Originally posted on Samuel at Gilgal:

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Martyn Lloyd-Jones:

“Ultimately it comes down to this, that the real cause of our trouble is failure to realize our union with Christ. Many Seem to think that Christianity means that we are delivered in that sense that our sins are forgiven. But that is only the beginning, but one aspect of it. Essentially salvation means union with Christ, being one with Christ. We have been crucified with Christ – ‘I am crucified with Christ’, says Paul. ‘All that has happened to Him has happened to me. I am one with Him.’ Read the fifth and sixth chapters of Paul’s Epistle to the Romans. The teaching is that we have died with Christ, have been buried with Christ, have risen with Christ, and are seated in the heavenly places in Christ and with Christ. That is the teaching of the Scriptures. ‘Ye are dead and your life is hid with…

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Reading for Today:

Ezra 7:1–8:36
Psalm 88:1-5
Proverbs 21:21-22
Acts 23:16-35
Notes:

Ezra 7:6 a skilled scribe. Ezra’s role as a scribe was critical to reinstate the nation since the leaders had to go back to the law and interpret it. This was no small task because many aspects of life had changed in the intervening 1,000 years since the law was first given. Tradition says Ezra had the law memorized and could write it from recall. the hand of the LORD his God upon him. This refrain occurs throughout the books of Ezra and Nehemiah. Its resounding presence assures the reader that it was not by the shrewd leadership skills of a few men that Judah, with its temple and walls, was rebuilt in the midst of a powerful Medo-Persian Empire. Rather it was the sovereign hand of the wise and powerful King of the universe that allowed this to happen.

Ezra 7:10 seek…do…teach. The pattern of Ezra’s preparation is exemplary. He studied before he attempted to live a life of obedience, and he studied and practiced the law in his own life before he opened his mouth to teach that law. But the success of Ezra’s leadership did not come from his strength alone, but most significantly because “the good hand of his God [was] upon him” (7:9).

Ezra 8:21–23 I proclaimed a fast. The people of Israel would soon begin the long journey. Such travel was dangerous, for the roads were frequented by thieves who robbed for survival. Even messengers traveled with caravans to ensure their safety. Ezra and the people did not want to confuse the king regarding their trust in God’s protection so they entreated Him for safety with a prayerful fast. God honored their prayer of faith with His protection.

Psalm 88:4 go down to the pit. “Pit” is one of several references to the grave in this psalm (the dead, vv. 5, 10; the grave, vv. 3, 5, 11; place of destruction, v. 11).

Acts 23:16 Paul’s sister’s son. The only clear reference in Scripture to Paul’s family. Why he was in Jerusalem, away from the family home in Tarsus, is not known. Nor is it evident why he would want to warn his uncle, since Paul’s family possibly disinherited him when he became a Christian (Phil. 3:8). entered the barracks and told Paul. Since Paul was not under arrest, but merely in protective custody, he was able to receive visitors.

Acts 23:27 having learned that he was a Roman. Actually, Lysias did not find this out until after he arrested Paul (22:25, 26). Lysias sought to portray himself in the best possible light before the governor. For that reason, he also neglected to mention his order to have Paul scourged (22:24) and his mistaken assumption that he was the notorious Egyptian assassin (21:38).

DAY 23: How can Luke’s authorship of Acts be defended when his name is not mentioned in the book?

Lack of the author’s name is not an unusual challenge in establishing the authorship of a Bible book. Many books of the Bible come to us without obvious human authorship. In most cases, however, internal and external clues lead us to reasonable confidence in identifying the author. One benefit created by initial anonymity involves recognizing that the Bible books originated by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. It may take some effort to discover whom God used in writing one of those books, but the original Author is not in question.

The Gospel of Luke and Acts of the Apostles share numerous marks of common human authorship. They are addressed to the same person—Theophilus (Luke 1:3; Acts 1:1). They are parallel in style. The second book claims to be an extension of the first.

Luke was in a unique position to record Acts of the Apostles. He was Paul’s close friend, traveling companion, and personal physician (Col. 4:14). His work indicates that he was a careful researcher (Luke 1:1–4) and an accurate historian, displaying an intimate knowledge of Roman laws and customs. His records of the geography of Palestine, Asia Minor, and Italy offer flawless details.

In writing Acts, Luke drew on written sources (15:23–29; 23:26–30). He, also, no doubt, interviewed key figures, such as Peter, John, and others in the Jerusalem church. Paul’s 2-year imprisonment at Caesarea (24:27) gave Luke ample opportunity to interview Philip and his daughters (important sources of information on the early days of the church). Finally, Luke’s frequent use of the first person plural pronouns “we” and “us” (16:10–17; 20:5–21:18; 27:1–28:16) reveals that he was an eyewitness to many of the events recorded in Acts.

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.

This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet: “He Himself took our infirmities and carried away our diseases.” -Matthew 8:17

Even excluding the miraculous healings, Jesus’ ministry was unprecedented and amazing. “Never has a man spoken the way this man speaks” (John 7:46). The man born blind, whom Jesus healed, told the Jewish leaders, “Since the beginning of time it has never been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man [Christ] were not from God, He could do nothing” (John 9:32–33).

When Jesus healed the paralytic, the onlookers “were awestruck, and glorified God” (Matt. 9:8), and after He expelled a demon they said, “Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel” (v. 33). When He stood before Pilate, Jesus did not say a word in His own defense, “so the governor was quite amazed” (Matt. 27:14).

Everything about our Lord was astonishing, excellent, and humanly beyond explanation. It is hard to understand how anyone who witnessed His preaching and miracles, or has even just read about Him in the gospels, can still refuse to accept and obey Him. Some are drawn by His charisma and power, and they marvel at the things He taught and did, but they still take nothing to heart and don’t believe. Sometimes they are willing to call themselves Christians, but they need a commitment that is more than superficial—one that perseveres in faith to the end.

Ask Yourself

Think of all the things that are truly amazing about Christ. If you were asked what you love the most about Him, what would you say? You never want to be at a loss to share the specific ways He makes life distinctly abundant.

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.

 

For there is no partiality with God.

Romans 2:11

 

It is a sin for a Christian to show favoritism to people. That is, he should not be prejudiced for or against another person simply based on position, wealth, influence, popularity, or appearance.

The clearest, most practical New Testament teaching on impartiality is in James’ letter to believers:

My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality. For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes…have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?…but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors (2:1–4, 9).

If God never plays favorites, shouldn’t you strive for the same virtuous character, “doing nothing with partiality” (1 Tim. 5:21)?[1]

 

[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 224). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

“… in your moral excellence, knowledge.”

2 Peter 1:5

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Moral excellence cannot develop in an intellectual vacuum.

It’s a frightening thing to realize the extent to which our culture downplays knowledge in favor of emotions. These days people are more likely to ask, “How will it make me feel?” instead of, “Is it true?” Sadly, the church has bought into the spirit of the age. Many people go to church, not to learn the truths of God’s Word, but to get an emotional high. The focus of theological discussion also reflects the contemporary hostility to knowledge. To a shocking extent, truth is no longer the issue; the questions being asked today are, “Will it divide?” or “Will it offend?” To ask if a theological position is biblically correct is considered unloving, and those who take a stand for historic Christian truth are labeled as divisive.

But knowledge is inseparable from moral excellence and Christian growth. It should be obvious that people can’t put into practice truths they don’t know; we must first understand the principles of God’s Word before we can live them out.

Peter knew well the importance of knowledge in developing a stable Christian walk and the assurance of salvation that accompanies it. Therefore, he urged his readers to add knowledge to their moral excellence. Gnosis (“knowledge”) refers to insight, discernment, and proper understanding of truth. Lacking such knowledge, believers become “children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine” (Eph. 4:14). The resulting turmoil is not conducive to spiritual growth or the development of a settled assurance of salvation.

The Bible commends child–like (i.e., trusting, humble) faith, but not childish faith. Paul exhorted the Corinthians, “Brethren, do not be children in your thinking … in your thinking be mature” (1 Cor. 14:20). “So let us know, let us press on to know the Lord,” urged Hosea. When we do so, “He will come to us like the rain, like the spring rain watering the earth” (Hos. 6:3).

I pray with the apostle Paul, “that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment” (Phil. 1:9).

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Suggestions for Prayer: Pray that God would enable you to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).

For Further Study: Read Proverbs 23:7 and Philippians 4:8. What do those verses teach about the importance of godly thinking?[1]

 

[1] MacArthur, J. (1997). Strength for today. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

“… according to His great mercy” (1 Peter 1:3).

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Every dimension of life, whether physical or spiritual, is a testimony to God’s mercy.

When God saved you and granted you an eternal inheritance, it wasn’t because you were special or more deserving of His love and grace than others. It was because He sovereignly chose to love you and to extend His great mercy to you. That’s why Paul said, “God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)” (Eph. 2:4–5). He “saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy” (Titus 3:5).

Because of His great mercy, God addresses the pitiful condition of mankind. Unregenerate people are totally depraved, dead in trespasses, enslaved to sin, cursed to eternal damnation, unable to help themselves, and in desperate need of someone to show them mercy and compassion. That’s the good news of the gospel: God loves sinners and extends mercy to anyone willing to trust in Him.

Mercy tempers God’s justice. The Puritan writer Thomas Watson said, “Mercy sweetens all God’s other attributes. … When the water was bitter, and Israel could not drink, Moses cast a tree into the waters, and then they were made sweet. How bitter and dreadful were the other attributes of God, did not mercy sweeten them! Mercy sets God’s power [at] work to help us; it makes his justice become our friend; it shall avenge our quarrels” (A Body of Divinity [Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1978], p. 94).

The very fact that God permits us to live at all speaks of His mercy. Lamentations 3:22–23 says, “It is [because] of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness” (kjv).

No matter what your situation is, God’s mercy is more than sufficient for you. It “is great above the heavens” (Ps. 108:4, kjv). So be encouraged, and look to Him always.

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Suggestions for Prayer:  Praise God for His great mercy, for by it you have received eternal life and an eternal inheritance.

For Further Study: Read Mark 10:46–52. How did Jesus’ healing ministry demonstrate God’s mercy?[1]

 

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 217). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

scripture reading: 1 Samuel 3:1–21

key verse: 1 Samuel 3:10

Now the Lord came and stood and called as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel answered, “Speak, for Your servant hears.”

You have probably known people who insist on serving God on their own terms. Before they even ask God in prayer what He wants them to do, they already have their plans mapped out. Before long, otherwise good and noble projects go wrong, and they don’t understand why. Charging ahead without seeking the Lord’s will, or ignoring His counsel, almost always brings negative consequences.

Hophni and Phinehas performed worship ceremonies in the temple according to their own wishes. Because they were more concerned about having relationships with the temple women and getting the best pieces from the sacrifices, God eventually allowed them to be killed.

Samuel, however, learned how to listen to God’s voice and how to respond. Just as Eli had told him, when Samuel heard God’s call in the night, he answered, “Speak, for Thy servant is listening” (1 Sam. 3:10 nasb). Samuel was ready to hear and obey whatever his Master told him; he waited for the Lord’s command.

Do you seek God’s instruction, or do you try to do His work in your own strength? For whatever He asks you to do, He provides the plan and the power to accomplish it. God’s work done God’s way means sure success.

Heavenly Father, I want to do Your work in Your way. Show me Your plan, then give me the power to accomplish it.[1]

 

[1] Stanley, C. F. (1998). Enter His gates: a daily devotional. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

 

Teach me Your way, O Lord; I will walk in Your truth.

Psalm 86:11

the Holy Spirit speaks to neutral hearts. By that, I don’t mean passive or indifferent hearts. God gave us the ability to dream dreams and make plans. Many of the Old and New Testament leaders were men and women of vision and ambition.

By neutral, I mean being consumed with discovering what pleases the Holy Spirit rather than working to convince Him of the wisdom and brilliance of our plans. I’m afraid many of us pray with the goal of talking God into things rather than trying to discover His will. As a result, we never hear Him.[1]

 

[1] Stanley, C. F. (2004). God’s way day by day (p. 220). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

 

Scripture reading: James 1:2–8

Key verse: Hebrews 13:5

Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

James opened his book with encouraging news for a discouraged group of believers. His audience was the early church that, at the time this letter-turned-book was written, was under severe persecution.

However, James knew that emphasizing the church’s trials would lead only to discouragement. Thus, he opened his letter with instruction about how we should handle the storms of life. It may surprise some that James highlighted joy and faith rather than anger and frustration.

James understood that God had a greater purpose in mind when He allowed the church to face various trials. He told us, “The testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:3–4).

Often this lesson is not learned within a short period of time. But God is the Source of our hope, and He has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Heb. 13:5).

These early believers wavered in their faith, just as we will at times. But James indicated, as did the writer of Hebrews (Heb. 10:36), that if we hold out, believing that God will guide us through the darkest trial, we will certainly receive a lasting reward.

Dear Lord, strengthen my faith. Help me hold out in hard times, believing You will guide me through the darkest trial.[1]

 

[1] Stanley, C. F. (2000). Into His presence (p. 214). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

 

Scripture Reading: Ephesians 2:1–10

Key Verse: Ephesians 2:10

We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

Christian psychologist Dr. James Dobson once took a poll of women who, by their own admission, were basically cheerful and secure individuals.

Dobson listed ten sources of depression. Included in the list were such topics as fatigue, boredom, in-law conflicts, and financial problems. The women were asked to identify which factor contributed most heavily to periods of depression.

The overwhelming reply was lack of self-esteem. Were the same poll taken by Christians at large, lack of self-worth would probably be ranked at the top.

Proper and healthy self-esteem is possible when we receive God’s evaluation of ourselves, relying on His estimation of our worth, not the faulty opinion of others or our fluctuating personal performance.

God created us in His image. We are His workmanship. A Stradivarius is worthy because of its maker. We are worthy because God is our Maker.

The apostle Paul said, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13 nasb). We have His adequacy, His power, His competency. Should we ever feel inferior again?

Dear God, thank You that my worth is not based on the faulty opinion of others or my own fluctuating performance. I am worthy because You are my Maker.[1]

 

[1] Stanley, C. F. (1999). On holy ground (p. 214). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

 

Scripture Reading: James 4:7–10

Key Verse: Matthew 6:13

And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

A popular response to temptation has made waves in the Christian community in recent years. This method of resistance makes perfect sense—flee from the temptation. On its face, this is a perfectly understandable response. After all, removing yourself from compromising situations is crucial to maintaining solid Christian character.

However, simple flight is not the ultimate answer. Unfortunately, fleeing temptation is only a temporary solution. One way or another, that old temptation will always seem to find you, wherever you have fled.

The idea of fleeing from Satan’s ploys is a slight distortion of biblical counsel. Rather than running away from Satan, Scripture instructs, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). Through the power of the Holy Spirit, believers have the ability to send Satan himself running in terror.

Also, it is important for Christians to remember that temptation is not a problem that we can solve ourselves, by fleeing or any other manner. Instead, we need deliverance from temptation. Jesus taught, “And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Matthew 6:13 nasb).

Evil is a God-sized problem. Thinking that we have within ourselves any means to defeat it negates the need for a Savior. We cannot win this spiritual war; however, we can rest in the assurance that Jesus has already secured the victory. When temptation comes, remove yourself from the situation, but also stand firm in the Lord. Remember, you are part of the victorious army.

Lord, I cannot always flee from temptation. And temptation has legs to follow me. Give me the strength to resist temptation wherever I meet it.[1]

 

[1] Stanley, C. F. (2006). Pathways to his presence (p. 214). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

 

Scripture reading: Genesis 37

Key verse: Genesis 39:21

The Lord was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and He gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison.

The story of Joseph isn’t some fable that we read for entertainment and then pause long enough to consider the moral at the end of the story. It is the biblical account of a real man who endured real hardships. It is also a wonderful pattern after which we should model our responses in times of trial.

If you ever wonder why travail enters your life, take some time to read Joseph’s story in chapters 37 through 50 of Genesis. Over many years he repeatedly faced heartache: his brothers threw him into a pit and sold him into slavery; Potiphar’s wife framed him for rape; he was thrown into prison; he was forgotten by the butler he helped. Year after year, Joseph awoke daily to tribulation.

Yet nowhere does God’s Word state that Joseph had done anything wrong. God wasn’t punishing him. Instead, God advanced Joseph through his adversity. He used the pressure of trials to mold Joseph into the man who would lead and save an entire nation. Joseph never complained about his plight. He never blamed God or anyone else. He accepted his conditions and patiently trusted in the Lord.

Adversity is a part of life. Joseph was no more immune to it than you are. Yet isn’t it comforting to know that Joseph’s God is your God, and that through Christ, you can know Him in an even more personal way?

Dear heavenly Father, use the adversities of my life to mold me into what You want me to be.[1]

 

[1] Stanley, C. F. (2002). Seeking His face (p. 214). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

 

2 Samuel 11:1–12:31; 2 Peter 1:11–8; Psalm 139:1–24

We’ve all felt distant from God. Sometimes it’s sin that makes us feel separated from Him; other times it could be a lack of prayer. Either way, when we feel apart from God, God has not moved away from us. God never moves—we do. But we can find solace in the words of Psa 139: “O Yahweh, you have searched me, and you know me. You know my sitting down and my rising up. You understand my thought from afar” (Psa 139:1–2).

We spend so much of life explaining ourselves to others. Trying to manage perceptions is a norm in our society—especially for those of us in fast-paced work environments. There’s nothing wrong with this as long as our motives are pure, we’re being honest, and we’re not obsessed with what others think. But it’s certainly comforting to know that with God, we never have to explain ourselves. He already knows. He has already searched us—and He is always present.

The psalmist writes, “You barricade me behind and in front, and set your hand upon me.… If I ascend to heaven, there you are, and if I make my bed in Sheol [the ultimate symbol of darkness in the Ancient Near East], look! There you are. If I lift up the wings of the dawn, and I alight on the far side of the sea, even there your hand would lead me, and your right hand would hold me fast” (Psa 139:5, 8–10). God is in all places. We may accept these concepts intellectually, but our minds become distracted when we’re feeling alone. Loneliness is heart work, as Psa 139 portrays.

Psalm 139 concludes with the words, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. And see if there is in me the worship of false gods, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psa 139:23–24). The God who created the universe is waiting for us. He is ready to find our false gods and cast them out. He is ready to help us acknowledge His work of goodness and order in the world, and to alleviate the anxiousness we feel. Only He who is all-knowing and all-present can bring us ultimate comfort. Only He can close the gap we feel.

What false gods are you fighting? What anxiousness do you need to ask God to cast out?

John D. Barry[1]

 

[1] Barry, J. D., & Kruyswijk, R. (2012). Connect the Testaments: A Daily Devotional. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

 

Intro

Welcome to Daily Treasures from the Word of God. Today’s reading is Acts 5 through 8. Our lesson is from Acts 8:13, “Even Simon himself believed; and after being baptized, he continued on with Philip, and as he observed signs and great miracles taking place, he was constantly amazed.” (NASU)

Lesson

One of my passions is to see believers grow in Christ and become fully integrated into the life of a local church. Discipleship is crucial both to believers as individuals and to the community of faith. Simon the magician is a perfect example of someone who needed to be discipled by a mature believer. Let’s look at three stages in the life of Simon the magician.

First, Simon the magician believed. This is the initial step for a person who comes to faith in Jesus Christ. Some just observe from the side-lines. Others demonstrate a certain interest in the gospel and even respect for the things of God. But what it takes to experience a new life is to believe in Jesus Christ. Simon did this.

Simon had amazed people with his magic arts. He was a man of influence. But when he saw the power of the gospel displayed in the ministry of Philip, he could not resist. This was the genuine power of God being demonstrated; it was totally different from anything he had experienced in the world of magic. So he believed.

Second, Simon the magician was baptized. He took the second step in his commitment to the Lord. Baptism is usually a public act which declares one’s loyalty and obedience to Jesus and to His Word. It is a next step on the road to spiritual maturity. Baptism is the proclamation of one’s turning away from the old life and beginning anew in Christ. Simon was on the right track.

Last, Simon the magician needed to be discipled. He had started well but now he needed to “put off the old man” and learn to see things through spiritual eyes. However, he was still viewing things with his carnal eyes. He thought that he could buy the power of the Holy Spirit as if it were a trick or secret formula. He was so wrong. The Apostle Peter reprimanded him. Fortunately, Simon saw the evil of his ways and asked Peter to pray for him.

In review, Simon the magician believed. Simon the magician was baptized. And Simon the magician needed to be discipled.

Let’s learn from the life of Simon. We must see the great importance of discipling new believers. Remember, too, that very new Christians will not immediately nor automatically think “Christianly.” We must patiently disciple them so that they “grow in the grace and in knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.” The relationship with Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit must be nurtured as well. That’s discipleship!

End

It has been a pleasure to share with you Daily Treasures from the Word of God. Tomorrow’s Bible reading is Acts 9 through 12. 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.[1]

 

[1] Venditti, L., & Venditti, N. (2012). Daily Treasures from the Word of God. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

 

Then comes the end.

Lord Jesus, of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor You, the Son of God, but only the Father. So I take heed, watch and pray; for I do not know when the time is. And what You say to me, Jesus, You say to all: Watch! You, Lord Jesus, are not slack concerning Your promise, as some count slackness, but are longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. Your coming, Lord Jesus, is at hand. The Judge is standing at the door! Surely You are coming quickly.

Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of person ought I to be in holy conduct and godliness?

The end of all things is at hand; therefore I will be serious and watchful in my prayers. My waist will be girded and my lamps burning; and I myself will be like men who wait for their master, when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately.

May I be ready to open the door to You, Lord Jesus! Come quickly, Lord!

1 Corinthians 15:24; Mark 13:32–33, 37; 2 Peter 3:9; James 5:8–9; Revelation 22:20; 2 Peter 3:11; 1 Peter 4:7; Luke 12:35–36[1]

 

[1] Jeremiah, D. (2007). Life-Changing Moments With God (p. 222). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

 

1 Timothy 1:16

For this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe in Him for everlasting life.

You’ve probably heard the great American prayer: “God give me patience, and I want it NOW!” We are constantly being reminded that everything can be done in a hurry. Yet God says He wants to teach us to wait.

God wants to develop within us a quality of being patient and longsuffering. Someone has defined long-suffering as a long holding out of the mind before it gives way to action or passion. It is the power to see things through.

If there is any quality we need in our lives today, it is patience. It is the hardest of all the qualities for us to learn today because we think everything has to be done quickly. But it is the virtue I believe is closest to the heart of God. God is a God of longsuffering, patience, and for-bearance.

A person who has the fruit of longsuffering is patient with people who nag. He or she does not criticize and irritate when criticized and irritated. This person does not disappear when frustrated or angered. Patience, longsuffering, knows how to sit still and wait its turn. It is slow to retaliate and does not seek to get even. It waits patiently with joy.[1]

 

[1] Jeremiah, D. (2002). Sanctuary: finding moments of refuge in the presence of God (p. 214). Nashville, TN: Integrity Publishers.

THEME: A Warning

Jesus’ parable tells us that the final separation of the saved from the unsaved is awning.

SCRIPTURE

Matthew 13:47-50

“Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. “When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

There are three important facts about Jesus’ picture of the final judgment as a separation of good from bad fish. First, it is absolute. That is, in the day of God’s judgment the time for mixture in any form will be over. Now we have mixture all the time. We do some good things, but our good is always mixed with evil. We have the redeemed people in the church, but we also have those who are the devil’s children. However, when the Lord sends his angels to execute judgment those days will be over, and human beings will find themselves in one camp or the other. Either they will be with the blessed in heaven, having been cleansed from all sin by the redeeming work of Christ, or they will be in hell without Christ and without hope. No one will be partially in one camp and partially in the other.

The second fact about that separation is that it is previously determined in the sense that the grounds of the distinction will already have been laid on earth. What are they? Going back to Christ’s earlier parables, it is a question of whether one has received the good seed of the gospel, whether one has believed in Christ. It is whether one has laid all else aside to gain the hidden treasure or purchase the valuable pearl. You know whether or not you have done that. In which camp are you? If you are not in Christ now, you will be without him then. If you are with him now, you will be with him in the day of judgment.

Third, the separation is permanent.Nothing could be more permanent than the collecting of the good fish and the discarding of the bad. Nothing could be more permanent than the throwing of the tares into the fire to be burned. In that day the opportunity for repentance will be over. The day of salvation will be past.

I wish I could say that the reality will be different. But I cannot, for Jesus himself does not. There is only one person who will tell you that. He is the devil, and he has been spreading that lie for centuries. He has told millions that the day of reckoning is always far off and that there will always be time for repentance or religion or whatever at a later date. In that way he has lulled millions to sleep, and they now drift on, oblivious to their danger. They are like the man who fell asleep in his car in the garage while the motor was running. The fumes of death were about him, but he was unaware of it. He was asleep and perished.

Do not listen to the devil’s lies. He cares nothing for you. He is a condemned and evil being who, knowing that he must perish, takes his sole delight in drawing others after him to a common doom. Instead, listen to the Lord Jesus Christ, who speaks truth. He speaks it in this parable so you might know that judgment is real, separation is coming, and the time for repentance is now. Hear him! Believe him! Tum from anything that would keep you from Jesus and throw yourself upon him and his work only.

STUDY QUESTIONS

List three facts about the separation of the godly from the ungodly.
What does it mean in spiritual terms?
How does Satan lie to us about judgment?
Who are the unrighteous? Describe their fate.

REFLECTION

Have you been tempted by the devil’s lies? How have you responded?

KEY POINT

If you are not in Christ now, you will be without him then. If you are with him now, you will be with him in the day of judgment.

James Montgomery Boice

“I,” ‘ego,” “self,” always wants to defend itself. The most “natural” thing in the world is for our human nature to rise against the slightest attack made upon us. Self always wishes to take care of its own interests, its own reputation, and its own rightness. We frequently see the attempts of men to justify errors, simply because they themselves have originally committed them. To admit wrong is to wound ego.

Culture and education, and the good manners produced thereby, have formed certain patterns by which the most proud and selfish can go through life protecting ego at all vulnerable points, yielding only where politeness demands. The Christian learns that the Holy Spirit is at war with his ego, and that in order to be saved, ego has to admit that self is on its way to a Christless eternity. This is the essential reason why not many noble, not many wise are chosen (1 Cor. 1:26). The Christian learns that ego has to be crucified with Christ.

A friend told me something which happened several months before in one of our great cities. The friend lives in a very beautiful home in a lovely suburb, and when someone bought the next-door lot, a house was built very close to the property line. The new neighbors seemed arrogant and were definitely not Christians. Months passed by and the Christians, two women living alone, hardly saw their new neighbors who kept very much to themselves and their coterie of friends. Matters came to a crisis when the non-Christian neighbors sent a message through their butler to the ladies’ gardener, informing them that their hymn singing and the barking of their watch dog was very annoying.

Here was a good occasion for ego to rise and defend itself, for the old nature stands upon its rights. Some people would have redoubled their noise, built spite fences, and carried on neighborhood warfare in defense of the wounded ego. The Christian described how the crisis was actually met. A letter, somewhat as follows, was written.

“Dear Neighbor: I am sorry that my dog has annoyed you, but we are two ladies who live here alone, and we have found it necessary to keep a dog since prowlers have recently been seen in the garden.

“When your dog barks we are glad that you have a good watch dog that is protecting you. When your little girl cries, and it sounds as if it is right outside our windows, we realize that every normal child cries, and we are glad that you have a precious little child in your home. When we are wakened early in the morning by the water running into your pool, we think what lovely times you will have in that pool, and we are glad. When we hear your beautiful music we are glad that you have such a medium of self-expression. When your guests’ cars start under our bedroom windows at all hours of the night, we are glad that you have so many friends and can enjoy their fellowship. When your tennis balls fly onto our lawn we will continue to toss them back into your court, as we have done. But please never again ask us to stop our singing. We have had sorrow in this home deeper than most people could realize, and it takes the courage of song for us to continue.”

The note was handed through the gardener to the butler and to the neighbors. It was a Christian answer which not only turned away wrath but caused non-Christians to more than respect the rights of others. It was only the spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ that could have made such an answer; the incident was praise to Him and a mouthful of dust to the enemy of our souls.

1. Can you think of a time in which your neighbor mistreated you and you could have handled the confrontation with this type of manner?
2. How does the parable of the Good Samaritan teach us about treating our neighbor? Is it just a moral lesson, or is there more there for us to learn?

Donald Grey Barnhouse

It is possible for us to go through spiritual experiences that can rouse us, the spiritual equivalent of a springtime in the meadow. I have seen it happen, and I would like to see it happen today. . . . . . . We can have the spiritual equivalent of springtime in the meadow, but we have to enter in. The tree waits it out, and even the animals have to wait it out. But you and I, being made in the image of God and having wills of our own, can do something about it. We can appeal directly to our hearts. We do not need to lie like a field covered over with snow. We can stir ourselves up. We can run to meet the sun. We can create our own crisis, because the job is not for meadow and grass, but for our own hearts. These other things only illustrate spiritual springtime. We can stir ourselves up. We can bring out the sun, and we can bring on the springtime. How do we get this to happen? First it must come to the individual. I have no faith in anything that happens to a church that does not happen to the individual. If it does not affect the individual, numbers of individuals, if it is only a sort of social overtone that affects everybody momentarily, I have no faith in it at all.

Verse
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Psalm. 51:10

Thought
Wrote William Quayle: “Christ is come and has changed my winter into laughing spring.” He can change your winter, too!

Prayer
Father, like the lost son, I get up and come to You. I embrace the springtime.

A. W. Tozer

When we say that God is infinite we mean that He knows no bounds. Whatever God is and all that God is, He is without limit. And here again we must break away from the popular meaning of words. “Unlimited wealth” and “boundless energy” are further examples of the misuse of words. Of course no wealth is unlimited and no energy boundless unless we are speaking of the wealth and energy of God.

Again, to say that God is infinite is to say that He is measureless. Measurement is the way created things have of accounting for themselves. It describes limitations, imperfections, and cannot apply to God. Weight describes the gravitational pull of the earth upon material bodies; distance describes intervals between bodies in space; length means extension in space, and there are other familiar measurements such as those for liquid, energy, sound, light, and numbers for pluralities. We also try to measure abstract qualities, and speak of great or little faith, high or low intelligence, large or meager talents.

Is it not plain that all this does not and cannot apply to God? It is the way we see the works of His hands, but not the way we see Him. He is above all this, outside of it, beyond it. Our concepts of measurement embrace mountains and men, atoms and stars, gravity, energy, numbers, speed, but never God. We cannot speak of measure or amount or size or weight and at the same time be speaking of God, for these tell of degrees and there are no degrees in God. All that He is, He is without growth or addition or development. Nothing in God is less or more, or large or small. He is what He is in Himself, without qualifying thought or word. He is simply God.

Verse
He determines the number of the stars / and calls them each by name.
Psalm 147:4

Thought
Created things use measures to account for their actions; God is measureless. We are limited; He has no limits.

Prayer
Can our finite comprehend your measureless nature, Father? I think not. Help us to be still and know that You are God.

A. W. Tozer

 

Blessed is the man … that keepeth the Sabbath

Isa 56:2

The Sabbath is the savings-bank of human life, into which we deposit one day in seven to be repaid in the autumn of life with compound interest.

Selected[1]

 

[1] Hardman, S. G., & Moody, D. L. (1997). Thoughts for the quiet hour. Willow Grove, PA: Woodlawn Electronic Publishing.

 

Of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us … sanctification. 1 Cor. 1:30.

The Life Side. The mystery of sanctification is that the perfections of Jesus Christ are imparted to me, not gradually, but instantly when by faith I enter into the realization that Jesus Christ is made unto me sanctification. Sanctification does not mean anything less than the holiness of Jesus being made mine manifestly.

The one marvellous secret of a holy life lies not in imitating Jesus, but in letting the perfections of Jesus manifest themselves in my mortal flesh. Sanctification is “Christ in you.” It is His wonderful life that is imparted to me in sanctification, and imparted by faith as a sovereign gift of God’s grace. Am I willing for God to make sanctification as real in me as it is in His word?

Sanctification means the impartation of the holy qualities of Jesus Christ. It is His patience, His love, His holiness, His faith, His purity, His godliness, that is manifested in and through every sanctified soul. Sanctification is not drawing from Jesus the power to be holy; it is drawing from Jesus the holiness that was manifested in Him, and He manifests it in me. Sanctification is an impartation, not an imitation. Imitation is on a different line. In Jesus Christ is the perfection of everything, and the mystery of sanctification is that all the perfections of Jesus are at my disposal, and slowly and surely I begin to live a life of ineffable order and sanity and holiness “Kept by the power of God.”[1]

 

[1] Chambers, O. (1986). My utmost for his highest: Selections for the year. Grand Rapids, MI: Oswald Chambers Publications; Marshall Pickering.

Morning, July 23

 

“Even thou wast as one of them.”

— Obadiah 1:11

 

Brotherly kindness was due from Edom to Israel in the time of need, but instead thereof, the men of Esau made common cause with Israel’s foes. Special stress in the sentence before us is laid upon the word thou; as when Caesar cried to Brutus, “and thou Brutus”; a bad action may be all the worse, because of the person who has committed it. When we sin, who are the chosen favourites of heaven, we sin with an emphasis; ours is a crying offence, because we are so peculiarly indulged. If an angel should lay his hand upon us when we are doing evil, he need not use any other rebuke than the question, “What thou? What dost thou here?” Much forgiven, much delivered, much instructed, much enriched, much blessed, shall we dare to put forth our hand unto evil? God forbid!

 

A few minutes of confession may be beneficial to thee, gentle reader, this morning. Hast thou never been as the wicked? At an evening party certain men laughed at uncleanness, and the joke was not altogether offensive to thine ear, even thou wast as one of them. When hard things were spoken concerning the ways of God, thou wast bashfully silent; and so, to on-lookers, thou wast as one of them. When worldlings were bartering in the market, and driving hard bargains, wast thou not as one of them? When they were pursuing vanity with a hunter’s foot, wert thou not as greedy for gain as they were? Could any difference be discerned between thee and them? Is there any difference? Here we come to close quarters. Be honest with thine own soul, and make sure that thou art a new creature in Christ Jesus; but when this is sure, walk jealously, lest any should again be able to say, “Even thou wast as one of them.” Thou wouldst not desire to share their eternal doom, why then be like them here? Come not thou into their secret, lest thou come into their ruin. Side with the afflicted people of God, and not with the world.

 

Evening, July 23

 

“The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”

— 1 John 1:7

 

“Cleanseth,” says the text—not “shall cleanse.” There are multitudes who think that as a dying hope they may look forward to pardon. Oh! how infinitely better to have cleansing now than to depend on the bare possibility of forgiveness when I come to die. Some imagine that a sense of pardon is an attainment only obtainable after many years of Christian experience. But forgiveness of sin is a present thing—a privilege for this day, a joy for this very hour. The moment a sinner trusts Jesus he is fully forgiven. The text, being written in the present tense, also indicates continuance; it was “cleanseth” yesterday, it is “cleanseth” to-day, it will be “cleanseth” tomorrow: it will be always so with you, Christian, until you cross the river; every hour you may come to this fountain, for it cleanseth still. Notice, likewise, the completeness of the cleansing, “The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin”—not only from sin, but “from all sin.” Reader, I cannot tell you the exceeding sweetness of this word, but I pray God the Holy Ghost to give you a taste of it. Manifold are our sins against God. Whether the bill be little or great, the same receipt can discharge one as the other. The blood of Jesus Christ is as blessed and divine a payment for the transgressions of blaspheming Peter as for the shortcomings of loving John; our iniquity is gone, all gone at once, and all gone for ever. Blessed completeness! What a sweet theme to dwell upon as one gives himself to sleep.

 

“Sins against a holy God;

Sins against his righteous laws;

Sins against his love, his blood;

Sins against his name and cause;

Sins immense as is the sea-

From them all he cleanseth me.”[1]

 

[1] Spurgeon, Charles H. (2006). Morning and evening: Daily readings (Complete and unabridged; New modern edition.). Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers.

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