Mine Own Familiar Friend

Mine own familiar friend.

As we approach Easter Sunday, it is fitting to recount some of the events that led to the crucifixion of our Lord and then to His glorious resurrection. It is well that we remember that the great victory of the resurrection was preceded by great sorrow and suffering.

One of the sorrows of our Lord was that He was betrayed by His trusted friend, Judas. The Psalmist prophesied this, using remarkable language.

Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me. Psalm 41:9

It is remarkable to realize that our Lord personally understood the hurt of having one of His closest friends turn against Him. And as we travel through this life, one of the sorrows we bear is when we are hurt by someone of our closest friends.

Even if we never say it, friends assume loyalty to each other. A true friend is a trusted friend; and when that trust is broken, our hearts understand some of the sorrow that our Lord felt when Judas betrayed Him for thirty pieces of silver.

In thinking of this, I believe it is important to remember our duty to be loyal and true to our family and friends. And when we are hurt by those closest to us, I believe it is important to remember that our Lord experienced the same thing.

For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Hebrews 4:15

As Easter Sunday approaches, I believe it is also fitting for us to simply remember all that our Lord Jesus endured. The writer of Hebrews clearly admonished us in this regard.

For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Hebrews 12:3

As we make our way through this life, it is important to remember that Jesus has shared our greatest heartaches. But He not only experienced our sorrows, He showed us how to endure them, how we can experience the power of the resurrection in our own lives as we yield to Him.

by Dr. Mike Zachary

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Simple or Wise?

Simple or wise?

The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going. Proverbs 14:15

When you think about it, the Bible does not say “a highly educated man believeth every word” or “a man with little education believeth every word.” The Bible talks about a person who is simple.

Simple people seem to enjoy believing juicy morsels of gossip without ever verifying that the information is correct. If George says something about Mary, simple people believe the information about Mary—and without ever speaking with Mary.

When simple people read, they believe sensational headlines as much as they believe a well-researched book. They just believe everything that comes across their path, and they don’t bother to double check.

Actually, simple people seem to love being foolishly simple.

How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge? Proverbs 1:22

The children’s song “Oh, Be Careful” teaches simple people what they ought to do.

Oh, be careful little ear what you hear,

Oh, be careful little ear what you hear,

For the Father up above is looking down in love,

So be careful little ear what you hear.

A well-placed piece of gossip causes turmoil and hurt. Simple people delight in participating in such verbal assaults, but wise people realize the danger of unfounded accusations.

The first response of a simple person is, “Oh, wow! I’m glad to know this gossip is true.” The first response of a prudent person is, “Oh, my. I need to verify this before I choose to believe it.”

Simple or wise? Oh, be careful!

by Dr. Mike Zachary

Suffering

It is strange to consider the life of our Lord Jesus Christ when He came to this earth. Jesus Christ was God in human form. He was completely and utterly perfect. Yet He was often treated with great disrespect, and He suffered in a way that no one can comprehend.

The Bible describes that believers are partakers of Christ’s sufferings.

But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. I Peter 4:13

And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation. II Corinthians 1:7

When we speak of this kind of suffering, we are not talking about the fake, exaggerated suffering that some whining people exhibit. We are not speaking of the “suffering” people endure because they aren’t as rich as they hope to be or because their favorite restaurant closed just before they arrived.

But as we walk through our Christian life, we cannot escape suffering. Because God delights in infinite variation, each individual person faces suffering that is different from what other people experience.

And as we endure the suffering that we experience from time to time, we are reminded to remember our Lord Jesus Christ.

For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Hebrews 12:3

Somehow, when we remember that the suffering we face is connected to the suffering that our Lord faced, it comforts our hearts and steadiest our minds. We must know that God has a miraculous ability to use the trials in our lives to form our character and to shape us into His image. Though it is understandable that we often want to escape our suffering, we need to learn to embrace it and to accept it as a precious gift from our Lord.

As Jesus said, “Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord” (John 15:20). If our precious Lord Jesus Christ suffered, then we, too, will be partakers.

by Dr. Mike Zachary

Can You Cross the Next Bridge?

Can you cross the next bridge?

It would be nice if we could be set for life, if we could just let things continue as they are and not be bothered with additional decisions.

But life isn’t that way. Instead, life presents an ongoing process. We have to continue to make choices. We have to continue to forge ahead.

In the spiritual world, we are commanded to grow in grace.

“But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever.” Amen. II Peter 3:18

As innocent as it sounds, growing in grace is profoundly difficult. If we are growing, we are not staying the same. If we are not staying the same, we are making changes. If we are making changes, we have to grapple with difficult things, fight inertia, and improve intentionally.

In our day-to-day work, we also need to keep moving forward. Many times, assistant managers miss the promotion to manager because they don’t make changes in their attitude or skillset. Because they can’t cross the next bridge, they have to stay where they are.

As people age, they have to resist the temptation to rest on yesterday’s successes. Just because we enjoy a great success back in the day doesn’t always mean a lot right now. The man who was lauded for inventing the rake is sometimes displaced by the man who invented a tractor. As life goes forward, we must keep choosing to move forward if we don’t want to be left behind.

It’s almost as though our Lord delights in motion. When things become static, they die.

I believe we need to take a serious look inside ourselves and ask, “Am I ready to cross the next bridge?” We should ask God to give us the desire and the energy to recognize areas where we need to improve, the energy to keep moving forward, the energy to cross the next bridge.

by Dr. Mike Zachary

Help

Sometimes we need help.

The prophet Isaiah wrote beautifully about God’s desire to help us.

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.

Sometimes, we have a tendency to believe the devil’s lie. Satan tries to convince us that we are all alone in this world, that our troubles are our own, and that there is no one interested in helping us. In complete contrast to that, the Bible promises that God will help us.

Of course, God isn’t some kind of magical genie. God is not there to secretly help us live a life that is filled with sin and rebellion. But no matter where we are on our journey, we can and should have confidence that God will help us.

Some people resist God’s help, saying, “I’ve just made so many mistakes that I don’t think God will help me any more.” But the promise of God still rings true, “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you” (James 4:8).

The word help is frequently found in the book of Psalms. There are many precious promises of help that we would do well to remember.

But I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinketh upon me: thou art my help and my deliverer; make no tarrying, O my God. Psalm 40:17

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1

Behold, God is mine helper: the Lord is with them that uphold my soul. Psalm 54:4

Over and over again, the Scriptures remind us that God is our help, that God will help us. When we pause to consider this, we understand that we are not alone.

In my experience, I have seen that no one gets through life without some bruises. In different ways and at different times, we all come to the place where we keenly sense our need for help, our need for divine assistance.

When you get to that point, please remember that God is there to help you. Lean on Him. Trust in Him. Receive His help.

by Dr. Mike Zachary

Education

No one likes someone who is stuffy for no good reason.

On the other hand, many people think, “I’m just me. I’m nothing special.”
But when we think “I’m nothing special,” we are ignoring Who designed us, Who our Maker is. God doesn’t make trash. God doesn’t make low class.
You’ve moved up the educational ladder, and you’re wanting to move up further. That’s great.
While no one wants you to act stuffy or stiff, you don’t get extra credit for proving that you’re dumb.
Give yourself permission to act educated.
by Dr. Mike Zachary

Yield

Yield.

As I was driving down the street recently, I noticed a yellow yield sign; and I thought how powerful the word yield really is.

I once heard a child being corrected by his mom. “But, Mom,” he cried, “the cars have to stop for me because I have the right of way.”

The mother answered, “You are right that the cars are supposed to yield to pedestrians. But if a car doesn’t see you, you will be dead right!

As I thought about that, I thought of how easy it is for a person to simply stop walking, to simply not take the next step. But for an automobile driving 55 miles per hour, it is much harder to suddenly stop. It’s even harder for a semi-truck going 55 miles per hour to stop. All the power that larger vehicles have actually makes it tough for them to stop. It’s tough for powerful vehicles to yield.

The same is true in human relations. In so many cases, the only thing it would take to resolve a difficult conflict before it becomes disruptive is for one party to yield. But what I notice is that when someone has a lot of power, it’s like a large vehicle; it’s harder to yield.

If someone has more power, more education, more experience, or more wealth than another, it takes great restraint to yield. But when people choose to lay aside their power for the sake of love and harmony, relationships can be built instead of destroyed.

Our flesh tells us, “With all the power I have, I should not be required to yield. I should just go ahead and run over these people.” But few things are more graceful than power that is properly restrained. Instead of focusing on our ability to run over people, we should ask the Lord to help us to yield when we need to do so.

God Himself is the greatest example of power. Theologically, we say that God is omnipotent, which means He can do anything. But with unlimited power at His disposal and with the ability to destroy the entire universe with a single breath, God instead chose to send His Son Jesus Christ to suffer on Calvary to pay for our sins. When He could have destroyed us, God restrained His power and chose love instead.

Of course, there are times when discipline is appropriate. And there are times when the authorities must be notified. But much of the time, our lives would be better if we would simply choose to yield.

by Dr. Mike Zachary