November 27: When Hezekiah Gave Away the Farm
2 Kings 18:13–19:37; Ephesians 2:1–3:21; Proverbs 8:19–26
After the announcement that Hezekiah “did right in the eyes of Yahweh,” the next description comes as a surprise: “At that time, Hezekiah cut off the doors of the temple of Yahweh and the doorposts which Hezekiah king of Judah had overlaid, and he gave them to the king of Assyria” (2 Kgs 18:3, 16).
For a moment Hezekiah was a strong king over Israel—he abolished idolatry and refused to obey the king of Assyria (2 Kgs 18:4, 7). As 2 Kings 18:6 describes, “He held on to Yahweh; he did not depart from following him, and he kept his commands that Yahweh had commanded Moses.” But Hezekiah did not possess fortitude (see 2 Kgs 18:13–18). In an attempt to gain peace, he gave away not only treasures, but even pieces of Yahweh’s temple itself (2 Kgs 18:15–16).
We’ve all been in situations where it’s tempting to do anything for peace. Perhaps we’ve even compromised our ethics or values in these moments. But no matter the situation, giving away the farm like Hezekiah did is never the answer. Politicians often talk about “peace at all costs,” but our world is full of dilemmas that don’t allow for that option.
When desperate situations arise, we must have fortitude. We must seek solace in God and His will instead of giving in. If we make a decision based on the circumstances, it will be the wrong one. If we make our decisions based on prayer, we will make the correct moves.
Hezekiah could have relied on God when Sennacherib came knocking on his door and knocking down the cities of Judah, but he didn’t. He paid a high price for his decision; the cost was his relationship with Yahweh. Even death is preferable to that.
Sometimes our decisions are more important than we realize because they may involve our relationship with God. We must let that relationship drive our decision-making. Rather than being distracted by fear, anxiety, pressure, or even concern for anyone else, we must focus on God and His will; He alone will look out for us and others. We must give Him the opportunity to act.
What decisions do you need God’s intercession for?
John D. Barry
THANKS TO GOD!
August Ludvig Storm, 1862–1914
Translated by Carl E. Backstrom, 1901–
Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 5:20)
A thankful spirit, both for the good and the difficult, is one of the important indicators of a believer’s spiritual condition. To be able to say—
I thank Thee, God, that all our joy is touched with pain, that shadows fall on brightest hours, that thorns remain;
So that earth’s bliss may be our guide, and not our chain. I thank Thee, Lord, that Thou has kept the best in store;
We have enough, but not too much to long for more—a yearning for a deeper peace, not known before.
—Adelaide A. Procter
A prayer like this requires a life that knows and practices the intimate presence of Christ in daily living.
August Storm, the author of “Thanks to God!”, lived most of his life in Stockholm, Sweden. As a young man he was converted to Christ in a Salvation Army meeting. Soon he joined the Salvation Army Corps and in time became one of its leading officers. He wrote this hymn’s text for the Army’s publication, Stridsropet (The War Cry), on December 5, 1891. The original Swedish version had four stanzas, with each verse beginning with the word tack “thanks,” having a total of 32 “thanks” in all. The gratitude expressed to God ranges from the “dark and dreary fall” to the “pleasant, balmy springtime,” “pain as well as pleasure,” “thorns as well as roses.”
These words have come from the heart of one who lived and practiced what his lips and pen proclaimed:
Thanks, O God, for boundless mercy from Thy gracious throne above; thanks for ev’ry need provided from the fullness of Thy love! Thanks for daily toil and labor and for rest when shadows fall; thanks for love of friend and neighbor and Thy goodness unto all!
Thanks for thorns as well as roses; thanks for weakness and for health; thanks for clouds as well as sunshine; thanks for poverty and wealth! Thanks for pain as well as pleasure—all thou sendest day by day; and Thy Word, our dearest treasure, shedding light upon our way.
Thanks, O God, for home and fireside, here we share our daily bread; thanks for hours of sweet communion, when by Thee our souls are fed! Thanks for grace in time of sorrow and for joy and peace in Thee; thanks for hope today, tomorrow, and for all eternity!
For Today: Psalm 68:19; 103:1–10; 116:12; Revelation 7:12
“A grateful person is a happy one.” Become even more aware of God’s daily blessings in life. Carry this portion of today’s hymn with you—
Welcome to Daily Treasures from the Word of God. Today’s reading is Obadiah and Jonah. Our lesson is from Jonah 1:16, “Then the men feared the Lord greatly, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows.” (NASU)
The book of Jonah is captivating. The prophet who is called by the Lord goes running the other way when specifically asked to do God’s mission. He tries to flee from God as if it was possible. However, in today’s lesson we learn from the sailors a moral lesson rather than from Jonah because they had an encounter with the living God. Let’s see three actions of the sailors.
First, the sailors feared the Lord greatly. Fearing God has to do with respect and honor. We do not know with certainty the nationalities of the sailors but it can be assumed they were not part of Israel. At the beginning of the storm, each person prayed to his god. The storm became fiercer. The captain then approaches the sleeping prophet and tells him to pray to his God. Lots are drawn and Jonah upon being questioned by the men admits his guilt before the Lord. He identifies his God as the God of heaven who created the sea and dry land.
The prophet then instructs the sailors to throw him overboard. They do so and the storm subsides. However after the storm, they give allegiance to the living God.
Second, the sailors offered a sacrifice to the Lord. Although the sailors were not of Israel yet they came to the realization that the God of heaven that Jonah served was more powerful than their gods. The result was that they offered a sacrifice to Him.
Offering sacrifices in the biblical days was a common practice both within Israel and in the surrounding nations. The significance in our story is the recognition of the living God’s power over that of their gods. The sailors acknowledged Jonah’s God over their own deities. By offering a sacrifice to the living God, they demonstrated their gratitude to Him.
Last, the sailors made a vow to the Lord. The text does not give the details but the action of making a vow shows a certain ongoing promise. It may have been to offer other sacrifices to the living God or continued commitment to Him.
In conclusion, the sailor feared the Lord greatly. The sailors offered a sacrifice to the Lord. And the sailors made a vow to the Lord.
May we be able to see the Lord greater than our own nationalistic or limited perspective. God is the Lord of all nations and wants all peoples to know Him as the only true and living God. This is why we as God’s people must be His missionary people to all the nations of the globe. Pray for global outreach!
It has been a pleasure to share with you Daily Treasures from the Word of God. Tomorrow’s Bible reading is Micah 1 through 4. 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.
|Bearing the Reproach of Christ
Moses considered “the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward. By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen” (Heb. 11:26–27).
When you suffer for Christ, you bear His reproach.
How could Moses, who lived 1,500 years before Christ, bear His reproach? Christ is the Greek form of the Hebrew title Messiah, meaning “the Anointed One.” Many Old Testament personalities were spoken of as being anointed for special service to the Lord. Some have suggested that Moses was thinking of himself as a type of messiah, for he delivered his people from the Egyptian bondage. They would translate verse 26 as, “Considering the reproach of his own messiahship as God’s deliverer.”
However, it seems best to see this verse as a reference to Jesus Himself, the future great Deliverer. We don’t know how much knowledge Moses had of Jesus, but certainly it was more than that of Abraham, of whom Jesus said, “Abraham rejoiced to see My day; and he saw it, and was glad” (John 8:56).
The Messiah has always been identified with His people. When they suffer for righteousness’ sake, they suffer in His place. That’s why David said, “The reproaches of those who reproach Thee have fallen on me” (Ps. 69:9). Speaking from a New Testament perspective, Paul made a similar statement: “I bear on my body the brand-marks of Jesus” (Gal. 6:17).
There’s also a sense in which Christ suffers with His people. When Jesus confronted Paul, who was heavily persecuting the church, He said, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? … I am Jesus whom you are persecuting” (Acts 9:4–5).
Moses chose to turn his back on Pharaoh’s household and to identify with God’s people because he knew that suffering for Christ was far better than enjoying the riches of Egypt. At some point in time you too will be persecuted for Christ’s sake (2 Tim. 3:12), so be prepared. When that time comes, follow Moses’ example of faith and courage, knowing that God will be your shield and your reward (cf. Gen. 15:1).
Suggestions for Prayer: Follow the examples of the apostles by thanking God for the privilege of bearing a small portion of the reproach that the world aims at Christ (Acts 5:27–41).
For Further Study: Memorize Psalm 27:1 as a source of encouragement when facing difficulty.
Rest in God
I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.
god is in control. When a job is terminated, a mate quits, a friend deserts, God is quietly but sovereignly at work for your good. You are not a victim of the economy or another’s decision.
You can be content in any circumstance when you are sure of God’s unceasing care and absolute control over every detail. Rest in His ability, and contentment will follow.
Take a Stand
Scripture reading: Ephesians 6:10–13
Key verse: Ephesians 6:13
Take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
In The Bible Exposition Commentary, Warren Wiersbe writes,
Satan is a dangerous enemy. He is a serpent who can bite us when we least expect it. He is a destroyer (Rev. 12:11) … He has great power and intelligence, and a host of demons who assist him in his attacks against God’s people (Eph. 6:11).
He is a formidable enemy; we must never joke about him, ignore him, or underestimate his ability. We must “be sober” and have our minds under control when it comes to our conflict with Satan … Because he is a subtle foe, we must “be vigilant” and always on guard. His strategy is to counterfeit whatever God does … The better we know God’s Word, the keener our spiritual senses will be to detect Satan at work … This means that we take our stand on the Word of God and refuse to be moved. Ephesians 6:10–13 instructs us to “stand.” Unless we stand, we cannot withstand. Our weapons are the Word of God and prayer (Eph. 6:17–18) and our protection is the complete armor … Just as David took his stand against Goliath and trusted in the name of Jehovah, so we take our stand against Satan in the victorious name of Jesus Christ.
Dear heavenly Father, help me to stand in victory and withstand Satan in times of adversity.
Lose Those Bad Habits
The work of righteousness will be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever.
Pure behavior produces spiritual peace and stability, but sinful behavior produces instability. That is true not only in the millennial kingdom, where Christ one day will rule the earth in righteousness, as today’s verse indicates, but also in the life of the believer. James the brother of Jesus said, “The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable…. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace”(James 3:17–18).
Contentment, comfort, calm, quietness, and tranquility accompany godly conduct, which is based on God’s Word. Doing good is not only the way to overcome evil (Rom. 12:21), but also the expected practice of every believer. As you cultivate godly habits by the power of God, your bad habits will diminish, and your life will become more stable.
November 27 Giving Thanks in Everything
|1 Thessalonians 5:16–18
Giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Cultivating and maintaining a grateful heart that continues to pulsate with thanksgiving, even in trials, present a challenge.
Your circumstances today may be bright. If so, remember that God is your Source, and give Him the praise that He deserves. However, if your situation is bleak, God still desires your sincere thanksgiving because He knows the alternatives are passivity, self–pity, depression, and possibly withdrawal from intimate fellowship with the Savior.
Giving thanks in everything (that does not leave you with many exceptions, does it?) is possible when you understand that every situation, good or evil, is used by your loving Father to further your dependence on Him and make you more like Him.
We all like control; we dislike anything or anyone that disturbs our sense of security. But God is not interested in your ease or comfort. He is determined to conform you to the image of Christ through the inevitable afflictions that accompany life.
Thanking God in the trials may be difficult, but when you do, His purposes and presence will illuminate your path and carry you through.
Lord, enable me to praise You in the bad times as well as the good. In every situation, let me learn to give thanks.
An Eternal Light of Hope
Scripture reading: Daniel 3:16–18
Key verse: Romans 8:39
Nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
A. B. Simpson spoke of trials:
I once heard a simple man say something that I have never forgotten: “When God tests you, it is a good time for you to test Him by putting His promises to the proof, and claiming from Him just as much as your trials have rendered necessary.”
There are two ways of getting out of a trial. One is to simply try to get rid of the trial, and be thankful when it is over. The other is to recognize the trial as a challenge from God to claim a larger blessing than we have ever had, and to hail it with delight as an opportunity of obtaining a larger measure of Divine grace. Thus even the adversary becomes an auxiliary, and the things that seem to be against us turn out to be for the furtherance of our way. Surely this is to be more than conquerors through Him who loved us (Romans 8:39).
Daniel never planned to be tossed into the lions’ den. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego didn’t expect to see the inside of the fiery furnace. Joseph had no idea when he showed his coat of many colors to his brothers that they would sell him to Egyptian bondsmen. Life contains many difficult twists and turns. But God customarily takes hopeless situations and turns them around for His glory and our good.
You always can trust the fact that God is your Eternal Light. Look to Him for hope, and He will bring encouragement to your heart.
O God, You are my Eternal Light. I look to You today for hope and encouragement.
The glory which You gave Me I have given them.
The prophet Isaiah saw You, Lord, sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of Your robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim. And one cried to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!” These things Isaiah said when he saw Your glory and spoke of You. On the likeness of the throne was a likeness of a man high above it. Like the appearance of a rainbow in a cloud on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the brightness all around it. This was the appearance of the likeness of Your glory, Lord God.
Moses said, “Please, show me Your glory.” But You said, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.” No one has seen You at any time, Lord God. The only begotten Son, who is in Your bosom, He has declared You. You, who commanded light to shine out of darkness, have shone in my heart to give the light of the knowledge of Your glory in the face of Jesus Christ.
You will be glorified for eternity, Lord. Help me live so I glorify You now!
John 17:22; Isaiah 6:1–3; John 12:41; Ezekiel 1:26, 28; Exodus 33:18, 20; John 1:18; 2 Corinthians 4:6
SUCCESS is certain when the Lord has promised it. Although you may have pleaded month after month without evidence of answer, it is not possible that the Lord should be deaf when his people are earnest in a matter which concerns his glory. Delayed answers often set the heart searching itself, and so lead to contrition and spiritual reformation?
Reader, do not fall into the sin of unbelief, but continue in prayer and watching. Plead the precious blood with unceasing importunity, and it shall be with you according to your desire.
Heaven is Your throne,
And the earth is Your footstool.
Your hand made all these things,
And so they came into being. (Isaiah 66:1–2a)
Your hand laid the foundations of the earth,
And Your right hand spread out the heavens;
When You summon them, they all stand up together. (Isaiah 48:13)
Pause to express your thoughts of praise and worship.
Surely You desire truth in the inner parts,
And in the hidden part You make me know wisdom. (Psalm 51:6)
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.
Like Josiah, may I do what is right in the sight of the Lord and walk in all the ways of David, not turning aside to the right or to the left. May I turn to the Lord with all my heart and with all my soul and with all my might, in accordance with all of Your Word. (2 Kings 22:1–2; 23:25)
These are the things I want to do: speak the truth to others, judge with truth and justice for peace, not plot evil against my neighbor, and not love a false oath; for all these things the Lord hates. (Zechariah 8:16–17)
Pause to add your own prayers for personal renewal.
May I not be afraid of my adversaries, but remember the Lord, who is great and awesome. (Nehemiah 4:14)
Growth in Wisdom
Developing an eternal perspective
Renewing my mind with truth
Greater skill in each area of life
My activities for this day
May I do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility may I esteem others as more important than myself. Let me look not only to my own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:3–4)
My immediate family
Emotional and physical concerns
Jesus will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will never end. (Luke 1:32–33)
The heavens will vanish like smoke;
The earth will wear out like a garment,
And its inhabitants will die in the same way.
But Your salvation will last forever,
And Your righteousness will never fail. (Isaiah 51:6)
God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Christ and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. (Colossians 1:19–20)
Pause to reflect upon these biblical affirmations.
Let those who love the Lord hate evil.
He preserves the souls of His saints
And delivers them from the hand of the wicked.
Light is sown for the righteous
And gladness for the upright in heart. (Psalm 97:10–11)
Pause to offer your own expressions of thanksgiving.
The Lord has established His throne in heaven,
And His kingdom rules over all.
Bless the Lord, you His angels,
Mighty in strength who do His bidding,
Obeying the voice of His word.
Bless the Lord, all His hosts,
You His servants who do His will.
Bless the Lord, all His works,
In all places of His dominion.
Bless the Lord, O my soul. (Psalm 103:19–22)
Morning, November 27
“Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord.”
— Zechariah 3:1
In Joshua the high priest we see a picture of each and every child of God, who has been made nigh by the blood of Christ, and has been taught to minister in holy things, and enter into that which is within the veil. Jesus has made us priests and kings unto God, and even here upon earth we exercise the priesthood of consecrated living and hallowed service. But this high priest is said to be “standing before the angel of the Lord,” that is, standing to minister. This should be the perpetual position of every true believer. Every place is now God’s temple, and his people can as truly serve him in their daily employments as in his house. They are to be always “ministering,” offering the spiritual sacrifice of prayer and praise, and presenting themselves a “living sacrifice.” But notice where it is that Joshua stands to minister, it is before the angel of Jehovah. It is only through a mediator that we poor defiled ones can ever become priests unto God. I present what I have before the messenger, the angel of the covenant, the Lord Jesus; and through him my prayers find acceptance wrapped up in his prayers; my praises become sweet as they are bound up with bundles of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia from Christ’s own garden. If I can bring him nothing but my tears, he will put them with his own tears in his own bottle for he once wept; if I can bring him nothing but my groans and sighs, he will accept these as an acceptable sacrifice, for he once was broken in heart, and sighed heavily in spirit. I myself, standing in him, am accepted in the Beloved; and all my polluted works, though in themselves only objects of divine abhorrence, are so received, that God smelleth a sweet savour. He is content and I am blessed. See, then, the position of the Christian—“a priest— standing—before the angel of the Lord.”
Evening, November 27
“The forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.”
— Ephesians 1:7
Could there be a sweeter word in any language than that word “forgiveness,” when it sounds in a guilty sinner’s ear, like the silver notes of jubilee to the captive Israelite? Blessed, for ever blessed be that dear star of pardon which shines into the condemned cell, and gives the perishing a gleam of hope amid the midnight of despair! Can it be possible that sin, such sin as mine, can be forgiven, forgiven altogether, and for ever? Hell is my portion as a sinner—there is no possibility of my escaping from it while sin remains upon me—can the load of guilt be uplifted, the crimson stain removed? Can the adamantine stones of my prison-house ever be loosed from their mortices, or the doors be lifted from their hinges? Jesus tells me that I may yet be clear. For ever blessed be the revelation of atoning love which not only tells me that pardon is possible, but that it is secured to all who rest in Jesus. I have believed in the appointed propitiation, even Jesus crucified, and therefore my sins are at this moment, and for ever, forgiven by virtue of his substitutionary pains and death. What joy is this! What bliss to be a perfectly pardoned soul! My soul dedicates all her powers to him who of his own unpurchased love became my surety, and wrought out for me redemption through his blood. What riches of grace does free forgiveness exhibit! To forgive at all, to forgive fully, to forgive freely, to forgive for ever! Here is a constellation of wonders; and when I think of how great my sins were, how dear were the precious drops which cleansed me from them, and how gracious was the method by which pardon was sealed home to me, I am in a maze of wondering worshipping affection. I bow before the throne which absolves me, I clasp the cross which delivers me, I serve henceforth all my days the Incarnate God, through whom I am this night a pardoned soul. 
The Voice of Accusation
Scripture Reading: Genesis 3:1–7
Key Verse: John 8:44
You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.
Jesus called Satan “a murderer” and “the father of lies” (John 8:44 nasb). In the book The Bondage Breaker, Neil T. Anderson observes,
One of the most common attitudes I have discovered in Christians … is a deep-seated sense of self-deprecation. I’ve heard them say, “… I’m no good.” I’m amazed at how many Christians are paralyzed in their witness and productivity by thoughts and feelings of inferiority and worthlessness.
Next to temptation, perhaps the most frequent and insistent attack from Satan to which we are vulnerable is accusation. By faith we have entered into an eternal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ … Satan can do absolutely nothing to alter our position in Christ and our worth to God. But he can render us virtually inoperative if he can deceive us into listening to and believing his insidious lies accusing us of being of little value to God and other people.
When God speaks, He always uses words of hope, encouragement, direction, and promise. Even in times of discipline, He is quick to restore and renew our fellowship. If the voice you hear within your heart is one of accusation, know it belongs to the deceiver. Therefore, take your stand against the enemy and ask God to fill your heart with His truth.
O God, the accuser often tries to condemn me, but I realize there is no condemnation because I am Your child. I reject the accuser’s voice and his deceptive lies.
Scripture Reading: Luke 2:41–52
Key Verse: Ephesians 4:13
… till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.
People’s perspectives on Jesus seem to shift with the seasons. During Christmas, Jesus is seen as a tiny infant, nestled in blankets and housed in a barn. At Easter, Jesus is seen as beaten and broken, or as the shimmering victor over death. The perspective that is traditionally excluded, however, is one very important segment of His life: His youth.
Luke 2:41–52, the only biblical account of the adolescent Jesus, reveals something surprising, in that He was increasing in wisdom. This shows that Jesus—who was fully God—was experiencing growth! Prayer, Scripture study, and the use of His gifts were bringing about maturation in the Son of Man. Jesus was sinless and perfect, yet He still experienced maturity. How much greater is the need for that growth in sinful man!
Ephesians 4:13 calls all believers toward Christlike maturity, unified as one body through faith in Jesus. Are you experiencing that growth? Are you utilizing your spiritual gifts in such a way as to strengthen the body of Christ and to increase your personal development? Pray for God’s help as He directs you into the fullness of the Christian life.
Lord, let me use my spiritual gifts to strengthen others around me. Draw me into a deeper relationship with You so I can increase in wisdom and knowledge.
These have turned the world upside down.… None of these things move me
Acts 17:6; Acts 20:24
The men that move the world are the ones who do not let the world move them.
With Open Hands
Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom.
When Elijah met the widow of Zarephath, she was locked in the clutches of a handful of meal and a tiny bit of oil. That’s all she had. We can sympathize with her. In fact, some of us can identify with her. And Elijah’s heart went out to her.
The difference was that he knew something she didn’t know. He knew that the way to have what you have and have it to the fullest is to always put God first. That’s why he said, “Make me a little cake first.” In other words, “Trust God by putting Him first and watch what He does.”
When we first see this woman in the story, she is clutching everything she has. At the end of the story, she is releasing it all to God. The way to have what you have is to give it back to God. That is the only way you can ever possess your possessions. If you give it back to God with open hands, He will not only bless you, He will also put back what you need. 
Yes indeed, I will pray for Florence. It seems to me she might try the faith cure, for I suppose no other means are of much account and I know that a very great many people are being healed by faith in these days. It seems to me it is like this, that our faith lays hold of spiritual forces which are superior to natural forces and which therefore can overpower them. It is not that God’s mind is changed, but that we become able to avail ourselves of powers that He has put at our disposal in the spiritual realm. I expect His real will for us is health always, but if we disobey natural laws His will is thwarted, and it is only by bringing in spiritual laws that we can overcome the evil tendencies caused by sin either our own sins of ignorance or our ancestors sins.
I am afraid I am not very clear. But just as a wire does not create the electric current but only draws it down in certain directions so our faith does not create health but only draws the vitality of the spiritual realm down into our vessel. It is wonderful what faith will do. And if F. could be cured in that way it would be lovely. At least I hope she will pray about it. Tom’s case is a great encouragement.
—To Daughter Mary, November 1, 1882
The consecration of spiritual energy
by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. Gal. 6:14.
If I brood on the Cross of Christ, I do not become a subjective pietist, interested in my own whiteness; I become dominantly concentrated on Jesus Christ’s interests. Our Lord was not a recluse nor an ascetic, He did not cut Himself off from society, but He was inwardly disconnected all the time. He was not aloof, but He lived in another world. He was so much in the ordinary world that the religious people of His day called Him a glutton and a wine-bibber. Our Lord never allowed anything to interfere with His consecration of spiritual energy.
The counterfeit of consecration is the conscious cutting off of things with the idea of storing spiritual power for use later on, but that is a hopeless mistake. The Spirit of God has spoiled the sin of a great many, yet there is no emancipation, no fullness in their lives. The kind of religious life we see abroad to-day is entirely different from the robust holiness of the life of Jesus Christ. “I pray not that Thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldest keep them from the evil.” We are to be in the world but not of it; to be disconnected fundamentally, not externally.
We must never allow anything to interfere with the consecration of our spiritual energy. Consecration is our part, sanctification is God’s part; and we have deliberately to determine to be interested in that only in which God is interested. The way to solve perplexing problems is to ask—‘Is this the kind of thing which Jesus Christ is interested in, or the kind of thing the spirit that is the antipodes of Jesus is interested in?’
|Living in Evil Days
“Making the most of your time, because the days are evil.”
Evil days call for good behavior.
The days we live in are certainly full of evil. Read any newspaper, and you’ll know what I mean. Can you imagine how it breaks God’s heart to create a perfect world, filled with every good thing, and then see it become as corrupt, debauched, and vile as it is today? Can you imagine how it must be for God to watch Christians who, in the midst of this evil world, are given opportunities to do good, yet bypass them without notice? The days are evil, and God gives us these opportunities to make things happen that matter—to fill up at least one moment of every day with something good, something righteous, something for Him.
“Because the days are evil,” the apostle Paul says in Ephesians 5:16, it’s important to walk wisely and make the most of our time. When opportunities for goodness do come, we should seize them. When God gives us an occasion to glorify Him (which in turn will bring a blessing on us), we must take the opportunity for His name’s sake. We must seize it in the midst of an evil day.
When I think of how God’s heart is broken over the evil of a world that He made for His own glory, I say to myself, If God gives me one small opportunity in the midst of an evil day to do something good, something to honor Him, or something to glorify Him, I’m going to grab that opportunity. Since the days are evil and it seems as though goodness is so scarce, you and I need to take every opportunity we can for manifesting goodness.
Suggestions for Prayer: Ask the Lord to help you be aware of more opportunities that you can seize for manifesting goodness.
For Further Study: According to Genesis 6:5, what did the Lord see in the days of Noah? ✧ What effect did that have on God (v. 6)? ✧ According to Hebrews 11:7, what did Noah do? ✧ What effect did Noah have on the world?
Reading for Today:
1 Peter 3:1-22
Ezekiel 45:9–12 The leaders of the land are urged to be thoroughly honest in their commercial dealings. This warning shows that there will be sin in the Millennium. The believing Jews who entered the 1,000-year reign of Christ on earth and inherited the promised kingdom will be fully human and capable of such sins. There also will be children who do not necessarily believe, as the final rebellion against King Messiah and His temple proves (Rev. 20:7–9).
1 Peter 3:1 likewise. In chapter 2, Peter taught that living successfully as a Christian in a hostile world would require relating properly in two places: the civil society (2:13–17) and the workplace (2:18–25). At the start of this chapter, he added two more places: the family (vv. 1–7) and the local church (vv. 8, 9). be submissive. Peter insisted that if Christians are to be a witness for their Lord, they must submit not only to the civil, but also to the social order which God has designed. own husbands. Women are not inferior to men in any way, any more than submissive Christians are inferior to pagan rulers or non-Christian bosses (Gal. 3:28). But wives have been given a role which puts them in submission to the headship which resides in their own husbands (1 Cor. 11:1–9; Eph. 5:22; Col. 3:18; Titus 2:4, 5).
1 Peter 3:7 Husbands, likewise. Submission is the responsibility of a Christian husband, as well (Eph. 5:21). Though not submitting to his wife as a leader, a believing husband must submit to the loving duty of being sensitive to the needs, fears, and feelings of his wife. In other words, a Christian husband needs to subordinate his needs to hers, whether she is a Christian or not. Peter specifically notes consideration, chivalry, and companionship. weaker vessel. While she is fully equal in Christ and not inferior spiritually because she is a woman (Gal. 3:28), she is physically weaker and in need of protection, provision, and strength from her husband. heirs together of the grace of life. Here the “grace of life” is not salvation, but marriage—the best relationship earthly life has to offer. The husband must cultivate companionship and fellowship with his wife, Christian or not (Eccl. 9:9).
1 Peter 3:15 sanctify the Lord God in your hearts. “Christ” is to be preferred here, so the reading is “set apart in your hearts Christ as Lord.” The heart is the sanctuary in which He prefers to be worshiped. Live in submissive communion with the Lord Jesus, loving and obeying Him—and you have nothing to fear. always be ready to give a defense. The English word “apologetics” comes from the Greek word here translated “defense.” Peter is using the word in an informal sense (Phil. 1:16, 17) and is insisting that the believer must understand what he believes and why one is a Christian, and then be able to articulate one’s beliefs humbly, thoughtfully, reasonably, and biblically. the hope that is in you. Salvation with its anticipation of eternal glory.
DAY 27: How does Peter use familiar terms such as “spirit,” “abyss,” “flood,” and “baptism” in 1 Peter 3:18–22?
This passage proves to be one of the most difficult texts in the New Testament to translate and interpret. The line between Old Testament allusions and New Testament applications gets blurred. Peter’s overall purpose of this passage, which was to encourage his readers in their suffering, must be kept in mind during interpretation. The apostle repeatedly reminded them that even Christ suffered unjustly because it was God’s will (vv. 17, 18) and accomplished God’s purposes.
Therefore, although Jesus experienced a violent physical execution that terminated His earthly life when He was “put to death in the flesh” (v. 18; Heb. 5:7), nevertheless He was “made alive by the Spirit” (v. 18). This is not a reference to the Holy Spirit, but to Jesus’ true inner life, His own spirit. Contrasted with His flesh (humanness) which was dead for three days, His spirit (Deity) remained alive, literally “in spirit” (Luke 23:46).
Part of God’s purpose in Christ’s death involved His activities between His death and resurrection. His living spirit went to the demon spirits bound in the Abyss and proclaimed victory in spite of death. Peter further explained that the Abyss is inhabited by bound demons that have been there since the time of Noah. They were sent there because they overstepped the limits of God’s tolerance with their wickedness. Not even 120 years of Noah’s example and preaching had stemmed the tide of wickedness in his time (Gen. 6:1–8). Thus God bound these demons permanently in the Abyss until their final sentencing.
Peter’s analogy spotlights the ministry of Jesus Christ in saving us as surely as the ark saved Noah’s family. He is not referring to water baptism here but to a figurative immersion in Christ that keeps us safe from the flood of God’s sure judgment. The resurrection of Christ demonstrates God’s acceptance of Christ’s substitutionary death for the sins of those who believe (Acts 2:30, 31; Rom. 1:4). God’s judgment fell on Christ just as the judgment of the floodwaters fell on the ark. The believer who is in Christ is thus in the ark of safety that will sail over the waters of judgment into eternal glory (Rom. 6:1–4).
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.
November 27 – The Sabbath in Perspective: An Illustration
“He said to them, ‘What man is there among you who has a sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will he not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable then is a man than a sheep! So then, it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.’ Then He said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand!’ He stretched it out, and it was restored to normal, like the other” (Matthew 12:11–13).
One of the tragedies of Hinduism in India is its distorted disregard for human welfare. You should not give food to a beggar because that might interfere with his karma and keep him from suffering on a higher level of existence. You should not kill a fly because it could be the reincarnation of a person. For the same reason, you must allow rats to live and eat whatever they want. Hindus consider cows sacred and feed them whatever food is available. At the same time, they let certain people starve.
Similarly, the Jewish leaders in Jesus’ time despised other people and showed more compassion for their sheep than for the handicapped man here. Mark’s account says Jesus asked, “‘Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save a life or to kill?’ But they kept silent” (Mark 3:4). The Pharisees couldn’t say anything because they would have been forced either to contradict their tradition or advocate murder. Their only external response was to remain silent, but undoubtedly they “were filled with rage” (Luke 6:11).
Our Lord answered His own question with the clear declaration, “So then, it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” He then healed the man’s deformed hand as the Pharisees’ resentment no doubt rose to new heights. Christ not only approved of doing good on the Sabbath, He went ahead and actually performed good on behalf of another. If anything, this set forth the Sabbath as the supreme day for doing good.
What teachings of Scripture do you still mainly follow out of dutiful habit, not with an eye toward honoring God or being used as a blessing to others? What has your legalistic adherence gained for you, and what has it cost you?
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.
The Cleansing of the Temple – Part Four
Theme: Christianity and Commercialism
In this week’s lesson we see Jesus’ approach to commercialism and materialism in his church.
And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them. But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple,“Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant,
Yesterday I mentioned John White’s book, The Golden Cow: Materialism in the Twentieth-Century Church. We looked at the first of three areas White cited as abuses of the church related to commercialism. We will continue that discussion today by looking at the second and third areas of abuse he noted. Here they are:
2. Evangelical advertising. We not only live in a materialistic age. We also live in an age of sophisticated advertising, and the two go hand in hand. We understand how that works with secular companies, though we groan at the sheer volume of catalogues and mail solicitations that come to us on a daily basis. But What about “Christian junk mail,” which is what White calls much of the evangelical literature that comes to his attention?
This is not an easy subject to address, for the majority of people will not give to Christian work unless they are asked to do so and the intent of much Christian advertising is to present the work and ask for money honestly. But are we trusting God or our motivational techniques? We talk about Hudson Taylor and admire the way he built his mission by prayer alone, not asking for money directly. But we don’t believe we can do that today. White says, “We trust in mass advertising more than we trust in God.
We corrode the term prayer support to mean ‘financial support.’ And while we say we are trusting God to work through the means we are using to ‘acquaint the Christian public,’ we would feel rather frightened if the means were taken away. Poor old God would he left to stumble along without his crutches.”1
The problem isn’t asking for money, of course. Christian works need money, and Christian workers do not need to be ashamed to request financial help. The problem lies rather in misrepresenting the work that is being done, employing words like “faith in God alone” to mask requests for money, and using secular techniques to manipulate people into giving. Why don’t we ask for money honestly? Mike Horton does. On “The White Horse Inn,” his weekly radio program, you will hear Mike say, “Grace is free; radio time is not. We need your gifts to stay on this station.”
3. Crass commercialism. We come now to exploitation of a different order. One example is the fad. WWJD stands for “What Would Jesus Do?” and it is found today on bracelets, caps and other items that evangelical businesses offer for sale. An older man was in a Christian book store several months ago and noticed WWJD caps for sale at the checkout counter. They cost $12.95. He asked what WWJD meant. “That means ‘What would Jesus do?’ the sales girl answered sweetly. The man looked at the cap a bit longer then said, “I don’t think Jesus would spend $12.95 for that cap.”
Again, there is nothing wrong With asking “What would Jesus do?” in any situation. But we might also ask: Who makes these items? And is the goal really to help people live like Jesus, or to make a quick large profit on a fad? Does something like this honor Jesus’ name? Or does it take God’s name in vain? White summarizes: “Local bookstores would not suffer terribly if we boycotted . . .items like ‘Honk if you love Jesus’ bumper stickers, Jesus sweat shirts, Jesus pencils, bookmarks, praying hands, charismatic jewelry and such sacrilegious garbage. Why don’t pastors call on their congregations for such a boycott? [And] how about adult Sunday-school class discussions on Modern Moneychangers and How to Overturn Their Tables’?”2
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn saw that the human spirit longs for things higher and purer than a materialistic culture provides and that if we sell out to a lust for mere things a new Dark Age will have come upon us. John White suggests that “the final Dark Ages are beginning.”3 Judgment is falling on the West. As for the church, the best thing that could possibly happen to it is that Jesus should come again and cleanse it as he intimated he would do one day when he cleansed the Jerusalem temple.
1 John White, The Golden Cow Materialism in the Twentieth-Century Church (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1979), p 981
2 John White, The Golden Cow, p 134.
3 John White, The Golden Cow, p 170.
If the “problem” is not asking for money, then what is it?
What is the real question we need to ask ourselves about Christian commercial fads?
How can non-profit organizations seek donations without being commercial?
We trust in mass advertising more than we trust in God. We corrode the term prayer support to mean ‘financial support.’
Pray that Christ’s return will indeed be soon.
The Lord’s Prayer – Part Two
But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.
“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”
We have seen that as the Holy Spirit prays for us “with groanings that cannot be uttered,” so Christ is praying in heaven for us. You have two Beings who are praying for you. The Holy Spirit within you is interceding for you with groanings that cannot be uttered (see Romans 8:26-27), and there is never a moment that Jesus is not praying. He ever liveth to make intercession for us. (See Hebrews 7:25.) And the things that He prays for us are the things set forth in this passage.
In verse 13, Jesus says, “And now come I to thee.” I don’t think that means: “Now come I to thee in prayer.” Earlier in this chapter He had already been praying. In saying “And now come I to thee” Jesus means, “I’m going to arise from the dead and ascend into heaven. The Ascension is about to take place.” “And,” He continues, “these things I speak in the world.” Notice again the great importance of the word world in the Gospel of John. The word world in Greek is kosmos. You know it in the word cosmopolitan. A cosmopolitan is a citizen of the world, a man with a worldwide outlook. Now the word kosmos means the world that crucified Christ. And the Lord is talking about the Church and the world.
And by the Church, I mean all believers-what Calvin called “the invisible Church” and what Lutherans call “the hidden Church.” For the hidden Church is the invisible Church. There are undoubtedly born-again believers in the Greek Orthodox Church, in the Roman Catholic Church. I knew at least one born-again believer who remained in the Mormon church-he never moved away from it and was tremendously unsettled, but nevertheless had been born again beyond any shadow of doubt. I once baptized and took into our church a person who, two weeks before, had been a reader in one of the Christian Science Churches of Philadelphia and had gotten saved.
God knows where His Church is hidden. That’s why you are never to draw a sharp line and say, “All these are damned,” or “There may be a few in that church who are saved, but if they really were saved, they would belong to our little group.” No, friends, you make no lines to separate believers. This is known to God alone.
Now the Lord says, “I come to thee, and these things I speak in the world”-here He is in the midst of the world-“that they”-the Church, the born-again believers, the hidden people-“might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.” “My joy!” Now this is what God wants in human beings. He wants us to be filled with joy. Oh, if you aren’t joyful, I mean radiantly, abundantly joyful, you do not understand what God has available for you.
If someone says, “Dr. Barnhouse, you don’t know. Here I am thirty and I’m not married. Life is passing me by and I’m …” Look, if you say that, you have not understood the sovereignty of God. He wants you to be filled with joy no matter what your circumstances. “But God has given me a weak constitution and I go and I’m not able to . . .” God almighty planned for you to have that weak constitution. He has His purpose for you, and if you go and say, “Lord, there is the stream. I’m going to stop trying to buck it. I’m going to float with Thee and Thy will and Thy way,” then you will begin to have His joy.
Now what was His joy? What was the joy of Jesus Christ? He says here in verse 13 that His purpose was for us, the born-again believers, to have His joy. Jesus had joy about the future. In Hebrews 12:2 it says, “Who for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross….” That was the joy of redeeming us. But that was not the joy that sustained Him in His daily living. The joy that sustained Him’ was His moment-by-moment contact with the Father, that absolute oneness and fellowship that binds them together and makes them absolutely one.
Why does Christ need to pray for us in Heaven?
Why should we be more charitable to other people’s theological views?
Should the church be more open to diversity or change?
The church is constantly bombarded by liberalism. How can we keep from being liberal yet maintain a healthy view of diversity?
Thu, November 27, 2014
“At the same time,” added the humbled king [Nebuchadnezzar], “my reason returned unto me.” This whole passage is apt to be overlooked, occurring as it does in one of the less popular books of the Bible, but is it not of great significance that humility and reason returned together? “Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase.” The king’s pride was to him a kind of insanity that drove him at last into the fields to dwell with the beasts. While he saw himself large and God small he was insane; sanity returned only as he began to see God as all and himself as nothing.
Such moral madness as Nebuchadnezzar suffered is now upon the nations. Men of reputed learning have long been chanting with Swinburne, “Glory to man in the highest,” and the masses have picked up the chant. A strange amentia has resulted, marked by acute self-importance and delusions of moral grandeur. Men who refuse to worship the true God now worship themselves with tender devotion. A return to spiritual sanity waits for repentance and true humility. God grant that we may soon know again how small and how sinful we are.
At the same time that my sanity was restored, my honor and splendor were returned to me for the glory of my kingdom.
Men who refuse to worship the true God now worship themselves with tender devotion. A return to spiritual sanity waits for repentance and true humility.
Return our hearts to spiritual sanity, Father, and lead us then to true repentance.
LORD’S PRAYER: Hallowed be Your Name (continued)
Hallowed be Your Name (part 2)
Lord, enable others to glorify you, even strong peoples to glorify you and cities of ruthless nations to fear you; Isaiah 25:3(ESV) but especially let the LORD be magnified beyond the border of Israel. Malachi 1:5(ESV) Let them give glory to the LORD in the realm of light, even the LORD, the God of Israel, in the coastlands of the sea. Isaiah 24:15(ESV) O let all the nations you have made come and worship before you, O Lord, and glorify your name. For you are great and do wondrous things, you alone are God. Psalm 86:9-10(ESV)
O let the Gentiles glorify God for his mercy, let his name be known among the Gentiles, and let them rejoice with his people. Romans 15:9-10(ESV) O let your name be great among the nations, Malachi 1:11(ESV) and let all the ends of the earth remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations worship before you; Psalm 22:27(ESV) and let them proclaim your righteousness to a people yet unborn. Psalm 22:31(ESV)
Lord, may you yourself dispose of all things to your own glory, both as King of the nations, Jeremiah 10:7(ESV) and as King of the saints. Revelation 15:3(KJV) Do all things according to the counsel of your own will, Ephesians 1:11(ESV) that you may show your greatness and your holiness and make yourself known in the eyes of many nations, that you are the LORD. Ezekiel 38:23(ESV) O vindicate the holiness of your great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and let them know that you are the LORD, when through us you vindicate your holiness before their eyes. Ezekiel 36:23(ESV)
Father, glorify your own name: you have glorified it, glorify it yet again. John 12:28(ESV) Father, glorify your Son that your Son also may glorify you. John 17:1(ESV) O bestow on him the name that is above every name, Philippians 2:9(ESV) and in all places and in everything let him be preeminent. Colossians 1:18(ESV)
Lord, what will you do for your great name? Joshua 7:9(ESV) Do this for your great name: Pour out your Spirit on all flesh, Joel 2:28(ESV) and let the word of Christ dwell richly in the hearts of all. Colossians 3:16(ESV) Be exalted, O Lord, among the nations, be exalted in the earth! Psalm 46:10(ESV) Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth! Psalm 57:11(ESV) Be exalted, O LORD, in your strength! We will sing and praise your power. Psalm 21:13(ESV) Do great things with your glorious and everlasting arm, to make for yourself a glorious and everlasting name. Isaiah 63:12-14(ESV)
O let your name be magnified forever, saying, ‘The Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, is Israel’s God.’ 1 Chronicles 17:24(ESV)
Matthew Henry’s Method for Prayer
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