Character Qualities

Commands of Christ

Basic Life Principles

In 1655, Stephen Charnock took a bold step into the public sphere. He went to Ireland with Henry Cromwell, son of Oliver Cromwell, who was recently appointed Governor of Ireland, and became the court chaplain.
While the question Jesus asked is familiar to many, the answer to the question is not as familiar. Psalm 22, which Jesus was quoting in His agony, reveals the answer to the mystery of why God forsook His only Son.
In the summer of 1901, an American army officer was waging a most unusual war in the city of Havana. Some thought the colonel was crazy. Others believed him to be a genius.
A rescue ship drifted slowly toward the rocky coastline. This particular area was known to be at “the end of the earth.” Long feared by sailors for its violent storms, hidden rocks, and savage natives, this desolate region of rocky islands is known as Tierra de Fuego. It is located off the coast of Patagonia, the southernmost tip of the mainland of South America. The mission of the rescue ship was a desperate one: to locate and assist seven missionaries who had come to bring the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ to these desolate islands.
Soli Deo Gloria—“glory to God alone”—was the testimony of Johann Sebastian Bach. Three centuries have not diminished the influence or the legacy of Bach. As recently as 2019, a poll was taken among almost 200 living musical composers, asking who they considered to be the greatest composer of all time. The winner was Bach, setting him above all other greats, such as Handel, Mozart, Hayden, and Beethoven. Bach’s masterpieces have stood the test of time, and his concertos, fugues, counterpoints, and magnificent cantatas are still studied and performed the world over.
It was a risky, daring mission. B-25s had never taken off from an aircraft carrier before. But high command deemed it important to show the people of Japan and Emperor Hirohito that Japan was not too far away for the United States to give payback for attacking Pearl Harbor! Knowing that it would be impossible to return to their carrier and land, the one-way mission would bomb targets inside Japan, fly over Japan and beyond, in hope of having enough fuel to make it to friendly airfields in China.
Do you love your brother “unto the end”? Is your love to the “uttermost”? Has your love waned with the passage of time? Have you ever hesitated to love the stranger or the outcast? When a brother sins against you, do you forgive and love as Jesus loved? Perhaps today, right now, is the time to repent of a self-centered, prideful spirit and to learn again from the Master how to love as you ought to love.
Contentment is a rare grace today. Finding men and women who truly submit to and delight in the will of God is like getting a breath of fresh air. Frances Ridley Havergal is one of these fresh breezes among the pages of history.
John Williams would be the instrument of God to open the islands of the South Pacific to mission work. The first island upon which Williams and his wife labored was the beautiful island of Tahiti, in what is now French Polynesia. A small mission work had already been founded there, and the young couple learned how to operate a mission station among cannibals.
Robert Edward Lee suffered many disappointments in life. Near the end of his life, Lee wrote a letter to a close friend and former staff officer, Colonel Charles Marshall. The letter reveals how Lee’s hope was anchored in his understanding of the eternal nature of God. Lee wrote: “The truth is this: The march of Providence is so slow, and our desires so impatient; the work of progress is so immense and our means of aiding it so feeble; the life of humanity is so long, that of the individual so brief, that we often see only the ebb of the advancing wave and are thus discouraged. It is history that teaches us to hope.”
Throughout his realm, Duke Wenceslas I earned the nickname “The Good” for his deeds of piety and charity. He strived to defend his borders from the invasions of the Hungarian clans called the Magyars. The duke also promoted the expansion of Christianity throughout his dominions. His leadership had a positive impact upon his people; after his death, many stories and legends would spread in remembrance of him. Some of the reports surely are true, while others are questionable.
The Brewsters took a bold step when they left the established church to unite with a small, persecuted body of believers known as Separatists. William Brewster knew that he was risking his status, his livelihood, and perhaps his own life by uniting with these despised Christians, but he saw the justice of their cause and he loved the truth more than his own life.
Stephen, the first Christian martyr, was a man of God who consistently and faithfully loved his neighbor. His name is of Greek origin and means “crowned one.” When Stephen first became a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ is uncertain. He was probably a Hellenistic (Greek) Jew from Jerusalem who came to trust and follow the Lord Jesus during His public ministry.
The French nobleman opened again the book he held in his hands. The nobleman was a prisoner of war, taken captive by the Spanish while defending Saint Quentin (France) in 1557. His brother had sent the book for him to read in his captivity. In the eyes of many, it was a forbidden book—a French Bible. Admiral Gaspard de Coligny was about to read that forbidden book! How might that book change his life?
The tenth commandment warns against the danger of coveting the possessions or positions of other men. Obedience to this important command calls for us to abstain from coveting. However, this is only the bare minimum required by the commandment. On the positive side, we are to learn contentment with the various items that God has provided to us.
The young missionary eagerly awaited the arrival of his bride. For months Henry Martyn had been expecting his beloved Lydia to make the journey from England to take up residence with him at Danapur, on the banks of the Ganges River in northeast India. Week after week passed as he waited for his bride.
Contentment does not come naturally to the selfish heart of man. Neither did it come naturally to the Apostle Paul. In a letter to the Philippians, he testified that it was through hardships and adversity that he had “learned to be content” (Philippians 4:11). We too must learn contentment through the daily experiences of our lives.
Rare in this world is genuine contentment. Very easily we can compare ourselves with others and then grumble and murmur about our difficult lot in life. Covetousness arises very naturally to the heart of man, and it is very easy to envy the blessings that others enjoy. While it may seem that our trials and difficulties are insurmountable, we can always find another man in circumstances that are worse than our own. Today’s biographical sketch looks at the inspiring example of a pastor who not only became blind and lame, but even lost his voice. Still, he remained content with the providence of God.
Are you satisfied? Real satisfaction springs from a heart deeply filled with gratitude to God—not only gratitude for what He has provided, but a deeper gratitude for the essence of Who He is. A soul that is truly satisfied with God’s provision is fully content with God’s goodness, resting in His unchanging character even amidst the changing circumstances of life.
As you seek to discern how to find meaning, strength, and growth when trials come, these seven basic questions can be a helpful tool for you. By asking questions and seeking wisdom and guidance from God, you can discover purpose as you recognize the transforming work of Christ, even in the midst of suffering.