ONLY ONE LIFE
Avis B. Christiansen, 1895–1985
And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again. (2 Corinthians 5:15)
Find your purpose and fling your life out into it; and the loftier your purpose is, the more sure you will be to make the world richer with every enrichment of yourself!
How tragic it is to see the great number of talented young people who waste their lives on transient things instead of investing them in that which is eternal. Yet this choice must be made by every individual: Will I commit my life to the highest and best—God and His service—or will I settle for that which is self-seeking and cheap? The results of these two styles of living are obvious; merely observe the difference between the quality of life of those who have engaged in self-indulgent, useless living and those who have spent their time faithfully serving God with a concern for the spiritual and physical needs of others. One leads to disillusionment and the other to contentment.
Since it was published in 1937, this thoughtful hymn by Avis B. Christiansen and Merrill Dunlop has been widely used of God to challenge scores of young believers with the importance of committing their lives completely to God’s glory and service. Both Mrs. Christiansen and Mr. Dunlop have made other notable contributions to gospel hymnody with their many fine hymns.
These words reinforce and amplify the oft-quoted statement: “Only one life, ’twill soon be past; only what’s done for Christ will last.”
Only one life to offer—Jesus, my Lord and King; only one tongue to praise Thee and of Thy mercy sing; only one heart’s devotion—Savior, O may it be consecrated alone to Thy matchless glory, yielded fully to Thee.
Only this hour is mine, Lord—May it be used for Thee; may ev’ry passing moment count for eternity; souls all about are dying, dying in sin and shame; help me bring them the message of Calv’ry’s redemption in Thy glorious name.
Only one life to offer—Take it, dear Lord, I pray; nothing from Thee withholding, Thy will I now obey; thou who hast freely given Thine all in all for me, claim this life for Thine own to be used, my Savior, ev’ry moment for Thee.
For Today: Matthew 10:39; Luke 12:15, 34; Romans 12:1, 2; Philippians 1:20, 21; 3:8
Seriously ponder: Do I really have something beyond myself that gives real meaning and purpose to my life? Is that something God and His service? Breathe this musical prayer—
August 31: Walking with Jesus
Isaiah 65:1–66:24; Luke 24:13–53; Job 14:11–22
Imagine encountering Jesus on the road to Emmaus. It would be a surreal experience. You’re walking to the next town, and you start a conversation with a man beside you, only to find out later that you’ve been talking with the resurrected Son of God. Even more surreal, the topic of conversation up to your moment of discovery has been the death of the man walking with you (Luke 24:13–35).
I have often wondered what it would be like to meet Jesus face to face—to have Him explain to me how He exists in the biblical text from Moses, in all the prophets, and in all Scripture (Luke 24:27). How different would my life be after that experience? Would I rethink everything I had known and heard—perhaps everything I do?
Asking these questions is not only healthy, it also turns on our spiritual GPS. Are we on the path God has called us to? Have we strayed in one direction or another? Are we caught in some odd roundabout where we’re explaining to Jesus what His coming means?
Many Christians—not just scholars and preachers—complicate matters of salvation. We overthink God’s work or place it at a distance from our daily lives. Like the old saying, we become “too big for our britches,” forgetting that, ultimately, the entire Bible points to Jesus and His redeeming work.
Jesus’ work is real and surreal. In the Bible, He is present everywhere. In our lives, He is present in every aspect and every moment. We need only to acknowledge Him and act upon the truth of His message. That simple idea is what it means to walk the road with our Savior.
How can you walk more aligned with the Savior?
John D. Barry
Welcome to Daily Treasures from the Word of God. Today’s reading is Ezekiel 33 through 36. Our lesson is from Ezekiel 34:1–2, “Then the word of the LORD came to me saying, “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel. Prophesy and say to those shepherds, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “Woe, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flock?’ ” (NASU)
The metaphor of the shepherd is quite common in the Bible. Sometimes it refers to the Lord; at other times it refers to religious and political leaders and at times to a literal shepherd. Today’s reference is to the leaders of Israel who, sadly enough, have abused their power and have led the people astray. Let’s investigate three things from our text.
First, shepherds should not serve themselves. The people of God are a great responsibility, not to be taken lightly. Those who lead ought to be servant-leaders, not lords over their charges. They are to serve the Lord, and then His people. Obviously the leaders in Ezekiel’s day were far from that model of leadership. Instead of being characterized by integrity, they were self-serving wolves, feeding their own ambitions instead of their flock.
Second, shepherds should take care of the flock. Another important quality of a good shepherd is responsibility. Sheep cannot care for themselves so the shepherd provides food, shelter and protection. A shepherd is to watch out for the well-being of the sheep, especially against any enemies such as wild animals. Sheep cannot protect themselves; they need a shepherd.
Last, shepherds are stewards of the flock for the Lord. Leaders are not the proprietors of the flock; they are to give an account to the Lord of the flock for their care of that flock. Leaders are stewards.
If leaders do not have the right attitude, they start to believe that they are the owners of the ministry and the people and self-centeredness becomes an integral part of their lifestyle. There is no room for the Holy Spirit to fashion the leader’s heart to that of the Master.
In summary, shepherds should not serve themselves. Shepherds should take care of the flock. And shepherds are stewards of the flock for the Lord.
Leadership is not easy. People do not always want to be led according to God’s purposes for them. However, this is not an excuse for a leader not to serve the Lord or the people. The best example of a leader is Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us. He is the Good Shepherd who willingly laid down his life for us, His sheep. Let’s learn from Him to be servants and stewards of God’s flock by recommitting our lives to Him and His people. May our Lord be the center of our ministry.
It has been a pleasure to share with you Daily Treasures from the Word of God. Tomorrow’s Bible reading is Ezekiel 37 through 40. 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.
|Rejecting the World
“Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If any one loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15).
The world is opposed to everything God stands for.
Loving the world begins with thinking that God doesn’t know what’s best for you and is trying to cheat you out of something you deserve. That thought soon blossoms into a willingness to disregard God’s warnings altogether and take whatever Satan has to offer.
Love of the world started in the Garden of Eden and continues to this day. Genesis 3:6 says, “When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.” What made them think the fruit was good for food or able to make them wise? God didn’t tell them that. In fact, He warned them that they would die if they ate the fruit (Gen. 2:17). But Eve believed the serpent’s lie, and Adam followed suit.
Satan continues to propagate his lies, but you needn’t fall prey to them if you love God and remember that the world is opposed to everything He stands for. It is spiritually dead, void of the Spirit (John 14:17), morally defiled, and dominated by pride, greed, and evil desires. It produces wrong opinions, selfish aims, sinful pleasures, demoralizing influences, corrupt politics, empty honors, and fickle love.
You can’t love the world and God at the same time, because love knows no rivals. It gives its object first place. If you love God, He will have first place in your life. If you love the world, the love of the Father isn’t in you (1 John 2:15).
Galatians 1:3–5 explains that Jesus “gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us out of this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forevermore.” Christ died to deliver us from Satan’s evil system. What greater motivation could there be to reject the world and live to God’s glory?
Suggestions for Prayer: Ask God for greater wisdom and for grace to resist the world’s influences.
For Further Study: According to Ephesians 6:10–18, how can you as a believer protect yourself against Satan’s evil system?
The Ultimate Response
The Lord is not…willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
2 Peter 3:9
Amazement is an appropriate and, in fact, unavoidable response to the words and teachings of Jesus. But our response to them should not end with amazement or even serious pondering. The ultimate response to Jesus’ teaching is belief and obedience. He did not expound the truths He did merely for our astonishment or information. He taught what He did for our salvation.
Many respond to Jesus by merely considering His words and actions but not embracing them. What is your ultimate response?
|Seeking God’s Kingdom
“… All these things shall be added to you”
God will provide for those who seek what is eternal.
What did Jesus mean when He said we are to seek God’s kingdom first? It means our top priority in life should be to seek what is eternal. That was the priority for the apostle Paul. In Acts 20 he was ready to leave for Jerusalem to defend the faith, not knowing if he might be put in prison or lose his life. The prospect of persecution did not deter him, for he said, “I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself” (v. 24). He was not concerned about how long he would live or worried about what he would eat or wear. Instead, he wanted to “finish [his] course, and the ministry which [he] received from the Lord Jesus” (v. 24).
Seeking the kingdom means you want Christ’s rule to be manifest in your life as righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom. 14:17). So, when the lost see those spiritual qualities in your life instead of worry, they know the kingdom of God is there. That is an attractive testimony that the Lord can use to bring the lost to Himself. Seeking God’s kingdom means desiring to extend His kingdom.
Seeking the kingdom also means you long for Jesus to return in His millennial glory. We will be joint–heirs with Christ (Rom. 8:1–7), reign with Him forever (Rev. 22:5), live in a new heaven and earth throughout all eternity (21:1), and have all the majesty and riches of eternal Heaven (21:1–22:5). There’s no need to be preoccupied or worried about material things since the whole earth is going to be destroyed and the Lord is going to make a new one.
Instead of seeking riches, “seek … His righteousness” (Matt. 6:33). Pursue godliness and holiness, and “all these things shall be added to you” (v. 33). God will provide for those who live a righteous life.
Suggestions for Prayer: According to Matthew 6:33, are the priorities of your life in the right order? ✧ Confess and forsake any sin, and thank the Lord for the privilege of serving Him.
For Further Study: Read Psalm 34:9–10. What is the promise to those who fear and seek the Lord?
A faithful man will abound with blessings.
show me a person who is overflowing in generosity to another person, and I’ll show you a person rich in friendships.
Show me a person who is extremely generous in the giving of her time to other people, and I’ll show you a person who always has people “there” for her in times of her need.
Show me a person who can’t give enough of himself to further the specific ministry calling that God has placed on his life, and I’ll show you a person who has a tremendous sense of purpose and fulfillment.
Grace for Every Weakness
Scripture reading: Ephesians 6:10–12
Key verse: 1 John 4:4
You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
World War II marked the beginning of the modern spy age. Governments entrenched themselves in intelligence and counter-intelligence games, seeking to learn all they could of the opposing countries’ military plans.
Powerful military leaders such as Rommel, Patton, and Bradley were intensely examined by their foes. Scrutiny was not limited to their military knowledge, but to all facets of their lives, professional and personal. The reason? To find a weak point that the opposition could use to undermine and defeat the leaders’ objectives.
This same tactic has been used since the beginning of time in the spiritual realm. Satan cannot change the believer’s eternal destiny, so he attempts to destroy our witness and walk. Satan seeks out our weaknesses, areas where we are vulnerable. He does not waste much time tempting us in areas where we experience little difficulty.
It is times like these when 1 John 4:4 enables us to feel victorious. Satan is not omniscient. He is limited in his powers and abilities. However, there is no limit to God’s ability to thwart Satan’s objectives and provide overcoming grace for every weakness.
Dear heavenly Father, thank You for grace that helps me overcome every weakness.
August 31 Controlled by the Spirit
Do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit.
The subject of many current science fiction films and programs is that of alien invasion and control. Few things are more frightening from a worldly perspective than the thought of nonhuman creatures taking over humans and making them function as aliens.
Regardless of what you think of science fiction, you can recognize the fundamental fear that these programs reflect: the loss of control. Many people find it important to maintain the feeling that they are in charge of their lives and all decisions, and the chance of losing any of that autonomy is scary.
Yet when the Bible speaks of being controlled by the Holy Spirit, the meaning is entirely different. Being controlled by the Spirit is not something to be afraid of; you do not become a robotic creature unable to think or act independently. The Spirit indwells you and fills your spirit, but He never insists on control. In fact, by deciding not to listen and pursuing your own course, you can effectively drown out His gentle voice.
Paul told the Ephesians: “Be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.” Yielding to the Spirit’s control results in beautiful praise to God and a spirit filled with joy and renewed purpose, and that’s nothing to be afraid of.
Dear heavenly Father, I want Your Spirit to have authority in my life so that my conduct and character will glorify Your name. Come now, Holy Spirit, and take complete control.
Living What You Believe
Scripture reading: Revelation 3:20–22
Key verse: John 10:10
The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.
Peter followed the lead of James and instructed us to resist the enemy by standing firm in our faith. James’s letter to the early church was written long before Peter’s. In it, James addressed the persecuted Christians living outside Palestine.
The dispersion of Jewish believers came at the hands of the Roman government and was an attempt to disrupt the growing force of the New Testament church. Away from their homes and, in many cases, away from those they loved, Jewish believers faced all kinds of trials and temptations. Warren Wiersbe stated: “One of the major problems in the church was a failure on the part of many to live what they professed to believe.”
Failing to live what we profess to believe is a major problem. It also is a major assault tactic of Satan. For the enemy to achieve his goal of discouraging the believer, he must first gain access to that person’s life through sin. This is where he can easily catch us off guard if we are not in tune with the Spirit of God.
Jesus stands ready to fight for you. However, if you allow the enemy to gain access to your life through sin, you will suffer a sure defeat.
James instructed us to resist Satan’s temptations. Use the name of Jesus Christ as your strong defense. Victory comes when you are eternally linked to the Savior.
Father, make me strong in the face of temptation. Deliver me from the muck and mire of the valleys of this world. I want to continually dwell spiritually on the mountaintop with You.
Keep Building and Growing
Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 3:10–15
Key Verse: 1 Corinthians 1:9
God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Developers and builders work hard to make sure that structures meet the required building codes. From electrical wiring to masonry and framing, all materials must be of a specified quality and assembled in a safe manner. If they are not, then the security and physical well-being of the future occupants are at risk.
As a believer, you are involved in the long-term building of your spiritual “house.” Christ is the strong foundation, and He guides the ultimate construction of your faith and character. Along the way, as you choose to submit to His carpentry, you select the building materials that go into your spiritual house.
Being obedient, using your tongue for the edification of others, acting as a peacemaker, refusing to give in to selfishness, and doing anything that reflects the fruit of the Spirit—all are solid building blocks of a life being conformed to the image of Christ. One day Jesus will judge the quality of the house of your life: “Now if any man builds upon the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it, because it is to be revealed with fire; and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work” (1 Cor. 3:12–13 nasb).
Remember, though, that this evaluation has nothing to do with salvation. Jesus will inspect your structure only for the purpose of giving good gifts in the measure of the work you did here.
Dear heavenly Father, I’ve started this journey of commitment and change. Please help me continue. Someday You will review the quality of my spiritual house. I want to pass inspection.
The Pathway to Peace
Scripture Reading: Psalm 116:1–7
Key Verse: Psalm 116:7
Return to your rest, O my soul,
For the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.
Let’s take a closer look at our passage from yesterday, Jeremiah 6:16:
- “Stand in the ways and see.” In a time of turmoil, our minds race ahead to think of all that could happen in the future. We ask ourselves lots of “what if” questions and frequently fall victim to unfounded worry. To “stand” means to turn our mind from its troubling thoughts of the future and to focus on God. It is similar to being at an intersection with signs pointing many different ways. We wait until we know which direction the trail is heading.
- “Ask for the old paths, where the good way is.” The road of trouble has been well traveled by the saints of the faith, and their footsteps have made it into a path of glory to God. Meditate on the cries of King David in the Psalms or on the prayers of others in the Bible. Ponder their responses as well as the way they reveal their faith and trust in God even while suffering greatly. Accept the Spirit’s revelation of the ancient path of faith and the good way of trust. Then pray for courage to walk those paths as Jesus did.
- “Walk in it; then you will find rest for your souls.” With eyes firmly fixed on our Savior, resolve to walk down this road of suffering in a way that is honoring to Him. Draw deeply on the Holy Spirit’s strength for the next step, and seek to be obedient in thought, word, and deed. You will discover that as you follow Him, sweet, soul-satisfying rest will be found.
Lord, I choose the pathway of peace. Help me to stand firm in times of turmoil. Enable me to ask where the good way is, and then to walk in it.
The free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification.
Loving Father, though my sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool. You, Lord God, are He who blots out my transgressions for Your own sake; and You will not remember my sins. So I put You in remembrance; let us contend together; I state my case, that I may be acquitted. You have blotted out, like a thick cloud, my transgressions, and like a cloud, my sins. I return to You, for You have redeemed me.
God, You so loved the world that You gave Your only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more Your grace and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many. I was washed, I was sanctified, I was justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by Your Spirit, Lord God.
From now through eternity I will be praising You for the gift—the grace—of justification and cleansing from my sins. Thank You, Lord God!
Romans 5:16; Isaiah 1:18; Isaiah 43:25–26; Isaiah 44:22; John 3:16; Romans 5:15; 1 Corinthians 6:11
I would have you without carefulness
1 Cor. 7:32
Do not look forward to the changes and chances of this life in fear. Rather look to them with full hope that, as they arise, God, whose you are, will deliver you out of them. He has kept you hitherto—do you but hold fast to His dear hand, and He will lead you safely through all things; and when you cannot stand, He will bear you in His arms. Do not look forward to what may happen tomorrow. The same everlasting Father who cares for you today will take care of you tomorrow, and every day. Either He will shield you from suffering, or He will give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace then, and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations.
Francis de Sales
WISDOM is man’s true strength; and, under its guidance, he best accomplishes the ends of his being. Wisely handling the matter of life, gives to man the richest enjoyment, and presents the noblest occupation for his powers; hence by it he finds good in the fullest sense. Without wisdom, man is as the wild ass’s colt, running hither and thither, wasting strength which might be profitably employed. Wisdom is the compass by which man is to steer across the trackless waste of life; without it he is a derelict vessel, the sport of winds and waves A man must be prudent in such a world as this, or he will find no good, but be betrayed into unnumbered ills.
In-Your-Face Forever Friends
As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.
Proverbs 27:17 suggests, “As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.” An “in-your-face” friend is one who will tackle the tough issues of life with you; someone who is not offended if you disagree with him, and someone who is not afraid to disagree with you. You both have higher goals than agreement.
Proverbs 17:17 says, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” The best way to determine who your best friends, your forever friends, are is to go through a crisis. Adversity is like a filter—it separates those who are loyal from those who are not. You cannot tell your true friends until adversity appears. Your friends may not even know whether they are loyal friends until they are asked to identify with your suffering. It is easy to be a friend when things are good and pleasant. But the number of people who will stand beside you decreases as the temperature of your crisis goes up.
How does one get those kind of friends? By being one. Proverbs 18:24 says, “A man who has friends must himself be friendly.” How many times have you proven yourself to be a forever friend by sticking close to someone through their time of trouble and adversity?
1 Samuel 24; 1 Corinthians 5; Ezekiel 3; Psalm 39
Two of the themes of Ezekiel 3, intrinsic to the call of Ezekiel, may usefully be elucidated:
First, the opening part shows how important it is for the prophet to empathize with God and his perspective. Trailing on from the closing lines of chapter 2 and into the beginning of chapter 3, Ezekiel in his vision is commanded to eat a scroll with “words of lament and mourning and woe” (2:10) written on both sides. Ezekiel eats it and reports that “it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth” (3:3). Why would a scroll full of “words of lament and mourning and woe” taste sweet? The point of the vision is that God’s words become sweet to Ezekiel simply because they are God’s words. God really does know best; he knows what is right. Therefore even when his words pronounce judgment and calamity, there is a sense in which the prophet must be empathetic to God’s perspective.
Similarly in the next verses (3:4–9): Ezekiel is not being sent to some foreign culture where the first step is to learn the local language. He is being called to speak to the people of his own heritage. Nevertheless he will find them unwilling to listen to him, precisely because they are unwilling to listen to God (3:7). So God promises: “But I will make you as unyielding and hardened as they are. I will make your forehead like the hardest stone, harder than flint. Do not be afraid of them or terrified by them, though they are a rebellious house” (3:8–9). So in this head-butting contest Ezekiel is being enabled to side with God unreservedly. God sometimes raises up strong and obstinate leaders who, regardless of personal popularity, hunger to side with God. None of this means that Ezekiel has no fellow-feeling for the exiles; both the next verses and the rest of the book contradict any such notion. Nevertheless his commission is a call to empathize with God’s perspective and to be unyielding.
Second, this chapter contains a call to utter warnings and to be careful (3:16–27). The theme of the watchman (3:16–21) recurs in the book (chap. 33), and can be explored later. But in the closing verses Ezekiel is forbidden to say anything—courtesies, greetings, political speeches, whatever—except for what God gives him to say. This state of affairs endures until the fall of Jerusalem, about six years away (Ezek. 33:21–22), when his tongue is loosed. This restriction adds weight to the times he does speak. It is also a challenge to everyone who speaks for God. All of our talk and our silences should be so calibrated that when we convey God’s words our credibility is enhanced and not diminished.
1 Samuel 24; 1 Corinthians 5; Ezekiel 3; Psalm 39
In case anyone were to read 1 Corinthians 4 and conclude that no standards whatsoever are to be maintained in the church—after all, maintenance of standards requires judging, doesn’t it?—the next chapter, 1 Corinthians 5, provides a case where Paul berates the church in Corinth for not exercising judgment and discipline. We must reflect a little on this case itself, and then on the way it is linked to the previous chapter.
Paul insists that, with respect to the man he describes in 5:1, two evils are in view. The first is sexual. A member of the church “has his father’s wife.” The peculiar language suggests he is sleeping with his stepmother. In any case the sin is so gross that it would be shocking even among the pagans. The second is the limp response of the church. Despite this wickedness among them, their penchant for arrogant strutting, which surfaces in many chapters of 1 and 2 Corinthians, never falters. They should have been consumed with grief; they should have excommunicated the man who did this (5:2).
We cannot reflect on all the elements of this judgment, but observe the following:
(1) The judgment Paul wants meted out is to be communal. The entire church, “assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus” (5:4), in the consciousness of his powerful presence, is to take action. Thus the failure to do so is a church-wide failure.
(2) One of the reasons for taking this action is because “a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough” (5:6); evil in the church that no one deals with soon affects the entire church.
(3) This has nothing to do with disciplining the outside world. Paul assumes that the world outside the church will allow sin to fester. What he has in mind is discipline within the church of God (5:9–10).
(4) Paul’s understanding of what conduct should be subject to church discipline is not restricted to the sexual arena, or this particular form of sexual sin. He means to include major moral defection and gives an exemplary list: greed, idolatry, slander, drunkenness, swindling. Elsewhere, he adds to major moral defection two other arenas: major doctrinal deviation, and persistent drive for schism.
Now all of this he openly calls “judging” (5:12–13). Christians are to judge “those inside,” while God judges “those outside.” At the very least, chapters 4 and 5 must be kept in creative tension. More importantly, the Corinthians in chapter 4 were imposing judgments “beyond what is written” (4:6), i.e., deploying standards and criteria with no basis in God’s revelation, and out of mere party interest. They were not imposing judgments in chapter 5 despite what Scripture, properly understood, says. Both are breaches of God’s revelation.
Mon, August 31, 2015
The Eternal Verity
There is a great deal of discussion now taking place about the lack of spiritual power in our Christian churches. What about the New Testament patterns? Brethren, the apostolic method was to provide a foundation of good, sound biblical reasons for following the Savior, for our willingness to let the Spirit of God display the great Christian virtues in our lives. That is why we come in faith and rejoicing to the eternal verity of Hebrews 13:8: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever!” This proclamation gives significance to every other section of teaching and exhortation in the letter to the Hebrews. In this verse is truth that is morally and spiritually dynamic if we will exercise the faith and the will to demonstrate it in our needy world. I think this fact, this truth that Jesus Christ wants to be known in His church as the ever-living, never-changing Lord of all, could bring back again the power and testimony of the Early Church!
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
I think this fact, this truth that Jesus Christ wants to be known in His church as the ever-living, never-changing Lord of all, could bring back again the power and testimony of the early church!
Lord, I am so thankful that You are always the same. I can always look to You the “Rock” for stability in my life, and we look to You for stability in the Church.
A. W. Tozer
August 31 – Examples of Jesus’ Compassion
“Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them” (Matthew 9:36).
Examples in the gospels of Jesus’ compassion are notable. When He saw Mary and others weeping for the deceased Lazarus, “He was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled” (John 11:33) and wept with them (v. 35). The phrase “deeply moved in spirit” connotes physical as well as emotional and spiritual anguish. As He saw Lazarus’s friends and family grieving, He entered into real crying with them.
When arrested in the garden, Christ was more concerned about the disciples than Himself: “If you [soldiers] seek Me, let these go their way” (John 18:8). While on the cross He still had concern for His mother: “He said to His mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son!’” (19:26).
In one of His most poignant expressions of deep compassion for others, Jesus lamented, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling” (Matt. 23:37; cf. Luke 19:41–42).
Commenting on two familiar verses about Jesus’ compassion and sympathy (Heb. 4:15; 5:8), Paul Brand said,
A stupefying concept: God’s Son learning through His experiences on earth. Before taking on a body, God had no personal experience of physical pain or of the effect of rubbing against needy persons. But God dwelt among us and touched us, and His time spent here allows Him to more fully identify with our pain.
What does Christ’s compassion inspire in you? How could you be more daring and deliberate about taking His heart with you into your world of need, touching others with the love and mercy of Jesus?
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:
1 Corinthians 11:1-16
Psalm 103:17, 18 the mercy of the LORD. Those who appeal to God’s mercy by proper fear (v. 17) and obedience (v. 18) will overcome the shortness of physical life with eternal life. Luke 1:50 quotes Psalm 103:17.
Psalm 103:19 His throne in heaven. From everlasting to everlasting God has always ruled over all things (Pss. 11:4; 47:1–9; 148:8–13).This universal kingdom is to be distinguished from God’s mediatorial kingdom on earth.
1 Corinthians 11:4 covered, dishonors. Literally, “having down from head,” is probably a reference to men wearing a head covering, which seems to have been a local custom. Jews began wearing head coverings during the fourth century A.D., although some may already have been wearing them in New Testament times. Apparently, Corinthian men were doing the same, and Paul informs them that it is a disgrace. Paul is not stating a universal law from God, but acknowledging a local custom, which did reflect divine principle. In that society, a man’s uncovered head was a sign of his authority over women, who were to have their heads covered. For a man to cover his head was to suggest a reversal of proper roles.
1 Corinthians 11:5 woman who prays or prophesies. Paul makes clear directives that women are not to lead or speak in the services of the church (14:34; 1 Tim. 2:12), but they may pray and proclaim the truth to unbelievers, as well as teaching children and other women (1 Tim. 5:16; Titus 2:3, 4). Wherever and whenever women do pray and proclaim the Word appropriately, they must do so maintaining a proper distinction from men. uncovered. In the culture of Corinth, a woman’s covered head while ministering or worshiping was a symbol to signify a subordinate relationship to her husband. The apostle is not laying down an absolute law for women to wear veils or coverings in all churches for all time, but is declaring that the symbols of the divinely established male and female roles are to be genuinely honored in every culture. As in the case of meat offered to idols (chaps. 8; 9), there is nothing spiritual about wearing or not wearing a covering. But manifesting rebellion against God’s order was wrong. dishonors her head. “Head” may refer to her own self being disgraced by refusing to conform to recognized symbols of submission, or to her husband, who is disgraced by her behavior.
DAY 31: How does Solomon balance enjoyment in life with the coming judgment?
In Ecclesiastes 11:9–12:8, Solomon crystallizes the book’s message. Death is imminent and with it comes retribution. Enjoyment and judgment, though strange partners, come together in this section because both clamor for man’s deepest commitment. Surprisingly, one does not win out over the other. In a world created for enjoyment but damaged by sin, judgment and enjoyment/pleasure are held in tension. With too much pleasure, judgment stands as a threatening force; with too much judgment, enjoyment suffers. In the final analysis, both are prominent themes of life that are resolved in our relationship to God, the primary issue of life and this book.
“Rejoice…judgment” (11:9). The two terms seem to cancel out the other. How can this be explained? Enjoy life but do not commit iniquity. The balance that is called for insures that enjoyment is not reckless, sinful abandonment. Pleasure is experienced in faith and obedience, for as Solomon has said repeatedly, one can only receive true satisfaction as a gift from God.
“Fear God” (12:13, 14).Solomon’s final word on the issues raised in this book, as well as life itself, focuses on one’s relationship to God. All of the concern for a life under the sun, with its pleasures and uncertainties, was behind Solomon. Such things seemed comparatively irrelevant to him as he faced the end of his life. But death, in spite of the focused attention he had given to it in Ecclesiastes, was not the greatest equalizer. Judgment/retribution is the real equalizer as Solomon saw it, for God will bring every person’s every act to judgment. Unbelievers will stand at the Great White Throne judgment (Rev. 20:11–15) and believers before Christ at the Bema judgment (1 Cor. 3:10–15; 2 Cor. 5:9, 10). When all is said and done, the certainty and finality of retribution give life the meaning for which David’s oft-times foolish son had been searching. Whatever may be one’s portion in life, accountability to the God, whose ways are often mysterious, is both eternal and irrevocable.
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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