The Lord reigns; He is clothed with majesty;
The Lord is robed in majesty and is armed with strength.
Indeed, the world is firmly established; it cannot be moved.
Your throne is established from of old;
You are from everlasting.
Your testimonies stand firm;
Holiness adorns Your house,
O Lord, forever. (Psalm 93:1–2, 5)
God sits enthroned above the circle of the earth,
And its inhabitants are like grasshoppers.
He stretches out the heavens like a curtain
And spreads them out like a tent to dwell in.
He reduces rulers to nothing
And makes the judges of this world meaningless. (Isaiah 40:22–23)
Pause to express your thoughts of praise and worship.
Forgive me when I desert the Rock who begot me,
And forget the God who gave me birth. (Deuteronomy 32:18)
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.
By Your grace, I want to hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Enter into the joy of your Lord.” (Matthew 25:21)
May I not love praise from men more than praise from God. (John 12:43)
I am the Lord’s servant; let Your will be done in me according to Your word. (Luke 1:38)
Pause to add your own prayers for personal renewal.
May I not throw away my confidence; it will be richly rewarded. Let me persevere so that when I have done the will of God, I will receive what He has promised. (Hebrews 10:35–36)
Growth in character
Physical health and strength
My activities for this day
Many are saying, “Who will show us any good?”
O Lord, lift up the light of Your countenance upon us. (Psalm 4:6)
The poor and hungry
The oppressed and persecuted
Those in authority
Peace among nations
Current events and concerns
God raised Jesus from the dead, freeing Him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for Him to be held by it. (Acts 2:24)
Just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom He wishes. (John 5:21)
God gives life to the dead and calls into being things that do not exist. (Romans 4:17)
He who believes in the Son of God has everlasting life. (John 6:47)
God both raised the Lord and will also raise me up through His power. (1 Corinthians 6:14)
Pause to reflect upon these biblical affirmations.
Though I have not seen Jesus, I love Him; and though I do not see Him now but believe in Him, I rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, for I am receiving the end of my faith, the salvation of my soul. (1 Peter 1:8–9)
Since I am receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, may I be thankful and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for my God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:28–29)
Pause to offer your own expressions of thanksgiving.
I will ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
I will ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name
And worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness. (Psalm 29:1–2)
To the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. (1 Timothy 1:17)
HOLY BIBLE, BOOK DIVINE
John Burton, Sr., 1773–1822
Oh, how I love Your law! I meditate on it all day long. (Psalm 119:97)
Nobody ever outgrows Scripture; the Book widens and deepens with our years.
—Charles H. Spurgeon
The Bible is truly an amazing book. It has rightfully been called “The Book of Books.” The first book ever printed was the Bible—the German Gütenberg Bible between the years 1450–1455. Today, it is printed in more than 600 languages, and portions of it are printed in more than 1,000 tongues and dialects. It has long been the world’s best seller.
In addition to being God’s love letter and self-disclosure of Himself, the Bible clearly spells out His plan for our redemption and restored fellowship. It is also our final authority for all matters of faith, morals, and practice. Through the inspired Word, God the Holy Spirit illuminates and guides believers in their Christian walk and also prepares them for their future heavenly destination.
Our finite minds will never be able to comprehend all of the teaching of Scripture, but the essential truths related to our redemption and Christ-like living cannot be misunderstood. It was Abraham Lincoln who once observed: “Read the Bible for whatever reason you can accept and take the rest on faith, and you will live and die a better man.”
John Burton, author of “Holy Bible, Book Divine,” was an English Sunday school teacher with a concern for teaching spiritual truths to children. This text appeared in 1806 in Burton’s Sunday school hymnal, which was titled Incentives for Early Piety. These words have since been spiritually profitable for both young and old:
Holy Bible, Book divine, precious treasure, thou art mine; mine to tell me whence I came, mine to teach me what I am;
Mine to chide me when I rove, mine to show a Savior’s love; mine thou art to guide and guard, mine to punish or reward;
Mine to comfort in distress—Suff’ring in this wilderness; mine to show, by living faith, man can triumph over death;
Mine to tell of joys to come and the rebel sinner’s doom: O thou holy Book divine, precious treasure, thou art mine.
For Today: Matthew 24:35; John 15:7; 2 Timothy 3:15–17; Hebrews 4:12
It was George Mueller who said: “The vigor of our spiritual life will be in exact proportion to the place held by the Word in our life and thoughts.” Determine to give the Bible a greater place in your life. Sing this child-like hymn as you go—
|You Bid Us; We Obey
Have you seen the “Praise Meeting of the Birds?” I want to send you my portion out of it.
And the birds which migrate praise You,
For guiding us aright
When, at Your summons given,
We take our mystic flight.
Urged by a vague strange longing
We flee from storm and cold;
O’er mountains, seas, and forests,
Our onward course we hold.
We know not why we wander,
You bid us; we obey,
And through the pathless azure
Follow the appointed way.
We trust You; and Your answer
Smiles in the summer sun,
That warms us into vigor
When the far goal is won.
Ah! if we stayed to question,
To prove, to understand,
Winter and death would seize us
In the forbidden land.
—To Anna, 1879
OUR God’s tender love for his servants makes him concerned for the state of their inward feelings. He desires them to be of good courage. Some esteem it a small thing for a believer to be vexed with doubts and fears, but God thinks not so. Our Master does not think so lightly of our unbelief as we do. Our Lord loveth not to see our countenance sad. It was a law of Ahasuerus, that no one should come into the king’s court dressed in mourning; this is not the law of the King of kings, for we may come mourning as we are; but still he would have us put off the spirit of heaviness, and put on the garment of praise, for there is much reason to rejoice.
Morning, September 29
“Behold, if the leprosy have covered all his flesh, he shall pronounce him clean that hath the plague.”
— Leviticus 13:13
Strange enough this regulation appears, yet there was wisdom in it, for the throwing out of the disease proved that the constitution was sound. This morning it may be well for us to see the typical teaching of so singular a rule. We, too, are lepers, and may read the law of the leper as applicable to ourselves. When a man sees himself to be altogether lost and ruined, covered all over with the defilement of sin, and no part free from pollution; when he disclaims all righteousness of his own, and pleads guilty before the Lord, then is he clean through the blood of Jesus, and the grace of God. Hidden, unfelt, unconfessed iniquity is the true leprosy, but when sin is seen and felt it has received its death blow, and the Lord looks with eyes of mercy upon the soul afflicted with it. Nothing is more deadly than self-righteousness, or more hopeful than contrition. We must confess that we are “nothing else but sin,” for no confession short of this will be the whole truth, and if the Holy Spirit be at work with us, convincing us of sin, there will be no difficulty about making such an acknowledgment—it will spring spontaneously from our lips. What comfort does the text afford to those under a deep sense of sin! Sin mourned and confessed, however black and foul, shall never shut a man out from the Lord Jesus. Whosoever cometh unto him, he will in no wise cast out. Though dishonest as the thief, though unchaste as the woman who was a sinner, though fierce as Saul of Tarsus, though cruel as Manasseh, though rebellious as the prodigal, the great heart of love will look upon the man who feels himself to have no soundness in him, and will pronounce him clean, when he trusts in Jesus crucified. Come to him, then, poor heavy-laden sinner,
Come needy, come guilty, come loathsome and bare;
You can’t come too filthy—come just as you are.
Evening, September 29
“I found him whom my soul loveth: I held him, and would not let him go.”
— Song of Solomon 3:4
Does Christ receive us when we come to him, notwithstanding all our past sinfulness? Does he never chide us for having tried all other refuges first? And is there none on earth like him? Is he the best of all the good, the fairest of all the fair? Oh, then let us praise him! Daughters of Jerusalem, extol him with timbrel and harp! Down with your idols, up with the Lord Jesus. Now let the standards of pomp and pride be trampled under foot, but let the cross of Jesus, which the world frowns and scoffs at, be lifted on high. O for a throne of ivory for our King Solomon! Let him be set on high for ever, and let my soul sit at his footstool, and kiss his feet, and wash them with my tears. Oh, how precious is Christ! How can it be that I have thought so little of him? How is it I can go abroad for joy or comfort when he is so full, so rich, so satisfying. Fellow believer, make a covenant with thine heart that thou wilt never depart from him, and ask thy Lord to ratify it. Bid him set thee as a signet upon his finger, and as a bracelet upon his arm. Ask him to bind thee about him, as the bride decketh herself with ornaments, and as the bridegroom putteth on his jewels. I would live in Christ’s heart; in the clefts of that rock my soul would eternally abide. The sparrow hath made a house, and the swallow a nest for herself where she may lay her young, even thine altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God; and so too would I make my nest, my home, in thee, and never from thee may the soul of thy turtle dove go forth again, but may I nestle close to thee, O Jesus, my true and only rest.
“When my precious Lord I find,
All my ardent passions glow;
Him with cords of love I bind,
Hold and will not let him go.”
September 29: God Enjoys His Creation
Another characteristic of love is that it takes pleasure in its object. God enjoys His creation. The Apostle John says frankly that God’s purpose in creation was His own pleasure. God is happy in His love for all that He has made. We cannot miss the feeling of pleasure in God’s delighted references to His handiwork. Psalm 104 is a divinely inspired nature poem almost rhapsodic in its happiness, and the delight of God is felt throughout it. “The glory of the Lord shall endure forever: the Lord shall rejoice in his works.”
The Lord takes peculiar pleasure in His saints. Many think of God as far removed, gloomy and mightily displeased with everything, gazing down in a mood of fixed apathy upon a world in which He has long ago lost interest; but this is to think erroneously. True, God hates sin and can never look with pleasure upon iniquity, but where men seek to do God’s will He responds in genuine affection. Christ in His atonement has removed the bar to the divine fellowship. Now in Christ all believing souls are objects of God’s delight. “The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.”
“The Lord your God is with you, / he is mighty to save. / He will take great delight in you, / he will quiet you with his love, / he will rejoice over you with singing.”
God hates sin and can never look with pleasure upon iniquity, but where men seek to do God’s will He responds in genuine affection.
You us love us, Father. You delight in Your creation, Your children. Praise Your name!
A. W. Tozer
Something For Nothing – Part Three
After this Jesus went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias. And a large crowd was following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing on the sick. Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples. Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand. Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a large crowd was coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he would do. Philip answered him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread would not be enough for each of them to get a little.” One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?” Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, about five thousand in number. Jesus then took the loaves, and vwhen he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated. So also the fish, as much as they wanted. And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.” So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten. When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!”
In my New York Bible class I was asked the question, “If God is all powerful, could He make a five-year-old tree grow old in ten minutes?” I said, “Why not?” Look at what He did in this case here.
In His fingers, the years and the seasons fell apart. He who was the God of eternity demonstrated that He was the Lord of the months and the growing seasons. The one who took the bread and put it in baskets was the one who had said, “While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease” (Gen. 8:22). While the seasons rolled on, the Lord of the harvest demonstrated that He was able to create, that He was the Creator. And He did the same with the fish. Creation happened in that moment, as His fingers broke the bread and the fish.
Jesus Christ is the Lord Jehovah of Hosts. He is the Creator. He can take not only bread and fish to feed your bodies, but He can also take you and break you and with you feed the world-if you’re willing to be broken by Him, to be handed out day by-day so that those around you may feed. And just as He said, “I am the light of the world” and “you are the light of the world,” so He says, “I am the bread of life and so are you.” When we are broken we can go out to feed others. The feeding, of course, will not be anything of our doing. It will be the work of the Lord Jesus Christ and Him alone.
Notice how Jesus elaborated on this in verses 48 and following. “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness and they died. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any man eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread which I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
At this point, the Jews asked a very natural question. They said, “How can this man give us flesh to eat?” And we might ask the same question. But Jesus is not talking about cannibalism. When we say, “Feed on Christ,” we mean that the life we receive from Him spiritually is that which makes us live spiritually. Jesus said it this way, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” (See vv. 52-54.)
Let me give you an illustration about this. Suppose you are at a football game. You see a young fellow running out for a pass. All of a sudden he catches it and starts to run-broken field running ninety yards down the field for a touchdown. What caused him to run like that? Well, that was the steak he ate two days ago. A little while later, he kicks a field goal. That was the mashed potatoes and milk he ate yesterday. The food that he ate yesterday, two days ago, last week, has been transferred into energy. Everything you do physically is done as a result of this chemical exchange-food being eaten and becoming energy. If a man knocks a home run, that’s his steak transmuted into power.
Or maybe you see a young man who could make fifty thousand dollars a year as a surgeon. But he says, “I’m going out to the heart of Africa and I’m going to bury myself there for Christ.” What makes him do that? Well, just as the beef steak makes the football man run down the field, so feeding on Christ transforms the life and sends that man to Africa. And feeding on Christ, seven days a week, makes a person live for Christ right in his own hometown.
Those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, `’his is indeed the prophet who is to come unto the world!” That shows you how blind people can be. This was not a prophet. This was Jehovah God. Men look in the direction of Jesus, even today, and call Him, “the Master,” “the Nazarene,” “the Galilean,” “the Older Brother.” How blind can natural man be?
Oh, Christians, don’t ever be guilty of calling the Lord Jesus Christ “the Nazarene,” and “the Galilean,” and “the Master.” Call Him, as the Scripture through all of the epistles calls Him, “Lord Jesus Christ,” “Jehovah,” “Saviour,” “Messiah.” He is our Creator. He is our Saviour. He is our God. And thus, it was demonstrated in that hour.
The lessons are there very easy to see. There is the lesson of who He is. John said at the end of his Gospel, “These are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name” (John 20:31). So I present it to you that you might believe who Jesus is, and that believing, you might have life. I am not talking only about eternal life. I want you to have life for now, life that will enable you to overcome sin, life that will enable you to say no to the things you desire of yourself, life that will enable you to be crucified with Jesus Christ, life that will enable you to comprehend the nothingness of yourself and your need for the creative touch. You need Christ to come and stand by the cipher of your being, the zero that can make you effective for Him. And when you comprehend this whole thing in relationship to this temporary, very temporary struggle between God and Satan, then you will know that you have been chosen to be on the side of eternity against time, on the side of God against Satan, on the side of supply over the demand of need. You and I have been called for His purpose.
Why does studying scripture help us to finish the race?
What benefits does reading scripture bring to the Christian in their walk with Christ?
Is reading scripture primarily concerned with the heart, mind or both? Explain.
Pray that you would have a deeper desire to study God’s word and to teach others about the bread of life.
Donald Grey Barnhouse
Who is the Greatest in the Kingdom? – Part One
Theme: Conquered Pride
This week we learn a lesson in humility
At that time he disciples came to Jesus’ and asked. “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
What was it Shakespeare wrote?
Be not afraid of greatness: some men are born great,
some achieve greatness,
and some have greatness thrust upon them.
(Twelfth Night, Act 2, Scene 5)
Pity the disciples! They were with true greatness in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. He was great as only God is great. They were not. They had not been born great. They had not achieved greatness. They had not had greatness thrust upon them. Yet they wanted to be great so much.
They were thinking of an earthly kingdom to be established by Jesus who they now believed to be the Messiah, and they were wondering which of them would be the greatest when Christ’s kingdom came. Luke says that they were arguing about it and that Jesus knew what they were thinking (Luke 9:46-47). Mark adds that they had been on their way to Capernaum; when they got to Capernaum, Jesus asked what they had been arguing about and they were silent, probably because they were embarrassed by their worldly thoughts (Mark 9:33-34). Matthew says that they then asked Jesus directly, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” (Matt. 18:1).
This question became the catalyst for a new direction in Jesus’ private teaching of these men which has been taking place in Matthew 13-20. It has to do with what the citizens of the kingdom should be like, the fourth of six collections of Jesus’ teachings in the gospel. Earlier collections have been: the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7), the commissioning of the disciples (Matt. 10), and the seven parables of the kingdom (Matt. 13). The others are in Matthew 23 and Matthew 24, 25. Matthew 18 is a collection of teachings gathered from talks given over the course of Jesus’ ministry, as the earlier collections also probably were.
The question was amazing in some ways. For one thing, Jesus had already taught about the type of people who would be citizens of his kingdom: “the poor in spirit,” “the meek,” “the merciful,” and so on (Matt. 5:3, 5, 7). Even more amazing is the fact that almost immediately before this Jesus had explained that he would be betrayed and killed (Matt. 17:23). Matthew says that they “were filled with grief.” But their pain didn’t last long. They were convinced Jesus was the Messiah. The Messiah was going to establish a glorious earthly kingdom. Therefore they began to anticipate who would be greatest in that kingdom when it came and to jockey for position.
The kind of kingdom they were thinking about becomes clear in Acts 1 where they asked Jesus, even after the resurrection, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” (v. 6). John Stott notes, “The verb restore shows that they were expecting a political and territorial kingdom; the noun Israel that they were expecting a national kingdom; and the adverbial clause at this time that they were expecting its immediate establishment.
They were wrong on all counts. The kingdom was going to be a spiritual kingdom of those who were being saved from sin through faith in Jesus. It was for all people, not just the people of Israel, and it was to develop over time as God through the preaching of the gospel and the power of the Holy Spirit brought individuals to faith.
But those were all concepts they would need to learn later. In this chapter Jesus is concerned to teach what the citizens of the kingdom must be like since at this point the minds of the disciples were still miles distant from genuine Christianity.
What caused the disciples’ silence? What did they eventually ask?
On what matters were the disciples wrong?
Why did Jesus not correct the disciples on these matters at this point?
James Montgomery Boice
The consciousness of the call
For necessity is laid upon me: yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel! 1 Cor. 9:16.
We are apt to forget the mystical, supernatural touch of God. If you can tell where you got the call of God and all about it, I question whether you have ever had a call. The call of God does not come like that, it is much more supernatural. The realization of it in a man’s life may come with a sudden thunder-clap or with a gradual dawning, but in whatever way it comes, it comes with the undercurrent of the supernatural, something that cannot be put into words, it is always accompanied with a glow. At any moment there may break the sudden consciousness of this incalculable, supernatural, surprising call that has taken hold of your life—“I have chosen you.” The call of God has nothing to do with salvation and sanctification. It is not because you are sanctified that you are therefore called to preach the gospel; the call to preach the gospel is infinitely different. Paul describes it as a necessity laid upon him.
If you have been obliterating the great supernatural call of God in your life, take a review of your circumstances and see where God has not been first, but your ideas of service, or your temperamental abilities. Paul said—“Woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!” He had realized the call of God, and there was no competitor for his strength.
If a man or woman is called of God, it does not matter how untoward circumstances are, every force that has been at work will tell for God’s purpose in the end. If you agree with God’s purpose He will bring not only your conscious life, but all the deeper regions of your life which you cannot get at, into harmony.
This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith
1 John 5:4
The world conquers me when it succeeds in hindering me from seeing, loving, holding communion with, and serving my Father, God. I conquer it when I lay my hand upon it and force it to help me to get nearer Him, to get more like Him, to think oftener of Him, to do His will more gladly and more constantly. The one victory over the world is to bend it to serve me in the highest things—the attainment of a clearer vision of the divine nature, the attainment of a deeper love to God Himself, and a more glad consecration and service to Him. That is the victory—when you can make the world a ladder to lift you to God. When the world comes between you and God as an obscuring screen, it has conquered you. When the world comes between you and God as a transparent medium you have conquered it. To win victory is to get it beneath your feet and stand upon it, and reach up thereby to God.
Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another.
The ancient historian Eusebius portrayed James as a Nazirite, an Israelite wholly devoted to God (Numbers 6:1–23), whose times of prayer for his nation were frequent and prolonged.
Most of us find it very hard to identify with a man like James. Who do we know who prays so much that he develops knots on his knees? Perhaps the better question might be, “Who do we know who prays—really prays?” That’s not an unfair question, nor is it calculated to instill guilt. It reflects the surveys that have been taken by both Christian and secular researchers. It seems Christians today are too busy to pray!
One of the New Testament’s strongest passages on prayer is contained in James’s final words to his fellow Jewish believers. In James 5:7–12, the word for “patience” is used seven times. In this passage, the word for “prayer” occurs seven times. When patience is required, prayer is the key.
By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us.
Father, the love of Christ passes knowledge. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. I know the grace of my Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for my sake He became poor, that I through His poverty might become rich. If You, Lord God, so loved me, I ought to love others. Enable me to be kind to others, tenderhearted, forgiving others, even as You in Christ forgave me. Help me bear with others, and forgive others, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave me. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many. Christ suffered for me, leaving me an example, that I should follow His steps.
I ought to wash another’s feet. For Jesus has given me an example, that I should do as He has done. I also ought to lay down my life for the brethren.
The path is clear, but walking it isn’t easy, Lord. Help me love and serve as Jesus did.
1 John 3:16; Ephesians 3:19; John 15:13; 2 Corinthians 8:9; 1 John 4:11; Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:13; Mark 10:45; 1 Peter 2:21; John 13:14–15; 1 John 3:16
Welcome to Daily Treasures from the Word of God. Today’s reading is Psalms 113 through 118. Our lesson is from Psalm 115:9, “O Israel, trust in the Lord; He is their help and their shield.” (NASU)
Today’s psalm demonstrates the confidence that the believers have in the Lord: in marked contrast are those who trust in idols. Let’s review three exhortations.
First, the Lord is trustworthy. Trustworthiness from the Lord is one of the most needed qualities for someone to succeed. Our psalm is about trusting in the Lord because as we trust in Him we can be successful. However, the psalm also speaks of those who trust in idols.
Idols do not have life in and of themselves. They have feet yet do not walk. They have ears and do not hear. They have a mouth but do not speak. This is the tragedy of following idols who are false gods. They are an outrage to the living God because they give the glory that only belongs to the true God to a man-made object.
In contrast to trusting in idols is trusting in the God of Israel. Those who trust in Him will not be ashamed. Unlike the idols, the living God has a vibrant relationship with His people. He lives and gives life in abundance. He cares and is involved in the lives of the people. How wonderful it is to know that one is not alone and has at his/her disposition the Lord God of the universe that can be trusted fully.
Second, the Lord is a helper. Who has not lived and needed help? I know that sometime or another that we have all needed someone to come alongside us to help us. There is no better helper than the Lord through His Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit of the living God who dwells in the believer who is ready to come alongside us in order to help with the maturing process. The goal of the Holy Spirit is to make the Church more like Jesus Christ. The fruit of the Spirit is to be lived out in our everyday circumstances.
Third, the Lord is a shield. The shield is a defensive weapon which protects a person from dangerous objects that can harm him/her. The Lord protects a person from anything that is thrown his/her way. He defends His people at all times from any destruction that comes from the enemy of our soul and the kingdom of darkness.
In summary, the Lord is trustworthy. The Lord is a helper. And the Lord is a shield.
Read and meditate on today’s psalm. As you deliberate, let the Holy Spirit search your heart. Surrender to the Lord any areas of your life that need to come under His Lordship. May His grace fill all areas of your life and ministry.
It has been a pleasure to share with you Daily Treasures from the Word of God. Tomorrow’s Bible reading is Psalm 119. 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.
September 29: Rebuilding Is Not Always Wise
Malachi 1:1–2:9; Acts 27:1–44; Job 31:9–22
Who can rebuild what Yahweh tears down? The prophets articulate this message again and again. Yahweh tears down evil things; evil people rebuild them; the prophets insist that He will just tear them down again. God tolerates evil for a time, waiting for people to repent, but when His patience is up, it’s up.
“ ‘I have loved you,’ says Yahweh, but you say, ‘How have you loved us?’ ‘Is Esau not Jacob’s brother?’ declares Yahweh. ‘I have loved Jacob, but Esau I have hated. I have made his mountain ranges a desolation, and given his inheritance to the jackals of the desert.’ If Edom says, ‘We are shattered, but we will return and rebuild the ruins,’ Yahweh of hosts says this: ‘They may build, but I will tear down; and they will be called a territory of wickedness, and the people with whom Yahweh is angry forever.’ Your eyes will see this, and you will say, ‘Yahweh is great beyond the borders of Israel’ ” (Mal 1:2–5).
This scene seems brutal upon first reading. If you’re on Jacob’s side, you’re fine—Yahweh loves you even though you don’t acknowledge it. But if you’re on Esau’s (Edom’s) side, you’re left wondering why God hates you so much—unless you know the backstory: Edom ravaged the lands of God’s people and committed atrocities against them in their greatest time of need. When foreign nations invaded Israel, Edom preyed on its brothers instead of coming to their defense. This is the reason for Yahweh’s anger—and why He will tear down whatever Edom builds.
How often do we try to excuse ourselves as Edom did—to defend our behavior as justifiable retribution for previous offenses? What does God think about the state of our hearts and the actions we take against others as a result?
How must your plan of action change, today, in light of God’s will and His standard?
John D. Barry
The Storms of Life
Scripture reading: Philippians 4:4–9
Key verse: Philippians 4:7
The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Here are some things you can know about the storms of life:
God knows exactly where you are emotionally and mentally when trouble hits. He understands your frustration and need to ask why a certain event has taken place. He never condemns your feelings. Instead, He provides wisdom for all you face.
He will not leave you comfortless. That was a promise Jesus made to His disciples before His death. Today, it is one of our greatest sources of encouragement. Jesus does not leave us on our own to deal with heartache and trials. He has given us the Holy Spirit to comfort and support us when we are too weak to continue. When feelings of anxiety rise, practice growing still before the Lord. Think on His goodness and how He never fails you.
At times, God does allow the pressures of life to build so that we can learn how to deal with them from a position of faith and not fear. Philippians 4:6–7 (nasb) is a promise you can claim: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Are you ready to listen for God’s voice? He avails Himself to all who seek His face. Therefore watch, listen, and pray. Then you will discover the mind and hope of God.
Father, I am so glad You know where I am emotionally and mentally when trouble hits. You understand my frustration and my need to question. Thank You for not condemning me for my feelings, and for providing wisdom for all I face.
Restored by Grace
Scripture Reading: Luke 15:11–16
Key Verse: Luke 15:14
But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want.
Independence is a highly valued quality. We teach it to our children, and we demand it for ourselves. There is even a statue called the Independent Man on top of the state capitol of Rhode Island. It stands as a tribute to self-sufficiency and freedom.
In the story of the prodigal son, we see a different aspect of independence in someone who takes charge of his own life and shuns his father’s care and protection. The account reveals both the downward spiral of sin and the restoring grace of God.
Sin means acting independently of God’s will. It begins with a desire that is outside His plan. Next comes a decision to act on the desire. When we act, we find ourselves, like the prodigal, in a distant country, which is anywhere outside the will of God.
To remain there requires deception. We deceive ourselves by thinking that we know better than God, and ignoring any consequences. Defeat follows. For a time, all will seem fine, but, like the reckless son in the story, we will find our way leads to defeat. Finally, we will arrive at despair resulting from famine of spirit, emotions, or relationships. That leads into desperation, where our choices are few, and all distasteful.
The prodigal son ended up there. But desperation is not the end of the prodigal’s story, nor is it the end of ours when we sin. Jesus gave this account of an earthly father’s forgiving love because He desired to point us to the restoring grace of our heavenly Father. God waits with open arms for us, His wandering children.
Father, thank You for the assurance of Your love—that You wait with open arms to welcome Your wandering children home.
Your Place in the Marketplace
Scripture Reading: Ephesians 6:5–9
Key Verse: Colossians 3:23
Whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.
The slogan of a major automobile manufacturer is this: “Quality is job one.” The company tells customers that its priority is sending top-notch cars off the assembly line. Manufacturers know that consumers look for quality in everything they buy. You don’t want to purchase items you know are below par and don’t represent someone’s best effort.
The way you do your job every day reflects your personal quality standard. With each assignment or phone call or meeting, you tell others how you value your job and your employer. Do you work just enough to get by, or do you work at maximum capacity?
You can discover real and lasting motivation when you understand that your accountability is to Jesus Christ (Col. 3:24).
Perhaps your boss is unreasonable or your job doesn’t meet your expectations. Maybe you aren’t paid what you feel the position is worth. Remember, Jesus is the One who understands your needs and gives you the strength for every task, no matter how difficult or how trivial it may seem.
In every job, your goal is the same—to point those around you to your Savior and Master by working with a passion for excellence.
Dear Lord, help me work with a passion for excellence in all I do. Help me remember I am accountable to You. Let my personal standards point those around me to You.
Responding to Rejection
Scripture reading: Colossians 1:18–22
Key verse: John 1:22
Then they said to him, “Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?”
It is one of Satan’s favorite traps to get a child of God to feel belittled by himself. Often, when people feel a gnawing sense of rejection, it comes not from an outside source such as criticism, but from within. Many people feel rejected because they’ve rejected themselves.
The root of these feelings could be one of many factors: something that happened in the past, an overbearing or apathetic parent, perceived physical flaws. These feelings also can manifest themselves for decades. Well into their adult years, people who feel rejection may practice perfectionism or be domineering or seek isolation.
If you are a believer, you are a child of God. If Satan buffets you with feelings of rejection or the notion that you do not measure up, let your Father answer him:
- John 1:12 declares, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.”
- John 3:16 tells you that God loves you so much that He sent His Son, Jesus, to die for your sins.
- In 1 John 3:1, you again learn the liberating truth that the only opinion that matters belongs to God.
- And you belong to Him too: “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!” (1 John 3:1).
I am Your child, Father—a child of the King. Help me realize it and act like who I really am in You.
Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
many people today get in trouble because they will not wait for either God’s timing or God’s method. They are so consumed with the problem of their need that they act ahead of God or instead of God. They manipulate circumstances, people, and events on their own, seeking to resolve their need according to their own timing and cunning schemes … which are acts of disobedience before God.
Take any sin in any place at any time, and you are going to find a great deal of manipulation at work.
The end result is never entirely good. Oh, the immediate result may seem good. But not for long. The end result will always be heavily marred by disappointment, dissatisfaction, lack of fulfillment, and diminished success.
September 29 Complete Transformation
Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words.”
Can you remember the first time you were truly excited about learning something new? Maybe it was the day you learned how to ride your first bicycle. For days you tried to pedal without tipping over, but you continued to fall. Finally one afternoon, it all came together and you knew exactly how to do it.
The disciples knew that feeling. Jesus had spent three years with them. His crucifixion had left them despondent and lonely. But the Resurrection changed their view. For the first time they grasped what He had been saying. Can you imagine what it was like to be with Peter when he finally understood?
Acts 2:14–36 provides this account. The man who stood up and spoke on the day of pentecost was not the same man who had denied Christ on the night of His arrest. What changed Peter was not merely being around Jesus; the indwelling of Christ’s Spirit made the transformation complete.
Make Christ the focus of your days and the emphasis of your praise. He knows where He is leading you, and He is aware of all that is needed to make your life complete.
Neither should you become discouraged over the times you fall short of your expectations. Allow God to be in control, and you will discover freedom unlike any you have ever known.
O God, You are the focus of my life. You are all I need to make my life complete. You are in complete control. You are free to set me free.
||Praying for Others
“With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints” (Eph. 6:18).
God wants you to look beyond your own problems and pray for the needs of others.
The great preacher D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones wrote, “Before the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, in Barcelona, Madrid and other places, there were psychological clinics with large numbers of neurotics undergoing drug treatments and others attending regularly for psychoanalysis and such like. They had their personal problems, their worries, their anxieties, their temptations, having to go back week after week, month after month, to the clinics in order to be kept going.
“Then came the Civil War; and one of the first and most striking effects of that War was that it virtually emptied the psychological and psychiatric clinics. These neurotic people were suddenly cured by a greater anxiety, the anxiety about their whole position, whether their homes would still be there, whether their husbands would still be alive, whether their children would be killed.
“Their greater anxieties got rid of the lesser ones. In having to give attention to the bigger problem they forgot their own personal and somewhat petty problems” (The Christian Soldier: An Exposition of Ephesians 6:10 to 20 [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1978], p. 357).
That’s a negative illustration of a positive principle: your own problems pale as you pray in the Spirit on behalf of others. Praying “in the Spirit” (Eph. 6:18) is praying in concert with the Holy Spirit—in harmony with His Person and will. It’s synonymous with praying according to God’s will (1 John 5:14).
The Holy Spirit intercedes for you (Rom. 8:26–27), and you are to intercede for others. That’s not always easy in our contemporary religious environment where self-centeredness is praised rather than shunned and more and more professing Christians are embracing the health, wealth, and prosperity heresy. But God’s mandate is for us to love one another, pray for one another, and look out for one another’s interests (Phil. 2:3–4). Let that mandate govern all your relationships.
Suggestions for Prayer: Make a list of people for whom you want to intercede. ✧ Spend time praying for each person, asking God to show you specific ways to minister to his or her needs.
For Further Study: Read Philippians 2:1–11. ✧ What should be your attitude toward other believers? ✧ How did Christ set an example of proper attitudes?
“But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”
1 Corinthians 12:7
God wants every Christian to understand spiritual gifts and use his or hers wisely.
A spiritual gift is a channel through which the Holy Spirit ministers to the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:11). The day we were born again into God’s family, His Spirit distributed to us a spiritual gift. Therefore, having a spiritual gift does not mean a believer is “spiritual.” What we really must ask is, “Is the channel clear?” Hypothetically, someone could have all the recorded spiritual gifts and not be using any of them. Or that believer could be greatly abusing some gifts. In either case, such a person would not be spiritual.
It is also incorrect to equate a natural ability with a spiritual gift. Someone might say, “My gift is baking pies”; another might say, “I’m good at playing the piano.” Those are wonderful and useful abilities, but they are natural abilities, not spiritual gifts.
Paul illustrates the difference between abilities and gifts. He could have used his knowledge of philosophy and literature to write and deliver great orations. However, this is what he said to the Corinthians: “I did not come with superiority of speech or wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:1–2). The Holy Spirit uses the abilities of people like Paul and speaks through them, but He expresses Himself in a supernatural way, which is not necessarily related to the person’s natural skills.
If we rely on our own ability to produce spiritual fruit, we hinder what the Spirit wants to do in us. Instead, ponder what Peter says about using your gift: “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Whoever speaks, let him speak, as it were, the utterances of God; whoever serves, let him do so as by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 4:10–11).
Suggestions for Prayer: Thank the Lord for the special spiritual gift He has given you. Ask that He would help you use it faithfully, to its full potential.
For Further Study: Read Romans 12:4–8 and list the spiritual gifts mentioned there. What does 1 Corinthians 12, especially verses 12–31, emphasize regarding the use of the various gifts within the church?
Love Me, Love Men
On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.
Jesus said that the Ten Commandments could be summed up in two commands: love Me, and love men. Perhaps you wonder how you can ever live up to all the commands in the Bible. The answer is very simple: love God, love men, and do what you want.
When you love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and you love your neighbor as yourself, you can do what you want because you will be the person God wants you to be. Because of your love, you won’t kill anyone, defile anyone, steal anything, or covet what another person has. The Spirit will cultivate in your heart a love that precludes any desire to do wrong.
September 29 – The Offer of Salvation
“‘For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him’” (John 3:16–17).
God’s gracious gift of salvation is freely available to whoever believes in Christ. The free offer of the gospel is broad enough to encompass the vilest sinner (1 Tim. 1:15), yet narrow enough to exclude all who reject Christ (John 3:18). But to those who come to Him on His terms, Jesus said, “The one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out” (John 6:37)—they will never perish.
To “perish” is to face God’s eternal judgment. It is true that “God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world.” Jesus Himself declared in John 12:47, “I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.” Yes, God will ultimately judge those who reject His Son, but this was not the mission of the Son in His first coming.
Furthermore, the point of Jesus’ coming was not to redeem Israel and condemn the Gentiles, “but that the world might be saved through Him.” God’s gracious offer of salvation extended beyond Israel to all mankind. Once again, Nicodemus should have known this, for in the Abrahamic covenant God declared, “I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed” (Gen. 12:3). Gentile salvation was always God’s purpose.
Are you ever troubled that your salvation is perhaps still in doubt, eligible for recall if you don’t toe a certain line or achieve a base level of righteousness? Take heart in the promise that coming to Christ equates to never being “cast out.”
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.
Reading for Today:
Isaiah 49:8 acceptable time…day of salvation. The Messiah is represented as asking for the grace of God to be given to sinners. God gives His favorable answer in a time of grace (61:1) when salvation’s day comes to the world (Gal. 4:4, 5; Heb. 4:7). At His appointed time in the future, the Lord will, by His Servant, accomplish the final deliverance of Israel. Paul applied these words to his ministry of proclaiming the gospel of God’s grace to all people (2 Cor. 6:2). a covenant to the people. When the Lord saves and regathers Israel, they will return to the land, to which Joshua brought their ancestors after their exit from Egypt, now restored and glorious (44:26; Josh. 13:1–8).
Isaiah 50:6 My back…My cheeks…My face. The Servant remained obedient though provoked to rebel by excessively vile treatment. Jesus fulfilled this prophecy by remaining submissive to the Father’s will (Matt. 26:67; 27:26, 30; Mark 14:65; 15:19; Luke 22:63; John 18:22).
Isaiah 50:7 set My face like a flint. So sure was He of the Lord God’s help that He resolutely determined to remain unswayed by whatever hardship might await Him (Ezek. 3:8, 9). Jesus demonstrated this determination in setting His face to go to Jerusalem to be crucified (Luke 9:51).
Ephesians 1:13, 14 sealed with the Holy Spirit. God’s own Spirit comes to indwell the believer and secures and preserves his eternal salvation. The sealing of which Paul speaks refers to an official mark of identification placed on a letter, contract, or other document. That document was thereby officially under the authority of the person whose stamp was on the seal. Four primary truths are signified by the seal: 1) security (Dan. 6:17;Matt. 27:62–66); 2) authenticity (1 Kin. 21:6–16); 3) ownership (Jer. 32:10); and 4) authority (Esth. 8:8–12). The Holy Spirit is given by God as His pledge of the believer’s future inheritance in glory (2 Cor. 1:21).
Ephesians 1:19, 20 exceeding greatness of His power. God’s great power, that very power which raised Jesus from the dead and lifted Him by ascension back to glory to take His seat at God’s right hand, is given to every believer at the time of salvation and is always available (Acts 1:8; Col. 1:29). Paul therefore did not pray that God’s power be given to believers but that they be aware of the power they already possessed in Christ and use it (3:20).
DAY 29: Why does Paul use the word “mystery” so often in his letter to the Ephesians?
Paul actually uses the word “mystery” six times in this letter (1:9; 3:3, 4, 9; 5:32; 6:19). By comparison, the word appears twice in Romans, once in 1 Corinthians, four times in Colossians, once in 1 Timothy, and nowhere else. Contrary to our use of “mystery” as a series of clues to be figured out, Paul’s use of the word points to mystery as a heretofore unrevealed truth that has been made clear. The word “mystery” preserves the sense that the revealed truth has such awesome implications that it continues to amaze and humble those who accept it.
Ephesians introduces various aspects of the “mystery.” Paul explained his use of the word in 3:4–6 by saying, “that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel.” When the unsearchable riches of Christ are preached among the Gentiles, one result is an understanding of the “fellowship of the mystery” (3:9). And when God’s plan for human marriage is used to explain the unique relationship between Christ and His bride, the church, Paul reminded his readers that the real subject is a great mystery (5:32). And finally, Paul asked the Ephesians to pray for him that he would be able “boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel” (6:19).The gospel is not mysterious because it is hard to understand. It is mysterious because it is unexpected, unmerited, and free. Though Paul didn’t use the word in this passage, his summary of the mystery for the Ephesians can be found in 2:8,9:“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”
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.
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