RESCUE THE PERISHING
Fanny J. Crosby, 1820–1915
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; He hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives … (Isaiah 61:1 KJV)
One of the most tragic words in our vocabulary is the word perishing. Yet it was a word that Jesus Himself often used (Matthew 18:14; Luke 13:3, 5) to describe people who are spiritually alienated from God.
Fanny Crosby, often called the “queen of gospel music,” recalled how she wrote this challenging hymn:
I remember writing that hymn in the year 1869. Like many of my hymns, it was written following a personal experience at the New York City Bowery Mission. I usually tried to get to the mission at least one night a week to talk to “my boys.” I was addressing a large company of working men one hot summer evening, when the thought kept forcing itself on my mind that some mother’s boy must be rescued that night or he might be eternally lost. So I made a pressing plea that if there was a boy present who had wandered from his mother’s home and teaching, he should come to me at the end of the service. A young man of 18 came forward—
“Did you mean me, Miss Crosby? I promised my mother to meet her in heaven, but as I am now living, that will be impossible.”
We prayed for him and suddenly he arose with a new light in his eyes— “Now I am ready to meet my mother in heaven, for I have found God.”
A few days before, William Doane, composer of the music, had sent Fanny Crosby a tune for a new song to be titled “Rescue the Perishing.” It was to be based on the text “Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled” (Luke 14:23).
Rescue the perishing, care for the dying, snatch them in pity from sin and the grave; weep o’er the erring one, lift up the fallen, tell them of Jesus, the mighty to save.
Down in the human heart, crushed by the tempter, feelings lie buried that grace can restore; touched by a loving heart, wakened by kindness, chords that are broken will vibrate once more.
Rescue the perishing, duty demands it; strength for thy labor the Lord will provide; back to the narrow way patiently win them; tell the poor wand’rer a Savior has died.
Refrain: Rescue the perishing, care for the dying; Jesus is merciful, Jesus will save.
For Today: Ezekiel 18:32; Luke 14:23; Romans 9:2, 3; 2 Peter 3:9
Reflect seriously that it is the divine image in every person (Genesis 1:26, 27) that gives life an intrinsic dignity and worth—regardless of race, color, sex, age, or social standing. That’s what makes each person worthy of being rescued from eternal damnation. Sing this musical challenge as you go—
October 2: When Love Is Lost, Labor Is in Vain
Ezekiel 3:16–5:17; Revelation 2:1–11; Job 32:11–22
When zeal lacks love, faith is rendered useless. Love is the crux of faith. We can study the Bible like a scholar, pray like a warrior, evangelize like the world is ending tomorrow, but we still might miss the mark of faith. God desires our love.
The church in Ephesus, one of the most influential communities in the first century ad, patiently endured persecution and held on to their faith. But Ephesus is the first church that Jesus holds accountable in His revelation to John—and not for their lack of zeal:
“And you have patient endurance, and have endured many things because of my name, and have not become weary. But I have this against you: that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen, and repent and do the works you did at first. But if you do not, I am coming to you, and I will remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent” (Rev 2:3–5).
Although the Ephesian church had remained outwardly faithful in formidable circumstances, Jesus still threatened to remove His favor. The community was doing everything right—maintaining orthodox standards, testing apostles, refusing to tolerate evil—but they no longer delighted in the grace that they first knew. They weren’t motivated by the same love.
We hear the same reprimand when Paul writes to the church in Corinth: Even if we “speak with the tongues of men and angels” or “have the gift of prophecy” or have faith that “can remove mountains,” we are nothing without love (1 Cor 13:1–2). Paul continues with the poetry that speaks a hard but necessary truth: Even if we “parcel out all [our] possessions” and “hand over [our bodies] in order that [we] will be burned”—all without love—it doesn’t benefit us or earn us favor with God (1 Cor 13:3–4).
These passages should shake us. If we are relying on our correct doctrines for approval, we need to take our cue from Jesus’ words to the church in Ephesus. If we think our evangelizing efforts, our church involvement, or our Bible reading merit God’s favor, we are mistaken. Even our suffering profits us nothing without love.
The grace God has shown us should break our hearts, drive us to Him, deepen our love—and motivate all of our labors. We must continually return to that grace. It’s His love that initially motivated our love. And it’s His love that sustains it.
Have your labors lost their love? How can you dwell in His grace and love so that all your actions are infused with meaning?
Rebecca Van Noord
Welcome to Daily Treasures from the Word of God. Today’s reading is Psalms 125 through 129. Our lesson is from Psalm 125:1–2, “Those who trust in the Lord Are as Mount Zion, which cannot be moved but abides forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, So the Lord surrounds His people From this time forth and forever.” (NASU)
The biblical writer compares the righteous and the wicked. The real question to ask oneself is in whom am I trusting? For the author, he is undoubtedly trusting in the Lord. Let’s examine three truths.
First, trust in the Lord gives assurance. The author uses Mount Zion as a word picture to illustrate the benefit of trusting in the Lord. Zion represents a place of safety. It was a fortress that was captured from the Jebusites by David and known as “the city of David.” In addition, Zion is where the Ark of the Covenant was placed. Let’s not forget that the Ark was where God’s glory resided. Later on King Solomon moved the Ark to Mount Moriah where Solomon’s Temple was located (1 King 8:1).
Mount Zion was also a place of worship. Psalm 9:11 declares: “Sing praises to the Lord, who dwells in Zion; Declare among the peoples His deeds.” Israel as a people went there to seek the presence of the Lord and to worship Him. The presence of the Lord assists believers to trust in His ways and plans.
Second, trust in the Lord gives victory. A common desire of believers is to overcome and have victory over enemies. It is no different for the writer. Everyone sometime during their lifetime experiences adverse situations and needs to overcome. Sometimes the situation may be resolved in a quick manner or the circumstance may appear to be insurmountable. Yet, the advice of the author is to trust in the Lord in order to defeat the enemy. Whether the enemy may be a person or a spiritual force of darkness, the overriding importance is that the Lord can intervene and bring about a complete turnaround for us. He can and will do it if we trust in Him. Again, just like Mount Zion, the Lord surrounds His people.
Last, trust in the Lord lasts forever. The confidence we place in the Lord has eternal consequences and fruit. He is not like humans that He lies or vacillates. The Almighty God and Creator of the universe is totally dependable.
In review, trust in the Lord gives assurance. Trust in the Lord gives victory. And trust in the Lord lasts forever.
The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews writes about the heavenly Zion (12:22). This is the city of those who have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ. May we trust in Jesus and be part of that heavenly home.
It has been a pleasure to share with you Daily Treasures from the Word of God. Tomorrow’s Bible reading is Psalms 130 through 134. 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.
|Programming Your Spiritual Computer
“Be filled with the knowledge of [God’s] will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord” (Col. 1:9–10).
Godly behavior is the result of godly thinking.
Perhaps you’ve heard computer buffs use the term G.I.G.O.: “garbage in, garbage out.” Input determines output. What you feed into a computer is what you’ll get out.
Similarly, what you program into your mind will eventually influence your behavior. That’s why you must expose your mind to things that are “true,” “honorable,” “right,” “pure,” “lovely,” “of good repute,” “excellent,” and “worthy of praise” (Phil. 4:8). As one preacher put it, “You should be so saturated with God’s Word that your blood is ‘bibline.’ If you cut yourself, you should bleed Bible verses!” His exaggeration reveals his passion for God’s truth—a passion every believer should share.
Paul prayed that we would “walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; [and be] strengthened with all power … for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience, joyously giving thanks to the Father” (Col. 1:10–12).
Those are marvelous Christian characteristics, but how are they achieved? Verse 9 gives us the answer: “Be filled with the knowledge of [God’s] will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding.” The Greek word translated “filled” speaks of influence or control. It’s the same word Paul uses in Ephesians 5:18: “Be filled with [controlled by] the Spirit.” When you’re filled with the Spirit, He governs your choices. Similarly, when you’re filled with the knowledge of God’s will, your choices reflect godly wisdom and understanding.
The phrase “spiritual wisdom and understanding” indicates more than merely knowing God’s Word. It speaks of applying it to your life under the Spirit’s power and direction.
As you prayerfully saturate your mind with God’s Word, it begins more and more to control your thinking and behavior. And the Spirit uses the Word to renew your mind and to protect you from conformity to worldly attitudes and actions (Rom. 12:2).
Suggestions for Prayer: Ask the Holy Spirit to control every aspect of your life today. ✧ Be diligent to apply the appropriate Biblical principles to every circumstance you face.
For Further Study: Memorize Philippians 4:8 as a reminder to feed your mind with the things that produce godliness.
By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, “In Isaac your seed be called,” concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead.
Abraham’s obedience took a tremendous amount of faith. He was willing to obey God because he believed God could raise the dead, even though he had never before seen the dead raised to life. He believed God was so true to His Word and character that if He made a promise, He would even raise the dead to keep it. Is it any wonder he is the greatest human model of faith?
The apostle Paul also commented on Abraham’s faith: “Those who are of faith are sons of Abraham…. Those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham” (Gal. 3:7, 9). Anyone who lives by faith in God is in a spiritual sense a son of Abraham. He is the father of the faithful. The account of Abraham tells us that a man can go through the severest trial of life imaginable if he trusts God, believing that He will keep His promise and accomplish His purposes without making a mistake.
|The Plague of Plagues
“But I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind, and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members.”
Sin is the deadliest plague ever to affect mankind.
Throughout history, deadly plagues have ravaged the human race. In just three years (1348–1350), the infamous “Black Death” (an outbreak of bubonic plague) killed half the population of Europe. In our own times, diseases such as AIDS have reached epidemic proportions.
But there is one plague that is far deadlier than all the others combined: sin. Sin has affected everyone who has ever lived (Rom. 3:19, 23). And unlike other plagues, sin kills everyone it infects (Rom. 5:12).
While sin invariably causes physical and (apart from faith in Christ) spiritual death, it has many other devastating consequences. Sin corrupts the mind (Jer. 17:9; Eph. 4:17–19), the will (cf. Jer. 44:16–17), and the affections (John 3:19; 1 John 2:15). Sin brings people under the control of Satan (John 8:44; Eph. 2:2) and makes them the objects of God’s wrath (Eph. 2:3). Sin robs people of peace (Isa. 48:22) and replaces it with misery (Job 5:7; Rom. 8:20).
Although as Christians we experience God’s gracious forgiveness, sin still has serious consequences in our lives. Sin grieves the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:30), causes God not to answer our prayers (1 Peter 3:7), limits our ability to serve God (2 Tim. 2:20–21), or even disqualifies some from Christian service (1 Cor. 9:27). It also renders our worship hypocritical and unacceptable (Ps. 33:1; Isa. 1:14), causes God to withhold blessing (Jer. 5:25), robs us of joy (Ps. 51:12), subjects us to God’s chastening (Heb. 12:5–11), hinders our spiritual growth (1 Cor. 3:1–3), and pollutes our fellowship with Him (1 Cor. 10:21). Most significantly, sin causes our lives to dishonor Him (1 Cor. 6:19–20).
Every true Christian despises sin and yearns to be free from it. Do you realize the deadly nature of sin? I pray that the cry of your heart would echo that of Paul’s: “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?” (Rom. 7:24).
Suggestions for Prayer: Thank God for delivering you from sin, and pray that He would give you a holy hatred for it.
For Further Study: Read Romans 7–8. How did Paul view his struggle with sin? ✧ What was the key to overcoming it?
October 2 – Christ’s Unity with the Father and the Spirit
“‘He who has received His testimony has set his seal to this, that God is true. For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God; for He gives the Spirit without measure’” (John 3:33–34).
Although the majority of people reject Jesus’ message, not everyone does. There are some who accept His testimony, believing in Him for eternal life. In the ancient world, people set their seal to something, often with a signet ring, as a sign of complete acceptance and approval. Those who have received Christ’s testimony thereby verify their belief that “God is true” when He speaks through His Son.
Unlike human teachers, whose words sometimes agree with divine truth and sometimes do not, Jesus always spoke in complete harmony with the Father. Thus, those who profess to believe in God yet reject Jesus Christ are deceived. Jesus is one with the Father (John 10:30)—“He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him” (5:23)—and the Father said of Him, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!” (Matt. 17:5). He is “the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through [Him]” (John 14:6). To reject Jesus, then, is to call God a liar (1 John 5:10).
Jesus is also one with the Holy Spirit. Jesus infallibly spoke “the words of God” because God gave the Spirit to Him “without measure.” Since “in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form” (Col. 2:9), there were no limits to the Spirit’s power working through Him.
When are we guilty of calling God a liar—perhaps not in regards to the salvation He’s given us, but in other matters of expectation and belief? What are the great hazards of doubting His Word and discounting His truthfulness?
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 55:1 Everyone. The Servant’s redemptive work and glorious kingdom is for the benefit of all who are willing to come (53:6). The prophet invites his readers to participate in the benefits obtained by the suffering of the Servant in chapter 53 and described in chapter 54. no money,…without money and without price. Benefits in the Servant’s kingdom will be free because of His redemptive work (53:6, 8, 11; Eph. 2:8, 9). wine and milk. Symbols for abundance, satisfaction, and prosperity (Song 5:1; Joel 3:18).
Isaiah 55:6, 7 Here is one of the clearest Old Testament invitations to salvation now and kingdom blessing later. It gives an excellent example of how people were saved during the Old Testament period. Salvation grace and mercy were available to the soul that was willing to 1) seek the Lord (Deut. 4:29; 2 Chr. 15:4) and 2) call on Him while He is still available (65:1; Ps. 32:6; Prov. 8:17; Matt. 25:1–13). Such true seeking in faith is accompanied by repentance, which is described as forsaking ways and thoughts and turning from sinful living to the Lord. A sinner must come, believing in God, recognizing his sin, and desiring forgiveness and deliverance from that sin. At the same time he must recognize his own inability to be righteous or to satisfy God and cast himself on God’s mercy. It is then that he receives a complete pardon. His sin has been covered by the substitution of the Messiah in his place (chap. 53).
Psalm 113:9 the barren woman. Sarah (Gen. 21:2), Rebekah (Gen. 25:21), and Rachel (Gen. 30:23) would be the most significant since the outcome of the Abrahamic Covenant depended on these childless women being blessed by God to be mothers.
Ephesians 4:12 equipping. This refers to restoring something to its original condition, or its being made fit or complete. In this context, it refers to leading Christians from sin to obedience. Scripture is the key to this process (2 Tim. 3:16, 17; John 15:3). saints. All who believe in Jesus Christ. the work of ministry. The spiritual service required of every Christian, not just of church leaders (1 Cor. 15:58). the edifying of the body of Christ. The spiritual edification, nurturing, and development of the church (Acts 20:32).
Ephesians 4:14 carried about with every wind of doctrine. Spiritually immature believers who are not grounded in the knowledge of Christ through God’s Word are inclined to uncritically accept every sort of beguiling doctrinal error and fallacious interpretation of Scripture promulgated by deceitful, false teachers in the church. They must learn discernment (1 Thess. 5:21, 22). The New Testament is replete with warnings of such danger (Acts 20:30,31; Rom. 16:17, 18; Gal. 1:6, 7; 1 Tim. 4:1–7; 2 Tim. 2:15–18; 2 Pet. 2:1–3).
DAY 2: Define the spiritually gifted men Christ calls to serve His church in Ephesians 4:11.
“Apostles.” A term used particularly of the 12 disciples who had seen the risen Christ (Acts 1:22), including Matthias, who replaced Judas. Later, Paul was uniquely set apart as the apostle to the Gentiles (Gal. 1:15–17) and was numbered with the other apostles. Those apostles were chosen directly by Christ, so as to be called “apostles of Christ” (Gal. 1:1; 1 Pet. 1:1). They were given 3 basic responsibilities: 1) to lay the foundation of the church (2:20); 2) to receive, declare, and write God’s Word (3:5; Acts 11:28; 21:10, 11); and 3) to give confirmation of that Word through signs, wonders, and miracles (2 Cor. 12:12; Acts 8:6, 7). The term “apostle” is used in more general ways of other men in the early church, such as Barnabas (Acts 14:4), Silas, Timothy, and others (Rom. 16:7; Phil. 2:25). They are called “apostles of the churches” (2 Cor. 8:23) rather than “apostles of Jesus Christ” like the 13. They were not self-perpetuating nor was any apostle who died replaced.
“Prophets.” Not ordinary believers who had the gift of prophecy but specially commissioned men in the early church. The office of prophet seems to have been exclusively for work within a local congregation. They were not “sent ones” as were the apostles (Acts 13:1), but, as with the apostles, their office ceased with the completion of the New Testament. They sometimes spoke practical direct revelation for the church from God (Acts 11:21–28) or expounded revelation already given (implied in Acts 13:1).Their messages were to be judged by other prophets for validity (1 Cor. 14:32) and had to conform to the teaching of the apostles (v. 37). Those two offices were replaced by the evangelists and teaching pastors.
“Evangelists.” Men who proclaim the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ to unbelievers. The related verb translated “to preach the gospel” is used 54 times and the related noun translated “gospel” is used 76 times in the New Testament.
“Pastors and teachers.” This phrase is best understood in context as a single office of leadership in the church. The Greek word translated “and” can mean “in particular” (1 Tim. 5:17). The normal meaning of pastor is “shepherd,” so the two functions together define the teaching shepherd. He is identified as one who is under the “great Pastor” Jesus (Heb. 13:20, 21; 1 Pet. 2:25). One who holds this office is also called an “elder” (Titus 1:5–9) and “bishop” (1 Tim. 3:1–7).
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.
Easter And Missions
Do we really believe that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is something more than making us the “happiest fellows in the Easter parade”? Are we just to listen to the bright cantata and join in singing, “Up from the Grave He Arose,” smell the flowers and go home and forget it? No, certainly not! It is truth and a promise with a specific moral application. The resurrection certainly commands us with all the authority of sovereign obligation—the missionary obligation! I cannot give in t” the devil’s principle, deceitful tactic, which makes so many Christians satisfied with an “Easter celebration” instead of experiencing the power of Christ’s resurrection. It is the devil’s business to keep Christians mourning and weeping with pity beside the cross instead of demonstrating that Jesus Christ is risen, indeed. When will the Christian church rise up, depend on His promise and power, and get on the offensive for the risen and ascended Savior?
That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection . . .
It is truth and a promise with a specific moral application. The resurrection certainly commands us with all the authority of sovereign obligation—the missionary obligation!
Lord, Your resurrection has made me truly happy; nothing else could mean more. It made the way for my salvation.
A. W. Tozer
How God Deals with Sins
How God Deals with Sins
“Among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” (Ephesians 2:3)
Let us consider how God deals with any individual manifestation of sin. We take for our example twins who are brought up in the same environment. The best example would be brothers born of the same father and mother, and born at the same time. We will conceive them to be equally endowed with intelligence and health, so that outwardly they are completely equal.
But one of them has come to see himself in God’s sight as a guilty and lost sinner – he has turned away from any hope of salvation through himself, he has come to put his faith in Christ alone. The other brother has never received the Lord Jesus Christ as his Savior, and he still stands in the sight of God a lost sinner.
Now we will suppose, for the sake of our argument, that a great temptation has come to the Christian brother. He succumbs to it. At the same time, the unsaved brother is guilty of committing exactly the same sin. What is the difference in the sight of God between these two acts of sin, precisely alike, committed by two men with similar backgrounds, their only difference being the presence of saving faith in the life of one and not the other?
We boldly say that there is a vast difference between God’s view of the two acts. Further, we say that the treatment of the two sins by God is entirely different. Let us first take the act of sin as committed by the unsaved man. Let it be what you will – it has not changed his status before God in the slightest detail. But until the moment that regeneration comes, he is a lost soul. If he dies in his sins, the Word of Christ stands formally to attest it, “Where I am going, you cannot come.” (John 8:21). The brother who is now a believer was once like the unsaved brother. But the moment of regeneration has come – sin is dealt with once for all, and forever. The poisonous nature of the corruption is put to the account of Christ who bears the stroke of its judgment and who frees us from its penalty forever. That is why we can say, “By Christ, everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses” (Acts 13:39).
Donald Grey Barnhouse
The Southern Campaign – Part Five
THEME: The Need for Obedience and Faith
This week’s lessons describe another part of the conquest of Canaan, and teach us important qualities of leadership from the life of Joshua.
This leads to the fifth characteristic, which is that Joshua obeyed the Lord completely. This was the most striking of his characteristics. If you go back to the very beginning of the book, you’ll recognize that in the first words of God to him, this is what he was encouraged to do: “Be careful to obey all the law my servant gave you. Do not turn from it to the right or to the left so that you may be successful wherever you go. Be careful to do everything.” Later on we are told, in 11:15, “As the Lord commanded His servant, Moses, so Moses commanded Joshua. And Joshua did it. He left nothing undone of all that the Lord commanded Moses. He obeyed the Lord completely.”
One of our problems is that we don’t do that. We start out, but then we drop back. We obey in part, but we don’t obey totally. We sometimes look at the commands of God as a list of things we have to do to be fully blessed. Then we say to ourselves, “Now, how many of them do I have to do to get just enough blessing to make me happy? And how many of them can I fortuitously leave undone?” What a formula for disaster! In the case of Joshua, it is repeated again and again that he left no survivors, city by city, until he had completed the campaign.
Now we’re not in the business of tearing down cities; but we are in the business, as Paul says, of tearing down strongholds, and every thought that exalts itself against the knowledge of God. That’s an intellectual battle and a spiritual battle in which we’re engaged. But it should be done in the same way and with the same methodology. That’s what made Jonathan Edwards such a great defender of the faith. He not only told the truth; he demolished his opponents. I recall John Gerstner saying of Jonathan Edwards, that when Edwards attacked an opponent he not only defeated him and drove him from the ground, he even brushed off the dust from the spot upon which his opponent stood. One reason we fail in our Christian lives is that we don’t carry through to the end. We’re not willing to obey God utterly.
The sixth and final point is that not only did Joshua obey God completely, but he believed God implicitly. The reason I say that is because this campaign was conducted entirely on the basis of faith in God’s promise. In verse 8 of this chapter, we read, “The Lord said to Joshua, ‘Do not be afraid of them. I have given them into your hand. Not one of them will be able to stand against you.’” And so Joshua said, “If that’s what God has promised, that’s what God will do.” So on the basis of God’s promise, he moved ahead without the slightest doubt whatsoever that God was going to give him the victory.
I like the way R. C. Sproul talks about belief. There is an important difference between believing in God and believing Him. The issue is not whether you believe in God; that is, it is not whether you believe that God exists up there somewhere, or that he is some kind of deity somewhere who has nothing to do with you. Rather, do you believe what God has said? When God speaks in Scripture, do you say, “Yes, Lord, that’s your Word, and that’s the thing I’m going to operate on because your Word is the Word of truth, and I’m going to stand upon it”? This is what Joshua did. And it made him a great man.
Well, I’ve given six characteristics of Joshua. That’s a big order. And you may say as you look at those six things, “Well, I’m not Joshua. And I am so lacking in all of those things, I really don’t know where to start.” Well, I don’t know where you should start either. But God will tell you where to start. The important thing, however, is to start. I’d suggest that you think over those things and pray about them. Ask God what it is you lack, and consider how you should operate as a Christian. You don’t have to become a great Christian leader all at once. But you do have to start if you’re to grow and prosper in the Christian life. Ask yourself if you’re being deterred from things that are really important in order to do short-term things. If so, you’ve got to get that straightened out and begin to work on it. Or maybe you have failed to encourage others. Good management is through other people. Do you have an opportunity to do it? Are you allowing the opportunity to pass by? Are you taking short-cuts? Are you discouraged by previous failures? Are you failing to obey God? Do you actually believe Him?
If God says to you in any one of those areas, “Yes, that’s the problem. That’s where you’re failing,” then you get down on your knees and confess it and say, “God, begin to work with me and make me strong.” We don’t need a generation of failures. We don’t need an army filled with weak soldiers. We need people who know God, and are able to stand strong, and fight the battles that God gives us to fight in our day.
What is the fifth leadership characteristic? How did Joshua carry it out?
What is the sixth leadership quality we see from our passage?
What is the difference between believing in God and believing God? How have you observed evidences of each definition?
What are some things that can cause us to start out well in obedience, but then fail to totally obey?
Are there any of these six characteristics you need to cultivate in your own life? Pray and ask God to show you any area you need to work on.
James Montgomery Boice
You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You.
you have the ability to control what you will think. Every person has the ability to say, “I will think about something else” and then refocus the mind on a new topic, task, or problem to solve. Every person has the ability to say, “I choose to trust God,” or conclude, “I choose to be overwhelmed.”
Furthermore, any child of God who takes a willful stand against thoughts that clearly are harmful is going to be provided a way of escape from that circumstance. God will help you focus your mind on something other than your problem or wrong thinking if you will make the initial step.
Stimulated to Action
Scripture reading: Acts 17:22–31
Key verse: Acts 17:16
Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him when he saw that the city was given over to idols.
In Acts 17:16, we read that as Paul waited for the arrival of Silas and Timothy in Athens, he became “provoked” at what he saw. The city was filled with images of idols. Men had erected statues and monuments to gods that did not exist—the evidence of an inner need to worship something or someone greater than themselves.
Being “provoked” as the apostle Paul was did not mean being angry as we know it. Here the word provoked means “stimulated to action.” At the sight of the spiritual ignorance of the Athenians, Paul was provoked to speak the truth concerning Christ and His messiahship.
Because Paul, a scholar in his own right, knew that words delivered in anger are rarely worth considering, he challenged the Athenian philosophers to a debate. He was amazed at their attempt to worship every god imaginable, even to the point that they made sure they did not leave one out.
Warren Wiersbe comments on Paul’s effort: “Paul’s message is a masterpiece of communication. He started where the people were by referring to their altar dedicated to an unknown god. Having aroused their interest, he then explained who that God is and what He is like. He concluded the message with a personal application that left each council member facing a moral decision, and some of them decided for Jesus Christ.”
Dear Lord, stimulate me to action in behalf of lost souls. Provoke me to respond.
October 2 Building on a Firm Foundation
|1 Corinthians 3:5–15
|1 Corinthians 3:11
No other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
The fifty–five–story skyscraper began to sway and vibrate as the earth tremors grew more intense. The quake climbed to 7.0 on the Richter scale. Smaller buildings crumpled into unrecognizable heaps of rubble. When the shaking stopped and the thick dust cleared, the skyscraper was still standing.
Developers and contractors had planned for the worst, and their foresight paid off. Fortifying the structure with extra steel beams and a special shock–absorption coil system had cost thousands of additional dollars. But when the ultimate test came, their investment stood firm.
In His parable of the wise builder, Jesus made this very point: the foundation is everything. A life built on self–reliance and self–seeking motivations is destined for collapse. But a life based on the lordship of Christ and obedience to God’s principles is unshakable.
Are you a wise builder, or have you settled for the sinking sands of convenience? Sometimes, following the Lord’s direction may appear to be unprofitable, especially when you are criticized or ridiculed for doing so. But when the storms come, temporary rewards are blown away, and unwise builders are left with nothing.
Heavenly Father, I don’t want to settle for the sinking sands of convenience. If I build on my self–reliance, I am destined for collapse. Let me build my life on the lordship of Your Son, Jesus Christ.
The Will of God
Scripture reading: Romans 12:1–2
Key verse: Micah 6:8
He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God?
What is God’s will for your life? Does it include some detailed, elaborate plan with twists and turns and heroic acts? Chances are, it doesn’t. The will of God is basically a reflection of the words written by the prophet Micah (Mic. 6:8).
The will of God is not that difficult to discover, though many fail to experience it. Their sights are set on what they believe God wants them to achieve. God’s will for you and me is simply a matter of loving Him. He may call you to a certain profession, but this is not His ultimate goal. His goal in the life of a believer is one of intimate fellowship.
It is true that God has a plan for your life that corresponds with His will. When God thinks of you, He thinks thoughts of love and mercy, hope and goodness. You can spend a lifetime trying to achieve recognition and a sense of accomplishment, but when you die, the only things that will matter are your love for and obedience to God’s Son.
When you surrender your will to God, He will make sure your life is in line with His perfect plan. The blessings that follow, and there are many, will only bring a sense of satisfaction to all that you do.
Lord, help me to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with You. I surrender my will to You. Bring my life into alignment with Your perfect plan.
Walking with God
Scripture Reading: Psalm 23
Key Verse: Psalm 23:3
He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
Think of the times when you and a friend walked down a country road, strolled along a stretch of beach, or took a long walk in the neighborhood. Perhaps you shared some concerns. Maybe you just talked pleasantly. Or you didn’t say much at all. You simply enjoyed the company of a good friend.
This is the encouraging tenor that can describe your relationship with Jesus Christ. In several instances, the Bible talks about men walking with God (Gen. 5:22; 6:9). In the New Testament, believers are urged to walk in the Spirit, to keep in step with the Spirit’s leadership. The grand, sweeping idea in all instances is that you can enjoy the sweet friendship of the personal Christ.
Sure, God wants obedience and holiness. But when we walk with Him—talking, listening, sharing, confessing—such spiritual traits naturally mark us. God is your Friend. He made you for glad-hearted fellowship with Him. He delights in your good company, spending time revealing His character, love, and wisdom to you.
You can be completely honest with the Father. You can talk about anything with Him. He isn’t embarrassed, and you won’t ever be condemned.
Your life in Christ is a relationship, and it is with the best Friend you could ever want. Enjoy His company and come into His presence with a joyful heart.
Lord, You are my best Friend. I come into Your presence to talk, listen, confess, and share. Thank You for Your friendship.
The Fullness of Blessing
Scripture Reading: Proverbs 12:1–5
Key Verse: Proverbs 12:2
A good man obtains favor from the Lord,
But a man of wicked intentions He will condemn.
While the phrase “walking with the Lord” may sound like a trite, overly-used phrase within the Christian world, its imagery is perfect in describing what a life with God should be like.
Our relationship with God should not wear us out; rather, it should be refreshing. That does not mean that we will not be challenged from time to time and stretched in our faith. However, God isn’t trying to leave us behind. A steady, thriving relationship with God is one in which we grow in our understanding of who He is and what He wants to do with our lives. And in the process of nurturing this relationship, we find His favorable hand resting upon us.
Proverbs 12:2 describes a good man. We become “good” men and women when we walk with God. Our desire for righteousness increases as we walk in the light of His glory. We recognize sin in our lives and long for Him to transform us completely.
In order to stay step-for-step with God, we must maintain our pace with Him, seeking to honor and glorify Him in all that we do. It is there that we find His favor and experience the fullness of His blessing upon our lives.
Lord, I want to walk in Your presence, side by side with You. Take my hand and keep me on pace when I am apt to wander or fall behind.
The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to an uninhabited land; and he shall release the goat in the wilderness.
Righteous God, as far as the east is from the west, so far have You, Lord God, removed my transgressions from me. “In those days and in that time,” You say, “the iniquity of Israel shall be sought, but there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, but they shall not be found; for I will pardon those whom I preserve.” You will cast all my sins into the depths of the sea. Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity?
All we like sheep have gone astray; I, too, have turned to my own way; and You, Lord God, have laid on Jesus the iniquity of us all. He shall bear my iniquities. Therefore You will divide Him a portion with the great, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong, because He poured out His soul unto death, and He was numbered with the transgressors, and He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for us transgressors. The Lamb of God takes away the sin of the world!
Thank You, Jesus, for dying for my sin—and thank You, Father God, for sacrificing Your Son for that specific purpose.
Leviticus 16:22; Psalm 103:12; Jeremiah 50:20; Micah 7:19, 18; Isaiah 53:6; Isaiah 53:11–12; John 1:29
Your World Needs Kindness
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.
The world needs kindness. But let’s narrow the scope even further. Your world needs kindness. Your home needs kindness. Where people are living in close proximity, kindness sometimes gets lost.
In the New Testament, the language given to the church is given to the home. The church met in the home. When Ephesians 4:32 says, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you,” that’s also directed at the home.
We need to be tenderhearted, kind, and forgiving. The fruit of the Spirit is tested in that laboratory we call the family. If you can make it work there, it will work any place on the face of the earth. 
1 Kings 4–5; Ephesians 2; Ezekiel 35; Psalm 85
One might well ask why edom should be specially denounced in Ezekiel 35. Doesn’t this material belong in chapters 25–32? Shouldn’t this passage be connected with the brief denunciation of Edom in 25:12–14? The easiest solution, of course, is to suppose that this is a late interpolation (which is what some critics allege). But that simply knocks the question back: why was the interpolator such an idiot? Moreover, if we can find reasons why the location of this chapter makes sense, then of course it makes sense if placed here in the original text.
Formally, Ezekiel 35 preserves some of the structure of the denunciations in chapter 34: “because … therefore” (e.g., 35:5–6, 10–11). More importantly, of all the neighboring nations Edom was in one respect a special case. The nation of Edom was descended from Esau, and the old rivalry between Jacob and Esau was passed down into the rivalry between Israel and Edom, two nations of relatives divided by a common animus. Edom is not specifically mentioned in this chapter, of course; the reference instead is to Mount Seir (35:2)—i.e., the mountain region east of the Arabah, the valley running south from the Dead Sea. There they harbored their “ancient hostility” (35:5). But the four references to “blood” in this chapter (Hebrew dam) may be a deliberate pun on the unmentioned word Edom, as a way of pointing out that Edom’s callous treachery was all the more repugnant because of the degree of kinship they sustained with Israel. When Jerusalem was on the verge of collapse, Edom hoped that it could profit from the destruction of the “two nations” (35:10, Israel and Judah) for territorial aggrandizement. Probably they tried to trade support for Nebuchadnezzar for the promise of territorial gain. Above all, their gloating over their fallen rivals (35:12–15) is in God’s perspective nothing less than defiance of the Lord himself: “I the Lord was there” (35:10), God declares; “You boasted against me and spoke against me without restraint, and I heard it” (35:13), God warns. In fact, part of the restoration of Israelite exiles to the land will involve making it safe for them: the land must be rid of the “wild beasts” (34:25) that have ravaged it. If this subtly alludes to the surrounding tribes that tried to move in, this prophecy of the destruction of Edom is suitably placed here (see also tomorrow’s meditation.)
Thus quite apart from implicit warnings against nurtured bitterness and feud-like vendettas, this chapter also implicitly reassures the covenant people of God of his continuing commitment to their good—including the destruction of their enemies. What New Testament passages preserve the same tune, transposed to the key of the new covenant?
1 Kings 4–5; Ephesians 2; Ezekiel 35; Psalm 85
Christians are often taught to memorize Ephesians 2:8–9: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” Certainly wonderful truths are expressed in these lines. But I shall focus on some of the things Paul says in the surrounding verses.
(1) Before our conversion, we, like the Ephesians, were dead in our “transgressions and sins” (2:1). Because of our addiction to transgression and sin, because of our habit of following the ways of the world (2:2), because we were simultaneously deceived by the Devil (2:2) and committed to gratifying the desires and thoughts of our sinful natures (2:3), there was simply no way we could respond positively to the Gospel. Worse, our tragic inability was a moral inability: “Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath” (2:3). There was no hope for us unless God himself intervened and brought life where there was only death, and showed mercy where his own justice demanded wrath.
(2) That is what God did: while we were still dead, out of his great love for us, “God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ” (2:4–5). This was out of his sheer grace: we certainly could not help ourselves, for “we were dead” (2:5).
(3) Indeed, God so unites us to Christ that in his eyes we are already raised with him and seated “in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus” (2:6). God has taken these steps “in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus” (2:7). So our ultimate hope and expectation is what still awaits us. No Christian is stable who does not see and value this futurist perspective.
(4) At this point Paul stresses the sheer graciousness of the gift of salvation, a gift received by faith that is itself the gift of God, and is quite apart from any works that we could perform. For if we could, we would boast of them.
(5) But none of this means that we continue to live as we did before—dead in transgressions, following our own desires and thoughts. Far from it: we who have received God’s grace, and the faith to apprehend it, are “God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (2:10). One can no more enjoy saving grace without performing good works, than one can experience saving grace without ever knowing the incomparable riches that await us in the age to come. This great salvation is one superb package!
 Osbeck, K. W. (1996). Amazing grace: 366 inspiring hymn stories for daily devotions (p. 297). 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. 288). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
 MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 299). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.
 MacArthur, J. (1997). Strength for today. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
 Stanley, C. F. (2004). God’s way day by day (p. 295). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
 Stanley, C. F. (2002). Seeking His face (p. 289). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
 Stanley, C. F. (1998). Enter His gates: a daily devotional. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
 Stanley, C. F. (2000). Into His presence (p. 289). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
 Stanley, C. F. (1999). On holy ground (p. 289). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
 Stanley, C. F. (2006). Pathways to his presence (p. 289). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
 Jeremiah, D. (2007). Life-Changing Moments With God (p. 297). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
 Jeremiah, D. (2002). Sanctuary: finding moments of refuge in the presence of God (p. 289). Nashville, TN: Integrity Publishers.
 Carson, D. A. (1998). For the love of God: a daily companion for discovering the riches of God’s Word. (Vol. 2, p. 25). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
 Carson, D. A. (1998). For the love of God: a daily companion for discovering the riches of God’s Word. (Vol. 1). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
Our Time is Short
Read: Recommitting Your Life To God and Jesus Christ – Restoration and Forgiveness With God and Jesus Christ (Updated Version)
What is The Gospel?
God made everything out of nothing, including you and me. His main purpose in creation was to bring him pleasure.
The chief way in which we as humanity do this is through loving, obeying, and enjoying him perfectly.
Instead of this, we have sinned against our loving Creator and acted in high-handed rebellion.
God has vowed that he will righteously and lovingly judge sinners with eternal death.
But God, being merciful, loving, gracious, and just, sent his own son, Jesus Christ, in the likeness of man to live as a man; fulfilling his perfect requirements in the place of sinners; loving, obeying, and enjoying him perfectly.
And further, his son bore the eternal judgment of God upon the cross of Calvary, as he satisfied the eternal anger of God, standing in the place of sinners. God treated Jesus as a sinner, though he was perfectly sinless, that he might declare sinners as perfect.
This glorious transaction occurs as the sinner puts their faith (dependence, trust) in the Lord Jesus Christ as their substitute. God then charges Christ’s perfection to the sinner, and no longer views him as an enemy but instead an adopted son covered in the perfect righteousness of his son.
God furnished proof that this sacrifice was accepted by raising Jesus from the dead.
God will judge the world in righteousness and all of those who are not covered in the righteousness of Christ, depending on him for forgiveness, will be forced to stand on their own to bear the eternal anger of God.
Therefore, all must turn from sin and receive Christ Jesus as Lord.
Ready to start your new life with God?
Who do you think that I am?
With that brief question Jesus Christ confronted His followers with the most important issue they would ever face. He had spent much time with them and made some bold claims about His identity and authority. Now the time had come for them either to believe or deny His teachings.
Who do you say Jesus is? Your response to Him will determine not only your values and lifestyle, but your eternal destiny as well.
Consider what the Bible says about Him: Read more
CanIKnowGod.com is a website inspired by LifesGreatestQuestion.com, with new content, images, audio and video that will help you understand more about who God is and how to know Him. The site is mobile responsive and has an infinite scroll which makes for a very user-friendly experience. After you indicate a decision on CanIKnowGod.com, you are directed to a page that details what it means to have a new and transformed life through Jesus Christ. There’s even a Facebook page for daily updates, encouragement and scripture sharing.
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