WONDERFUL WORDS OF LIFE
Words and Music by Philip P. Bliss, 1838–1876
The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. (John 6:63)
One of the basic precepts of the Sunday school movement has always been that God’s Word must be carefully and systematically studied by believers of all ages.
Study it carefully, think of it prayerfully,
Till in your heart its precepts dwell;
Slight not its history, ponder its mystery,
None can e’er prize it too fondly or well.
One of the earnest concerns of many present leaders is the biblical ignorance of so many church people. Often precious Sunday school time is spent in teaching everything but the Bible itself. Yet the churches that do teach the Scriptures diligently and apply their teachings to modern living are the churches that are experiencing the greatest growth. We never outgrow our need for the Bible; it becomes more helpful to us with the years.
We must also realize that God’s truth revealed to us is never contrary or apart from the Bible. Often there have been those who have claimed to have extra revelations through visions which supersede the Scriptures. God’s Word clearly warns against this false assertion (Jeremiah 23:16).
Philip P. Bliss was one of the most important names in the development of early gospel music. Before his tragic death at age 38, he wrote many favorites still enjoyed by congregations. “Wonderful Words of Life” was written by Bliss in 1874, for the first issue of a Sunday school paper, Words of Life. These words still speak to both young and old of the importance of God’s Word in our daily lives:
Sing them over again to me—wonderful words of life; let me more of their beauty see—wonderful words of life. Words of life and beauty, teach me faith and duty:
Christ, the blessed one, gives to all wonderful words of life; sinner, list to the loving call—wonderful words of life. All so freely given, wooing us to heaven:
Sweetly echo the gospel call—wonderful words of life; offer pardon and peace to all—wonderful words of life. Jesus, only Savior, sanctify forever:
Refrain: Beautiful words, wonderful words of life.
For Today: Psalm 119:103, 172; Jeremiah 15:16; Matthew 4:4
Reflect on whether God’s Word has the place of importance in your life that it should have. Consider ways that this could be improved. Sing this musical reminder—
March 4: A Prayer for Guidance
Numbers 3:40–4:49; John 12:20–50; Psalm 5:1–12
When we feel downtrodden, it’s easy to lash out at those around us. Too often, caught in the injustice of our circumstances, we might begin to feel an unhealthy amount of self-justification. It’s difficult to see where the lines of right and wrong fall when anger and hurt overwhelm us.
The psalmist presents an alternative to this: turning to the God of justice for guidance, protection, and insight. Psalm 5 records a heartfelt cry. This cry is directed at the God who acts justly in a world where evil seems to win (something not always easy to comprehend). Before making a judgment, the psalmist says, “I will set forth my case to you and I will watch” (Psa 5:3). Rather than push forward with his own agenda, he calls out for God’s justice because Yahweh is “not a God who desires wickedness” (Psa 5:4).
The psalmist acknowledges God’s sovereignty and love, which is the basis for his confidence: “through the abundance of your steadfast love I will enter your house. I will bow down toward your holy temple in awe of you” (Psa 5:7). Before calling out the evil actions of his enemies, he prays for direction: “lead me in your righteousness because of my enemies; make straight before me your way” (Psa 5:8). The psalmist prays; then, he acts with God’s justice in view.
In John 12, Jesus states that utter and complete devotion to God and His kingdom should be the focus of our lives: “Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor” (John 12:25–26).
How can you pray for guidance in a world that often seems cold and uncaring? How can you trust God to lead you to act in ways that please Him?
Rebecca Van Noord
Welcome to Daily Treasures from the Word of God. Today’s reading is John 5 through 8. Our lesson is from John 8:31–32, “So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, ‘If you continue in My word, [then] you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.’ ” (NASU)
Truth is one of the great desires of the human heart. Whether it is subjective or objective, most people want to see and live truth. Let’s look at three remarks from our text.
First, Jesus addressed His disciples regarding truth. John describes the believers as Jews who believed in Jesus. We have a tendency to forget the heavy influence of Judaism and Jewish society in the Bible. The first disciples were Jews as was Jesus. They participated in the Temple worship and the synagogues. They read and studied the Torah. Many of them openly accepted Jesus as the Messiah who fulfilled the promise in Scripture. These are the ones who believed in Jesus and what He taught.
Second, Jesus defines who His disciples are. They are the ones who continue in His word. The word translated as continue comes from meno in Greek which can also mean remain, stay, abide, live and dwell. What is significant here is the emphasis on relationship. The true disciple needs to be connected to Jesus and His word which is true.
Jesus and His word are the measure of a disciple; that is, those who follow Him and obey His commands. Being a disciple is much more than mere intellectual assent. Disciples are to submit to His authority which is based on His word. Discipleship means total loyalty to Him and His word.
Last, Jesus offers freedom to His disciples. The result is freedom. But the question is freedom from what? The context of this passage tells us it is freedom from sin. Who in any culture does not need to be free from sin? All of humanity has fallen short of God’s righteousness and has sinned. This is the paradox of the human existence.
In summary, Jesus addressed His disciples regarding truth. Jesus defines who are His disciples are. And, Jesus offers freedom to His disciples.
Let’s learn from our text the magnificence of living a vibrant relationship with Jesus Christ and His word. He is the one who said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through me.” Let us take note of the meaning this verse has for us as disciples of Jesus Christ. He is the one who sets us free from sin and bondage. Take a moment to reflect on your relationship with Jesus by asking Him through the Holy Spirit to speak to you.
It has been a pleasure to share with you Daily Treasures from the Word of God. Tomorrow’s Bible reading is John 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.
Praying According to God’s Word
“I, Daniel, observed in the books the number of the years which was revealed as the word of the Lord to Jeremiah the prophet for the completion of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years. So I gave my attention to the Lord God to seek Him by prayer and supplications” (Dan. 9:2–3).
God’s sovereignty doesn’t eliminate the need for prayer.
Have you ever wondered if it’s Biblical to pray for things God has already promised in His Word to do? Is it proper to pray, say, for the salvation of sinners, knowing that God will redeem all the elect anyway, or for Christ’s return, knowing it is a sure thing? Daniel gives us a clear answer.
God prophesied through Jeremiah that the Babylonian Captivity would last seventy years (Jer. 25:11–12). When Daniel read that prophecy, he realized that the time was near for his people to return to their homeland. That inspired him to pray fervently.
In Daniel 9:19 he cries out, “O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and take action! For Thine own sake, O my God, do not delay.” He was in tune with God’s Word and understood that somehow his prayers were part of God’s plan.
The exact relationship between God’s sovereignty and our prayers is a mystery, but it is clear that somehow God’s Word and our prayers are co-laborers in achieving God’s will.
Like Daniel, you and I live in a time when many of God’s promises seem near fulfillment. Never before have world events pointed so dramatically to the nearness of the return of our Lord. Consequently, this is not the time for complacency or over-enthusiastic speculation. It is the time for careful Bible study and fervent prayer.
Suggestions for Prayer: Thank God for His faithfulness and the sure promises of His Word. ✧ Ask Him for spiritual wisdom and insight to discern His will and then live accordingly.
For Further Study: Jeremiah 24:1–25:13 gives some background to Judah’s captivity in Babylon. After reading those verses, answer these questions: ✧ To what kind of fruit did God liken Judah? ✧ What did God say would happen to King Zedekiah? ✧ What warning did the prophets give to Judah? ✧ What was Judah’s response? ✧ How would God deal with Babylon?
Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
2 Peter 3:18
Spiritual growth is a process. There is an order. Lessons must be learned before other lessons can be assimilated.…
I don’t know where you are in the process, but God does. He is engineering your circumstances with a definite result in mind. Part of His plan is to bring you to the end of yourself, to a point of desperation where you get so sick of yourself and your inability to change that you throw up your hands in surrender. When that happens, you are closer than you have ever been to knowing the joy of the Spirit-filled life.
The Blame Game
Scripture reading: Genesis 3:8–13
Key verse: Psalm 32:10–11
Many sorrows shall be to the wicked: but he that trusteth in the Lord, mercy shall compass him about. Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart. (kjv)
The mother came into the living room carrying a broken bud vase. Her daughter continued playing as though she did not see her. Finally her mother asked, “Catherine, do you know how this got broken?” The little girl thought for a moment and then replied, “Yes, Mickey did it.” The mother knew that her daughter was speaking of an imaginary friend.
Obviously the woman’s daughter had devised a scheme to avoid punishment. And while we think such stories are cute, they are not far from the actions of adults who try to cover up their sin by blaming others. In the Garden, Adam blamed Eve. Eve blamed the serpent.
How many of us have played the blame game by saying, “If only he had not made me do this or feel this way”? No one can force you to do anything. You can say no to anger, resentment, jealousy, divisiveness, fear, and much more. Blaming others for your actions leads only to heartache and feelings of anxiety. Take responsibility for what you have done. Learn to be honest with yourself and others, and you will discover a marvelous freedom.
After all, Eve chose to disobey God, and Adam made the same decision. Let obedience rule your heart. When this is your principal goal, you will be blessed.
Let obedience rule my heart, Lord. Help me seek Your forgiveness instead of blaming others for my faults.
Maturity in Suffering
May the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.
1 Peter 5:10
A Christian’s call to glory necessitates walking the path of suffering. Today’s verse explains why. Suffering is God’s way of maturing His people spiritually. He is pleased when we patiently endure the suffering that comes our way. Suffering is a part of God’s plan to prepare His people for glory.
The apostle Peter said this regarding the value of suffering: “You greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 1:6–7). God allows suffering as a validation of our faith. It also produces patience, though patience is a quality we won’t need in eternity—there will be no reason for impatience there. But beyond those benefits, suffering increases our capacity to praise, honor, and glorify God—and that’s something we will use throughout eternity.
March 4 How You Profit from Suffering
1 Peter 5:9–11
2 Timothy 2:12
If we endure, We shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us.
We go out of our way to avoid suffering. We want winter homes in Florida and summer homes in Maine. We’ll do all we can, humanly speaking, to keep in our comfort zone.
But if suffering is not desirable, does that also mean it cannot be profitable? Does the pain have no purpose or meaning? Since “God causes all things to work together for good” (Rom. 8:28 nasb), suffering must have some positive consequences.
For one, it drives you deeper to the heart of God. Your ultimate purpose should be not to achieve pleasure or happiness but to know Christ and become like Him. Real trouble facilitates that goal, driving you closer to Him.
For another, suffering causes You to receive more of God’s marvelous, merciful grace. You think you are strong, but suffering reveals your weaknesses. That’s when you discover the inexhaustible resources of God. He gives you all you need to endure. His strength replaces yours.
Still another, you develop a base of reality and compassion with which you can minister to and love others. The former or present cancer sufferer best helps another cancer patient.
Suffering is never desirable. But your sovereign, loving God can make it profitable.
I must be honest, Lord. I don’t like suffering. Help me realize that trouble drives me closer to You. As my weaknesses surface, reveal to me Your inexhaustible resources.
The Priority of Prayer
Scripture reading: Daniel 6:1–28
Key verse: Daniel 6:10
When Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days.
Sometimes it doesn’t take much to throw you off track when it comes to spending time in prayer. You finally get by yourself and bow your head, and the phone rings. You suddenly remember another obligation. One of the children runs in with a question or a problem that cannot wait. Or maybe you can’t concentrate, and you decide to give up and try again later.
For Daniel, not even the threat of becoming lunch for lions deterred him from his daily habit of prayer. The edict to worship the king was handed down, and the rulers waited with delight to catch Daniel in the act of defiance. Of course, they did not have to wait long. Daniel continued to pray before God three times a day, as he always did.
What gave Daniel his determination and resolve? He believed without a shadow of a doubt that God would honor his commitment to prayer and take care of any trouble. Daniel did not concern himself with who might see or what others would think; he focused on the Lord alone.
In the end, Daniel was saved, the king was awed, and the rulers got to meet the lions. And here is the good news: God protects and uplifts you, too, when you trust Him to handle the consequences of obedience in prayer.
Dear Lord, give me the determination and resolve to make prayer a priority. Make it the consuming passion of my life.
The Sufficiency of Christ
Scripture Reading: Ephesians 1:15–23
Key Verse: Colossians 1:18
He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.
As Paul addressed the deity and power of Christ in the first chapter of Colossians, he continually stressed the preeminence of Christ. Paul said He is “the first-born of all creation,” “the first-born from the dead,” and the One who is “to have first place in everything” (vv. 15, 18 nasb).
Paul’s use of the term first place was not, however, the comparative term we sometimes imagine. He was not saying that Jesus is prominent—that is, Christ is first, my family second, the church third, my job fourth, and so on. That wasn’t Paul’s or God’s intention.
What Paul—and the Spirit who inspired him—was attempting to communicate was that Jesus is preeminent. Jesus is above and beyond anyone and anything. Jesus is to be first in our homes, first in our finances, first in our relationships, first in our jobs, first in our leisure time, first and foremost in every conceivable aspect of life. Nothing can compare to Christ. He came not to be on the top of a priority list but to fill all with His fullness.
Is Christ the undisputed Lord over all of your life, reigning supreme? Have you allowed Him “to have first place in everything”?
Jesus, You are above and beyond anyone or anything in my life. You are first in my home, my finances, my relationships, my leisure time, and my work. You are undisputed Lord over my life.
Applying Truth for Victory
Scripture Reading: Philippians 4:10–13
Key Verse: Philippians 4:13
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
In grasping a clear picture of how we can weather the dangers that come with both victory and defeat, we must not forget to apply what we know. Understanding that God is our strength in weakness is one thing, but applying that truth in an effective way is another.
The apostle Paul said he had learned the secret of contentment in any situation—Christ, the source of strength (Philippians 4:12–13). We must do more than just acknowledge God’s awesome power—we need to get it into our lives. We must submit our will to His will. Asking God to give us strength to accomplish our will results in burnout. God never promises us strength for our own plans, only for His. That’s why submitting to His will is the first step to seeing His power begin to permeate our lives.
We must also trust Him to control our circumstances for His purposes. Once we realize that God’s plans and purposes are greater than we could imagine, we also have to realize that the path He is leading us down will result in His glory.
The result of relying on God’s strength is that we cease to struggle against that which we cannot control. And victory is found in trusting in the Lord’s strength.
Heavenly Father, I trust Your strength as I face the challenges of life today. I praise You because I will walk in victory!
Seeking a Closeness to God
“Draw near to God.”
The sincerely humble will want a closer relationship with God.
The expression “draw near” was originally associated with the priesthood in Israel. Under the regulations of the Old Covenant, the priests represented the people before God. Prior to coming near God’s presence, the priest had to be washed physically and be ceremonially clean. That meant he had to bathe, wear the proper garments, and offer sacrifices that made his own heart right with God. Then he could draw near to God on the people’s behalf.
Eventually the Hebrew word for drawing near meant anyone who approached the presence of God in worship and prayer. The term became synonymous even of those whose hearts were far from God when they “worshiped” Him. For example, Isaiah 29:13 says, “This people draw near with their words and honor Me with their lip service, but they remove their hearts far from Me, and their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote.”
But the sincere believer, one who has truly humbled himself before God, knows that God wants worshipers to draw near with true and pure hearts: “Let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water” (Heb. 10:22). This applies the language of the Old Testament ceremonial system to us and says that as the priests prepared themselves to be near God, we also should prepare ourselves spiritually to worship Him.
So far this month we have seen that the humble person will come to God for salvation, submit to Him as Lord, and take a stand against the Devil. But the truly humble person will see that his relationship to God is inherently more than those actions. If you claim to be one of the humble, one who has a saving relationship to the Father through the Son, be sure you can also agree with the psalmist Asaph: “But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all Thy works” (Ps. 73:28).
Suggestions for Prayer: Thank God for His grace and mercy in salvation that make it possible for us to have a close relationship with Him.
For Further Study: Read Hebrews 4. What sort of rest is the writer referring to? ✧ How does it compare to the rest that the people of Israel sought during Joshua’s time?
Reading for Today:
Numbers 6:2 the vow of a Nazirite. The word “vow” here is related to the word “wonder,” which signifies something out of the ordinary. “Nazirite” transliterates a Hebrew term meaning “dedication by separation.” The Nazirite separated himself to the Lord by separating himself from 1) grape products (6:3, 4), 2) the cutting of one’s hair (6:5), and 3) contact with a dead body (6:6, 7). The high priest was also forbidden 1) to drink wine while serving in the tabernacle (Lev. 10:9) and 2) to touch dead bodies (Lev. 21:11). Further, both the high priest’s crown (Ex. 29:6; 39:30; Lev. 8:9) and the Nazirite’s head (6:9, 18) are referred to by the same Hebrew word. The Nazirite’s hair was like the high priest’s crown. Like the high priest, the Nazirite was holy to the Lord (6:8; Ex. 28:36) all the days (6:4, 5, 6, 8) of his vow.
Proverbs 11:2 pride. From a root meaning “to boil,” or “to run over,” indicating an overwhelmingly arrogant attitude or behavior. It is used of ordinary men (Deut. 17:12, 13); kings (Neh. 9:10); Israel (Neh. 9:16, 29); false prophets (Deut. 18:20); and murderers (Ex. 21:14). the humble. A rare word, which appears in Micah 6:8: “walk humbly with your God.” This humble and teachable spirit is first of all directed toward God (see 15:33; 16:18, 19; 18:12; 22:4).
Mark 8:23 spit on his eyes. This action and Jesus’ touching his eyes with His hands (v. 25) were apparently meant to reassure the blind man (who would naturally depend on his other senses, such as touch) that Jesus would heal his eyes (see 7:33; John 9:6).
Mark 8:30 tell no one. Jesus’ messianic mission cannot be understood apart from the Cross, which the disciples did not yet understand (see vv. 31–33; 9:30–32). For them to have proclaimed Jesus as Messiah at this point would have only furthered the misunderstanding that the Messiah was to be a political-military deliverer. The fallout was that the Jewish people, desperate to be rid of the yoke of Rome, would seek to make Jesus king by force (John 6:15; see 12:12–19).
DAY 4: What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus Christ?
In Mark 8:34, Jesus Christ makes it clear that no one who is unwilling to “deny himself” can legitimately claim to be a disciple. When He adds that one must “take up his cross,” He reveals the extent of self-denial—to the point of death, if necessary. The extent of desperation on the part of the penitent sinner who is aware he can’t save himself reaches the place where nothing is held back as He follows Jesus Christ (see Matt. 19:21, 22).
Jesus says that whoever “loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it” (v. 35). This paradoxical saying reveals an important spiritual truth: those who pursue a life of ease, comfort, and acceptance by the world will not find eternal life. On the other hand, those who give up their lives for the sake of Christ and the gospel will find it.
To have all that the world has to offer yet not have Christ is to be eternally bankrupt. All the world’s goods will not compensate for losing one’s soul eternally (v. 36). It is the “soul,” the real person, who will live forever in heaven or hell. Those who reject the demands of discipleship prove themselves to be ashamed of Jesus Christ and the truth He taught.
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.
March 4 – Practicing Mercy
“‘Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy’” (Matthew 5:7).
The most obvious way we can show mercy is through physical acts. Jesus specifically commands us to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick and imprisoned, and offer any other practical help to those who need it. When we serve others in need, we demonstrate a heart of mercy.
The way of mercy did not begin in the New Testament. The Old Testament law taught, “You shall not harden your heart, nor close your hand from your poor brother; but you shall freely open your hand to him, and shall generously lend him sufficient for his need in whatever he lacks” (Deut. 15:7–8).
Mercy is also to be shown in our attitudes. Mercy does not hold a grudge, harbor resentment, capitalize on another’s failure or weakness, or publicize another’s sin.
Mercy is also to be shown spiritually. First, it is shown through pity. The sensitive Christian will grieve more for lost souls than for lost bodies. Second, we are to show spiritual mercy by confrontation. Paul says that, as Christ’s servants, we should gently correct “those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim. 2:25). Third, we are to show spiritual mercy by praying. The sacrifice of prayer for those without God is an act of mercy. Finally, we are to show mercy by proclaiming the saving gospel of Jesus Christ. That is the most merciful thing we can do.
How has your life been transformed by being the blessed recipient of these various acts and expressions of mercy? What might occur in the lives of your children, your spouse, your parents, your friends—anyone to whom you begin to show consistent compassion?
From Daily Readings from the Life of Christ, Vol. 1, John MacArthur. Copyright © 2008. Used by permission of Moody Publishers, Chicago, IL 60610, http://www.moodypublishers.com.
The Parable of the Sheep and the Goats – Part Three
Theme: Eternity in hell is no joking matter
This week’s lessons describe the horrid nature of hell and the importance of knowing our destiny.
“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
Let’s notice one other thing. Notice that the wicked are condemned in this story not because of some great positive evil they have done, but for their simple neglect of doing good. Or to put it in other terms, the people spoken of here are not the great sinners of the world, like Adolf Hitler or some serial killer. They are the good people who occupy the pews of churches and serve on philanthropic boards. Therefore, when the judgment comes they are astonished. They are like the foolish virgins who cannot understand why the groom will not open the door for them or the servant who cannot perceive why the Lord is not satisfied by his zero-growth performance.
R. V. G. Tasker says, “As in the previous parables of the ten virgins and of entrusted wealth, so in this picture of the great assize, it is not so much positive wrong-doing that evokes the severest censure, as the utter failure to do good.”1 The desire to do good comes from receiving the life of the Lord Jesus Christ within, which is regeneration.
Now we must talk about hell. We sometimes hear people say that they cannot believe in an Old Testament God who is full of wrath and judgment and that they prefer the God of the gentle Jesus. But they forget that it is Jesus more than any other person in the Bible who speaks most clearly about hell. Matthew 25 is an example. In the parable of the talents, the master cries, “Throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (v. 30). In the separation of the sheep from the goats, the King tells the goats, “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (v. 41). The chapter ends by Jesus’ frightening summation: “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life” (v. 46).
We may not like these statements. Indeed, how can anyone like them? But they were spoken by Jesus, the very Son of God, and I think he knew what he was talking about. We would do well to take his warnings seriously.
Should we take them seriously? Is hell to be feared? Or can we throw it off with a shrug or a joke, like the one that tells us not to worry about hell because if we die and go to hell, “we’ll be so busy shaking hands with old friends that we won’t have time to worry.”
Really? Jesus described hell as a total separation. And not just from those who will be with Christ in heaven. It is separation from God. Jesus expressed it when he quoted the King as saying, “Depart from me, you who are cursed” (v. 41).
It is interesting how most of us divide people up. We separate men from women, the haves from the have-nots, the privileged and the disadvantaged, the wise and the foolish, rulers and those who are ruled, people who are of our own class or like us and all others. Someone said on one occasion, “The whole world can be divided into two classes, those who divide the world into two classes and those who do not.” The ways in which we divide people up seem almost endless. Yet the division in Matthew 25 is the only one that really matters. It is the division between those who will “go away to eternal punishment” and those who will enter into “eternal life” (v. 46). It is between the saved and the lost.
That division is absolute. Charles Haddon Spurgeon wrote, “Not one goat will be left among the sheep, nor one sheep with the goats… There will be no middle company in that day.”2
1 R. W. G. Tasker, The Gospel According to St. Matthew (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1961), p. 239.
2 Charles Haddon Spurgeon, The Gospel of the Kingdom: A Popular Exposition of the Gospel According to St Matthew (Pasadena, Tex: Pilgrim Publications, 1974), p. 228
Why are the wicked condemned in this parable?
Why must we be clear about the division between those going to hell and those going to heaven?
Freedom – Part Four
FREEDOM – Part Four
Try to lead the children to Christ as Saviour and Lord.
1. We are free from fear.
2. We are free from care.
Sometimes small boys and girls are very much afraid of the dark. They do not even like to go to bed in the dark. Of course when they are older they become free from that fear. But even older people are afraid of some things. Yet if we belong to the Lord Jesus we need not be afraid of anything, for He has made us free from fear. Read Romans 8:15. There you find that we are not in bondage or slavery, so that we need to be afraid. And in 1 John 4:18 we find that God’s perfect love to us casts out our fear.
Many people are afraid of death and well they may be if they are not saved, for then death means separation from God forever in hell. But even some who have believed in God in the time before Christ died, were afraid of death, because they knew so very little of life beyond the grave. In Hebrews 2:15 we read of Christ’s delivering those who spent their whole lives in slavery because of fear of death. Fear was like a terrible master who kept them always unhappy and miserable. They were slaves to this fear. But then Christ came, and died, and rose again from the dead, so now there is no fear of death for us. That fear is gone forever. Psalms 23:4 says that we need fear no evil because the Lord is with us. Death only means going home to Heaven for those who are His.
God has planned everything in our lives. Nothing can happen to us unless He lets it, so we do not have to be afraid of what may happen, day or night. If we are sick, we can just rest quietly, knowing that the Lord will do for us what is best. If we have hard lessons in school, we can just ask the Lord to help us with them, and be sure He will, if we do our best, too. We need not be afraid of anything at all, since we belong to God, and He is our Father and loves us and cares for us.
Another enemy that some Christians let be their masters is worry. They worry about everything—about what has happened, about what may happen, and about what may not happen. They are never quiet and content. There is a little verse that speaks of this:
Said the robin to the sparrow, I should really like to know,
Why these anxious human beings rush about and worry so.
Said the sparrow to the robin, Well, I think that it must be
That they have no heavenly Father, such as cares for you and me.
Of course birds cannot talk, nor think about such things, but it is true that we seem to be more worried than they. Yet God cares more for us than for the birds (Matthew 6:26). Read 1 Peter 5:7, Philippians 4:6 and Matthew 6:25-34 to see what God says about His care for us. He takes care of us; why should we worry? Do we think that He cannot do it well?
So you see all fear is gone. We do not have to worry about slavery any more for we are free from all bad things. We are free from condemnation and judgment, from the power of sin, and from the law and even from fear and worry. We can lift up our heads, and rejoice in all that God has done for us.
Why might you fear death?
Should Christians fear death?
Where does courage to face death and slavery come from?
Wed, March 04, 2015
MISUSING THE BIBLE
I believe that everything in the Bible is true, but to attempt to make the Bible a textbook for science is to misunderstand it completely and tragically! It has become a fairly popular practice for Bible teachers to claim to find in the Scriptures confirmation of almost every recent discovery made by science. Apparently, no one noticed that the scientist had to find it before the Bible teacher could, and it never seemed to occur to anyone to wonder why, if it was there in the Bible in such plain sight, it took several thousand years and the help of science before anyone saw it. In recent years, the Bible has been “recommended” for many other purposes from the one for which it was written. The purpose of the Bible is to bring men to Christ, to make them holy and prepare them for heaven. Any manipulation of the Scriptures to make them speak peace to the natural man is evil and can only lead to ruin!
Which they… wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.
2 Peter 3:16
In recent years, the Bible has been “recommended” for many other purposes from the one for which it was written.
Lord, when I read Your Word, let me discover the most important thing of all, Your will.
ADORATION: Address God with Reverence and Awe
Having thus engaged our hearts to approach God. Jeremiah 30:21(ESV)
We must solemnly address ourselves to that infinitely great and glorious Being with whom we have to do, as those who are possessed with a full belief of his presence and a holy awe and reverence of his Majesty, which we may do in such expressions as these:
Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come! Revelation 4:8(ESV)
O you whose name is the LORD, who alone are the Most High over all the earth. Psalm 83:18(ESV)
O God, you are our God, earnestly we seek you; Psalm 63:1(ESV) our God, and we will praise you; our fathers’ God, and we will exalt you. Exodus 15:2(ESV)
O you who are the true God, the living God, the one only living and true God, 1 Thessalonians 1:9(ESV) and the everlasting King! Jeremiah 10:10(ESV) The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Deuteronomy 6:4(ESV)
And may we thus distinguish ourselves from the worshipers of false gods.
The idols of the nations are silver and gold, they are vanity and a lie, the work of human hands; Psalm 115:4(ESV) those who make them become like them, so do all who trust in them. Psalm 115:8(ESV) But the Portion of Jacob is not like these, for he is the one who formed all things, and Israel is the tribe of his inheritance; the LORD of hosts is his name, Jeremiah 10:16(ESV) God over all, blessed forever. Romans 9:5(ESV)
Their rock is not as our Rock; our enemies are by themselves, Deuteronomy 32:31(ESV) for he is the Rock of ages; the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock: Isaiah 26:4(ESV) His name endures forever, and his renown throughout all ages, Psalm 135:13(ESV) even when the gods who did not make the heavens and the earth shall perish from the earth and from under the heavens. Jeremiah 10:11(ESV)
Matthew Henry’s Method for Prayer
 Osbeck, K. W. (1996). Amazing grace: 366 inspiring hymn stories for daily devotions (pp. 75–76). Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications.
 Barry, J. D., & Kruyswijk, R. (2012). Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
 Venditti, L., & Venditti, N. (2012). Daily Treasures from the Word of God. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 76). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
 Stanley, C. F. (2004). God’s way day by day (p. 73). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
 Stanley, C. F. (2002). Seeking His face (p. 67). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
 MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 77). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.
 Stanley, C. F. (1998). Enter His gates: a daily devotional. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
 Stanley, C. F. (2000). Into His presence (p. 67). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
 Stanley, C. F. (1999). On holy ground (p. 67). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
 Stanley, C. F. (2006). Pathways to his presence (p. 67). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
 MacArthur, J. (1997). Strength for today. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.