GOOD CHRISTIAN MEN, REJOICE
Latin carol, 14th century
Translation by John M. Neale, 1818–1866
Shout for joy, O heavens; rejoice, O earth; burst into song, O mountains! For the Lord comforts His people and will have compassion on His afflicted ones. (Isaiah 49:13)
As this sprightly carol reminds us, Christmas should be the most joyous season of the year for all true Christians. Our lives should be filled with gratitude to God for the immeasurable love shown to us in the gift of His Son. Out of joyous hearts we should be exuberant in “heart and soul and voice!” This ancient hymn uses frequent repetition to impress upon us that the birth of Christ won for us “endless bliss” by opening the way to heaven and conquering our fear of death through His assurance of eternal life.
The festive spirit of Christmas, however, should not fade away as the holiday passes. The joy and peace that Christ brings to our lives should enable us to be continually rejoicing Christians, regardless of the circumstances. The blessings that came to us on Christmas morn have illuminated our lives forever!
“Good Christian Men, Rejoice” is an unusual combination of 14th century Latin phrases and vernacular German expressions. The original Latin text was titled “In Dulci Jubilo,” meaning “in sweet shouting.” Over the years German people added their own wording, making this a “macaronic carol”—one that combines two or more languages. The carol was later given a free rendering English translation by John M. Neale, the noted 19th century scholar and translator of ancient hymns. It first appeared in Neale’s Carols for Christmastide in 1853.
Good Christian men, rejoice with heart and soul and voice; give ye heed to what we say: News! news! Jesus Christ is born today! Ox and ass before Him bow, and He is in the manger now: Christ is born today! Christ is born today!
Good Christian men, rejoice with heart and soul and voice; now ye hear of endless bliss: Joy! joy! Jesus Christ was born for this! He has opened heaven’s door, and man is blessed evermore: Christ was born for this! Christ was born for this!
Good Christian men, rejoice with heart and soul and voice; now ye need not fear the grave: Peace! peace! Jesus Christ was born to save! Calls you one and calls you all to gain His everlasting hall: Christ was born to save! Christ was born to save!
For Today: Isaiah 40:1–11; Luke 1:77–79; Luke 2:10–20; Ephesians 1:3–12
Determine by God’s help to maintain the joy of Christmas in your life. Seek to minister an encouraging word to some lonely person. Share this musical message—
December 22: A False Form of Righteousness
Jeremiah 42:1–43:13; Romans 9:30–10:21; Proverbs 24:23–34
Zeal can be treacherous if it’s misplaced. It may lead us to set and strictly follow standards that have nothing to do with God’s work—standards that make us feel like good people but that can devastate our lives and the lives of others.
Paul addresses the misplaced zeal of many Jewish people in his letter to the Roman church: “Brothers, the desire of my heart and my prayer to God on behalf of them is for their salvation. For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For ignoring the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Rom 10:1–4).
Many Jewish people who had rejected the Messiah were attempting to make themselves right with God by keeping the ot law. In doing so, they missed God by seeking their own righteousness. Paul tells the Romans that these Jewish people ignored the “righteousness of God”—God’s work of salvation in Jesus Christ. It’s only by submitting to God that they could be “right with God” through Jesus Christ.
This lesson isn’t applicable only to the Jewish people and their relationship to the law. Jesus restored relationship with God when we couldn’t. We only have to believe in Him. Yet a dangerous zeal can still trip us up. If we rest in anything except Christ’s work and try to reach God by being good people, we are sure to miss Him. And in the process, we can become stumbling blocks in the lives of others.
Are you trying to attain righteousness through your own effort? How does your life reflect humility because of Christ’s work in you? How can you lovingly point others toward the righteousness of God, found only through His son, Jesus Christ?
What are you trying to attain? How can you focus your hope and the hope of others on Christ and the righteousness He has attained for you?
Rebecca Van Noord
Welcome to Daily Treasures from the Word of God. Today’s reading is Luke 5 through 8. Our lesson is from Luke 7:22, “And He answered and said to them, ‘Go and report to John what you have seen and heard: [the] blind receive sight, [the] lame walk, [the] lepers are cleansed, and [the] deaf hear, [the] dead are raised up, [the] poor have the gospel preached to them.’ ” (NASU)
John the Baptist is a leader who is the hinge between the Old and New Testaments. He was called the greatest of men born from a woman yet the least in the kingdom of God is greater than John. Let’s look at three presuppositions from our text.
First, Jesus told John’s disciples to return to John. In our analysis, we need to make sure that we do not think that there was competition between John and Jesus. Let’s not forget that John submitted totally to Jesus. He was humble and admitted that Jesus needed to grow while he needed to decrease. What a great example of a servant leader!
Next, Jesus told John’s disciples to tell John what they had seen. Signs and wonders are an integral part of the advancement of the kingdom of God. It was a reality in the life and ministry of Jesus also with the disciples in the Book of Acts.
There are many modern day examples of how signs and wonders continue to operate in many parts of the world. There are documented testimonies of people being healed in the name of Jesus. Just like John’s disciples, the church must continue to tell others what they have seen. We are called to be witnesses of God’s actions in our contexts.
Last, Jesus told John’s disciples to tell John that the gospel was preached to the poor. Jesus quoted from the prophet Isaiah. The poor has to do with those in need. It can mean those who have little or no finances but also those who have wealth yet are in great spiritual need.
An emphasis of the Gospel of Luke has to do with the marginalized. Luke wants to communicate that Jesus is able to meet the needs of those who come to him. The lepers, blind and others were considered unclean in the eyes of the people. However, Jesus provided healing and a place of dignity for them.
In conclusion, Jesus told John’s disciples to return to John. Jesus told John’s disciples to tell what they had seen. And Jesus told John’s disciples to tell John that the gospel was preached to the poor.
Take a moment to reflect on the persons that you are in daily contact. Do they know Christ? If not, pray that you be God’s witness. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in demonstrating God’s love. Let’s continue Jesus’ mission in our world.
It has been a pleasure to share with you Daily Treasures from the Word of God. Tomorrow’s Bible reading is Luke 13 through 16. Let’s not forget the words of the psalmist, “The law of Your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces.” Until tomorrow and may God bless you in abundance as you study the Word of God.
|Confirmation from God
“How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, God also bearing witness with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will” (Heb. 2:3–4).
God confirmed the truth of the gospel preached through Christ with many miracles.
When Jesus preached the gospel, He performed miracles that made what He said believable. He said, “Though you do not believe Me, believe the works” (John 10:38). Jesus claimed to be from God, then made it obvious He really was from God.
Nicodemus came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “No one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him” (John 3:2). Jesus confirmed His ministry by His own miracles. Peter reiterated that fact on the day of Pentecost: “Jesus the Nazarene [was] a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs” (Acts 2:22).
God also gave these same confirming signs to His second generation of preachers—the apostles, so no one could dispute the validity of their message. What the apostles said was not their own opinion; it was divine truth substantiated by signs, wonders, and miracles.
Signs, wonders, and miracles are synonyms referring to all the supernatural things the apostles did. But the apostles also confirmed the Word with “gifts of the Holy Spirit.” That’s a reference to the temporary sign gifts described in Scripture, such as tongues and healings, not to the permanent edifying gifts given to the church for all time.
Today God attests to the gospel with the miracle of His written Word. Let it not be said that you neglected Jesus Christ. History confirms that hours of neglect cost Napoleon Waterloo. Neglecting Christ’s salvation will cost you eternal blessing and joy and will bring you damnation. Don’t allow yourself to drift past God’s grace.
Suggestions for Prayer: Thank God for His Word and that through it you have all the truth you need to communicate the gospel.
For Further Study: Read Acts 5–19, and list all the miracles performed by the apostles to confirm the gospel.
I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound.
paul said that he learned to be content regardless of his circumstances—in whatever state he was in. Paul was not content with troubles, trials, suffering, pain, or need. He felt pain and need just as much as any other person. But he learned to be content in times of difficulty. His internal state was one of contentment even when his outward state was one of turmoil, trial, or trouble.…
His contentment was in Christ—not in things or in circumstances. His contentment lay in his relationship with the Need Meeter, not in the fact that his needs were met momentarily.
Beginning a New Adventure
Scripture reading: Isaiah 60:1–3
Key verse: Psalm 31:3
For You are my rock and my fortress; Therefore, for Your name’s sake, Lead me and guide me.
Remember the last time you began a new adventure? Maybe it was to visit a faraway city or to fulfill a desire you longed to achieve, such as riding horses, learning how to play tennis, writing poetry, studying watercolor painting, or climbing mountains. How did it feel to approach a new beginning? Was there a twinge of hopeful anticipation present?
The feelings can be quite different when sorrow is involved. The disappointment that comes from the loss of a job, the grief of betrayal, or the shock of a friend’s rejection can leave you feeling hopeless. God wants you to know whatever your situation, He is aware of it. He knows painful circumstances can leave you wondering if you will ever enjoy a sense of hope again.
Before he became president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln was defeated for public office four times in twelve years. The last public office he held before being elected to the nation’s highest office was a seat in the U.S. Congress in 1846. It was not until 1860 that he was elected president.
Lincoln dared to believe in the impossible. He refused to give up. God is your constant Source of encouragement. His strength is released in your life when you make a conscious decision not to give up but to continue in faith. If there is darkness, pray for His light to rest over your life, guiding you into a new season of hope and revival.
Dear heavenly Father, let Your light rest over my life, guiding me into a new season of hope and revival. I am ready to begin a new adventure with You!
No Other Name
There is no other name under heaven.
The angel that appeared to Joseph emphasized the meaning of Jesus’ name: “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for it is He who will save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). Jesus, from the Hebrew Joshua, or Jehoshua, means “Jehovah will save.” The name itself was a testimony to God’s salvation. But, the angel told Joseph, Mary’s Son would be the very embodiment of Jehovah’s salvation. He Himself would save His people from their sins.
After Jesus’ resurrection, Peter, speaking before the Sanhedrin, also emphasized the importance of Jesus’ name: “There is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
December 22 The Reigning Lord
There is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
Some people just cannot seem to get excited about Jesus Christ. Perhaps they have lost sight of who He was and what He did for us. Perhaps they have never known.
Jesus is the Son of God—our reigning Lord. He was that before time began, and He will be that at time’s ending. He was in the Garden with Adam. His heart received sin’s first blow.
Throughout time He watched His people struggle. He led them through the desert and longed for them to worship only Him. When Israel was blocked in on every side, He made a way through the wilderness. Still, they forgot Him and worshiped other gods.
Year after year, Jesus watched and prayed from heaven’s doorway. When the longing to save and redeem His people grew to an overwhelming portion, He came to us.
However, the people of His day wanted a military leader—someone who would exalt the Jewish nation. They could not accept that Jesus was the Messiah. They plotted His death. His life was purchased for the price of a slave. He died a criminal’s death, but God raised Him up as Lord.
May you know the power of His reigning love today.
Lord, over every circumstance of my life, You reign! Thank You that You made a way through the wilderness of this world to Your promised land of peace.
An Assured Destiny
Scripture reading: Revelation 9:11–21
Key verse: Revelation 9:11
They had as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, but in Greek he has the name Apollyon.
William Bradbury’s song, “The Solid Rock,” underscores the faith and hope we have in Jesus Christ:
My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
When darkness veils his lovely face, I rest on his unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale, my anchor holds within the veil.
When he shall come with trumpet sound, O may I then in him be found.
Dressed in his righteousness alone, faultless to stand before the throne.
On Christ, the solid rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.
Our world is one of turmoil and grief. And if we’re not careful, we will begin to wonder whether God has forgotten His promises to us, but He never does. He knows us perfectly and is preparing us for that glorious day when He will return and gather us unto Himself.
The other part of His return is His triumph over the Beast and the False Prophet (Rev. 19). Revelation makes it clear that the victory belongs to Jesus Christ, and we should never be discouraged by the sorrows of the world.
The surest place to be found is in the care of God’s Son. He is not only your future hope; He is also your present help in every situation. He is your solid Rock.
O God, You are not only my future hope—You are my present help in every situation. I praise You that because of this, I can walk in victory today.
Your work of faith.
This is Your work, Lord God, that I believe in Him whom You sent.
Faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. Faith works through love. If I sow to my flesh I will of the flesh reap corruption, but if I sow to the Spirit I will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. I am Your workmanship, God, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which You prepared beforehand that I should walk in them. You gave Yourself for me, that You might redeem me from every lawless deed and purify for Yourself Your own special people, zealous for good works.
I thank You, God, because my faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of us abounds toward each other. I pray always that You, my God, would count me worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of Your goodness and the work of faith with power. It is You, God, who works in me both to will and to do for Your good pleasure.
Please continue to grow my faith and my love for You and Your people so that my works of faith will glorify You.
1 Thessalonians 1:3; John 6:29; James 2:17; Galatians 5:6; Galatians 6:8; Ephesians 2:10; Titus 2:14; 2 Thessalonians 1:3, 11; Philippians 2:13
Be not doubtful, but followers of them also, through faith and patience, inherit the promises
God makes a promise. Faith believes it. Hope anticipates it. Patience quietly awaits it.
|Out of Unbelief and an Avalanche of Doubt
In all your turnings and overturnings, darling, you must never forget the fact of me. With an utterly unbelieving nature, and with avalanches of doubt hurled on me from every side, I have come out into a place of knowledge which is absolutely intuitional to me now. I could as easily think of myself apart from myself as to think of myself apart from God. I believe you will get there too sometime, but I do not want to see you floundering too long.
I must say one word in reply to your suggestion that all motive for work would be gone if we believed everything was working out all right. It is this, that we are in a world which can be made better, and which we individually can help to make better, because we are in a developing world. But when things are developing we do not worry over the different stages, we simply do all we can to help in each stage and then wait in patient confidence for the future developments. If we are making something for instance, its unfinished conditions during the making process don’t discourage or distress us if we are only sure what it will be in the end. If we thought they were finalities, they would distress us, but not when we know they are only stages. And the fact that there are stages is really an encouragement to go on working, since the end will surely pay for it all. Then too, for our own sakes, for our own development, our share of the work must be done all the time.
—To Daughter, Baltimore, Maryland, Saturday, November 7, 1884
IT is our wisdom, as well as our necessity, to beseech God continually to strengthen that which he has wrought in us. We often forget that the Author of our faith must be the Preserver of it also. The lamp which was burning in the temple was never allowed to go out, but it had to be daily replenished with fresh oil; in like manner, our faith can only live by being sustained with the oil of grace, and we can only obtain this from God himself.
Let us, then, day by day, go to our Lord for the grace and strength we need. We have a strong argument to plead, for it is his own work of grace which we ask him to strengthen. Only let your faith take hold of his strength.
You are the Lord; You do not change. (Malachi 3:6)
God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all. (1 John 1:5)
Fear God and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come. Worship Him who made the heavens and the earth, the sea and the springs of water. (Revelation 14:7)
Pause to express your thoughts of praise and worship.
My ears had heard of You
But now my eyes have seen You.
Therefore I despise myself
And repent in dust and ashes. (Job 42:5–6)
Ask the Spirit to search your heart and reveal any areas of unconfessed sin. Acknowledge these to the Lord and thank Him for His forgiveness.
May I not let any corrupt word come out of my mouth, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may impart grace to those who hear. (Ephesians 4:29)
I have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God. Therefore, may I put away all malice and all guile and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. (1 Peter 1:23; 2:1)
Since I have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, let me speak not as pleasing men but God, who tests my heart. May I not seek glory from men. (1 Thessalonians 2:4, 6)
Pause to add your own prayers for personal renewal.
May I not follow the crowd in doing wrong. (Exodus 23:2)
May I not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds those who see and perverts the words of the righteous. (Exodus 23:8)
Growth in character
Physical health and strength
My activities for this day
Salvation belongs to the Lord. May Your blessing be on Your people. (Psalm 3:8)
The poor and hungry
The oppressed and persecuted
Those in authority
Peace among nations
Current events and concerns
God set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace. (Galatians 1:15)
I have believed in the Lord Jesus, so that I will be saved—me and my household. (Acts 16:31)
He who is joined to the Lord is one with Him in spirit. (1 Corinthians 6:17)
None of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. (Romans 14:7–8)
Pause to reflect upon these biblical affirmations.
When I was dead in my trespasses and in the uncircumcision of my flesh, God made me alive with Christ. He forgave me all my trespasses, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against me and was contrary to me; He took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. (Colossians 2:13–15)
God did not appoint me to suffer wrath but to obtain salvation through my Lord Jesus Christ. He died for me, so that, whether I am awake or asleep, I may live together with Him. (1 Thessalonians 5:9–10)
Pause to offer your own expressions of thanksgiving.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit are with us. (2 Corinthians 13:14)
Blessed be the Lord forever!
Amen and Amen. (Psalm 89:52)
Morning, December 22
“I will strengthen thee.”
— Isaiah 41:10
God has a strong reserve with which to discharge this engagement; for he is able to do all things. Believer, till thou canst drain dry the ocean of omnipotence, till thou canst break into pieces the towering mountains of almighty strength, thou never needest to fear. Think not that the strength of man shall ever be able to overcome the power of God. Whilst the earth’s huge pillars stand, thou hast enough reason to abide firm in thy faith. The same God who directs the earth in its orbit, who feeds the burning furnace of the sun, and trims the lamps of heaven, has promised to supply thee with daily strength. While he is able to uphold the universe, dream not that he will prove unable to fulfil his own promises. Remember what he did in the days of old, in the former generations. Remember how he spake and it was done; how he commanded, and it stood fast. Shall he that created the world grow weary? He hangeth the world upon nothing; shall he who doth this be unable to support his children? Shall he be unfaithful to his word for want of power? Who is it that restrains the tempest? Doth not he ride upon the wings of the wind, and make the clouds his chariots, and hold the ocean in the hollow of his hand? How can he fail thee? When he has put such a faithful promise as this on record, wilt thou for a moment indulge the thought that he has outpromised himself, and gone beyond his power to fulfil? Ah, no! Thou canst doubt no longer.
O thou who art my God and my strength, I can believe that this promise shall be fulfilled, for the boundless reservoir of thy grace can never be exhausted, and the overflowing storehouse of thy strength can never be emptied by thy friends or rifled by thine enemies.
“Now let the feeble all be strong,
And make Jehovah’s arm their song.”
Evening, December 22
“The spot of his children.”
— Deuteronomy 32:5
What is the secret spot which infallibly betokens the child of God? It were vain presumption to decide this upon our own judgment; but God’s word reveals it to us, and we may tread surely where we have revelation to be our guide. Now, we are told concerning our Lord, “to as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to as many as believed on his name.” Then, if I have received Christ Jesus into my heart, I am a child of God. That reception is described in the same verse as believing on the name of Jesus Christ. If, then, I believe on Jesus Christ’s name—that is, simply from my heart trust myself with the crucified, but now exalted, Redeemer, I am a member of the family of the Most High. Whatever else I may not have, if I have this, I have the privilege to become a child of God. Our Lord Jesus puts it in another shape. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” Here is the matter in a nutshell. Christ appears as a shepherd to his own sheep, not to others. As soon as he appears, his own sheep perceive him—they trust him, they are prepared to follow him; he knows them, and they know him—there is a mutual knowledge—there is a constant connection between them. Thus the one mark, the sure mark, the infallible mark of regeneration and adoption is a hearty faith in the appointed Redeemer. Reader, are you in doubt, are you uncertain whether you bear the secret mark of God’s children? Then let not an hour pass over your head till you have said, “Search me, O God, and know my heart.” Trifle not here, I adjure you! If you must trifle anywhere, let it be about some secondary matter: your health, if you will, or the title deeds of your estate; but about your soul, your never-dying soul and its eternal destinies, I beseech you to be in earnest. Make sure work for eternity. 
The Truth About Consequences
Scripture Reading: Proverbs 26:23–28
Key Verse: Galatians 6:7
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.
Think about what life would be like if the consequences of all our actions were immediate, just as in the story of Pinocchio. If you lied, your nose would grow. If you gossiped, your mouth would get bigger. In such a scenario, one thing is for certain—there would be a great number of funny-looking people.
In the real world, however, consequences don’t always come at the exact moment an offense is committed, yet the long-term results of going against one of God’s principles are there nevertheless. Proverbs 26:27 (nasb) makes this connection clear: “He who digs a pit will fall into it, and he who rolls a stone, it will come back on him.”
The reaction may not be immediate, but it will come; this is God’s way. In a sense, you can never truly violate one of His immutable principles, in the same way that you cannot go against the natural law of gravity.
Ultimately the Lord has set up boundaries and guidelines for your life to be a source of protection and blessing (Ps. 119). What many nonbelievers interpret as the negative “don’ts” of Christianity are really positives, as though God were saying: “Do live according to My plans, and then you will find real reward.”
Almighty God, I realize there are consequences to my actions. Give me wisdom and understanding to walk Your way. Take my hand and guide me on my journey.
God’s Awesome Love
Scripture Reading: Luke 2:15–20
Key Verse: Luke 2:20
Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.
With great awe and in complete reverence, the shepherds looked upon the baby Jesus. It was true. Everything. All the words spoken to them by the angel in the sky were truth! The Savior had arrived!
And almost instantly, the shepherds realized that this kind of news didn’t need to be hidden. Others needed to know that the Savior had arrived—even more prophecy was about to be fulfilled. Were these the first missionaries? No, these were the first witnesses, understanding that along with the knowledge of this great information came the responsibility to tell others.
As we grow in our relationship with Christ and deepen our knowledge of Him through intimacy, there is no need for us to keep this information to ourselves. In light of what Christ has done for us—through not only His birth, but also His death and resurrection—we should desire to share this with others.
Our method of sharing the good news with others might vary. But regardless of the method in which we proclaim Christ, the message of Christmas—God’s awesome love for mankind—is a story that warrants being told again and again.
Lord, we are Your witnesses on earth as surely as were the shepherds of Bethlehem. Help us to announce the Christmas message with the same enthusiasm and urgency.
The Source of Song
He has put a new song in my mouth—praise to our God; many will see it and fear, and will trust in the Lord.
Christianity is a religion of song. Agnosticism has no carols. Confucianism and Brahmanism have no anthems or alleluias. Dreary, weird dirges reveal no hope for the present or for the future. Christianity, however, is filled with music. Only the message of Christ puts a song in a person’s heart.
When you have Christ in your heart something changes inside of you, and a melody starts to form that you can’t really control. It is unlike any other belief system.
As we read the stories of Christmas in the Book of Luke, we find six different songs recorded almost back-to-back: the “Beatitude of Elizabeth,” when she was visited by Mary; the “Magnificat of Mary,” Mary’s song; the “Benedictus of Zacharias,” the father of John the Baptist; the “Song of Simeon,” when he was presented with the Christ Child at the temple; the “Evangel Song” of the angel of the Lord over the plains; and finally, the “Gloria” of the angelic hosts. When Jesus came into the world, music was reborn.
The drawing of the Father
No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him. John 6:44.
When God draws me, the issue of my will comes in at once—will I react on the revelation which God gives; will I come to Him? Discussion on spiritual matters is an impertinence. Never discuss with anyone when God speaks. Belief is not an intellectual act; belief is a moral act whereby I deliberately commit myself. Will I dump myself down absolutely on God and transact on what He says? If I will, I shall find I am based on Reality that is as sure as God’s throne.
In preaching the gospel, always push an issue of will. Belief must be the will to believe. There must be a surrender of the will, not a surrender to persuasive power; a deliberate launching forth on God and on what He says until I am no longer confident in what I have done, I am confident only in God. The hindrance is that I will not trust God, but only my mental understanding. As far as feelings go, I must stake all blindly: I must will to believe, and this can never be done without a violent effort on my part to dissociate myself from my old ways of looking at things, and by putting myself right over on to Him.
Every man is made to reach out beyond his grasp. It is God Who draws me, and my relationship with Him in the first place is a personal one, not an intellectual one. I am introduced into the relationship by the miracle of God and my own will to believe, then I begin to get an intelligent appreciation and understanding of the wonder of the transaction.
|Submitting to Christ as Lord
“God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name … that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.”
Philippians 2:9, 11
To receive Christ as Savior is to submit to His authority as Lord.
Is Jesus Lord? According to the declaration of the Father, He is. We cannot know Him any other way than as Lord. That’s why the first creed in the history of the church, given in Philippians 2:11, says, “Jesus Christ is Lord.” Every Christian must acknowledge that. It is the foundation of the Christian faith, the very substance of what we believe. We don’t make Him Lord after salvation. Every time I hear someone say, “You need to make Jesus Lord,” it is as repellent to me as hearing fingernails scraped down a blackboard. We never make Jesus Lord—God has already done that.
Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior, and those who would receive Him must take Him for who He really is. Puritan John Flavel put it this way: “The gospel offer of Christ includes all his offices, and gospel faith just so receives him; to submit to him, as well as to be redeemed by him; to imitate him in the holiness of his life, as well as to reap the purchases and fruits of his death. It must be an entire receiving of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
In a similar vein, A.W. Tozer said, “To urge men and women to believe in a divided Christ is bad teaching, for no one can receive half of Christ, or a third of Christ, or a quarter of the Person of Christ! We are not saved by believing in an office nor in a work.” Jesus is Lord, and if you refuse Him as Lord, you cannot call Him Savior. If you have truly received Him, your life will be characterized by submission to His authority.
Suggestions for Prayer: Take time to acknowledge the lordship of Christ in your own life.
For Further Study: Read Romans 10:9–13. What is a sinner to confess if he is to be saved? ✧ According to 2 Corinthians 4:5, what message did Paul preach?
December 22.—Morning. [Or December 11.] “Ye have an unction from the Holy One.”
1 John 2:12–28
I WRITE unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake. (Little children have sins; they need to be forgiven; and they may be forgiven at once. Should not every child go to Jesus and ask to be washed in his precious blood? To be little children in Jesus Christ is a great privilege, and to such the word of God is directed as much as to the more advanced saints.)
13 I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. (These established saints, having a deeper knowledge of their Lord, were bound to lend the more earnest attention to his word, and to carry it out more fully.) I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one. (These young men are the flower of the army of the Lord of Hosts. By their victories already won the apostle summons them to new conflicts. The Spirit of God has a call for believers in all stages of the divine life.) I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father.
14 I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one.
15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
He may use it, but love it he must not, unless he will renounce the love of God.
16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.
18 Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. (The spirit of antichrist has many forms, and is present in every age. Everything which robs Christ of his glory is anti-christian.)
19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us. (Bad teachers leave the church of God because they never in truth belonged to it. When they go over to Rome they go to their own place.)
20 But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things. (An experimental knowledge of the truth is the best preservative against error.)
21 I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth.
22 Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? (This is the greatest of all falsehoods, and it insults both the Father and the Son by doubting their testimony.) He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.
23 Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: [but] he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also.
24 Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father. (You cannot find a better gospel; persevere, then, in what you already know.)
25 And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life.
26, 27 These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you. But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.
28 And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming. (Being full of love he pleads with us never to desert our Lord, or listen to the false gospels which would lead us astray. Ever may this family be true to Jesus, to the gospel, and to holy living: and may none of us ever be deceived by false doctrine, or tempted into sin.)
One there is to whom we’re going,
One to whom we owe our all;
Daily grace is he bestowing,
He sustains us when we fall.
Thou to us art all in all.
December 22.—Evening. [Or December 12.] “Beloved, now are we the sons of God.”
1 John 3
BEHOLD, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.
2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.
4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.
5 And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.
6 Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. (We understand by this not that believers are perfectly free from sinning, but that they do not sin habitually, wilfully, and openly as the unregenerate do. Their lives are holy, and when faults occur they grieve over them. The river of their lives runs towards righteousness, and though there are eddies in it these do not affect the main current.)
7 Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.
8 He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.
9 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.
He cannot sin with his whole heart, or continuously, or finally, or as the main act of his life. Sin is not his element, or his delight.
10, 11 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. (The beloved John seems to breathe out only love. Like the harp of Anacreon his heart resoundeth “love alone.”)
12, 13 Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous. Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you. (That hatred has existed from the beginning. The very first man who died was martyred for the faith.)
14 We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.
15 Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.
16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
17 But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?
18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.
He whose whole religion lies in words is a hypocrite worthy of the scorn of all mankind. Above all things let us be real in all that we do.
19 And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.
20 For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.
21 Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.
22 And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.
23, 24 And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.
Behold, what wondrous grace
The Father hath bestow’d
On sinners of a mortal race,
To call them sons of God!
Nor doth it yet appear
How great we must be made;
But when we see our Saviour here,
We shall be like our Head.
If in my Father’s love
I share a filial part,
Send down thy Spirit, like a dove,
To rest upon my heart.
Monday, December 22, 2014
Unknowable, Unapproachable, and Inaccessible
The glory of the LORD shall be revealed. Isaiah 40:5
What is this glory of the Lord? And what does it mean for this glory to be revealed? The glory of the Lord is the full wonder of who God is, the splendor of God himself.
Moses said to God, “Please show me your glory” (Exodus 33:18). Here’s the fascinating thing about that prayer: God had already made himself known to Moses. He had done this in the burning bush and in the miracle of crossing the Red Sea.
More than that, we’re told “the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud” (Exodus 16:10). “The appearance of the glory of the LORD was like a devouring fire” (Exodus 24:17). “The cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle”(Exodus 40:34).
Something of the glory of God had already been revealed. Notice how it was revealed – in cloud (means it’s unknowable), and in fire (means it’s unapproachable). When the cloud filled the tent of meeting, Moses was not able to go inside. The glory of God was inaccessible.
So Moses says to the Lord, “I’ve seen reflections of you in the fire and in the cloud, but I want to see the full wonder of who you are! I want to see your face! Show me your glory!”
God says, “You cannot see my face… and live” (Exodus 33:20). So, God hides Moses in the cleft of a rock and covers Moses with his hand. Then God causes his glory to pass by, and Moses is allowed to see the after burn of the glory of God: “You shall see my back, but my face shall not be seen” (Exodus 33:23).
How do you understand God’s statement: “You cannot see my face and live”?
That’s this week’s LifeKEY!
Colin S. Smith
This devotional is taken from the sermon series “Waiting for the Lord” by Pastor Colin S. Smith.
Reading for Today:
Nahum 1:11 wicked counselor. The phrase, literally, “counselor of Belial,” suggests satanic influence on the leadership, identified as the king of Assyria (3:18). Specific reference could be to Ashurbanipal (669–633 B.C.) or more likely to Sennacherib (705–681 B.C.), who invaded Judah in 701 B.C. and of whom Isaiah speaks in similar language (Is. 10:7).
Nahum 3:1 bloody city. The first accusation was a charge well documented in history. Assyria proved to be an unusually cruel, bloodthirsty nation. lies. Assyria employed falsehood and treachery to subdue her enemies (2 Kin. 18:28–32). robbery. Preying upon her victims, she filled her cities with the goods of other nations.
Revelation 12:3 great, fiery red dragon. The woman’s mortal enemy is Satan, who appears as a dragon 13 times in this book (v.9; 20:2).Red speaks of bloodshed (John 8:44). seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems. Figurative language depicting Satan’s domination of 7 past worldly kingdoms and 10 future kingdoms (Dan. 7:7, 20, 24). Satan has and will rule the world until the seventh trumpet blows (11:15). He has inflicted relentless pain on Israel (Dan.8:24), desiring to kill the woman before she could bring forth the child that would destroy him.
Revelation 12:9 dragon was cast…to the earth. Satan and his demons were cast out of heaven at the time of their original rebellion, but still have access to it (Job 1:6; 2:1). That access will then be denied, and they will be forever barred from heaven. Devil and Satan. “Devil” comes from a Greek verb meaning “to slander” or “to falsely accuse.” He is a malignant liar (John 8:44; 1 John 3:8). His accusations against believers (v. 10) are unsuccessful because of Christ our Advocate (1 John 2:1). Satan, meaning “adversary” or “enemy,” appears especially in Job and the Gospels. deceives the whole world. As he has throughout human history, Satan will deceive people during the Tribulation (13:14; 20:3; John 8:44). After his temporary release from the bottomless pit at the end of the Millennium, he will briefly resume his deceitful ways (20:8, 10).
DAY 22: Who was the prophet Nahum, and how was his message related to the prophet Jonah?
The significance of the writing prophets was not their personal lives; it was their message. Thus, background information about the prophet from within the prophecy is rare. Occasionally one of the historical books will shed additional light. In the case of Nahum, nothing is provided except that he was an Elkoshite (1:1), referring either to his birthplace or his place of ministry. Attempts to identify the location of Elkosh have been unsuccessful. Suggestions include Al Qosh, situated in northern Iraq (thus Nahum would have been a descendant of the exiles taken to Assyria in 722 B.C.), Capernaum (“town of Nahum”), or a location in southern Judah (1:15). His birthplace or locale is not significant to the interpretation of the book.
Nahum forms a sequel to the Book of Jonah, who prophesied over a century earlier. Jonah recounts the remission of God’s promised judgment toward Nineveh, while Nahum depicts the later execution of God’s judgment. Nineveh was proud of her invulnerable city, with her walls reaching 100 feet high and with a moat 150 feet wide and 60 feet deep. But Nahum established the fact that the sovereign God (1:2–5) would bring vengeance upon those who violated His law (1:8, 14; 3:5–7). The same God had a retributive judgment against evil which is also redemptive, bestowing His loving kindnesses upon the faithful (1:7, 12, 13, 15; 2:2).The prophecy brought comfort to Judah and all who feared the cruel Assyrians. Nahum said Nineveh would end “with an overflowing flood” (1:8); and it happened when the Tigris River overflowed to destroy enough of the walls to let the Babylonians through. Nahum also predicted that the city would be hidden (3:11). After its destruction in 612 B.C., the site was not rediscovered until 1842 A.D.
From The MacArthur Daily Bible Copyright © 2003. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson Bibles, a division of Thomas Nelson, Inc, Nashville, TN 37214, http://www.thomasnelson.com.
December 22 – God’s Kingdom Is Priceless
“‘. . . finding one pearl of great value’” (Matthew 13:46).
Job’s ancient description of humanity’s relentless quest for wealth sounds amazingly up-to-date:
Man puts an end to darkness, and to the farthest limit he searches out the rock in gloom and deep shadow. He sinks a shaft far from habitation, forgotten by the foot; they hang and swing to and fro far from men . . . Its rocks are the source of sapphires, and its dust contains gold. . . . He hews out channels through the rocks, and his eye sees anything precious. (Job 28:3–4, 6, 10)
For all the efforts to mine and process precious metals and gems, none of those riches offers anything of lasting value (cf. Job 28:12–15, 21, 23, 28).
The blessing of being a kingdom citizen—a child of God through faith in Jesus Christ—is truly priceless and more valuable than all the world’s greatest riches combined. That citizenship is so incomparable because it is “an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away” (1 Peter 1:4). This heavenly inheritance includes the unsurpassed, divine spiritual blessings of forgiveness, love, peace, purity, righteousness, eternal life, and more.
Even with its priceless nature and ultimate value, God offers His kingdom to any person who surrenders all, repents, and trusts in Christ as Lord and Savior. Whatever values a man or woman has clung to in the past, God will happily exchange for the priceless kingdom treasure.
Are you in one of those phases of life in which Christianity feels like all cost and little return? Reflect today on the treasures of faith. Ask God to bring them to mind whenever you get discouraged or weary of the battle. They are worth much, much more than the price of admission.
From Daily Readings from the Life of Christ, Vol. 1, John MacArthur. Copyright © 2008. Used by permission of Moody Publishers, Chicago, IL 60610, http://www.moodypublishers.com.
Come to the Banquet – Part One
THEME: Unmerited Favor
This parable offers an illustration of those who reject and those who accept Christ.
And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son,and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come. Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.”’ But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them. The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy.Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’ And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests.
“But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.”
From time to time in our study of the parables I have noted that a particular parable is difficult to interpret, and have mentioned several ways the details of the story could be taken. That problem does not exist with the parable of the wedding banquet, however. On the contrary, it is all too clear. It speaks of God’s gracious invitation to us in the gospel and of the indifferent and arrogant way men and women sometimes respond to it. It speaks of hell, the end of those who attempt to enter the king’s presence without the wedding garment of Christ’s righteousness. Wise is the man or woman who learns from it.
This parable occurs in more than one place and in slightly different form in each place. The fullest form is in Matthew, so we will use Matthew as a starting point. But it also occurs in Luke 14:15-24, which contains elaboration on the excuses of those who refused the king’s invitation.
The story begins with a certain king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son, and sent servants to those who had been invited to tell them that the feast was now ready and that they should come. But they refused to come. Their refusal was a great insult, of course. It was dishonoring to the son, the king, and even to the servants who carried the king’s message. But the king did not get angry. Instead, he sent other servants to repeat the invitation: “Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet” (v. 4). Again they refused, but this time, those who had been invited did not merely reject the invitation. They also mistreated the messengers and killed some of them. The king sent an army to destroy the murderers and burn their city (vv. 1-7). After that he invited others.
The thing that makes the parable so easy to understand is that nearly every part is discussed in plain terms elsewhere. The king is God, sitting upon the throne of the universe. The son is his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. The messengers are the prophets and early preachers of the gospel. The banquet is the marriage supper of the Lamb. Those to whom the gospel was first preached were Jews and those who actually came to the banquet were Gentiles, as is taught in John 1:11-12. “He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”
As with the preceding parable, this is one of a special class of parables that deals with the refusal of Israel to respond to the Lord Jesus Christ when he came first to his own people. That was a major issue during the lifetime of the Lord, as well as afterward, so it is not surprising to find a number of parables dealing with it either directly or alluding to it indirectly. The character of the older son in the parable of the prodigal represents Israel (as well as those Gentiles who possess the same spirit of resentment). So do those workers in the vineyard who were hired early but were paid the same as those who came late. So does the Pharisee in the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector (Luke 18). Those stories explore the thinking of people who supposed they had worked long and faithfully for God, unlike others, and who were envious and resentful when the grace of God was shown to those they considered unworthy.
Explain this parable. Who is the king? Who is the son? The messengers? Those invited to the feast?
What is the banquet? Who came to the banquet?
What theme in this parable is similar to that of the parable of the vineyard owner?
God Put You Here “On Purpose” – Part Two
On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”
In the second place, let us look at some of the things that God proposes to do in us now. God is beginning to work in us who are believers, rooting and preparing the purposes that He plans to work out now and in eternity.
In Romans 9:23 it says He saved us in order “that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory.” We were vessels of mercy. We had been vessels of wrath, and then we became vessels of mercy. Now a vessel is a vase, it is a container. And He says that we are vessels of mercy, prepared to glory. We are, if you will, candles that God intends to light up with a fire that burns and is not consumed as we blaze forth His glory. The angels in eternity, when they see us, will know that the Lord Jesus Christ came from heaven to save us from the pit, lifted us up, and gave us eternal life.
They will know that Jesus was made lower than the angels and stooped to the cross in order to bring us from the depths of the depravity of sin; that everyone of us who is thus lifted, and made like Christ, shall call forth from the full and angelic world the thought of “How great is the grace of God! Look at that flashing saint! Look at that child of God! Look at that human being become an heir with Christ! How great is the grace of God that dust has been taken to heaven and has been fashioned to show forth the glory of Christ!”
But God has done that already. In the midst of a world that knows not Jesus Christ we can already witness to the fact that our vessels of wrath have become vessels of mercy. And such were some of you: but you were washed. You were by nature children of wrath and children of disobedience. “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ” (Ephesians 2:4-5). God chooses to use us as torch lights that shall flame His glory through eternity. And He wants that process to begin right now so that anyone coming in contact with you shall say, “That is a redeemed one.”
One of the tragedies of Christians in America today is that so many fundamental Christians get together with each other. They have their parties together, they have their fellowship together, their socials together, their picnics together, and all of their friendships together. Many of them are not aware of the light they could cause outside. Oh, some of you run up against it in business life. But even business life is organized in such a way that it’s rather possible for nice people to have their lives bounded on one side by their home, and the other side by their office, with occasional side trips to this amusement or that amusement, or to this church or that church. But you do not know the horror of what life is outside of Christ. And yet, God has meant that we be in the midst of this world as shining lights, holding forth the Word of Life.
Not only does God want us to be vessels of mercy, but it tells us in Ephesians 3:10-11 that another purpose in saving us is “that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose which he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord.” In other words, God is saying, “The reason that I have saved you, the true church, is that I wanted to exhibit you in the invisible realm. I wanted to let all the angels of heaven that followed the devil to look on the earth and see you. I want them to realize that the principles I established in the beginning are true, that I don’t take men to the highest heaven by their own climbing. I take men who deserve to go to hell, who go down to the cross, and by virtue of the death of Jesus Christ, pass out of death and into life. I lift them up through Jesus Christ. The moment I do so, I have proclaimed the eternal law,” says God, “that power does not come from grasping, that power does not come through climbing, but power, true power comes through descending, through surrender, through yielding. The way to climb up is down. `For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased”‘ (Luke 14:11). Each believer is a witness before the forces of Satan that God’s way of doing things is the only way that works. And that’s why we must learn to say in response to Him, “Make me a captive, Lord. Then I shall be free. Force me to render up my sword, and I shall conqueror be.”
Another purpose of God that has already begun now, and will be carried on forever, is defined in Romans 8:29 where it says, “He also did predestinate [us] to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” The reason God saved us is that out of this world and out of the mud of the fall, He might reach down and grasp in sovereign grace countless multitudes from Adam’s race and then transform them and shape them into the image of Jesus Christ. And just as a butterfly flying around your garden probably can’t tell the difference between a man of seventy and a boy who is twenty, or the difference between a man and a woman, so in the future, in heaven, an angel looking up to God will have trouble telling the difference between you and Jesus Christ.
Now it’s tremendous as we understand what is being taught here-that we might be shaped to the image of His Son, that we might be the “firstborn among many brethren” in God’s family. Now you can readily see that, if He has begun this in us, He desires greatly that this work be continued.
In Ephesians 1:4, God gives another purpose for saving us. It tells us He saved us in order “that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.” He wants to begin this in us NOW. He has given us the holiness that is in Christ. He had made us without blemish in His sight. Because we are already saved, we are seen in the perfection and glory of Jesus Christ.
He wants us to be holy, without blemish, in our practical life and living. The moment we understand God’s eternal purpose in saving us, that eternal purpose becomes a divine imperative to call us to yield ourselves to Him, and to walk worthy of the calling wherewith we have been called.
Still another purpose is set forth in Ephesians 1:12 where it states, “That we should be to the praise of his glory.” Anyone-men, angels, or demons-seeing us should say, and we should say of one another, “How wonderful is the grace of God that He should be able to touch me without dirtying His finger! How wonderful the grace of God that He was able to take hold of us and that we are the monuments of His love and His grace.”
What is a vessel of wrath?
What is a vessel of mercy?
Why is it fitting that God predestined us? How do being vessels of wrath or mercy teach us about predestination?
Mon, December 22, 2014
Deity Present among Us
What we have in the Christian doctrine of the Holy Spirit is Deity present among us. He is not God’s messenger only, He is God. He is God in contact with His creatures, doing in them and among them a saving and renewing work.
The Persons of the Godhead never work separately. We dare not think of them in such a way as to “divide the substance.” Every act of God is done by all three Persons. God is never anywhere present in one Person without the other two. He cannot divide Himself. Where the Spirit is, there also is the Father and the Son. “We will come unto him and make our abode with him.” For the accomplishment of some specific work one Person may for the time be more prominent than the others are, but never is He alone. God is altogether present wherever He is present at all.
I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him.
Every act of God is done by all three Persons. God is never anywhere present in one Person without the other two.
Praise Your name, Holy Father, the three-in-one Godhead!
ADORATION: Own your Relation to God
We must declare this God to be our God and own our relation to him, his dominion over us, and propriety in us.
Our souls have said to the LORD, “You are our Lord, we have no good apart from you; Psalm 16:2(ESV) neither if we are righteous are you the better.” Job 35:7(ESV)
You are our King, O God: Psalm 44:4(ESV) Other lords besides you have ruled over us, but your name alone we bring to remembrance. Isaiah 26:13(ESV)
We declare today that the LORD is our God, and that we will walk in his ways, and keep his statutes and his commandments and his rules, and will obey his voice and give ourselves to him, to be his people for a treasured possession, as he has promised, that we may be a holy people to the Lord our God; Deuteronomy 26:17-19 and might be to him for a name, a praise, and a glory. Jeremiah 13:11(ESV)
O Lord, truly we are your servants; we are your servants, born in your house, and you have loosed our bonds: Psalm 116:16(ESV) We have been bought with a price, and therefore we are not our own; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20(ESV) and so we yield ourselves to the Lord, 2 Chronicles 30:8(ESV) and join ourselves to him in an everlasting covenant that will never be forgotten. Jeremiah 50:5(ESV)
We are yours, save us, for we seek your precepts; Psalm 119:94(ESV) it is your own, Lord, that we give you, and that which comes from your hand. 1 Chronicles 29:16(ESV)
Matthew Henry’s Method for Prayer
 Osbeck, K. W. (1996). Amazing grace: 366 inspiring hymn stories for daily devotions (pp. 381–382). Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications.
 Barry, J. D., & Kruyswijk, R. (2012). Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
 Venditti, L., & Venditti, N. (2012). Daily Treasures from the Word of God. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 369). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
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 Stanley, C. F. (2002). Seeking His face (p. 373). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
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 Stanley, C. F. (1998). Enter His gates: a daily devotional. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
 Stanley, C. F. (2000). Into His presence (p. 373). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
 Jeremiah, D. (2007). Life-Changing Moments With God (p. 381). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
 Hardman, S. G., & Moody, D. L. (1997). Thoughts for the quiet hour. Willow Grove, PA: Woodlawn Electronic Publishing.
 Smith, H. W., & Dieter, M. E. (1997). The Christian’s secret of a holy life: the unpublished personal writings of Hannah Whitall Smith. Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
 Spurgeon, C. H. (1892). Daily Help (p. 360). Baltimore: R. H. Woodward & Company.
 Boa, K. (1993). Handbook to prayer: praying scripture back to God. Atlanta: Trinity House.
 Spurgeon, C. H. (2006). Morning and evening: Daily readings (Complete and unabridged; New modern edition.). Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers.
 Stanley, C. F. (1999). On holy ground (p. 373). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
 Stanley, C. F. (2006). Pathways to his presence (p. 373). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
 Jeremiah, D. (2002). Sanctuary: finding moments of refuge in the presence of God (p. 373). Nashville, TN: Integrity Publishers.
 Chambers, O. (1986). My utmost for his highest: Selections for the year. Grand Rapids, MI: Oswald Chambers Publications; Marshall Pickering.
 MacArthur, J. (1997). Strength for today. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
 Spurgeon, C. H. (2009). The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible (pp. 754–755). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.