Every Christian is called to share the Gospel—but sometimes our motives for sharing aren’t biblical. Discover what the Bible reveals as the two primary motives that should drive us to tell others about Jesus. That’s on Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.
From the Sermon
Examining Our MotivesSermon • Includes Transcript • 33:36 • ID: 1502
A Word to Planners
In and of itself, there’s nothing wrong with planning ahead. John Wesley, the great evangelist, even used to plan out his day in twenty-minute segments, ensuring that a third of an hour wouldn’t pass without him addressing himself to matters of God’s kingdom. But in these verses, James offers a word to men and women in every generation who are addicted to their calendars, who clutch at their phones, and who live with the impression deep down that the world will stop turning if they get off track.
At the heart of the matter is this rock-solid fact: to us, the future is unknown. Will it be sunny tomorrow? Will your flight be on time? Will the traffic be busier than usual and interrupt your schedule? We can plan as best as we’re able to, but ultimately all our best plans may fall into tatters. Indeed, they do so routinely. To presume upon the future is foolish when our ignorance of that future is an indisputable fact.
Facing this fact ought to have two effects. First, it ought to humble us. James has already reminded his readers that “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6), and issued the challenging call: “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you” (v 10). Now he reminds us that we ought not to take for ourselves the seat that belongs to God alone—we are not in control. It is our response to disruption and disappointment that reveals whether we have truly grasped this.
Secondly, tomorrow being unknown to us ought to help us, for the future is hidden from us for our good and for God’s glory. If we knew of some success that awaited us, we might become unbearable, preening our feathers and basking in our own sense of self-importance. By the same token, we should be thankful that we don’t live in the constant awareness of our future stumblings and struggles, fears and failures, bereavements and heartaches—for what advantage would that give us? God knows. That is enough.
So remember this: God the Creator established you, made you, and gave you all your abilities, your looks, your opportunities. He has ordered your life right up until today, and will continue to do so until He welcomes you home. Because of this, you can actually rejoice in what you do not know. There is beauty in the mystery. There is great wonder in knowing that God is ordering all things and will accomplish His purposes in and for you, whatever tomorrow brings. It is this perspective that will enable you to look at your plans for today, tomorrow, and further on down the path of your life, and say with a humble peace in your heart, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that” (James 4:15, emphasis added).
How is God calling me to think differently?
How is God reordering my heart’s affections — what I love?
What is God calling me to do as I go about my day today?
1“Do you know when the mountain goats give birth?
Do you observe the calving of the does?
2Can you number the months that they fulfill,
and do you know the time when they give birth,
3when they crouch, bring forth their offspring,
and are delivered of their young?
4Their young ones become strong; they grow up in the open;
they go out and do not return to them.
5“Who has let the wild donkey go free?
Who has loosed the bonds of the swift donkey,
6to whom I have given the arid plain for his home
and the salt land for his dwelling place?
7He scorns the tumult of the city;
he hears not the shouts of the driver.
8He ranges the mountains as his pasture,
and he searches after every green thing.
9“Is the wild ox willing to serve you?
Will he spend the night at your manger?
10Can you bind him in the furrow with ropes,
or will he harrow the valleys after you?
11Will you depend on him because his strength is great,
and will you leave to him your labor?
12Do you have faith in him that he will return your grain
and gather it to your threshing floor?
13“The wings of the ostrich wave proudly,
but are they the pinions and plumage of love?1
14For she leaves her eggs to the earth
and lets them be warmed on the ground,
15forgetting that a foot may crush them
and that the wild beast may trample them.
16She deals cruelly with her young, as if they were not hers;
though her labor be in vain, yet she has no fear,
17because God has made her forget wisdom
and given her no share in understanding.
18When she rouses herself to flee,2
she laughs at the horse and his rider.
19“Do you give the horse his might?
Do you clothe his neck with a mane?
20Do you make him leap like the locust?
His majestic snorting is terrifying.
21He paws3 in the valley and exults in his strength;
he goes out to meet the weapons.
22He laughs at fear and is not dismayed;
he does not turn back from the sword.
23Upon him rattle the quiver,
the flashing spear, and the javelin.
24With fierceness and rage he swallows the ground;
he cannot stand still at the sound of the trumpet.
25When the trumpet sounds, he says ‘Aha!’
He smells the battle from afar,
the thunder of the captains, and the shouting.
26“Is it by your understanding that the hawk soars
and spreads his wings toward the south?
27Is it at your command that the eagle mounts up
and makes his nest on high?
28On the rock he dwells and makes his home,
on the rocky crag and stronghold.
29From there he spies out the prey;
his eyes behold it from far away.
30His young ones suck up blood,
and where the slain are, there is he.”
Devotional material is taken from the Truth For Life daily devotionals by Alistair Begg, published by The Good Book Company, thegoodbook.com. Used by Truth For Life with permission. Copyright © 2021, 2022, The Good Book Company.
For many fell, because the war was of God.
Warrior, as you fight under the banner of the Lord Jesus, observe this verse with holy joy, for as it was in the days of old, so is it now: If the war is of God, the victory is sure. The armies of God could barely muster forty-five thousand fighting men, and yet in their war with the enemy, they captured “a hundred thousand men,” “for they cried to God in the battle, and he granted their urgent plea because they trusted in him.”
The Lord saves not by many, nor by few; it is ours to go in Jehovah’s name even if we are only a handful of men, for the Lord of Hosts is with us as our Captain. They did not neglect their weapons, but neither did they place their trust in them; we must use all fitting means, but our confidence must rest in the Lord alone, for He is the sword and the shield of His people. The great reason for their extraordinary success lay in the fact that “the war was of God.”
Beloved, in fighting with sin in us and around us, with error doctrinal or practical, with spiritual wickedness in high places or low places, with devils and the devil’s allies, you are waging Jehovah’s war, and unless He himself can be defeated, you do not need to fear defeat. Do not tremble before superior numbers; do not shrink from difficulties or impossibilities; do not flinch at wounds or death; strike with the two-edged sword of the Spirit, and the dead shall lie in heaps.
The battle is the Lord’s, and He will deliver His enemies into our hands. With steadfast foot, strong hand, dauntless heart, and flaming zeal, rush to the conflict, and the hosts of evil will fly like chaff before the gale.
Stand up! stand up for Jesus!
The strife will not be long;
This day the noise of battle,
The next the victor’s song:
To him that overcometh,
A crown of life shall be;
He with the King of glory
Shall reign eternally.
Devotional material is taken from Morning and Evening, written by C. H. Spurgeon, revised and updated by Alistair Begg. Copyright © 2003, Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.org. Used by Truth For Life with written permission.
1“If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, 2and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ 3you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the Lord your God is testing you, to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. 4You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him. 5But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has taught rebellion against the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you out of the house of slavery, to make you leave the way in which the Lord your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil1 from your midst.
6“If your brother, the son of your mother, or your son or your daughter or the wife you embrace2 or your friend who is as your own soul entices you secretly, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods,’ which neither you nor your fathers have known, 7some of the gods of the peoples who are around you, whether near you or far off from you, from the one end of the earth to the other, 8you shall not yield to him or listen to him, nor shall your eye pity him, nor shall you spare him, nor shall you conceal him. 9But you shall kill him. Your hand shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people. 10You shall stone him to death with stones, because he sought to draw you away from the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 11And all Israel shall hear and fear and never again do any such wickedness as this among you.
12“If you hear in one of your cities, which the Lord your God is giving you to dwell there, 13that certain worthless fellows have gone out among you and have drawn away the inhabitants of their city, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods,’ which you have not known, 14then you shall inquire and make search and ask diligently. And behold, if it be true and certain that such an abomination has been done among you, 15you shall surely put the inhabitants of that city to the sword, devoting it to destruction,3 all who are in it and its cattle, with the edge of the sword. 16You shall gather all its spoil into the midst of its open square and burn the city and all its spoil with fire, as a whole burnt offering to the Lord your God. It shall be a heap forever. It shall not be built again. 17None of the devoted things shall stick to your hand, that the Lord may turn from the fierceness of his anger and show you mercy and have compassion on you and multiply you, as he swore to your fathers, 18if you obey the voice of the Lord your God, keeping all his commandments that I am commanding you today, and doing what is right in the sight of the Lord your God.
Clean and Unclean Food
1“You are the sons of the Lord your God. You shall not cut yourselves or make any baldness on your foreheads for the dead. 2For you are a people holy to the Lord your God, and the Lord has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.
3“You shall not eat any abomination. 4These are the animals you may eat: the ox, the sheep, the goat, 5the deer, the gazelle, the roebuck, the wild goat, the ibex,1 the antelope, and the mountain sheep. 6Every animal that parts the hoof and has the hoof cloven in two and chews the cud, among the animals, you may eat. 7Yet of those that chew the cud or have the hoof cloven you shall not eat these: the camel, the hare, and the rock badger, because they chew the cud but do not part the hoof, are unclean for you. 8And the pig, because it parts the hoof but does not chew the cud, is unclean for you. Their flesh you shall not eat, and their carcasses you shall not touch.
9“Of all that are in the waters you may eat these: whatever has fins and scales you may eat. 10And whatever does not have fins and scales you shall not eat; it is unclean for you.
11“You may eat all clean birds. 12But these are the ones that you shall not eat: the eagle,2 the bearded vulture, the black vulture, 13the kite, the falcon of any kind; 14every raven of any kind; 15the ostrich, the nighthawk, the sea gull, the hawk of any kind; 16the little owl and the short-eared owl, the barn owl 17and the tawny owl, the carrion vulture and the cormorant, 18the stork, the heron of any kind; the hoopoe and the bat. 19And all winged insects are unclean for you; they shall not be eaten. 20All clean winged things you may eat.
21“You shall not eat anything that has died naturally. You may give it to the sojourner who is within your towns, that he may eat it, or you may sell it to a foreigner. For you are a people holy to the Lord your God.
“You shall not boil a young goat in its mother's milk.
22“You shall tithe all the yield of your seed that comes from the field year by year. 23And before the Lord your God, in the place that he will choose, to make his name dwell there, you shall eat the tithe of your grain, of your wine, and of your oil, and the firstborn of your herd and flock, that you may learn to fear the Lord your God always. 24And if the way is too long for you, so that you are not able to carry the tithe, when the Lord your God blesses you, because the place is too far from you, which the Lord your God chooses, to set his name there, 25then you shall turn it into money and bind up the money in your hand and go to the place that the Lord your God chooses 26and spend the money for whatever you desire—oxen or sheep or wine or strong drink, whatever your appetite craves. And you shall eat there before the Lord your God and rejoice, you and your household. 27And you shall not neglect the Levite who is within your towns, for he has no portion or inheritance with you.
28“At the end of every three years you shall bring out all the tithe of your produce in the same year and lay it up within your towns. 29And the Levite, because he has no portion or inheritance with you, and the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, who are within your towns, shall come and eat and be filled, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands that you do.
The Lord Our God Is Holy
1The Lord reigns; let the peoples tremble!
He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake!
2The Lord is great in Zion;
he is exalted over all the peoples.
3Let them praise your great and awesome name!
Holy is he!
4The King in his might loves justice.1
You have established equity;
you have executed justice
and righteousness in Jacob.
5Exalt the Lord our God;
worship at his footstool!
Holy is he!
6Moses and Aaron were among his priests,
Samuel also was among those who called upon his name.
They called to the Lord, and he answered them.
7In the pillar of the cloud he spoke to them;
they kept his testimonies
and the statute that he gave them.
8O Lord our God, you answered them;
you were a forgiving God to them,
but an avenger of their wrongdoings.
9Exalt the Lord our God,
and worship at his holy mountain;
for the Lord our God is holy!
His Steadfast Love Endures Forever
A Psalm for giving thanks.
1Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
2Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!
3Know that the Lord, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;1
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
4Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!
5For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.
I Will Walk with Integrity
A Psalm of David.
1I will sing of steadfast love and justice;
to you, O Lord, I will make music.
2I will ponder the way that is blameless.
Oh when will you come to me?
I will walk with integrity of heart
within my house;
3I will not set before my eyes
anything that is worthless.
I hate the work of those who fall away;
it shall not cling to me.
4A perverse heart shall be far from me;
I will know nothing of evil.
5Whoever slanders his neighbor secretly
I will destroy.
Whoever has a haughty look and an arrogant heart
I will not endure.
6I will look with favor on the faithful in the land,
that they may dwell with me;
he who walks in the way that is blameless
shall minister to me.
7No one who practices deceit
shall dwell in my house;
no one who utters lies
shall continue before my eyes.
8Morning by morning I will destroy
all the wicked in the land,
cutting off all the evildoers
from the city of the Lord.
Fear Not, for I Am with You
1Listen to me in silence, O coastlands;
let the peoples renew their strength;
let them approach, then let them speak;
let us together draw near for judgment.
2Who stirred up one from the east
whom victory meets at every step?1
He gives up nations before him,
so that he tramples kings underfoot;
he makes them like dust with his sword,
like driven stubble with his bow.
3He pursues them and passes on safely,
by paths his feet have not trod.
4Who has performed and done this,
calling the generations from the beginning?
I, the Lord, the first,
and with the last; I am he.
5The coastlands have seen and are afraid;
the ends of the earth tremble;
they have drawn near and come.
6Everyone helps his neighbor
and says to his brother, “Be strong!”
7The craftsman strengthens the goldsmith,
and he who smooths with the hammer him who strikes the anvil,
saying of the soldering, “It is good”;
and they strengthen it with nails so that it cannot be moved.
8But you, Israel, my servant,
Jacob, whom I have chosen,
the offspring of Abraham, my friend;
9you whom I took from the ends of the earth,
and called from its farthest corners,
saying to you, “You are my servant,
I have chosen you and not cast you off”;
10fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
11Behold, all who are incensed against you
shall be put to shame and confounded;
those who strive against you
shall be as nothing and shall perish.
12You shall seek those who contend with you,
but you shall not find them;
those who war against you
shall be as nothing at all.
13For I, the Lord your God,
hold your right hand;
it is I who say to you, “Fear not,
I am the one who helps you.”
14Fear not, you worm Jacob,
you men of Israel!
I am the one who helps you, declares the Lord;
your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.
15Behold, I make of you a threshing sledge,
new, sharp, and having teeth;
you shall thresh the mountains and crush them,
and you shall make the hills like chaff;
16you shall winnow them, and the wind shall carry them away,
and the tempest shall scatter them.
And you shall rejoice in the Lord;
in the Holy One of Israel you shall glory.
17When the poor and needy seek water,
and there is none,
and their tongue is parched with thirst,
I the Lord will answer them;
I the God of Israel will not forsake them.
18I will open rivers on the bare heights,
and fountains in the midst of the valleys.
I will make the wilderness a pool of water,
and the dry land springs of water.
19I will put in the wilderness the cedar,
the acacia, the myrtle, and the olive.
I will set in the desert the cypress,
the plane and the pine together,
20that they may see and know,
may consider and understand together,
that the hand of the Lord has done this,
the Holy One of Israel has created it.
The Futility of Idols
21Set forth your case, says the Lord;
bring your proofs, says the King of Jacob.
22Let them bring them, and tell us
what is to happen.
Tell us the former things, what they are,
that we may consider them,
that we may know their outcome;
or declare to us the things to come.
23Tell us what is to come hereafter,
that we may know that you are gods;
do good, or do harm,
that we may be dismayed and terrified.2
24Behold, you are nothing,
and your work is less than nothing;
an abomination is he who chooses you.
25I stirred up one from the north, and he has come,
from the rising of the sun, and he shall call upon my name;
he shall trample on rulers as on mortar,
as the potter treads clay.
26Who declared it from the beginning, that we might know,
and beforehand, that we might say, “He is right”?
There was none who declared it, none who proclaimed,
none who heard your words.
27I was the first to say3 to Zion, “Behold, here they are!”
and I give to Jerusalem a herald of good news.
28But when I look, there is no one;
among these there is no counselor
who, when I ask, gives an answer.
29Behold, they are all a delusion;
their works are nothing;
their metal images are empty wind.
The Two Witnesses
1Then I was given a measuring rod like a staff, and I was told, “Rise and measure the temple of God and the altar and those who worship there, 2but do not measure the court outside the temple; leave that out, for it is given over to the nations, and they will trample the holy city for forty-two months. 3And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.”
4These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. 5And if anyone would harm them, fire pours from their mouth and consumes their foes. If anyone would harm them, this is how he is doomed to be killed. 6They have the power to shut the sky, that no rain may fall during the days of their prophesying, and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague, as often as they desire. 7And when they have finished their testimony, the beast that rises from the bottomless pit1 will make war on them and conquer them and kill them, 8and their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city that symbolically2 is called Sodom and Egypt, where their Lord was crucified. 9For three and a half days some from the peoples and tribes and languages and nations will gaze at their dead bodies and refuse to let them be placed in a tomb, 10and those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them and make merry and exchange presents, because these two prophets had been a torment to those who dwell on the earth. 11But after the three and a half days a breath of life from God entered them, and they stood up on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them. 12Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here!” And they went up to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies watched them. 13And at that hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell. Seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the rest were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven.
14The second woe has passed; behold, the third woe is soon to come.
The Seventh Trumpet
15Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.” 16And the twenty-four elders who sit on their thrones before God fell on their faces and worshiped God, 17saying,
“We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty,
who is and who was,
for you have taken your great power
and begun to reign.
18The nations raged,
but your wrath came,
and the time for the dead to be judged,
and for rewarding your servants,3 the prophets and saints,
and those who fear your name,
both small and great,
and for destroying the destroyers of the earth.”
19Then God's temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple. There were flashes of lightning, rumblings,4 peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail.
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