Priceless Prayers

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Priceless Prayers

From: Our Daily Journey

Priceless Prayers

Read:

Luke 19:41-48
He said to them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be a house of prayer’ ” (Luke 19:46).

Imagine receiving clothes you chose to never wear, cars you didn’t ever drive, or houses you never lived in. What would be the point? If we’re not going to use those things, we might as well not possess them.

God has given us a priceless gift for communicating with Him—prayer. Through it we worship Him, confess our sins, and tell Him what we need. As we spend time talking with God, we come to know Him better.

I’m inclined to focus on tangible things that are costly because I don’t want to waste what’s valuable. But what value can be placed on prayer? Jesus announced, “My Temple will be a house of prayer” as He drove “out the people selling animals for sacrifices” (Luke 19:45-46). He was offended by the buying and selling, “You have turned [the Temple] into a den of thieves” (Luke 19:46), but He understood the need for animal sacrifice. Lambs were sacrificed every morning and night at the temple so the Israelites could be in right relationship with God. Animal death was a cost of prayer.

But that was only the down payment. The book of Hebrews says animal sacrifice was consummated in the sacrificial death of the Lamb of God. Jesus ripped open the curtain that separated us from the Father and now raises His scarred hands to intercede for us before Him (Hebrews 7:2510:19-22). His death is the final and ultimate cost of our prayers.

I wouldn’t refuse the gift of a Versace suit, Mustang convertible, or an upscale condominium; I’d enjoy possessing them. But prayer is worth far more; nothing is more valuable. And it doesn’t cost “mere gold or silver,” but “the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God” (1 Peter 1:18-19).

Magnificat

“Awake, awake, Deborah; awake, awake, utter a song; arise, Barak, and lead thy captivity captive, thou son of Abinoam.” Judges 5:12

Suggested Further Reading: Psalm 108:1-5

Wake up, my love, for thou must strike the key-note and lead the strain. Awake and sing unto thy beloved a song touching thy well-beloved. Give unto him choice canticles, for he is the fairest among ten thousand, and the altogether lovely. Come forth then with thy richest music, and praise the name which is as ointment poured forth. Wake up, my hope, and join hands with thy sister—love; and sing of blessings yet to come. Sing of my dying hour, when he shall be with me on my couch. Sing of the rising morning, when my body shall leap from its tomb into its Saviour’s arms! Sing of the expected advent, for which thou lookest with delight! And, O my soul, sing of that heaven which he has gone before to prepare for thee, “that where he is, there may his people be.” Awake my love—awake my hope—and thou my faith, awake also! Love has the sweetest voice, hope can thrill forth the higher notes of the sacred scale; but thou, O faith—with thy deep resounding bass melody—thou must complete the song. Sing of the promise sure and certain. Rehearse the glories of the covenant ordered in all things, and sure. Rejoice in the sure mercies of David! Sing of the goodness which shall be known to thee in all thy trials yet to come. Sing of that blood which has sealed and ratified every word of God. Glory in that eternal faithfulness which cannot lie, and of that truth which cannot fail. And thou, my patience, utter thy gentle but most gladsome hymn. Sing today of how he helped thee to endure in sorrows’ bitterest hour. Sing of the weary way along which he has borne thy feet, and brought thee at last to lie down in green pastures, beside the still waters.

For meditation: The songs of the Christian should arise from a thankful heart (Colossians 3:16) stirred up by the word of Christ.

The Key to the Missionary’s Message

The Key to the Missionary’s Message

By Oswald Chambers

The key to the missionary’s message is the propitiation of Christ Jesus— His sacrifice for us that completely satisfied the wrath of God. Look at any other aspect of Christ’s work, whether it is healing, saving, or sanctifying, and you will see that there is nothing limitless about those. But— “The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”— that is limitless (John 1:29). The missionary’s message is the limitless importance of Jesus Christ as the propitiation for our sins, and a missionary is someone who is immersed in the truth of that revelation.

The real key to the missionary’s message is the “remissionary” aspect of Christ’s life, not His kindness, His goodness, or even His revealing of the fatherhood of God to us. “…repentance and remission of sins should be preached…to all nations…” (Luke 24:47). The greatest message of limitless importance is that “He Himself is the propitiation for our sins….” The missionary’s message is not nationalistic, favoring nations or individuals; it is “for the whole world.” When the Holy Spirit comes into me, He does not consider my partialities or preferences; He simply brings me into oneness with the Lord Jesus.

A missionary is someone who is bound by marriage to the stated mission and purpose of his Lord and Master. He is not to proclaim his own point of view, but is only to proclaim “the Lamb of God.” It is easier to belong to a faction that simply tells what Jesus Christ has done for me, and easier to become a devotee of divine healing, or of a special type of sanctification, or of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. But Paul did not say, “Woe is me if I do not preach what Christ has done for me,” but, “…woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!” (1 Corinthians 9:16). And this is the gospel— “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”

After The Storms Of Life

Mark 4:35-41 

Jesus Calms the Storm

35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!”Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.

40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

41 They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him

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After the Storm

From: Our Daily Journey

After the Storm

Read:

Psalm 107:22-32
What a blessing was that stillness (Psalm 107:30).

My family and I exhaled as our little boat glided to a halt. Since the start of our amusement park ride, we’d “sailed” through dark caverns, where trolls and saucer-eyed monsters jeered at us. We’d hit rough water and felt waves slosh into the boat as we flew over a waterfall! Finally, we’d drifted into the calm water where we could disembark.

A group of ancient sailors had a similar experience, but without the assurance of a happy ending. The psalmist described what happened when they faced a storm at sea. “Their ships were tossed to the heavens and plunged again to the depths” (Psalm 107:26). The terrified sailors grew desperate.

Amid the chaos, they called out to God, and He tamed the thrashing, howling storm—to a whisper. “What a blessing was that stillness as he brought them safely into harbor!” (Psalm 107:30). In the calm, the sailors were able to pause and think clearly. They could see where they were headed and look forward to replenishing their supplies.

Something else happened in the stillness. They praised God for His great love and the wonderful things He’d done for them (Psalm 107:31).

Sometimes life seems as overwhelming as trouble at sea. Trauma tilts our world, and before we can stand up, we’re blown over by yet another problem.

But God is there in the midst of the instability—and He’s also there in the moment when the clouds part and the sun breaks through. It’s often then, in the stillness after the storm, that our faith becomes sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). As we reflect on how God’s promises carried us through difficulty, we rejoice as we see how He lovingly met our needs.

May we remain faithful to God as we enjoy the blessing of His faithfulness to us.

 

Children’s bread given to dogs

By: Charles Spurgeon

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‘And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.’ Matthew 15:27

Suggested Further Reading: Isaiah 64:4–9

Instead of trying to make your case out to be better, believe in its thorough badness, and yet be of good cheer. You cannot exaggerate your sin, and even if you could, it would be wiser to err in that direction than the other. A man called at my house some time ago for charity; an arrant beggar, I have no doubt. Thinking that the man’s rags and poverty were real, I gave him a little money, some of my clothes, and a pair of shoes. After he had put them on and gone out, I thought, ‘Well, after all, I have done you a bad turn very likely, for you will not get so much money now as before, because you will not look so wretched an object.’ Happening to go out a quarter of an hour afterwards, I saw my friend, but he was not wearing the clothes I had given him, not he; why, I should have ruined his business if I could have compelled him to look respectable. He had been wise enough to slip down an archway, take all the good clothes off, and put his rags on again. Did I blame him? Yes, for being a rogue, but not for carrying on his business in a businesslike manner. He only wore his proper livery, for rags are the livery of a beggar. The more ragged he looked, the more he would get. Just so is it with you. If you are to go to Christ, do not put on your good doings and feelings, or you will get nothing; go in your sins, they are your livery. Your ruin is your argument for mercy; your poverty is your plea for heavenly alms; and your need is the motive for heavenly goodness. Go as you are, and let your miseries plead for you.

For meditation: The filthy rags of sin are the natural uniform of all human beings (Romans 3:23). The Lord Jesus Christ wore them spiritually on the cross in our place and in return offers you now his spotless robe of righteousness (Isaiah 61:10Zechariah 3:3–5), which is the Christian’s uniform and ticket to heaven. But you won’t even be able to gatecrash heaven (John 10:1), if you reject Christ’s righteousness and continue to wear the filthy rags of your sin (Matthew 22:11–13).

 

Fear of the New Thing

By: Brooke Keith, Author

toddler-toy

 

Benji used to have this fuzzy blue puppy blanket that instantly got him to sleep. It was a miracle worker. Mommy’s helper. The only thing that got me a break.

Well, that was until I misplaced it.

We spent weeks looking beneath sofas and even inside vent ducts. Then we started trying to find substitutes but none ever quite fit. This also meant weeks of bouncing, endless nights of playing lullabies on a loop, and trying desperately to find anything to get normal back.

I’d all but forgotten about the blue blanket months later – that was until Ben discovered this big floppy eared bunny that he now likes to have laid across his tummy when he gets sleepy. The bunny is at least ten years old. It is dingy and green. (Sounds a little gross, right?) Frankly, it smells a little weird. He found it when he learned to scoot, right next to the closet I was cleaning out. Long story short – he loved it and took it for his own.

It’s old. But to him, it’s a new thing. Now it’s become his comfort. It has replaced the little lost blanket and even though we have since found it, the bunny still WINS when it comes to nap time.

But I remember when he first saw that green bunny a few months ago. When all he could do was sit in the hall stationary, he didn’t care a thing about it; but that was before he could grasp it.

I think we adults are a lot like our children. We would like to think that we outgrow our blue blankets, but we never really do. They just change shape, take on new forms. The things that comfort me are my old red sweater, my hippo pillow pet (like a million years old) and life that doesn’t change! But like you, I have discovered that the last thing I mentioned is something that comforts us all – and something we all eventually learn is quite impractical!

Life is always changing. It is never stagnant. Even when we think it is.

“Behold I will do a new thing.” (Isaiah 43:19)

It’s the verse I have turned to so many times when the “comfortable” was ripped from my hands.

We all long for the new thing. But when the new thing comes, God has to pry the old thing from our hands. At first, it’s uncomfortable. At first, let’s face it … it stinks. But soon, like my Ben, we find that God hasn’t taken away our blue blanket, whatever that means for us, away forever. He’s just holding it a while. He wants us to find our comfort in Him, not in it; and when we can grasp the comfort of the new thing – we learn it’s better. It’s just as safe. It’s just as miraculous and praiseworthy.

The new thing can take on many forms. It can be incredibly exciting or completely the opposite – absolutely terrifying.

Maybe you have recently discovered a new season in your life that is uncomfortable. Maybe you are battling an illness, starting over, praying for a miracle, or walking into pathways of the unknown.

Whatever your new thing is – I want to assure you this much – God is a God of new things. Like the Israelites, God is always moving us forward.

But forward doesn’t have to be scary. His track record is incredible. He never starts something He can’t finish. He never moves without purpose. He never fails. He is faithful and He can be faithfully trusted with the new thing.

Until you find your Promised Land, or in this case your green bunny, may God be your comfort. May He fill you to overflowing as He whispers to you “Everything’s going to be ok, My child.” And most of all, may you discover that all changes are changes you can find rest in; especially when they are faced with the God of never-changing-grace. (Romans 8:18-19)

He Carried Our Burden

Matthew 11:27-29

27 “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

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He Carried Our Burden

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“He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” 1 Peter 2:24

It’s not unusual for utility bills to be surprisingly high. But Kieran Healy of North Carolina received a water bill that would make your heart stop. The notification said that he owed 100 million dollars! Confident he hadn’t used that much water the previous month, Healy jokingly asked if he could pay the bill in installments.

Owing a 100-million-dollar debt would be an overwhelming burden, but that pales in comparison to the real—and immeasurable—burden sin causes us to carry. Attempting to carry the burden and consequences of our own sins ultimately leaves us feeling tired and riddled with guilt and shame. The truth is we are incapable of carrying this load.

And we were never meant to. As Peter reminded believers, only Jesus, the sinless Son of God, could carry the heavy burden of our sin and its weighty consequences (1 Peter 2:24). In His death on the cross, Jesus took all our wrongdoing on Himself and offered us His forgiveness. Because He carried our burden, we don’t have to suffer the punishment we deserve.

Instead of living in fear or guilt, the “empty way of life handed down to” us (1:18), we can enjoy a new life of love and freedom (vv. 22–23).

Lord, sometimes our guilt and shame can feel so heavy. Help us to release our past and its pain to You and experience Your peace, knowing You have carried it all and have set us free.

Jesus carried the burden of our sin so He could give us the blessing of life.

 

Faith omnipotent

‘Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believe.’ Mark 9:23

Suggested Further Reading: Romans 4:13–22

Faith studies what the promise is—an emanation of divine grace, an overflowing of the great heart of God; and faith says, ‘My God could not have given this promise, except from love and grace; therefore it is quite certain that this promise will be fulfilled.’ Then faith thinks, ‘Who gavethis promise?’ She considers not so much its greatness, as ‘Who is the author of it?’ She remembers that it is God that cannot lie, God omnipotent, God immutable; and therefore she concludes that the promise must be fulfilled; and forward she goes in this firm conviction. Then she remembers, also, why the promise was given, namely, for God’s glory, and she feels perfectly sure that God’s glory is safe, that he will never stain his own character, nor mar the lustre of his own crown; and therefore she concludes that the promise must and will stand. Then faith also considers the amazing work of Christ as being a clear proof of the Father’s intention to fulfil his word. ‘He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?’ Then faith looks back upon the past, for her battles have strengthened her, and her victories have given her courage. She remembers that God never has failed her, that he never did once fail any of his children. She recollects times of great peril, when deliverance came, hours of awful need, when as her day her strength was; and she says, ‘No; I never will be led to think that he can now forswear himself, and change his character, and leave his servant.’ Faith, moreover, feels that she cannot believe a hard thing of her dear God. Is it wrong to use that expression? I must use it, for he is dear to me.

For meditation: The faith of the early Christians was widely spoken about (Romans 1:8Ephesians 1:15Colossians 1:41 Thessalonians 1:83:6Philemon 5). What message does your faith convey to you about God, and to others about your relationship with him?

 

I Want to See

Marlo Schalesky , Author

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Bartimaeus may just be my favorite character in the Bible. There’s something about his tenacity, his audacity, and his fierce vivacity that inspires me. He lived in darkness, and yet he saw more clearly than any of his seeing contemporaries. He saw more clearly than I. A blind beggar sitting in the dirt alongside the road to Jerusalem knew what he wanted, and he couldn’t be dissuaded from it.

What if I had his vision? What if, in my own darkness, I had his tenacity, audacity, and vivacity? What if all I wanted was to see?

Even as I write these words, I’m filled with a crazy hope, a wild wonder. What if, when I am sitting in the dirt, in the dark, in my life, I let none of it stop me from calling out to Jesus? What if I don’t care what others think but instead cry out all the louder? What if I believe that Jesus is who he says he is? What if I throw off everything, absolutely everything, that would hinder me, and run in my blindness to him? What if I could speak those four simple words, “I want to see”?

Bartimaeus simply does not give two hoots about conforming to what others want. He doesn’t care a whit about criticism, rebuke, or reprimands. And so he is free to seek only Jesus.

Lord, give me the heart of Bartimaeus! Give me his courage, his faith, his sight.

Jesus’s encounter with Bartimaeus is the last such healing and disciple-making that we will see before Jesus is arrested and killed in Jerusalem. Jesus and his disciples are traveling with a crowd on the road from Jericho to Jerusalem.

On that road to death sits Bartimaeus, a blind beggar who still dares to hope. He will be the last one to ask for healing. He will be the last one to become a follower of Jesus before Jesus is hung on a Roman cross.

The last one who finally, after all this time, gets it right.

As soon as Bartimaeus hears that Jesus is among the crowd walking by him, he shouts out. He hopes, he reaches, he dares to call for the one thing he believes this Son of David can give: Mercy. He asks for something he doesn’t deserve, but knows he needs. “Jesus, Son of David, show me mercy!” (Mark 10:47).

Everyone around him rebukes him for it. They know he doesn’t deserve it either. He is a blind beggar sitting along the roadside. They tell him to be quiet, to be invisible, to disappear.

So, when you’re afraid you’ve missed him. When you’re sitting in your darkness and blindness, terrorized by the fear that God has come and gone and you didn’t recognize him, take heart! Be encouraged! He’s calling to you.

But this man, sitting in his world of darkness, believes more strongly in Jesus and who Jesus is than he worries about what others think of him. He doesn’t care about that at all.

In fact, in the face of discouragement, he cries out all the louder and all the more: “Son of David, show me mercy!” (v. 48).

To Bartimaeus, Jesus is not just a wandering rabbi. He’s not just a healer or a teacher. He is this one who was promised to open the eyes of the blind and free those sitting in darkness (Isaiah 42:6-7). He is the promise of God to his people. He is the promise of God to Bartimaeus. And Bartimaeus dares to believe it, to believe all of it.

Here there is no “if you want” or “if you are able.” No, Bartimaeus goes all in. He holds nothing back. He stakes everything on the belief that this Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of David who will fulfill all God has said, and will fulfill it for him. That is an audacious faith.

And then the voices change. Instead of “sit down and shut up,” they start saying, “Take heart! Be encouraged! Buck up! He’s calling you.”

In your darkness, in your blindness, Jesus is calling you. He is calling you. And he’s calling you in a way that you can hear. He doesn’t motion to the blind man. He calls to him. He uses a sense that Bartimaeus can receive.

So when you’re afraid you’ve missed him. When you’re sitting in your darkness and blindness, terrorized by the fear that God has come and gone and you didn’t recognize him, take heart! Be encouraged! He’s calling to you. He’s calling to you in a way in which you can hear. And you can do as Bartimaeus did—you can jump up and run to him.

Safe In The Arms Of Jesus

John 14

14 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.

In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

 

Revelation 21:4

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

 

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”      Psalm 91:1-2
God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.      Psalm 46:1
You are my hiding place;
you will protect me from trouble
and surround me with songs of deliverance.   psalm 32:7
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Safe in His Arms

He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart. Isaiah 40:11

The weather outside was threatening, and the alert on my cell phone warned about the possibility of flash floods. An unusual number of cars were parked in my neighborhood as parents and others gathered to pick up children at the school bus drop-off point. By the time the bus arrived, it had started to rain. That’s when I observed a woman exit her car and retrieve an umbrella from the trunk. She walked towards a little girl and made sure the child was shielded from the rain until they returned to the vehicle. What a beautiful “real time” picture of parental, protective care that reminded me of the care of our heavenly Father.

The prophet Isaiah forecast punishment for disobedience followed by brighter days for God’s people (Isaiah 40:1–8). The heavenly dispatch from the mountain (v. 9) assured the Israelites of God’s mighty presence and tender care. The good news, then and now, is that because of God’s power and ruling authority, anxious hearts need not fear (vv. 9–10). Included in the announcement was news about the Lord’s protection, the kind of protection shepherds provide (v. 11): vulnerable young sheep would find safety in the Shepherd’s arms; nursing ewes would be led gently.

In a world where circumstances aren’t always easy, such images of safety and care compel us to look confidently to the Lord. Those who trust wholeheartedly in the Lord find security and renewed strength in Him (v. 31).

Father, in a world where we are sometimes threatened, we are comforted because of Your gracious care for us—in and through the Lord Jesus Christ.

The good news is that God cares for us!

Citizenship in heaven

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‘For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.’ Philippians 3:20

Suggested Further Reading: 2 Timothy 4:1–8

You know I am no prophet. I do not know anything about 1866; I find quite enough to do to attend to 1862. I do not understand the visions of Daniel or Ezekiel; I find I have enough to do to teach the simple word such as I find in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and the epistles of Paul. I do not find many souls have been converted to God by exquisite dissertations about the battle of Armageddon, and all those other fine things; I have no doubt prophesyings are very profitable, but I rather question whether they are so profitable to the hearers, as they may be to the preachers and publishers. I conceive that among religious people of a certain sort, the abortive explanations of prophecy issued by certain doctors gratify a craving which in irreligious people finds its food in novels and romances. People have a panting to know the future; and certain divines pander to this depraved taste, by prophesying for them, and letting them know what is coming by and by. I do not know the future, and I shall not pretend to know. But I do preach this, because I know it, that Christ will come, for he says so in a hundred passages. The epistles of Paul are full of the advent, and Peter’s too, and John’s letters are crowded with it. The best of saints have always lived on the hope of the advent. There was Enoch; he prophesied of the coming of the Son of Man. So there was another ‘Enoch’ who was always talking of the coming, and saying ‘Come quickly.’ I will not divide the house tonight by discussing whether the advent will be pre-millenial or post-millenial, or anything of that; it is enough for me that he will come, and ‘in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.’

For meditation: The ‘whens’, ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ of the Lord’s second coming were no business of the apostles (Matthew 24:36John 21:22Acts 1:7) and they are none of our business either. Our business is to serve him and be prepared for his return whenever that may be (Matthew 24:44–46). See also notes for 8 September.

 

STREAMS IN THE DESERT – OCTOBER 12

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TIMES HAVE CHANGED, BUT LIFE’S HARD TIMES HAVEN’T

Joseph’s master took him and threw him into the prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined. So he was there in the prison. But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him kindness. He granted him favor in the sight of the prison warden. The warden put all the prisoners under Joseph’s care. He was in charge of whatever they were doing. The warden did not concern himself with anything that was in Joseph’s care because the Lord was with him and whatever he was doing the Lord was making successful. (Gen 39:20-23)

When God lets us go to prison because we have been serving Him, and goes there with us, prison is about the most blessed place in the world that we could be in. Joseph seems to have known that. He did not sulk and grow discouraged and rebellious because “everything was against him.” If he had, the prison-keeper would never have trusted him so. Joseph does not even seem to have pitied himself.

Let us remember that if self-pity is allowed to set in, that is the end of us—until it is cast utterly from us. Joseph just turned over everything in joyous trust to God, and so the keeper of the prison turned over everything to Joseph. Lord Jesus, when the prison doors close in on me, keep me trusting, and keep my joy full and abounding. Prosper Thy work through me in prison: even there, make me free indeed.
—Selected

A little bird I am,
Shut from the fields of air,
And in my cage I sit and sing
To Him who placed me there;
Well pleased a prisoner to be,
Because, my God, it pleaseth Thee.

My cage confines me round,
Abroad I cannot fly,
But though my wing is closely bound,
My soul is at liberty;
For prison walls cannot control
The flight, the freedom of the soul.

I have learnt to love the darkness of sorrow; there you see the brightness of His face.
—Madame Guyon

God’s Silent—-Then What?

Psalm 50:21

“These things you have done and I kept silence; You thought that I was just like you; I will reprove you and state the case in order before your eyes.

Isaiah 64:12

Will You restrain Yourself at these things, O LORD? Will You keep silent and afflict us beyond measure?

Habakkuk 1:13

Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, And You can not look on wickedness with favor Why do You look with favor On those who deal treacherously? Why are You silent when the wicked swallow up Those more righteous than they?

Job 34:29

When He keeps quiet, who then can condemn? And when He hides His face, who then can behold Him, That is, in regard to both nation and man?–

 

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God’s Silence— Then What?

God’s Silence— Then What?

By Oswald Chambers

Has God trusted you with His silence— a silence that has great meaning? God’s silences are actually His answers. Just think of those days of absolute silence in the home at Bethany! Is there anything comparable to those days in your life? Can God trust you like that, or are you still asking Him for a visible answer? God will give you the very blessings you ask if you refuse to go any further without them, but His silence is the sign that He is bringing you into an even more wonderful understanding of Himself. Are you mourning before God because you have not had an audible response? When you cannot hear God, you will find that He has trusted you in the most intimate way possible— with absolute silence, not a silence of despair, but one of pleasure, because He saw that you could withstand an even bigger revelation. If God has given you a silence, then praise Him— He is bringing you into the mainstream of His purposes. The actual evidence of the answer in time is simply a matter of God’s sovereignty. Time is nothing to God. For a while you may have said, “I asked God to give me bread, but He gave me a stone instead” (see Matthew 7:9). He did not give you a stone, and today you find that He gave you the “bread of life” (John 6:35).

A wonderful thing about God’s silence is that His stillness is contagious— it gets into you, causing you to become perfectly confident so that you can honestly say, “I know that God has heard me.” His silence is the very proof that He has. As long as you have the idea that God will always bless you in answer to prayer, He will do it, but He will never give you the grace of His silence. If Jesus Christ is bringing you into the understanding that prayer is for the glorifying of His Father, then He will give you the first sign of His intimacy— silence.

 

Instability

By: Charles Spurgeon

“Unstable as water, thou shalt not excel.” Genesis 49:4

Suggested Further Reading: 2 Peter 3:14-18

Who are these unstable ones? When they were boys they could never complete a game; they must always be having something fresh; and now they are just as childish as when they were children. Look at them in doctrine: you never know where to find them. You meet them one day, and they are very full of some super doctrine; they have been to some strong Calvinist place, and nothing will suit them except the very highest doctrine, and that must be spiced with a little of the gall of bitterness, or they cannot think it is the genuine thing. Very likely next week they will be Arminians; they will give up all idea of a fixed fate, and talk of free-will, and man’s responsibility like the most earnest Primitive Methodist. Then they steer another way. “Nothing is right but the Church of England. Is it not established by law? Ought not every Christian to go to his parish church?” Let them alone; they will be at the most schismatical shop in the metropolis before long. Or if they do not change their denomination they are always changing their minister. A new minister starts up; there is no one, since the apostles, like him; they take a seat and join the church; he is everything to them. In three months they have done with him; another minister rises up some distance off, and these people are not particular how far they walk; so they go to hear him. He is the great man of the age; he will see every man’s candle out, and his will burn on. But a little trouble comes on the church, and they leave him. They have no attachment to anything; they are merely feathers in the wind, or corks on the wave.

For meditation: Do you recognise yourself here? If not, guard your own stability carefully. But if you do, realise that we are not supposed to remain babes in Christ, but are to grow up (Ephesians 4:14,15). Perhaps you are not sure whether Spurgeon is describing you; one question may help you decide—who has the rule over you? (Hebrews 13:7,17).

 

Identity Crisis

Author: Laura Bagby

magnifying glass over the word myself

I have to admit, I love finding out more about the personality types, but I honestly think I need to quit cold turkey.

When finding yourself in some self-analyzing test becomes an obsession, well it’s time to re-prioritize. In my voracious search for self I bought every personality book I could find and I have taken every possible test. I have found out what kind of leader I am, what animal I most resemble, what color best fits my personality, and on the spiritual end, even what Bible character I am most like.

But what’s next? What shape I am? What vegetable? It could conceivably continue infinitely.

What’s ironic is that the search for better self-understanding only led me into confusion and depression. The results didn’t match up. One survey said I was an introvert; another confirmed I was an extrovert. One swore that I was a bold leader; the other seemed to think I would rather hang back in the crowd. And on and on. I would put the book down and still wonder who I really was.

You know what I think? I think human nature is just too complex to get down on paper, and the more we try to find ourselves in some arbitrary categories, the more miserable we shall become. I can attest because eventually we always want to become what we are not.

The answer to the continual search for an identity is always Jesus Christ. What does God say about you and me? Well, He might not tell you whether you are a sanguine or an intuitive thinker or an influential leader, but what He will tell you means more than all the secular books on self-understanding.

Don’t get me wrong. There is a place for such analysis. Just don’t place your whole value there. God tells us that we are His children. We are co-heirs with Christ. We are in fact new creations. This is our true identity.

I like God’s personality test best. All I have to do is give myself to the Lord, and He makes me more like Jesus Christ every day. My personality quirks and foibles are now His business. He takes care of the rest.

“For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” Colossians 3:3 (NIV)

Christ Revealed In Us

Matthew 21:23

When He entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to Him while He was teaching, and said, “By what authority are You doing these things, and who gave You this authority?”

Matthew 26:55

At that time Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest Me as you would against a robber? Every day I used to sit in the temple teaching and you did not seize Me.

Mark 12:35

And Jesus began to say, as He taught in the temple, “How is it that the scribes say that the Christ is the son of David?

Luke 19:47

And He was teaching daily in the temple; but the chief priests and the scribes and the leading men among the people were trying to destroy Him

 

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Christ Revealed in Us

From: Our Daily Journey

Christ Revealed in Us

Read:

Luke 22:7-27
He took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. Then he said, “Take this and share it among yourselves” (Luke 22:17).

I’ve learned through various job and ministry experiences that being surrounded by others too long can often lead to exhaustion, anxiety, or stress. There are other relationships, however, that create a sense of rest in our lives even though the investment in those individuals makes demands on our time and energy.

The Last Supper in Luke 22 offers an interesting window into the relational world of Jesus and His disciples. Jesus used the celebration of the Passover meal as a means of revealing His redemptive purpose in coming to earth—that He had come to heal and redeem broken humanity. Christ knew what mankind had yet to understand: God would empty Himself that we might know true and lasting wholeness (Luke 22:15-16,19-20).

Jesus surrendered His body and blood to bring us into relationship with Him (Luke 22:20), but His sacrifice wasn’t for us alone, but for an entire community of believers. As complicated and challenging as they can be, we were made for relationships. An act as well as a state of being, the communion we have with Christ empowers us to experience God-breathed connection with one another.

Just as in our lives, the Passover table wasn’t absent of betrayal, hidden agendas, or disappointment (Luke 22:21-24). But Christ’s instruction was to take what He’d given and “share it among yourselves” (Luke 22:17).

To live emotionally and spiritually distant from others is to fail to experience the joy of communion in His kingdom. If we commune with Jesus, we experience a profound and life-giving partnership with Him. Only then can we know what it means to serve others in this world (Luke 22:25-27) and live out relationships that witness to another world.

 

How Will I Know?

How Will I Know?

By Oswald Chambers

We do not grow into a spiritual relationship step by step— we either have a relationship or we do not. God does not continue to cleanse us more and more from sin— “But if we walk in the light,” we are cleansed “from all sin” (1 John 1:7). It is a matter of obedience, and once we obey, the relationship is instantly perfected. But if we turn away from obedience for even one second, darkness and death are immediately at work again.

All of God’s revealed truths are sealed until they are opened to us through obedience. You will never open them through philosophy or thinking. But once you obey, a flash of light comes immediately. Let God’s truth work into you by immersing yourself in it, not by worrying into it. The only way you can get to know the truth of God is to stop trying to find out and by being born again. If you obey God in the first thing He shows you, then He instantly opens up the next truth to you. You could read volumes on the work of the Holy Spirit, when five minutes of total, uncompromising obedience would make things as clear as sunlight. Don’t say, “I suppose I will understand these things someday!” You can understand them now. And it is not study that brings understanding to you, but obedience. Even the smallest bit of obedience opens heaven, and the deepest truths of God immediately become yours. Yet God will never reveal more truth about Himself to you, until you have obeyed what you know already. Beware of becoming one of the “wise and prudent.” “If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know…” (John 7:17).

 

Self-examination

“Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” 2 Corinthians 13:5

Suggested Further Reading: 1 Corinthians 11:23-32

“Examine:” that is a scholastic idea. A boy has been to school a certain time, and his master puts him through his paces—questions him, to see whether he has made any progress,—whether he knows anything. Christian, catechise your heart; question it, to see whether it has been growing in grace; question it, to see if it knows anything of vital godliness or not. Examine it: pass your heart through a stern examination as to what it does know and what it does not know, by the teaching of the Holy Spirit. Again: it is a military idea. “Examine yourselves,” or renew yourselves. Go through the rank and file of your actions, and examine all your motives. Just as the captain on review-day is not content with merely surveying the men from a distance, but must look at all their equipment, so look well to yourselves; examine yourselves with the most scrupulous care. And once again, this is a legal idea. “Examine yourselves.” You have seen the witness in the box, when the lawyer has been examining him, or, as we have it, cross-examining him. Now, mark: never was there a rogue less trustworthy or more deceitful than your own heart, and as when you are cross-examining a dishonest person—you set traps for him to try and find him out in a lie, so do with your own heart. Question it backward and forward, this way and that way; for if there be a loophole for escape, if there be any pretence for self-deception, rest assured your treacherous heart will be ready enough to avail itself of it. And yet once more: this is a traveller’s idea. I find in the original Greek, it has this meaning: “Go right through yourselves.”

For meditation: Is self-examination a foreign concept to you? It should be done as least as regularly as we observe the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:28); God is able to assist us in our self-examination (Psalm 26:2139:23,24).

God The Holy Spirit

 

Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit

15 “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be[c] in you.

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For the majority of Christian denominations, the Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost is the third person of the Trinity: the Triune God manifested as God the Father, God the Son, and the God the Holy Spirit; each person itself being God.

 

Much More Than Words

From: Our Daily Bread

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. Romans 8:26

At a dedication ceremony during which a Bible translated into a local African language was presented, the area chief was presented with his own copy. In appreciation, he lifted the Bible to the skies and exclaimed, “Now we know God understands our language! We can read the Bible in our own native mother-tongue.”

No matter our language, our heavenly Father understands it. But often we feel unable to express our deepest longings to Him. The apostle Paul encourages us to pray regardless of how we feel. Paul speaks of our suffering world and our own pain: “The whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth” (Romans 8:22), and he compares that to the Holy Spirit’s work on our behalf. “The Spirit helps us in our weakness,” he writes. “We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans” (v. 26).

God’s Holy Spirit knows us intimately. He knows our longings, our heart-language, and our unspoken words, and He helps us in our communication with God. His Spirit draws us to be transformed into the image of God the Son (v. 29).

Our heavenly Father understands our language and speaks to us through His Word. When we think our prayers are weak or too short, His Holy Spirit helps us by speaking through us to the Father. He yearns for us to talk with Him in prayer.

Thank You, Lord, for understanding my language and innermost longings. When my prayers are weak and dry, bear me up through Your Spirit.

When we feel weak in our prayers, God’s Spirit helps us in ways we can’t imagine.

 

Grieving the Holy Spirit

From: Charles Spurgeon

“And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” Ephesians 4:30

Suggested Further Reading: Isaiah 63:7-19

The Spirit of God is in your heart, and it is very, very easy indeed to grieve him. Sin is as easy as it is wicked. You may grieve him by impure thoughts. He cannot bear sin. If you indulge in lascivious expressions, or even if you allow imagination to dote upon any lascivious act, or if your heart goes after covetousness, if you set your heart upon anything that is evil, the Spirit of God will be grieved, for thus I hear him speaking of himself. “I love this man, I want to have his heart, and yet he is entertaining these filthy lusts. His thoughts, instead of running after me, and after Christ, and after the Father, are running after the temptations that are in the world through lust.” And then his Spirit is grieved. He sorrows in his soul because he knows what sorrow these things must bring to our souls. We grieve him yet more if we indulge in outward acts of sin. Then is he sometimes so grieved that he takes his flight for a season, for the dove will not dwell in our hearts if we take loathsome carrion in there. A cleanly being is the dove, and we must not strew the place which the dove frequents with filth and mire; if we do he will fly elsewhere. If we commit sin, if we openly bring disgrace upon our religion, if we tempt others to go into iniquity by our evil example, it is not long before the Holy Spirit will be grieved. Again, if we neglect prayer; if our closet door is cobwebbed; if we forget to read the Scriptures; if the leaves of our Bible are almost stuck together by neglect; if we never seek to do any good in the world; if we live merely for ourselves and not for Christ, then the Holy Spirit will be grieved.

For meditation: If we are grieving the Spirit, it is absolutely impossible for us to obey the command to “be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18).

 

Therefore will the Lord wait, that he may be gracious unto you (Isa. 30:18).

Where showers fall most, there the grass is greenest. I suppose the fogs and mists of Ireland make it “the Emerald Isle”; and whenever you find great fogs of trouble, and mists of sorrow, you always find emerald green hearts; full of the beautiful verdure of the comfort and love of God.

O Christian, do not thou be saying, “Where are the swallows gone? They are gone; they are dead.” They are not dead; they have skimmed the purple sea, and gone to a far-off land; but they will be back again by and by.

Child of God, say not the flowers are dead; say not the winter has killed them, and they are gone. Ah, no! though winter hath coated them with the ermine of its snow; they will put up their heads again, and will be alive very soon.

Say not, child of God, that the sun is quenched, because the cloud hath hidden it. Ah, no; he is behind there, brewing summer for thee; for when he cometh out again, he will have made the clouds fit to drop in April showers, all of them mothers of the sweet May flowers.

And oh! above all, when thy God hides His face, say not that He hath forgotten thee. He is but tarrying a little while to make thee love Him better; and when He cometh, thou shalt have joy in the Lord, and shalt rejoice with joy unspeakable. Waiting exercises our grace; waiting tries our faith; therefore, wait on in hope; for though the promise tarry, it can never come too late.
–C. H. Spurgeon

“Oh, every year hath its winter,
And every year hath its rain–
But a day is always coming
When the birds go north again.

“When new leaves swell in the forest,
And grass springs green on the plain,
And alders’ veins turn crimson–
And the birds go north again.

“Oh, every heart hath its sorrow,
And every heart hath its pain–
But a day is always coming
When the birds go north again.

“‘Tis the sweetest thing to remember,
If courage be on the wane,
When the cold, dark days are over–
Why, the birds go north again.”

God Is Our Refuge and Strength

Psalm 46[a]

For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. According to alamoth.[b] A song.

God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
    and the mountains quake with their surging.[c]

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
    the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
    God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
    he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

The Lord Almighty is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress.

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A Mighty Fortress

From: Our Daily Journey

A Mighty Fortress

Read:

Jeremiah 16:19-21
Lord, you are my strength and fortress, my refuge in the day of trouble! (Jeremiah 16:19).

During a tumultuous year, Martin Luther penned what became one of his most treasured hymns. Ill and suffering with depression, things got worse for Luther when the plague hit his town. But, inspired by Psalm 46, he chose to proclaim God’s character and His triumph over evil with the words “a mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing; our helper He amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing.” This hymn has been called the “Battle Hymn of the Reformation” for its impact.

Jeremiah also identified God as his fortress. Due to Judah’s disobedience, the prophet had been called by God to bring His message of the nation’s destruction. Jeremiah lived during the last forty years of Judah’s existence as a kingdom, witnessed the destruction of Jerusalem, and spent the latter part of his life in Egypt.

The prophet had remained faithful to God and suffered much as a result. His message regarding Judah’s need for repentance wasn’t popular among his people. He was mocked, thrown into prison, and charged with treason.

Yet he didn’t lose his hope in God. He persevered and learned that God is “my strength and my fortress, my refuge in the day of trouble!” (Jeremiah 16:19). At the start of Jeremiah’s ministry, God had made him a promise: “They will fight you, but they will fail. For I am with you, and I will take care of you. I, the Lord, have spoken!” (1:19). And as always, God was true to His word.

We all go through difficulties, sometimes of our own making, and sometimes completely undeserved. In all our struggles, we need a Fortress to protect and comfort us. May we, like Jeremiah, discover God as our Fortress—the One who will be with us when the enemy attacks and who will never fail us.

 

 

Coming to Jesus

Coming to Jesus

By Oswald Chambers

Isn’t it humiliating to be told that we must come to Jesus! Think of the things about which we will not come to Jesus Christ. If you want to know how real you are, test yourself by these words— “Come to Me….” In every dimension in which you are not real, you will argue or evade the issue altogether rather than come; you will go through sorrow rather than come; and you will do anything rather than come the last lap of the race of seemingly unspeakable foolishness and say, “Just as I am, I come.” As long as you have even the least bit of spiritual disrespect, it will always reveal itself in the fact that you are expecting God to tell you to do something very big, and yet all He is telling you to do is to “Come….”

“Come to Me….” When you hear those words, you will know that something must happen in you before you can come. The Holy Spirit will show you what you have to do, and it will involve anything that will uproot whatever is preventing you from getting through to Jesus. And you will never get any further until you are willing to do that very thing. The Holy Spirit will search out that one immovable stronghold within you, but He cannot budge it unless you are willing to let Him do so.

How often have you come to God with your requests and gone away thinking, “I’ve really received what I wanted this time!” And yet you go away with nothing, while all the time God has stood with His hands outstretched not only to take you but also for you to take Him. Just think of the invincible, unconquerable, and untiring patience of Jesus, who lovingly says, “Come to Me….”

 

The sons of God

“The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God; And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may also be glorified together.” Romans 8:16,17

Suggested Further Reading: Ephesians 1:11-23

The believer is to be the heir, I say, not merely of God’s works, not simply of God’s gifts, but of God himself. Do we not talk of his omnipotence?—his almightiness is ours. Do we not speak of his omniscience?—all his wisdom is engaged in our behalf. Do we not say that he is love?—that love belongs to us. Can we not glory in that he is full of immutability, and changes not?—that eternal unchangeablenesss is engaged for the defence of the people of God. All the attributes of divinity are the property of God’s children—their inheritance is built upon them. He himself is ours. Oh what riches! If we could say this morning, that all the stars belong to us; if we could turn the telescope to the most remote of the fixed stars, and then could say with the pride of possession, so natural to man, “That star, a thousand times bigger than the sun, is mine. I am the king of that inheritance.” If we could then sweep the telescope along the milky way, and see the millions upon millions of stars that lie clustered together, and cry, “All these are mine,” yet these possessions were but a speck compared with that which is in the text. Heir of God! He to whom all these things are but as nothing, gives himself up to be the inheritance of his people. Note yet a little further concerning the special privilege of heirship,—we are joint heirs with Christ. That is, whatever Christ possesses, as heir of all things, belongs to us. Splendid must be the inheritance of Jesus Christ. Is he not very God of very God, Jehovah’s only begotten Son, most high and glorious?

For meditation: The prayers of our glorious joint heir regarding our glorious joint inheritance (John 17:9,10,24).

God Made Known

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God Made Known

From: Our Daily Journey

God Made Known

Read:

Acts 17:16-34 
This God, whom you worship without knowing, is the one I’m telling you about (Acts 17:23).

“There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of each man which cannot be satisfied by any created thing but only by God the Creator, made known through Jesus Christ.” While the exact wording of that quote—attributed to seventeenth-century theologian Blaise Pascal—is up for debate, there’s no doubt that people continue to seek something or someone worthy of their worship.

The pursuit of the divine was illustrated by the Athenians and their pantheon of gods. When Paul was in Athens, “he was deeply troubled by all the idols he saw everywhere in the city” (Acts 17:16). In typical Paul fashion, he spoke of Jesus in the synagogue, the public square, and with the philosophers of the day (Acts 17:17-18). Eventually, his message attracted so much attention that he was taken before the high council (Acts 17:19).

Addressing the council, Paul said, “Men of Athens, I notice that you are very religious . . . for as I was walking along I saw your many shrines. [One] had this inscription on it: ‘To an Unknown God.’ This God, whom you worship without knowing, is the one I’m telling you about. He is the God who made the world . . . . He himself gives life and breath to everything, [and] he is not far from any one of us. For in him we live and move and exist” (Acts 17:22-28). Paul’s sermon elicited contempt from some. But others wanted to hear more, and some even became believers (Acts 17:32-34).

We’re not guaranteed a positive response to sharing the good news, but we don’t need to be discouraged, for God “uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume” (2 Corinthians 2:14). As we follow Paul’s example to make God known, may “our lives [be] a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God” (Acts 17:15).

A Saviour such as you need

By: Charles Spurgeon

‘And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.’ Hebrews 10:17–18

Suggested Further Reading: Hebrews 9:23–28

There is no more sacrifice for sin, because Christ supplies all that is needed. Just see what a broom this doctrine is to sweep this country from popery, and to sweep all nations of it. Think of what is called ‘the unbloody sacrifice of the mass, for quick and dead.’ What becomes of that? The apostle says, ‘Where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.’ Where, then, did the mass come from, and of what avail is it? The Lord’s Supper was intended to be the remembrancer to us of our Lord’s sufferings; instead of which it has been prostituted by the church of Rome into the blasphemy of a pretended continual offering up of the body of the Lord Jesus Christ, a continual sacrifice. According to the Romish doctrine the offering upon Calvary is not enough; the atonement for sin is not finished; it has to be performed every day, and many times a day, in the divers churches of Christendom, by certain appointed persons, so that that sacrifice is always being offered. Do you notice how strongly the apostle speaks in this matter? He says Christ offered a sacrifice for sin once. He declares that while other priests stood ministering at the altar, this man, the Lord Jesus, offered a sacrifice once only, and has by that one offering perfected for ever his set apart ones. Brethren, the mass is a mass of abominations, a mass of hell’s own concocting, a crying insult against the Lord of glory. It is not to be spoken of in any terms but those of horror and detestation. Whenever I think of another sacrifice for sin being offered, by whoever it may be presented, I can only regard it as an infamous insult to the perfection of the Saviour’s work.

For meditation: The Lord’s Supper was not the first picture of salvation through faith in Christ crucified (Numbers 21:8–9John 3:14–15), nor was it the first to be abused in false worship (2 Kings 18:4). Satan cannot damage Christ’s work, but he does vandalise pictures of it.

 

The Nature of Reconciliation

The Nature of Reconciliation

By Oswald Chambers

Sin is a fundamental relationship— it is not wrong doing, but wrong being— it is deliberate and determined independence from God. The Christian faith bases everything on the extreme, self-confident nature of sin. Other faiths deal with sins— the Bible alone deals with sin. The first thing Jesus Christ confronted in people was the heredity of sin, and it is because we have ignored this in our presentation of the gospel that the message of the gospel has lost its sting and its explosive power.

The revealed truth of the Bible is not that Jesus Christ took on Himself our fleshly sins, but that He took on Himself the heredity of sin that no man can even touch. God made His own Son “to be sin” that He might make the sinner into a saint. It is revealed throughout the Bible that our Lord took on Himself the sin of the world through identification with us, not through sympathy for us. He deliberately took on His own shoulders, and endured in His own body, the complete, cumulative sin of the human race. “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us…” and by so doing He placed salvation for the entire human race solely on the basis of redemption. Jesus Christ reconciled the human race, putting it back to where God designed it to be. And now anyone can experience that reconciliation, being brought into oneness with God, on the basis of what our Lord has done on the cross.

A man cannot redeem himself— redemption is the work of God, and is absolutely finished and complete. And its application to individual people is a matter of their own individual action or response to it. A distinction must always be made between the revealed truth of redemption and the actual conscious experience of salvation in a person’s life.

 

Tell Me Again and Again

By: Daphne Delay, Author

female speaker to crowd at a conference

 

Don’t be afraid of repetition. Paul said,

“Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. For me to write the same things to you is not tedious, but for you it is safe.” Philippians 3:1(NKJV). The New Living Translation says, “I never get tired of telling you these things, and I do it to safeguard your faith.”

Parents know this. Teachers know this. The Spirit of God knows this: repetition is good.

I have a friend who has said to me on more than one occasion, “Faith comes by hearing, not by having heard.” This is true. Just this morning I opened a podcast to listen to a teaching I’ve listened to at least a couple of times already. Why? Because I need to strengthen my faith in a particular area.

“Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” Romans 10:17 (NKJV)

Notice faith comes first by hearing, but not just any hearing, it must be the Word of God we’re hearing. I won’t ask if you are a stubborn person—but in the past, I have been. My point is you don’t have to be stubborn or hard-headed to need repetition.

Paul felt it was important to remind the church in Philippi of things he had previously mentioned. First, he said,

“Delight yourselves in the Lord and continue to rejoice that you are in Him.” Philippians 3:1 (AMP)

I will add a hearty Amen! It’s no secret the times we live in are growing increasingly evil. We aren’t exempt from the pressures of life, the temptations to throw in the towel, or the heartaches of personal tragedies. Yet despite all of these, we can rejoice. Life may try to tell you otherwise, but the truth is believers have an unspeakable joy the world does not understand.

Paul summed it up well in a later portion of this same letter:

“I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:11-13 (NKJV)

Paul discovered a recipe for being happy. Whether he had much or little mattered not. He understood the joy and strength which came from who he was in Christ. Anything in addition to this was simply gravy.

Paul said, “I never get tired of telling you these things, and I do it to safeguard your faith.” And then he said,

“Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation!” Philippians 3:2(NKJV)

This is surprising, but if we continue reading we discover his statements are directed toward having a religious mindset. He felt it necessary to keep the church in remembrance of the deceptive spirit of religion that sneaks in only to steal, kill, and destroy.

A spirit of religion convinces a person struggling with their worthiness before God that they must earn their salvation. The result of this belief is a strict regimen of religious activities and judgment toward those who do not follow such. Those who live in this atmosphere begin to breed religious pride. They reduce their faith in God into faith in their religion.

God said, “My people perish for a lack of knowledge.” Hosea 4:6 (KJV)

This word “perish” can be substituted with words like destroyed, cut down, or silenced. In other words, God’s children are destroyed, cut down and/or silenced by a simple lack of understanding of His truth. No wonder Paul said, “For me to write the same things to you is NOT tedious, but for you it is safe.” Paul understood the destruction which stems from simple ignorance. And the best weapon against ignorance is repetition! Say it once… say it again! Hear the truth, learn the truth, walk in the truth!

But there are boundaries to our repetition. Franklin Roosevelt made a good point when he said, “Repetition does not transform a lie into truth.”

God’s unfailing, reliable Word is our truth. No matter how long you and I have been in church, and no matter how many times we’ve heard a message on a certain set of scriptures, repetition of God’s Word is for our safety. Therefore, this truth remains: faith comes by hearing, not by having heard.

Nothing Better

  • 1 John 3:1

    1 See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.
  • 1 John 4:7

    7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.
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Nothing Better

From: Our Daily Journey

Nothing Better

Read:

Isaiah 57:3-19
The Holy One says this: “I live in the high and holy place” (Isaiah 57:15).

The Grand Teton Mountains in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, offer one of the most spectacular views in all of the United States. Geologists believe the mountains there might have formed as a result of several earthquakes along a fault line. They believe earthquakes caused the land to drop on one side of the fault but move upward on the other side. Looking up from the lower side provides a unique and magnificent view where no foothills block the sight of the mountains.

God gave the Israelites a clear view of His majesty through the prophet Isaiah. He described Himself as “the high and lofty one”—the Holy One who lived in “the high and holy place” (Isaiah 57:15). This picture of God’s utter perfection was designed to show His people that He was greater than the idols they were passionately pursuing (Isaiah 57:5-10). Sadly, their devotion to God was often outweighed by their devotion to powerless idols, which couldn’t even stand against a “puff of wind” (Isaiah 57:13).

Although God’s holiness meant He was far above His people and the little gods they adored, it didn’t prevent Him from showing mercy to those who renounced their misplaced worship. He told them, “I restore the crushed spirit of the humble and revive the courage of those with repentant hearts” (Isaiah 57:15). Despite their past sin, God wanted to forgive His people and be close to them again.

C. S. Lewis said, “[God] will have us even though we have shown that we prefer everything else to Him, and come to Him because there is ‘nothing better’ now to be had.” A glimpse of God’s holiness shows us that there truly is nothing better to be had. Today, may we accept His mercy and “worship the Lord in the splendor of His holiness” (Psalm 29:2).

 

Holding Out For A Hero

By: Joe Stowell

“He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6

It’s not uncommon to see some familiar heroes come back to the silver screen. Sylvester Stallone was back in action as Rambo, reprising his role from over 20 years ago. And Harrison Ford dusted off his flying skills and reintroduced Han Solo and Star wars to a new generation of fans. There’s something about our longing for a powerful figure to solve the problems of the world and to restore justice and harmony to mankind in a way that captures our hearts and imaginations. Of course, getting the job done takes them about two hours on the silver screen, but in real life it’s a different deal.

Thankfully, in real life there is a “real hero.” Not the “two-hour” kind, but the kind of hero that ultimately gets the job done in a way that settles the issue of life finally and forever. I’m sure you’ve guessed it: I’m talking about Jesus. In fact, according to the prophet Isaiah, He has several names, all of which describe His capacity to finish the task and to satisfy the longing of our souls for life as it ought to be.

Among these compelling names, Isaiah includes the name, “Mighty God.” Jesus is the ultimate of heroes, infinitely strong and eternally mighty. But that extends far beyond bulging biceps and quick-trigger fingers. In fact, in the original language this name meant something far more specific. It’s the name El-Gibhor, the warrior God, the hero who will always prevail.

It’s the name for God used in the song of Moses found in Exodus 15. The Israelites have just seen God at war. He has brought a series of 10 miraculous plagues to Pharaoh—plagues that each, by the way, debunked a specific “god” of the Egyptians. To the Egyptians who worshiped a frog god, the warrior God brought hordes of frogs. It’s kind of like He said, “You like frogs? Watch this!” And the Egyptians worshiped the Nile, so the warrior God turned it to blood. And now Moses and the people are singing because this warrior God, El-Gibhor, has allowed His people to cross the Red Sea on dry land before pouring the waters over the pursuing Egyptian army.

What I find staggering about this name being included in the prophecy of the Messiah is that Jesus is the El-Gibhor, the Mighty God in the flesh! Actually dwelling in us, He’s not just some fictional wonder of a movie producer’s imagination. And, as the ultimate hero, He would face the hordes of hell, sin, and death on our behalf and emerge as the victorious champion over our greatest enemy. In fact, the prophecy of Isaiah comes full circle in the book of Hebrews when the author describes Jesus as the “author and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). The original phrase for “author and perfecter” is one word in Greek, it’s the Greek word archēgos, and it means the “ultimate man” or the “champion”—or I guess in street talk it’s “He’s the man.”

So take heart today, He is our Mighty God! He is never at a loss, never overwhelmed, never surprised, never defeated, and never ashamed. You and I may feel powerless, helpless, and even hopeless at times, wondering if there is anyone who can rescue us. But in the midst of it all, Jesus is our ultimate hero! So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:6).

 

Fast-day service

By: Charles Spurgeon

“Hear ye the rod, and who hath appointed it.” Micah 6:9

Suggested Further Reading: Nehemiah 1

This world is not the place of punishment for sin; not the place; it may sometimes be a place, but not usually. It is very customary among religious people, to talk of every accident which happens to men in the indulgence of sin, as if it were a judgment. The upsetting of a boat upon a river on a Sunday is assuredly understood to be a judgment for the sin of Sabbath-breaking. In the accidental fall of a house, in which persons were engaged in any unlawful occupation, the inference is at once drawn that the house fell because they were wicked. Now, however some religionists may hope to impress the people by such childish stories as those; I, for one, renounce them all. I believe what my Master says is true, when he declared, concerning the men upon whom the tower of Siloam fell, that they were not sinners above all the sinners that were upon the face of the earth. They were sinners; there is no doubt about it; but the falling of the wall was not occasioned by their sin, nor was their premature death the consequence of their excessive wickedness. Let me, however, guard this declaration, for there are many who carry this doctrine to an extreme. Because God does not usually visit each particular offence in this life upon the transgressor, men are apt to deny altogether the doctrine of judgments. But here they are mistaken. I feel persuaded that there are such things as national judgments, national chastisements for national sins—great blows from the rod of God, which every wise man must acknowledge to be, either a punishment of sin committed, or a premonition to warn us to a sense of the consequences of sins, leading us by God’s grace to humble ourselves, and repent of our sin.

For meditation: Reflect and pray over the state of the nation and its standing before God (Proverbs 14:34).