Life Sketches – Come Before Winter

The grace of courtesy and sympathy are character traits that every Christian should cherish because these were the prominent character traits of Jesus Christ. Although we should manifest these graces toward everyone, there is a class of people who has an even stronger claim to our sympathy.

The followers of Christ cannot be expected to be thought of by the world any differently than their Master. Jesus said, “It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more will they call those of his household” (Matthew 10:25)!

Jesus warned that “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember  the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also” (John 15:18–20).

So, Jesus predicted that His followers would be having the same kinds of problems and no more favor in the world than had their Master. The Christian faith involves not only hope, but it involves bearing our cross, following Jesus. Paul’s labors had been blessed with the conversion of many, many souls, but on his arrival at Rome, he was placed in the charge of the captain of the Imperial Guards. After a time, this man was replaced by another man who was infamous because of his vice and tyranny, and the apostle Paul had no hope for clemency or favor from this slave of lust and cruelty.

At this same time during his first imprisonment, the Jews were more active than ever in their efforts against Paul. They had found an able helper in the profligate woman whom Nero had made his second wife, and who, being a Jewish proselyte, would lend all her influence to second their murderous designs against the Christian champion. Paul had little hope for justice from Caesar to whom he appealed. Nero was more debased in morals and more frivolous in character, and capable of more cruelty than any Caesar that had preceded him. The reins of government could not have been given to a more unfit person.

The first year of his reign had been marked by the poisoning of his young step brother who was the rightful heir to the throne. Following that, Nero had steadily descended from one depth of vice to another, until he murdered his own mother, and then even his own wife. There was no atrocity that he would not perpetrate, no vile act to which he would not stoop. There were many people who held him in abhorrence and contempt, and the details of iniquity that were practiced in his court are too degrading and horrible to describe. His abandoned wickedness created disgust and loathing even among many who were forced to share in his crimes.

People were in constant fear about what he could suggest next, and yet, even such crimes did not shake the allegiance of his subjects. He was acknowledged as the absolute ruler of the whole civilized world. More than this, he was made the recipient of divine honors and worshiped as a god. From the standpoint of human judgment, Paul’s condemnation before a judge like this was certain. But the apostle, fearing not, trusted in the Lord as to whatever should happen. His trust and faith were in God, and he knew that God could overrule even what Nero could decide, just as He can overrule any human decision.

God shielded Paul at His faithful servant’s examination before Nero and the charges against him were not sustained. With a regard for justice wholly at variance with his normal character, Nero declared that the prisoner was guiltless and contrary to the general expectation, Paul’s fetters were struck off. He was again a free man.

However, during this period of time, the converts to Christianity had become so numerous that Paul’s imprisonment had attracted the attention and aroused the enmity of the authorities. The ire of the Emperor developed especially against the conversion of members of his own household. Nero was a person who still thirsted for blood; he was one of the most wicked men that has ever lived. And he soon figured out a pretext by which he could kill off most of the Christian population in the city of Rome.

A terrible fire occurred in Rome that consumed nearly one half of the city. Nero himself had caused the flames to be kindled, but to avert suspicion, he made a pretense of great generosity to assist the homeless and destitute. However, Nero was accused of the crime and the people were excited and enraged, so to clear himself and also, at the same time, rid the city of a class of people that he feared and hated, he decided to charge the act of burning the city of Rome upon the Christians. This Satanic device succeeded. Thousands of the followers of Christ—men, women, and children—were put to death in a most cruel manner.

This monster in human form amused the public by painting the victims in pitch before burning them to death while exhibiting them in their dying agonies at the circus. He took the keenest delight in the misery of others. To take delight in the misery of another human being demonstrates that you have developed a Satanic character which will exclude you from the halls of bliss that the Lord is preparing for those who come to Him.

God does not want any human being to suffer one hour of pain that can be averted or avoided. If sin had not come into the world, no human being would ever have suffered pain. Pain is a result of sin. In Revelation 21:4, the Bible says that when God recreates this world again at the close of the millennium, not only will there be no more sin or death, but there will be no more pain. The desire to cause pain to another human being is satanic.

Paul, having been set free was no longer in Rome, but working among the churches, knowing full well that this would be his final work. The Jews were still his enemies and still trying to figure out a way to get Paul killed, because so many tens of thousands of Jews all over the world, as well as Gentiles, had become Christians as a result of the work of this man.

Finally, another satanic idea was conceived. They would fasten upon Paul the crime of instigating and burning Rome. Although they knew that that wasn’t true, they figured if they could show any cause of probability or plausibility to this charge, it would seal his doom. An opportunity was soon provided to execute their plans. Paul was seized while he was in the city of Troas in the house of a disciple and again taken by ship to Rome for his second and final imprisonment.

Not all who heard Paul’s message of the Gospel received that truth, and he made some bitter enemies. Such a one was Alexander the coppersmith, a man who was not able to defeat the apostle in debate, so he worked to see that Paul was imprisoned and finally killed. In 2 Timothy 4:14, Paul says about him that he “did me much harm. May the Lord repay him according to his works.” Again, Alexander is mentioned to Timothy as one of those who had rejected the good warfare. He said, “… of whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered to Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme” (1 Timothy 1:20).

Reformatory action is always attended with loss, sacrifice, and peril. Why? Because it always rebukes the love of ease, and selfish interests, and lustful ambition. Therefore whoever initiates or prosecutes such reformatory action must encounter opposition. This is why Jesus was opposed and why He was so hated. The majority were not willing to submit to the conditions of reform. Jesus showed that a change must happen in a person’s early life if they are going to have eternal life, but most are not willing to submit to this change. They want to live the way they please and still have eternal life. The Lord said, “That’s not possible.” The apostle Paul said, “That’s not possible.” All the prophets and apostles said the same thing.

It is no easy matter to overcome sinful habits and practices. In fact, these changes can only be made with divine help. But there are many people, even Christians today, who, instead of bringing themselves up to meet the standard of God, seek to lower the standard to their own level of “righteousness.” God’s standard does not change. When people are severely dealt with or rebuked for their sins, which endanger the purity of the Christian’s walk, instead of accepting the reproof and changing their life, they continue in sin. When those of Paul’s day were excommunicated or disfellowshipped from the church because of their unwillingness to reform, they became Paul’s enemies. Instead of changing their lives to come into harmony with the gospel, they wanted the gospel changed to come into harmony with what they wanted to do. Such is still the case, even in the Christian world today.

There are many people not willing to accept the standard given by the gospel in the New Testament. The Bible is very clear that you cannot have eternal life if you do not love God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37, 39). Many people claim to love God, but notice what it says in 1 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?”

John also says, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3). The person who says he loves God and does not keep His commandments is also a liar, adding sin to sin.

When Paul came to Rome the second time, thousands of Christians had been killed for their faith and many had left the city. Those who were left in the city were greatly intimidated because of persecution. On this arrival there were no warm-hearted disciples to meet Paul and his companions as there had been on his first imprisonment. There was no one like a courteous and kindly Julius to say a word in his favor, no statement of favor from Festus or Agrippa to attest to his innocence. This time, the apostle Paul is not put in a rented house, but he is put in a gloomy Roman prison where he will live until he is taken to be martyred.

To visit the apostle Paul during his second imprisonment in a Roman dungeon was not at all the same as to visit him during his first imprisonment when he was in his own rented house. At his first imprisonment there had been no charge that had been sustained against him. Not only that, he had won favorable opinions from princes and rulers such as King Agrippa, Felix, and Festus. But this time, if you were to visit him, it was to visit a person who was the object of universal hatred because he was accused of instigating one of the basest and most terrible crimes against the city and nation. So, anyone who even ventured to visit him to show him kindness or attention, thereby made himself subject to suspicion and endangered his own life. This was because at that time, Rome was filled with spies who stood ready to bring an accusation against any person on the slightest occasion which could advance their own interests.

Nobody but a Christian would visit a Christian, for no other would incur the risk, the odium of a faith which even intelligent men regarded as not only contemptible, but treasonable. And so, one by one the apostle Paul saw his friends leave. To Timothy he wrote, “Be diligent to come to me quickly; for Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and has departed for Thessalonica—Crescens for Galatia, Titus for Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministry. And Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus. Bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas when you come—and the books, especially the parchments. Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm. May the Lord repay him according to his works. You also must beware of him, for he has greatly resisted our words” (2 Timothy 4:9–15).

Then he says, “At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me. May it not be charged against them. But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear. Also I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever” (verses 16–18).

So, the apostle was still able to communicate with the world outside through Luke and his secretary, and he was able to send and receive messages from the different churches. But at this time, when he was in such a dire situation, he received an unexpected encouragement by a visit from an Ephesian Christian by the name of Onesiphorus. Now this person had come to Rome not long after the apostle Paul had arrived in his second imprisonment. He knew that Paul was a prisoner somewhere in the city of Rome and he decided that he was going to find him. This was not easy to do because the city was crowded with prisoners and suspicion was everywhere and had only to fasten itself upon an unfortunate victim to consign him to prison and perhaps to death.

In spite of all these difficulties, Onesiphorus kept searching for Paul until he found him. Not satisfied with just visiting him one time, he went again and again at the risk of his life to Paul’s dungeon and he did all in his power to lighten the burden of his imprisonment. The fear of scorn, or reproach, or persecution was powerless to terrify this true hearted Ephesian Christian because he knew that his beloved teacher was in bonds for the truth’s sake, while he in every respect far less worthy, was free.

The apostle Paul writes about this visitor in 2 Timothy 1:16–18. He says, “The Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain; but when he arrived in Rome, he sought me out very zealously and found me. The Lord grant to him that he may find mercy from the Lord in that Day—and you know very well how many ways he ministered to me at Ephesus.”

At the close of his letter to Timothy he says, “Greet Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus” (2 Timothy 4:19). Paul appreciated the attention from this Christian who came at the risk of his life to help him during his final imprisonment. The desire for love and sympathy has been implanted in the human heart by God Himself. Christ in His hour of agony in Gethsemane, while bearing the guilt of sinful men, longed for the sympathy of His disciples. And Paul, although he seemed almost indifferent to hardship and suffering, yearned for sympathy and companionship as well. God wants His people, all Christians, to cherish love and sympathy for one another.

Humanity, which is elevated and ennobled and becomes God-like through the Christian religion, is worthy of respect and esteem. The sons and daughters of God should be tender hearted, pitiful, and courteous to all men, but “especially,” Paul says, “to those who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10).

Paul was bound to his fellow disciples by a stronger tie than Christian brotherhood, because the Lord had revealed Himself to him in a special manner and had made him the instrument to bring salvation to thousands and thousands of people all over the world.

Many churches could truthfully regard him as their father in the gospel. And such a man, which had sacrificed every earthly consideration in the service of God, had a special obligation upon other Christians for their sympathy and love and support. The apostle Paul in his final letter  to Timothy, just before his martyrdom, says, “Do your utmost to come before winter” (2 Timothy 4:21).

Friend, how is it in your life? Is there someone to whom you owe a special debt of sympathy and regard, courtesy, kindness, and support, that won’t be there sometime in the future? What if Timothy did not get there by wintertime and missed him?

Paul knew that his days were numbered and shared the urgency, “Come, before winter.” Who is a person in your life that you need visit before winter comes, or because at some time in the future, it will be too late?

O friend don’t wait until it’s wintertime and you regret what you have failed to do. If there is somebody in your life that you need to give special sympathy, and support, and help to, remember, come before winter!

(Unless appearing in quoted references or otherwise identified, Bible texts are from the New King James Version.)

Pastor John J. Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by email at:, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.

Food for Life – Lentil Soup

“That blasts of January would blow you through and through” Shakespeare.

Let us read some hints from our Lord as to the remedies for weather like this.

“I will tell you a little about my experience with charcoal as a remedy. For some forms of indigestion, it is more efficacious than drugs. A little olive oil into which some of this powder has been stirred tends to cleanse and heal. I find it is excellent. Pulverized charcoal from eucalyptus wood we have used freely in cases of inflammation. . . .

“Always study and teach the use of the simplest remedies, and the special blessing of the Lord may be expected to follow the use of these means which are within the reach of the common people. . . .

“On Thursday, Sister Sara McEnterfer was called to see if she could do anything for Brother B’s little son, who is eighteen months old. For several days he has had a painful swelling on the knee, supposed to be from the bite of some poisonous insect. Pulverized charcoal, mixed with flaxseed, was placed upon the swelling, and this poultice gave relief at once. The child had screamed with pain all night, but when this was applied, he slept. Today she has been to see the little one twice. She opened the swelling in two places, and a large amount of yellow matter and blood was discharged freely. The child was relieved of its great suffering. We thank the Lord that we may become intelligent in using the simple things within our reach to alleviate pain and successfully remove its cause.

“When Hezekiah was sick, the prophet of God brought him the message that he should die. The king cried to the Lord, and the Lord heard him, and sent the promise that fifteen years should be added to his life. One word from God, one touch of the divine finger, would have been enough to cure Hezekiah instantly. But instead, he was given directions to make a poultice of figs, and lay it upon the part affected. This was done, and Hezekiah was restored to health. It would be well to treasure this prescription which the Lord ordered to be used, more than we do.

“I am very sorry to learn that Sister C is not well. I cannot advise any remedy for her cough better than eucalyptus and honey. Into a tumbler of honey put a few drops of the eucalyptus, stir it up well, and take whenever the cough comes on. I have had considerable trouble with my throat, but whenever I use this I overcome the difficulty very quickly. I have to use it only a few times, and the cough is removed. If you will use this prescription, you may be your own physician. If the first trial does not effect a cure, try it again. The best time to take it is before retiring.…” Selected Messages, Book 2, 298–301.

January Recipe – Lentil Soup

2 tablespoons distilled water 

1 large onion, chopped 

2 cloves fresh garlic, minced 

1-1/2 cups lentils

3 quarts of water

1 large carrot, finely cut

1 stalk of celery, finely cut

1 large potato, diced

1 cup tomato sauce

1/2 cup cooked rice

1 teaspoon sea salt

Place distilled water into a soup pot, and gently sauté the onion and garlic for two minutes. Stir continually. Wash and rinse lentils and add them to the soup pot. Add the water, cut vegetables, and the rest of the ingredients with the exception of the salt and rice. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, and cook slowly for about one hour. Add the sea salt and let soup simmer a short while longer. Add cooked rice. Serve.

Restoring the Temple – Winter Health and Safety

“Wherefore ye shall do my statutes, and keep my judgments, and do them; and ye shall dwell in the land in safety.” —Leviticus 25:18.

For most of us living in the Northern Hemisphere, wintertime means months of cold weather. Folks living in the Southeastern or Southern United States may not feel much of a chill, but this time of year can be particularly hazardous to the Northerners around the world. Unless carefully planned for, cold weather can expose us to injury and illness. Vehicle accidents account for 70 percent of the reported snow and ice injuries. Another 25 percent of cold-weather injuries occur when people are caught outside in a storm. Most snow/ice injuries happen to males over the age of 40. Injuries related to cold occur to people over the age of 60 in 50 percent of the cases. More than 75 percent of cold injuries occur to males, and about 20 percent happen in the home.

Exposure to cold can lead to hypothermia or frostbite. Hypothermia occurs when the body temperature drops to below 95° F (35° C). Hypothermia can be deadly, but for those who survive, the resulting kidney, liver, and pancreas problems can be lifelong. Some of the danger signs of hypothermia include uncontrollable shivering, disorientation, memory loss, slurred speech, drowsiness, dizziness, and exhaustion.

Frostbite is damage to the tissues of the body caused by cold. The cells of this damaged tissue are dead or dying, so it is important for a person experiencing frostbite to seek medical help immediately. Signs of frostbite include loss of feeling and a grey, white, or pale appearance to the extremities, especially the fingers, toes, ears, and nose. The skin must be rewarmed as soon as possible.

Frostbite and hypothermia can occur even when the temperatures are not extremely low. Wind chill is a phenomenon that can cause these injuries quickly. Wind chill is not the actual temperature but how the combination of wind and cold feel. A wind chill factor of -20° F (-28.8° C), for instance, will cause frostbite within only 30 minutes.

If medical help is not available, warm the person slowly, beginning first with the torso and head. Warming the extremities first can drive cold blood to the heart and cause it to fail. Help the person into dry clothing and wrap them with blankets, including the head and neck. You may have to use your own body heat to help warm them. The person may be given warm, but not hot, fluids. Do not give them food, alcohol, caffeine, or drugs.

Clearly, it is best to be prepared for the expected and, when possible, the unexpected. When going outside in cold weather, dress in layers. If you become warm, you can always take off layers, but have the extra clothing available if it is needed. Since half of our body heat is lost from the head, wear a hat. The hat should also cover the ears for added protection. Mittens will keep hands and fingers warmer than will gloves, but you may want to have gloves available, if you have to use your fingers. It is very important to keep your feet warm and dry, so wear waterproof, insulated boots with a good tread to keep you from slipping.

If you get wet, remove the wet clothing and warm the core body temperature as soon as possible. Avoid overexertion in the cold. Perspiration can lead to chilling and hypothermia. Also, the strain to the body from the cold and the hard work can cause a heart attack.

At home and at work, the major concerns during a storm are loss of electrical power, telephone service, and supply shortage. Be prepared by keeping the following items available for just such an occasion: flashlight and extra batteries, battery-powered radio, extra food and water, extra medicine, baby supplies, first-aid supplies, heating fuel, emergency heat source (ventilate rooms and use properly to prevent fires), fire extinguisher, and smoke alarm. In addition, you will want to have food, water, and shelter for any animals for which you are responsible.

Traveling by vehicle can be hazardous in cold weather, even if it is not icy outside. Plan your trip well, and avoid traveling during storms or when bad weather is predicted. Make sure your vehicle is in good working condition and winterized. To avoid ice in the tank and fuel lines, keep your gas tank full. The following is a list of what a Winter Storm Kit should contain, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Red Cross:

  • Mobile phone, charger, batteries
  • Blankets/sleeping bags
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • First-aid kit
  • Knife
  • High-calorie, non-perishable food
  • Extra clothing to keep dry and warm
  • Large, empty can to use as emergency toilet
  • Tissues and paper towels for sanitary purposes
  • Small can and waterproof matches to melt snow for drinking water
  • Sack of sand or cat litter for traction
  • Shovel
  • Windshield scraper and brush
  • Tool kit
  • Tow rope
  • Battery booster cables
  • Water container
  • Compass and road maps

It is important to plan ahead. It does not take a lot of effort to do the minimal for safety. Even the animals and insects plan ahead! “The ants [are] a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer.” Proverbs 30:25. Take a little extra time to prepare yourself and your family or others to have a safe winter.

Sheryle Beaudry, a certified teletriage nurse, writes from Estacada, Oregon, where she lives with her husband and twin daughters. She may be contacted by e-mail at: If there is a health-related question you would like answered in LandMarks, please e-mail your question to:, or mail it to: LandMarks, Steps to Life, P. O. Box 782828, Wichita, KS 67278.