of all, the miracle comforted the mourners for she had returned to her life of good works and almsdeeds. This miracle was thus like our Lord's miracles - one of mercy. The second effect was to convince all of the truth of the Christian faith attested as it was by miraculous power. Throughout Joppa the message rang, "Dorcas is alive again," and "many believed in the Lord." The miracle in that upper chamber, then, was not a miracle for the sake of a miracle. Dorcas raised from physical death became the cause of the resurrection of many from their graves of sin and unbelief. How the church at Joppa must have increased its membership through the many who were saved as the result of the return of Dorcas from the realm of death. After the resurrection of Lazarus we read that many of the Jews believed on Jesus. Is not the same true in a spiritual resurrection? A transformed life attracts others to the Saviour. We read that after the miracle, Peter stayed in Joppa for many days, and we can assume that his ministry greatly helped the church there in the establishment of the new converts. Peter stayed with Simon the tanner, a saint who prepared skins for leather to the glory of God, just as Dorcas made up her garments with consecrated hands.
A lesson to bear in mind as we part with our saintly benefactress is that she was unconscious of the magnificent work she was doing and of its far-reaching consequences. Dorcas did not aspire to be a leader, but was content to stay in her own home and try to do all she could in all the ways she could. Thus, in spite of herself, she became a great leader in an almost universal philanthropic cause, just as "The Lady of the Lamp," Florence Nightingale, did when she went to Crimea to care for the wounded, dying soldiers on the field of battle. May grace be ours to do whatever our hands find to do, as unto the Lord!
[Rēhōbō'am,Rōbō'am] - freer of the people or the people is enlarged. The son of Solomon by Naamah, an Ammonitess (1 Kings 11:43; 14:21).
At the revolt he was left with only two tribes.
The Man Who Scorned Good Advice
Although Rehoboam was the son of a wise father, he himself had a small mind. From the fifty references to this man, who scorned wise counsel, we can learn a great many facts. Although named as an ancestor of Christ (Matt. 1:7), he was unworthy of such an honor for three reasons.
I. He was dominated by a false principle. Rehoboam entertained an erroneous idea of the relation between a sovereign and his subjects. He was obsessed with the false premise that the subjects existed for the sovereign and not the sovereign for the subjects. Daily surrounded by unscrupulous flatterers who fed his self-importance, Rehoboam came to accept the nonsensical fiction of "the divine right of kings," that led him to treat his subjects as mere puppets to be manipulated for the benefit of his reigning house.
Whether this outlook was the result of a perverse disposition or wrong training may be hard to decide. Rehoboam had been brought up under the autocratic rule of his father, Solomon, to whom subjects were synonymous to slaves. When the people appealed, it was more against Solomon than Rehoboam, who had not had the opportunity of proving his quality as a king. So the first appeal to Rehoboam was, "Thy father made our yoke grievous," and the son sought to copy the defect of his father. Lamentable failure, however, overtook this feeble son of an illustrious father.
II. He followed the wrong advice. Alexander Whyte introduces his homily on Rehoboam with the sentence: "Just by one insolent and swaggering word, King Rehoboam lost for ever the ten tribes of Israel. And all Rehoboam's insane and suicidal history is written in our Bible for the admonition and instruction of all hot-blooded, ill-natured, and insolent-spoken men among ourselves."
What a different history of the Jews would have been written had Rehoboam not followed the advice of reckless counselors. When he went to Shechem, the rallying center of the northern tribes, to be formally crowned as king in succession to Solomon, the people were willing to accept Rehoboam on one condition, namely that he should lighten the burdens imposed upon them by Solomon. This reasonable request, which should have been acceded to without any hesitation, was met with the cautious reply: "Come again to me after three days." But Rehoboam lost a golden opportunity of healing the sores of fears and of preserving the unity of God's ancient people.
First of all, the king sought the advice of the old men who had been counselors of his father and whose ripe experience qualified them to guide Rehoboam. They urged the king to be kind and considerate. "Speak good words unto them, and they will be thy servants forever." But with his mind already made up, he rejected the counsel of the old men, and consulting the opinion of his young, rash companions who had always fed his vanity, he followed their advice and, assuming a haughty attitude, announced that he would add to the yoke of the people. "My father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions."
The effect was instantaneous, and a long-suffering people, smarting for so long under a sense of wrong, refused to be cowed, like the brave Hungarian people, by empty boastings. Thus the slumbering embers of revolt burst into a flame, and the kingdom was rent in twain and Israel's greatness destroyed.
III. He failed to give God the first place. If Rehoboam had consulted the Supreme King of Nations before seeking the advice of old and young men, how beneficial the monarchy would have been. While at the first he posed as the defender of the faith of his fathers and maintained the Temple services with signal fidelity, he failed to render God an undivided homage. The last years of Solomon's brilliant reign were darkened by the recognition of heathen gods and their degrading cults which, along with the fact that Rehoboam was the son of a heathen woman, helped to explain his apostasy. So attempting the impossible, he sought to please God and worship idols at the same time. But said Rehoboam's perfect Descendant: "No man can serve two masters."
At first pious (2 Chron. 12:1) Rehoboam fell into such iniquity that an Egyptian scourge came upon the king and the two tribes he ruled. Brief penitence stayed vengeance, but the rot had set in (2 Chron. 12:5, 8). So we leave Rehoboam, who went astray in a threefold direction, ruining himself and the people he sought to govern. He lost the best part of his kingdom and reduced Israel as a whole to a subordinate rank among nations.