COME, THOU ALMIGHTY KING
Source unknown, c. 1757
Lift up your heads, O you gates; lift them up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is He, this King of glory? The Lord Almighty—He is the King of glory. (Psalm 24:9, 10)
In his book The Knowledge of the Holy, A. W. Tozer left these choice words regarding the Trinity:
The doctrine of the Trinity … is truth for the heart. The fact that it cannot be satisfactorily explained, instead of being against it, is in its favor. Such a truth had to be revealed; no one could have imagined it.
The doctrine of the Trinity has been controversial since the earliest days of Christianity. In a.d. 325, the Council of Nicaea affirmed its belief in the Triune Godhead. During the 16th century Reformation period, it was again denied by the Socinians. And still today many liberal theologians and groups are blatant in their denial. They often speak of God, the Father of all, Jesus, the mere man, and the divine influence of the Spirit of God. This form of blasphemy relegates each member of the Godhead to a role far less than that ascribed in the Bible.
This familiar Trinity hymn is also one of our most popular “opening hymns” for a Sunday morning worship service. It appeared anonymously in England in about 1757 to commemorate Trinity Sunday. It has been attributed by some to Charles Wesley since it first appeared in a pamphlet published by John Wesley.
This is a hymn that must always be sung with all four stanzas. To omit any of the first three would be to slight one of the members of the Godhead. The fourth stanza is a grand affirmation of the mysterious doctrine of the Trinity, that God is One yet Three and ever worthy of our love and adoration.
Come, Thou Almighty King, help us Thy name to sing; help us to praise: Father, all glorious, o’er all victorious, come and reign over us, Ancient of Days.
Come, Thou Incarnate Word, gird on Thy mighty sword, our prayer attend: Come and Thy people bless, and give Thy word success—Spirit of holiness, in us descend.
Come, Holy Comforter, Thy sacred witness bear in this glad hour: Thou who almighty art, now rule in ev’ry heart, and ne’er from us depart, Spirit of pow’r.
To the great One in Three eternal praises be, hence evermore: His sov’reign majesty, may we in glory see, and to eternity love and adore.
For Today: Psalm 47; 103:19; John 8:54; 10:31-33; Acts 5:3, 4
Reflect again on the importance of having a proper perspective regarding the Godhead. What are the dangers of giving less than full and equal recognition of deity to each member of the Trinity? Carry this musical truth with you—
May 26: A Longsuffering God
1 Chronicles 18:1–20:8; 2 Timothy 2:1–13; Psalm 85
God is longsuffering, but sometimes we take this for granted. How often have we given into temptation, expecting to be obedient at a later date?
Psalm 85 gives a testimony of God’s faithfulness in the past: “O Yahweh, you favored your land. You restored the fortunes of Jacob. You took away the guilt of your people; you covered all their sin. You withdrew all your wrath; you turned from your burning anger” (Psa 85:1–3).
As he experiences that judgment, the psalmist remembers God’s past restoration, and he hopes for it once more: “I will hear what God, Yahweh, will speak, because he will speak peace to his people, even his faithful ones”; he also sets a condition: “but let them not return to folly” (Psa 85:8).
Do we wait until bad times before we realize God’s amazing grace for us?
God’s faithfulness is also expressed in surprising moments in the New Testament, like Paul’s exhortation to Timothy. Paul tells him to be strong in grace and offers comfort while presenting a challenge: “For if we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; if we are unfaithful, he remains faithful—he cannot deny himself” (2 Tim 2:11–13).
These passages portray a God who is incredibly patient. But they also present a sense of urgency and demand a response. If we acknowledge our sin and seek Him, He is faithful to forgive us. But we shouldn’t use His faithfulness as an excuse to delay our response. He wants our complete loyalty.
How are you responding to God’s calling in your life?
Rebecca Van Noord
Welcome to Daily Treasures from the Word of God. Today’s reading is Deuteronomy 13 through 16. Our lesson is from Deuteronomy 14:22–23, “You shall surely tithe all the produce from what you sow, which comes out of the field every year. You shall eat in the presence of the Lord your God, at the place where He chooses to establish His name, the tithe of your grain, your new wine, your oil, and the firstborn of your herd and your flock, so that you may learn to fear the Lord your God always.” (NASB)
Our study has to do with the stewardship of what God has given us. However, some people get uncomfortable when tithes and offerings are mentioned. Let’s look at three principles from our text.
First, the people were to tithe from their resources. Today we live in a more urbanized society, so perhaps you do not raise cattle or wheat. But that does not exempt us from tithing. The principle here is that we should tithe according to what God has blessed us with in material possessions.
Deuteronomy, Numbers and Leviticus all mention the concept of the tithe. The tithe was used to support the Levites, who did not receive a part of the inheritance of the land. They were the priests, i.e., those who served in the Tabernacle and later in the Temple. In addition, some of the money was to go to the widows and foreigners in need. The tithe had a practical and designated function.
Second, the people were to bring their tithes to a specific place. According to our passage, they were to bring it to a place in which resided the presence of God. Depending on the biblical time in history, it was either the Temple or the Tabernacle. The significant matter is that the tithe was to be given by the people and the Levites were to be the stewards of that tithe.
Last, the people were to learn to fear the Lord by tithing. This is what is most interesting in our passage. By tithing, believers are submitting to the biblical mandate to fear the Lord. By fearing the Lord, they are honoring Him and in that way, proving their devotion and love.
According to a well-known saying, “actions speak louder than words.” The point to learn is that the fear of God goes well beyond just talk; it means that our actions are to line up with what we say. Money, possessions and other material things should not have a priority over God and His word.
In summary, Israel was to tithe from her resources. Israel was to bring the tithe to a specific place. And Israel was to learn to fear the Lord by tithing. Submission and obedience to the Lord shows others our true fear and respect for the Lord.
It has been a pleasure to share with you Daily Treasures from the Word of God. Tomorrow’s Bible reading is Deuteronomy 17 through 20. 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.
Receiving Christ’s Word (Thaddaeus)
The twelve apostles included “Thaddaeus” (Matt. 10:3).
If you love Christ, you will receive His Word and obey it.
Radio signals are fascinating. At any given moment every room in your house is filled with voices, music, and numerous other sounds; yet you can’t hear them unless your radio is tuned to their frequency. That’s a modern parallel to a spiritual truth Jesus taught in John 14:21: “He who has My commandments, and keeps them, he it is who loves Me; and he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I will love him, and will disclose Myself to him.” In effect Jesus was saying, “I reveal Myself to those who love Me—those whose spiritual receivers are tuned to My frequency. They receive My Word and obey it.”
In the Biblical record Thaddaeus is a man of few words. His question in John 14:22 is the only thing he ever said that is recorded in Scripture. It was prompted by his perplexity over Jesus’ statement in verse 21 to disclose Himself only to those who love Him. Thaddaeus asked, “Lord, what then has happened that You are going to disclose Yourself to us, and not to the world?”
Thaddaeus didn’t understand Christ’s statement because it wasn’t consistent with his concept of the Messiah. Like the other disciples, he expected Jesus imminently to vanquish Roman oppression, free God’s people, and establish an earthly kingdom wherein He would sit on the throne of David, reigning as Lord and Savior. How could He do that without revealing who He was to everyone?
In verse 23 Jesus responds by reiterating that only those who love Him will be able to perceive Him, and they are the ones within whom He and the Father would dwell.
That brief conversation between the Lord and Thaddaeus addresses the very heart of Christianity. It isn’t those who say they love God who are true believers, but those who receive Christ and obey His Word. As Jesus said, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word” (v. 23).
Does obedience to the Word characterize your life? I pray it does. Remember, your obedience to Christ is the measure of your love for Him.
Suggestions for Prayer: Thank God for His Word, by which the Spirit instructs you and empowers you to live an obedient life.
For Further Study: Read John 8:31–47. ✧ To whom was Jesus speaking? ✧ Why were they seeking to kill Him? ✧ How did Jesus characterize the Devil?
Looking to God
In His love … He bore them and carried them all the days of old.
When we talk about having our needs met, we human beings often look to everyone except to God. We seek answers from relatives, friends, and a host of other sources—some helpful, others harmful to our spirits—rather than look to God.
The ultimate source for meeting all need is God. He uses a variety of methods and instruments to meet our needs, but He is the Author and Originator of all that we need, both in the outer material, natural, and physical realm, and in the inner emotional, mental, and spiritual realm.
In His Timing
Scripture reading: 1 John 5:14–16
Key verse: 1 John 4:16
And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.
The mother knew her son was not doing well at college. His grades were fine, and he had even made the football team. But between studying and practicing he had not made time for church or personal Bible study as he had in high school. How could she help him get back on track spiritually?
The apostle Paul faced the same challenge. In a Roman prison cell, Paul heard discouraging news from Epaphras, the pastor of the new and growing church in Colosse. The Colossian believers were falling into the trap of false teaching and losing their focus on Jesus Christ. Yet Paul knew that even from prison he could directly minister God’s truth to the struggling Christians, through continuous and specific prayer.
The greatest privilege and blessing you have as God’s child is to talk with Him in prayer. You can praise Him and bring Him your needs, your hurts, your desires. He promises to hear you in whatever you ask (1 John 5:15–16).
When you ask Him to work His truth into the lives of those you love, you will see the results. And be prepared! God may call you to long-term intercession. The Lord will give you His patience and strength as He answers in His good timing.
Dear Father, thank You for Your promise that You will hear me in whatever I ask. Give me patience and strength to wait for the timing of Your answers.
An Expectation of Heaven
Seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.
The apostle Paul was preoccupied with heaven; he knew few earthly comforts. He was beaten, stoned, left for dead, deprived of necessities, and frequently disappointed by people. But he had no concern for pleasant feelings: he wanted only to live a productive life in pursuit of his heavenly goal.
We must have the same focus if we are going to pursue our heavenly reward. Christ is from heaven and in heaven. Heaven is His place, and because we are His, heaven is our place as well. If we are preoccupied with being like Him, we will naturally be preoccupied with heaven. What happens there should be more important to us than what happens here.
May 26 A Way of Escape
And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
John Bunyan, the Puritan preacher and writer, said of temptations: “Temptations, when we first meet them, are as the lion that roared upon Samson; but if we overcome them, the next time we see them, we shall find a nest of honey within them.”
God is faithful. God assures you that you can enjoy the sweet taste of victory over temptations, whatever their nature. When temptation presents itself, God always comes to your aid. The temptation is never more than He can handle; therefore, it is never more than you can handle, no matter how weak and helpless you feel. Knowing you can deal with the tempter in God’s strength bolsters your spiritual morale.
God provides the way of escape for each temptation. The best way is by faith in the power and truth of His Word—the very tool Jesus used to overcome Satan’s snare. Truth defeats error every time you obey.
God also promises that you can endure it. The temptations may not—and probably will not—vanish. But you can bear up under their load, daily casting your burdens on the Lord who will “not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Matt. 6:13 nasb).
Thank You, dear Lord, that the temptations I face are not greater than I can handle. You have provided a way of escape. Let me take it!
The Wellspring of Worship
Scripture reading: 1 Samuel 15:1–23
Key verse: John 21:15
When they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Feed My lambs.”
Joni Eareckson Tada, the gifted author and artist who was paralyzed in an accident as a teenager, was once asked to share her favorite Scripture. Her response was precise:
“My favorite verse in the Bible is Jesus’ terse question to Peter: ‘Lovest thou Me?’ ” (John 21:15).
Herein is the heart of an obedient life—love and devotion for God. Obedience to Christ was not designed as a chore. While we may initially submit due to fear or a sense of obligation, God desires compliance from sheer delight in Him.
David exclaimed, “I delight to do Your will, O my God, and Your law is within my heart” (Ps. 40:8).
Can you join in that joyful refrain? Is obedience to God a drudgery, motivated by fear of retribution? Do you comply only so you will not feel guilty? The wellspring of genuine Christianity and true worship is a passion to please the Savior who redeemed you and now indwells you through His Spirit.
Fear or duty will carry you only so far, but love for God will carry you through everything. Obedience still may be hard at times, but it will never again be toilsome. Lovest thou God? If your answer is yes, obedience will be spontaneous.
I delight to do Your will, O God. Your law is within my heart. Give me a passion to please You.
When in Need
Scripture Reading: Hebrews 4:12–16
Key Verse: 2 Timothy 2:26
They may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.
We are likely to think of the obvious—hatred, lust, immorality—as Satan’s primary weapons of temptation and defeat. But our accuser possesses a far more deadly and cleverly disguised agent of spiritual destruction—discouragement.
In times of need, he causes us to dwell on our mistakes, our repeated failures, our constant confession of sins, and our general lack of holiness and unrighteousness. It doesn’t take much on the devil’s part to disillusion us. We are all too well acquainted with our infirmities. Allowed to linger, discouragement breeds despair, which engulfs any sense of godly hope and confidence. Like a battle tank out of gas, we are neutralized on the spiritual battlefield.
If you have experienced this bewildered state, you can disarm the deceiver with this unchanging Bible truth: God’s grace will never fail you.
Christ’s grace saved you. His face smiles upon you even when you stumble. His grace has reserved a place in heaven for every believer that no sin or sins can alter.
His throne is adorned with grace and mercy. As the Son of man, Christ understands your plight. He will never turn you away. The instant you call on Him and thank Him for His forgiveness, discouragement has no room to stand. Go boldly to Him.
Father God, I take authority over the enemy’s tool of discouragement in my life. I give You all my mistakes, failures, and recurring sins. Thank You for grace that will never fail.
Ask, Seek, Knock
Scripture Reading: 2 Timothy 2:11–13
Key Verse: 2 Timothy 2:13
If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.
Those who ask will receive answers. Those who seek will find. Those who knock will find the door opened for them. It is God’s acrostic: A-S-K: Ask, Seek, Knock.
The Lord wants us to pray to Him, not only because it honors Him, but also because it helps us to grow in Him. Furthermore, prayer taps us into His work in the world. At any given moment, you can pray for anyone anywhere on earth and have confidence that the Lord of the entire universe will hear you and respond in the most effective fashion.
For this reason, prayer is one of the best ways to get involved in God’s mission. What a wonderful privilege it is to be able to participate in the expansion of God’s kingdom by asking the Lord to help His children and impact His creation.
Another reason the Lord bids us to pray is to build our faith in Him. Even sinful men give gifts to their children. How much more does the holy God enjoy giving good gifts to those who ask Him? (Matthew 7:11). He enjoys helping us along in our faith as we learn His Word, practice His presence, and stay so close to Him that His thoughts become our thoughts. He also loves to answer our prayers and see us become bolder in our walk and witness.
God’s Word tells us that He is faithful because He cannot deny Himself (2 Timothy 2:13). Be certain to set aside time daily to talk to Him, and you will learn this truth firsthand.
Father, teach me to ask, seek, and knock—to persevere in prayer until I receive an answer.
Paul: Joy in Spite of Detractors
“Whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice, yes, and I will rejoice.”
It is possible to maintain your joy even while dealing with criticisms and irritating distractions.
The dictionary definition of detraction is “the uttering of material (as false or slanderous charges) that is likely to damage the reputation of another.” A detractor wants to undermine and destroy the good name and credibility of another. Great statesmen, such as President Abraham Lincoln during the American Civil War, often have been the targets of contentious political opponents and stinging detractions by the press.
For the church, the most difficult criticism has arisen from within, from false professors who once claimed to support it and its leaders. Paul came to know the disappointment and distress of being torn down when his detractors at Philippi assailed him even while he sat in prison. But he is a model of how one can rise above such pain and discouragement.
Paul’s main detractors (Phil. 1:15) were his fellow preachers who proclaimed the same gospel as he did. They were not at odds with him over doctrine but over personal matters. Paul’s detractors were envious of his ministry gifts and the way God had blessed his efforts with many converts and numerous churches.
Contending with the detractors at Philippi was not a completely new trial for Paul. He had previously learned patience in dealing with the letdowns caused by other supposed supporters (see 2 Tim. 1:15; 4:16). Now his opponents were testing his patience to the extreme as they sought to destroy his credibility with his supporters.
The detractors’ tactics might have unsettled the faith of some in the churches, but not Paul’s confidence. He stood up to all the unpleasantness with joy because, as our verse indicates, he knew the cause of Christ was still being advanced.
Paul’s exemplary behavior under fire provides an obvious lesson for us: no amount of false and unfair criticism should steal our joy in Christ and His gospel. And we can keep rejoicing if we, like Paul, stay devoted to our top priority, proclaiming and glorifying the name of Christ.
Suggestions for Prayer: Thank the Lord that the gospel and its power are strong enough to overcome any amount of jealous detraction. Pray that you would stay focused on gospel priorities.
For Further Study: Read Nehemiah 4–6. How did Nehemiah deal with the detractors to his work? ✧ What was the eventual outcome (6:16)?
Our Lord Jesus … that great Shepherd of the sheep.
Jesus, my Chief Shepherd, You are the good shepherd; and You know Your sheep, and are known by Your own. Your sheep hear Your voice, and You know those who follow You. And You give me eternal life, and I shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch me out of Your hand.
You, Lord, are my shepherd; I shall not want. You make me to lie down in green pastures; You lead me beside the still waters. You restore my soul, You lead me in the paths of righteousness for Your name’s sake.
Like a sheep I have gone astray; turned to my own way; and the Lord God has laid on You my iniquity, the iniquity of us all. You are the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for me. You will seek what was lost and bring back what was driven away, bind up the broken and strengthen what was sick. I was like a sheep going astray, but I have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of my soul.
You are the Good Shepherd, Jesus—and I, an often straying sheep, need You. I thank You for Your provision and protection.
Hebrews 13:20; 1 Peter 5:4; John 10:14, 27–28; Psalm 23:1–3; Isaiah 53:6; John 10:11; Ezekiel 34:16; 1 Peter 2:25
Meekness, Not Weakness
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
When you hear the word meekness you may think of the word in its modern setting—someone who is spineless, spiritless, lacking in strength and virility. The meek person in today’s world is not how we’d like to be known. But the Bible says, “Blessed are the meek.”
The Bible says the meek are blessed of God and someday they will rule the earth.
Meekness is not weakness. It is not laziness. It is not compromise at any price, not just being born nicer than other people.
The word came to mean in classical Greek “to soothe, to calm, to tranquilize.” Someone has described meekness as gentleness by those who have the power to be otherwise—power under control. Meekness is the grace that brings strength and gentleness together.
When Jesus invited us to Him, He did not appeal to us on the basis of His kingship, majesty, or authority. The Lord reaches out His arms and says, “Come to Me and I’ll give you rest, for I am meek—you can be comfortable coming to Me” (see Matthew 11:28). 
Behold, He who forms the mountains and creates the wind,
And reveals His thoughts to man,
He who turns dawn to darkness,
And treads the high places of the earth—
The Lord God of hosts is His name. (Amos 4:13)
In Your majesty, You dwell in the likeness of a throne of sapphire above the expanse that is over the cherubim. (Ezekiel 10:1)
Pause to express your thoughts of praise and worship.
Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best, but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful; later on, however, it produces the peaceable fruit of righteousness for those who have been trained by it. Therefore, let us strengthen the hands that are weary and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for our feet, so that what is lame may not be disabled, but rather healed. (Hebrews 12:10–13)
Ask the Spirit to search your heart and reveal any areas of unconfessed sin. Acknowledge these to the Lord and thank Him for His forgiveness.
May I not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will fear the One who, after killing, has authority to cast into hell. (Luke 12:4–5)
May I fear only the Lord my God and serve Him and take my oaths in His name. (Deuteronomy 6:13)
May I be very careful to love the Lord my God, to walk in all His ways, to obey His commands, to hold fast to Him, and to serve Him with all my heart and all my soul. (Joshua 22:5)
Pause to add your own prayers for personal renewal.
May I submit myself for the Lord’s sake to every human authority, whether to a king as being supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish evildoers and to praise those who do right; for it is the will of God that by doing good I may silence the ignorance of foolish men. (1 Peter 2:13–15)
Growth in Christ
Greater desire to know and please Him
Greater love and commitment to Him
Grace to practice His presence
Grace to glorify Him in my life
My activities for this day
We should not get drunk on wine, for that is dissipation. Instead, we should be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs; singing and making music in our hearts to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 5:18–20)
Churches and Ministries
My local church
Evangelism and discipleship ministries
Lord Jesus, You have said that unless I am converted and become like a little child, I will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like a child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:3–4)
You did not want the little children to be hindered from coming to You, for of such is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 19:14)
Pause to reflect upon these biblical affirmations.
Blessed be the Lord; day by day He bears our burdens,
The God of our salvation.
Our God is the God of salvation,
And to God the Lord belongs escape from death. (Psalm 68:19–20)
It is good to give thanks to the Lord
And to sing praises to Your name, O Most High,
To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning
And Your faithfulness at night. (Psalm 92:1–2)
Pause to offer your own expressions of thanksgiving.
When I remember You on my bed,
I meditate on You through the watches of the night.
Because You have been my help,
I will rejoice in the shadow of Your wings.
My soul clings to You;
Your right hand upholds me. (Psalm 63:6–8)
Keep thy heart with all diligence: for out of it are the issues of life
He who would keep his heart pure and holy must plant a sentinel at every avenue by which sin may find access there, guarding against none more than the “little” sins, as they are called.
The man of God has his eyes to keep, and so Job said, “I have made a covenant with mine eyes”—his tongue, and hence the exhortation, “Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile”—his ears, and hence the warning, “Cease, my son, to hear the instruction that causeth to err”—his feet, and hence David says, “I have refrained my feet from every evil way, that I might keep thy word.” And since there is no gate of the five senses by which the enemy may not come in like a flood, unless the Spirit lift up a standard against him, we have need to guard every port, and write over every portal, “Here there entereth nothing to hurt or to defile.”
BETWEEN the revelation of God in his word and that in his works, there can be no actual discrepancy. The one may go farther than the other, but the revelation must be harmonious. Between the interpretation of the Works and the interpretation of the Word, there may be very great differences. It must be admitted that the men of the Book have sometimes missed its meaning. Nay, more: it is certain that, in their desire to defend their Bible, devout persons have been unwise enough to twist its words. If they had always labored to understand what God said in his book, and had steadfastly adhered to its meaning, they would have been wise.
Morning, May 26
“Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee.”
— Psalm 55:22
Care, even though exercised upon legitimate objects, if carried to excess, has in it the nature of sin. The precept to avoid anxious care is earnestly inculcated by our Saviour, again and again; it is reiterated by the apostles; and it is one which cannot be neglected without involving transgression: for the very essence of anxious care is the imagining that we are wiser than God, and the thrusting ourselves into his place to do for him that which he has undertaken to do for us. We attempt to think of that which we fancy he will forget; we labour to take upon ourselves our weary burden, as if he were unable or unwilling to take it for us. Now this disobedience to his plain precept, this unbelief in his Word, this presumption in intruding upon his province, is all sinful. Yet more than this, anxious care often leads to acts of sin. He who cannot calmly leave his affairs in God’s hand, but will carry his own burden, is very likely to be tempted to use wrong means to help himself. This sin leads to a forsaking of God as our counsellor, and resorting instead to human wisdom. This is going to the “broken cistern” instead of to the “fountain;” a sin which was laid against Israel of old. Anxiety makes us doubt God’s lovingkindness, and thus our love to him grows cold; we feel mistrust, and thus grieve the Spirit of God, so that our prayers become hindered, our consistent example marred, and our life one of self-seeking. Thus want of confidence in God leads us to wander far from him; but if through simple faith in his promise, we cast each burden as it comes upon him, and are “careful for nothing” because he undertakes to care for us, it will keep us close to him, and strengthen us against much temptation. “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusteth in thee.”
Evening, May 26
“Continue in the faith.”
— Acts 14:22
Perseverance is the badge of true saints. The Christian life is not a beginning only in the ways of God, but also a continuance in the same as long as life lasts. It is with a Christian as it was with the great Napoleon: he said, “Conquest has made me what I am, and conquest must maintain me.” So, under God, dear brother in the Lord, conquest has made you what you are, and conquest must sustain you. Your motto must be, “Excelsior.” He only is a true conqueror, and shall be crowned at the last, who continueth till war’s trumpet is blown no more. Perseverance is, therefore, the target of all our spiritual enemies. The world does not object to your being a Christian for a time, if she can but tempt you to cease your pilgrimage, and settle down to buy and sell with her in Vanity Fair. The flesh will seek to ensnare you, and to prevent your pressing on to glory. “It is weary work being a pilgrim; come, give it up. Am I always to be mortified? Am I never to be indulged? Give me at least a furlough from this constant warfare.” Satan will make many a fierce attack on your perseverance; it will be the mark for all his arrows. He will strive to hinder you in service: he will insinuate that you are doing no good; and that you want rest. He will endeavour to make you weary of suffering, he will whisper, “Curse God, and die.” Or he will attack your steadfastness: “What is the good of being so zealous? Be quiet like the rest; sleep as do others, and let your lamp go out as the other virgins do.” Or he will assail your doctrinal sentiments: “Why do you hold to these denominational creeds? Sensible men are getting more liberal; they are removing the old landmarks: fall in with the times.” Wear your shield, Christian, therefore, close upon your armour, and cry mightily unto God, that by his Spirit you may endure to the end. 
His Strength Alone
Surely God has not given us all our life only to be quenched in death, but to grow and expand and become more and more vigorous. The lesson I learned in my own especial experience at Oakington Md. camp meeting is the lesson for us all I think—not to “frustrate the grace of God.”
The one illustration that seemed to contain the kernel of it all was such a homely one that it hardly seems worth repeating, and yet my story would not be complete without it. One of the preachers told it one evening. Two little boys were skating when one of them broke through and breaking his way along the thin ice finally was able to hold himself up when he reached a solid part. He could hold, but he could not climb out, and his companion worked himself along on some rails to pull him out.
Before making any effort, however, he explained to the poor little fellow that it would be death to them both if he should make the least effort to save himself, that his only safety lay in being absolutely passive and letting his companion save him. The drowning boy promised to be still, and his friend reached out his arm to grab him, but in his intense eagerness to be saved the poor little fellow forgot his promise and tried to seize the arm of his friend. At once the friend drew back and threatened to leave the poor boy to drown unless he would remain absolutely still. Again he promised, and again an effort was made, and again the eager desire for life overcame him and he tried to seize the outstretched arm.
The friend saw it was a serious emergency and with feigned indifference he turned on his heel and threatened to leave him to his fate. The poor boy, now thoroughly frightened, promised faithfully to remain still if only his friend would make one more effort to save him. And this time, by a mighty struggle, he kept his promise and was pulled out of the water to safety.
Every effort we make to help Him save us only renders it impossible for Him to do it. Our only hope lies in being absolutely helpless and in our letting Him do it all! The lesson is a blessed one. And I believe that if we all would learn it as we ought, we would soon find ourselves, “living, free, and mighty, standing on our tombs!”
—To Anna, The Barracks, August 1, 1870
Think as Jesus taught
Pray without ceasing. 1 Thess. 5:17.
We think rightly or wrongly about prayer according to the conception we have in our minds of prayer. If we think of prayer as the breath in our lungs and the blood from our hearts, we think rightly. The blood flows ceaselessly, and breathing continues ceaselessly; we are not conscious of it, but it is always going on. We are not always conscious of Jesus keeping us in perfect joint with God, but if we are obeying Him, He always is. Prayer is not an exercise, it is the life. Beware of anything that stops ejaculatory prayer. “Pray without ceasing,” keep the childlike habit of ejaculatory prayer in your heart to God all the time.
Jesus never mentioned unanswered prayer; He had the boundless certainty that prayer is always answered. Have we by the Spirit the unspeakable certainty that Jesus had about prayer, or do we think of the times when God does not seem to have answered prayer? “Every one that asketh receiveth.” We say—‘But …, but …’ God answers prayer in the best way, not sometimes, but every time, although the immediate manifestation of the answer in the domain in which we want it may not always follow. Do we expect God to answer prayer?
The danger with us is that we want to water down the things that Jesus says and make them mean something in accordance with common sense; if it were only common sense, it was not worth while for him to say it. The things Jesus says about prayer are supernatural revelations.
Numbers 35; Psalm 79; Isaiah 27; 1 John 5
Most people who have read 1 John a few times know that John discusses a number of evidences (some commentators call them “tests” or “tests of life”) that clarify who truly is a Christian. Most people see three tests: (a) a test of truth, in particular the truth that Jesus is the Son of God; (b) a test of obedience, in particular obedience to the commands of Jesus; (c) a test of love, in particular love for our brothers and sisters. The danger lies in thinking that these “tests” somehow make independent contributions, as if a person might hope to pass two out of three. But toward the end of this epistle, not least in 1 John 5:1–5, these three tests come together in such a way that they are not independent at all. They all hang together.
This paragraph begins with the truth test, with the person “who believes that Jesus is the Christ” (5:1). That person is born of God—a point repeatedly reiterated in John’s writings. But everyone who is born of God will surely love others who have been born of God—spiritual siblings, as it were (5:1). Thus the truth test is linked, through the new birth, to the love test. How then do we know that we really do love the children of God? Well, first of all, by loving God himself, and then in consequence carrying out his commands (5:2). Indeed, it is ridiculous to claim to love God and not obey him. So obvious is this that one might go so far as to say that “love for God” is “to obey his commands” (5:3). Of course, John has already reminded his readers that one of Jesus’ central commands, his “new commandment,” is that his disciples love one another (2:3–11; 3:11–20; cf. John 13:34–35). Thus the love test is tied to the obedience test at several levels.
One must not think that Christianity is nothing more than tough-minded obedience. The truth is that Jesus’ commands “are not burdensome” (5:3), for in the new birth God has given us the power to perform what Jesus commands, the ability to overcome “the world” (5:4–5; cf. 2:15–17). Who, then, has this power to overcome the world? Those who are born again, those who have genuine faith, of course—and genuine faith is defined in terms of faith’s object, namely the truth that Jesus truly is the Son of God. Thus the test of obedience, and with it the test of love, is tied back to the truth test.
The glorious reality is that, in the Christian way, truth and ethics are tied together. Creedal confession and transformed living go hand in hand. Any other alternative is either superstition or humbug.
Numbers 35; Psalm 79; Isaiah 27; 1 John 5
When plans were being laid to parcel out the Promised Land to the twelve tribes, Levi was excluded. The Levites were told that God was their inheritance: they would not receive tribal territory, but would be supported by the tithes collected from the rest of the Israelites (Num. 18:20–26). Even so, they needed somewhere to live. So God ordained that each tribe would set aside some towns for the Levites, along with the surrounding pasturelands for their livestock (Num. 35:1–5). Since the Levites were to teach the people the law of God, in addition to their tabernacle duties, these land arrangements had the added advantage of scattering the Levites among the people where they could do the most good. Moreover, their scattered lands were never to pass out of Levitical hands (Lev. 25:32–34).
The other peculiar land arrangement established in this chapter is the designation of six “cities of refuge” (35:6–34). These were to be drawn from the forty-eight towns allotted to the Levites, three on one side of the Jordan, and three on the other. A person who killed another, whether intentionally or accidentally, could flee to one of those cities and be preserved against the wrath of family avengers. At a time when blood feuds were not unknown, this had the effect of cooling the atmosphere until the official justice system could establish the guilt or innocence of the killer. If found guilty on compelling evidence (35:30), the murderer was to be executed. One recalls the principle laid down in Genesis 9:6: those who murder human beings, who are made in the image of God, have done something so vile that the ultimate sanction is mandated. The logic is not one of deterrence, but of values (cf. Num. 35:31–33).
On the other hand, if the killing was accidental and the killer therefore innocent of murder, he cannot simply be discharged and sent home, but must remain in the city of refuge until the death of the high priest (35:25–28). Only at that point could the killer return to his ancestral property and resume a normal life. Waiting for the high priest to die could be a matter of days or of decades. If the time was substantial, it might serve to cool down the avengers from the victim’s family. But no such rationale is provided in the text.
Probably two reasons account for this stipulation that the slayer must remain in the city of refuge until the death of the high priest. (1) His death marked the end of an era, the beginning of another. (2) More importantly, it may be his death symbolized that someone had to die to pay for the death of one of God’s image-bearers. Christians know where that reasoning leads.
May 26.—Morning. [Or October 18.] “God hath blessed thee for ever.”
LET us read
A Psalm in which Solomon is just visible in the background as a type, but the Lord Jesus fills the foreground in the fulness of loveliness and Majesty.
1 My heart is inditing a good matter: I speak of the things which I have made touching the king: my tongue is the pen of a ready writer.
No matter can be so good as that which boils up from a warm heart, and has for its subject the King of saints. The psalmist resolves also to speak only of that which he had made or experienced, for then he felt he could speak fully, deliberately, and wisely, with all the accuracy and force of an accomplished writer. O to have our hearts warm whenever Jesus is the theme! Could we speak of things which we have made our own concerning King Jesus? The question deserves an answer.
2 Thou art fairer than the children of men: grace is poured into thy lips: therefore God hath blessed thee for ever. (He speaks as though he saw the Well-beloved One. The psalmist falls into raptures at the sight. He hears him speak, and adores him. We shall do the same if he will but reveal himself to us.)
3 Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O most mighty, with thy glory and thy majesty.
4 And in thy majesty ride prosperously because of truth and meekness and righteousness; and thy right hand shall teach thee terrible things. (This should be our prayer. O Immanuel, the mighty prince, put forth thy power and subdue men to thyself. As Solomon reigned over wide dominions, so also reign thou, O most sweet Prince.)
5 Thine arrows are sharp in the heart of the king’s enemies; whereby the people fall under thee. (His gospel pierces men’s hearts, and subdues them to his love.)
6 Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre.
7 Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. (See the divine and human natures here blended in one person. As man the Lord Jesus has his fellows, but as God his throne is for ever and ever. Let us make no mistake upon this vital point, but believe in Jesus as God and man.)
8 All thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces, whereby they have made thee glad.
9 Kings’ daughters were among thy honourable women: upon thy right hand did stand the queen in gold of Ophir. (The church is arrayed in the best of the best, the righteousness of God. How lovely she is in the loveliness of Jesus!)
10 Hearken, O daughter, and consider, and incline thine ear; forget also thine own people, and thy father’s house;
11 So shall the king greatly desire thy beauty: for he is thy Lord; and worship thou him.
The church must be unworldly, and seek first the kingdom of God. Such must each one of us be, and then all other things shall be added unto us, as the next verse teaches.
12 And the daughter of Tyre shall be there with a gift; even the rich among the people shall intreat thy favour.
13 The king’s daughter is all glorious within: her clothing is of wrought gold.
14 She shall be brought unto the king in raiment of needlework: the virgins her companions that follow her shall be brought unto thee.
15 With gladness and rejoicing shall they be brought: they shall enter into the king’s palace.
16 Instead of thy fathers shall be thy children, whom thou mayest make princes in all the earth.
The Lord grant that in this house there may be kept up a gracious succession. May pious sons follow godly fathers, and may the King of our hearts have servants in this family as long as the world stands.
17 I will make thy name to be remembered in all generations: therefore shall the people praise thee for ever and ever. (Jesus can never be forgotten. Solomon is not, but Jesus lives on and reigns on, and shall do for ever and ever; blessed be his name.)
The King of saints, how fair his face,
Adorn’d with majesty and grace!
He comes with blessings from above,
And wins the nations to his love.
Let endless honours crown his head;
Let every age his praises spread;
While we with cheerful songs approve
The condescensions of his love.
May 26.—Evening. [Or October 19.] “Will God indeed dwell on the earth?”
1 Kings 8:1–6; 10, 11; 22–30
THEN Solomon assembled the chief of the fathers of the children of Israel, unto King Solomon in Jerusalem, that they might bring up the ark of the covenant of the Lord out of the city of David, which is Zion.
Solomon prepared the temple before he brought the ark to it, and an old writer well observes that before we pray we should prepare our heart that it may be a temple for the Lord.
2, 3, 4 And all the men of Israel assembled themselves unto King Solomon; and the priests took up the ark. And they brought up the ark of the Lord, and the tabernacle of the congregation, and all the holy vessels that were in the tabernacle, even those did the priests and the Levites bring up.
5 And king Solomon, and all the congregation of Israel, that were assembled unto him, were with him before the ark, sacrificing sheep and oxen, that could not be told nor numbered for multitude. (They paused on the way at different spots, and offered sacrifices, till, as Josephus tells us, “the ground was moist with drink-offerings and sacrifices.” It was the jubilee year, and the season was the feast of tabernacles, so that the crowds were great, and the joy overflowing. When shall we see the whole earth hold jubilee and adore the ascended Saviour?)
6 And the priests brought in the ark of the covenant of the Lord unto his place, into the oracle of the house, to the most holy place, even under the wings of the cherubims.
10, 11 And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the Lord. So that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the glory of the Lord had filled the house of the Lord. (The cloudy pillar was the token of the presence of God, and its filling the sanctuary was a sign of his graciously accepting the temple. We cannot tell whether it was the dazzling brightness, or the deep, portentous darkness, which overwhelmed the minds of the priests, but assuredly it is a glorious thing to have the Lord so present in the midst of his people that all our works become as nothing, and we feel that no longer do we “stand to minister,” but the Lord himself is there.)
22 ¶ And Solomon stood before, the altar of the Lord in the presence of all the congregation of Israel, and spread forth his hands toward heaven. (He was not a priest, and could not therefore present the sacrifices upon the altar; but as the representative man for the nation he did well to offer up the national prayer.)
23, 24 And he said, Lord God of Israel, there is no God like thee, in heaven above, or on earth beneath, who keepest covenant and mercy with thy servants that walk before thee with all their heart: Who hast kept with thy servant David my father that thou promisedst him: thou spakest also with thy mouth, and hast fulfilled it with thine hand, as it is this day. (Observe how he dwells upon the covenant. It is sweet praying when we can plead the promises.)
25, 26 Therefore now, Lord God of Israel, keep with thy servant David my father that thou promisedst him, saying, There shall not fail thee a man in my sight to sit on the throne of Israel; so that thy children take heed to their way, that they walk before me as thou hast walked before me. And now, O God of Israel, let thy word, I pray thee, be verified, which thou spakest unto thy servant David my father.
27 But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded? (So even in the dim light of Judaism it was seen that the Lord dwelleth not in temples made with hands; how astonishing it is that under the Gospel men should still cling to the notion of holy places.)
28 Yet have thou respect unto the prayer of thy servant, and to his supplication, O Lord my God, to hearken unto the cry and to the prayer, which thy servant prayeth before thee to day:
29 That thine eyes may be open toward this house night and day, even toward the place of which thou hast said, My name shall be there: that thou mayest hearken unto the prayer which thy servant shall make toward this place.
30 And hearken thou to the supplication of thy servant, and of thy people Israel, when they shall pray toward this place: and hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place: and when thou hearest, forgive. (In our highest joys we have still need to say “forgive.” Our hearts are out of order when that word does not rise to our lips. Let us plead with God to bless us throughout all our lives, and evermore to forgive.)
May 26 – Asking for God’s Provision
“‘“Give us this day our daily bread”’” (Matthew 6:11).
“Give” reminds us of our need to ask God for His provision. In recognition of His past and present provision we ask Him, and trust for His future furnishing of all our needs. We can ask confidently because God has richly promised. “Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart. . . . The humble will inherit the land and will delight themselves in abundant prosperity” (Ps. 37:4, 11). God does not pledge to always meet the physical needs of everybody, but only of those who trust in Him. In Psalm 37:25, David is speaking about believers when he says, “I have been young and now I am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his descendants begging bread.”
It is clear that the “us” who can expect provision from the Father are believers. Paul echoes the same principle: “Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness; you will be enriched in everything for all liberality, which through us is producing thanksgiving to God” (2 Cor. 9:10–11; cf. Luke 18:29–30).
God mercifully supplies our needs daily, meaning simply our ordinary, day-by-day provision of food, clothing, money, etc. The primary means by which we receive these things is through work, but isn’t it the Lord who provides even the strength for that? To accept God’s provision for today without undue concern for tomorrow is a testimony of our godly contentment (cf. Matt. 6:25, 32–33).
If the supply we have today isn’t satisfying to us and doesn’t seem like enough, is the problem with our Supplier or with our own measure of demand? Pray for a humble willingness to be thankful for every blessing, without focusing on the ones He seems to be withholding.
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:
2 Samuel 23:1–24:25
2 Samuel 24:1 Again. A second outbreak of the divine wrath occurred after the 3-year famine recorded in 21:1. against Israel. The inciting of David to conduct a census was a punishment on Israel from the Lord for some unspecified sins. Perhaps sins of pride and ambition had led him to increase the size of his army unnecessarily and place heavy burdens of support on the people. Whatever the sin, it is clear God was dissatisfied with David’s motives, goals, and actions and brought judgment. He moved David. Satan incited David to take this census, and the Lord sovereignly and permissively used Satan to accomplish His will (1 Chr. 21:1). number Israel and Judah. A census was usually for military purposes, which seems to be the case here (v. 9). Numbering the potential army of Israel had been done in the past (Num. 1:1, 2; 26:1–4). However, this census of Israel’s potential army did not have the sanction of the Lord and proceeded from wrong motives. David either wanted to glory in the size of his fighting force or take more territory than what the Lord had granted him. He shifted his trust from God to military power (this is a constant theme in the Psalms; see 20:7; 25:2; 44:6).
John 9:2 who sinned. While sin may be a cause of suffering, as clearly indicated in Scripture (5:14; Num. 12; 1 Cor. 11:30; James 5:15), it is not always the case necessarily (see Job; 2 Cor. 12:7; Gal. 4:13). The disciples assumed, like most Palestinians of their day, that sin was the primary, if not exclusive, cause of all suffering. In this instance, however, Jesus made it clear that personal sin was not the reason for the blindness (v. 3).
John 9:3 Jesus did not deny the general connection between sin and suffering, but refuted the idea that personal acts of sin were the direct cause. God’s sovereignty and purposes play a part in such matters, as is clear from Job 1 and 2.
John 9:17 He is a prophet. While the blind man saw clearly that Jesus was more than a mere man, the sighted but obstinate Pharisees were spiritually blind to that truth (v. 39). Blindness in the Bible is a metaphor for spiritual darkness, i.e., inability to discern God or His truth (2 Cor. 4:3–6; Col. 1:12–14).
DAY 26: What does the healing of the blind man in John 9 teach us about unbelief?
In ancient times, severe physical deformities, such as congenital blindness (vv. 8, 9), sentenced a person to begging as the only means of support (Acts 3:1–7). The drastic change in the healed man caused many to faithlessly believe that he was not the person born blind.
If you read through vv. 13–34, this section in the story of the healing of the blind man reveals some key characteristics of willful unbelief: 1) unbelief sets false standards; 2) unbelief always wants more evidence but never has enough; 3) unbelief does biased research on a purely subjective basis; 4) unbelief rejects the facts; and 5) unbelief is self-centered. John included this section on the dialogue of the Pharisees with the blind man most likely for two reasons: 1) the dialogue carefully demonstrates the character of willful and fixed unbelief, and 2) the story confirms the first great schism between the synagogue and Christ’s new followers. The blind man was the first known person thrown out of the synagogue because he chose to follow Christ (see 16:1–3).
Even though the neighbors had confirmed that the man had in fact been blind (v. 9), that was not evidence enough. So the authorities called the parents (v. 18). While neighbors may have been mistaken as to the man’s identity, the parents would know if this was their own son. And the authorities considered the witness of the healed man worthless.
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.
Tue, May 26, 2015
YES, EVERYTHING IS WRONG… UNTIL JESUS MAKES IT RIGHT
Men and women without God are helpless and hopeless human beings. We do well to remember that sin is to the human nature what cancer is to the human body! Who can argue with the fact that sin has ruined us? Our feverish activity is only one sign of what is wrong with us – sin has plunged us into the depths and so marked us with mortality that we have become brother to the clay-but God never meant it to be so. I recall being invited to speak at a summer conference where much of the emphasis is upon fun and amusement and jokes, something like Hollywood, I suppose. After my sessions there, the pastor-director told me frankly of his wife’s reaction: “Honey, after listening to Dr. Tozer, can it be true that there isn’t anything good in this world?” Well, I know she had a Bible in her house and I consider her query one of the foolish questions of our times. Of course the world makes its own argument that there are things that can be considered good on the human level-but they belong to us only for a brief day. Nothing is divinely good until it bears the imprint of our Lord Jesus Christ! Men and women may argue and make excuses, but it does not change the fact that in our human society we are completely surrounded by three marks of the ancient curse: everything is recent, temporal and transient! That is why the Holy Spirit whispers faithfully, reminding us of the Christ of God, eternity walking in flesh, God Almighty come to live among us and to save-actually to give us eternity!
Having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself… whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.
Who can argue with the fact that sin has ruined us?
Lord, Help me to remember that there is nothing good in this world until you make it yours.
PETITION: Pray for the Graces of Contentment and Patience
We must pray for the graces of contentment and patience, and a holy indifference to all the things of sense and time.
Lord, teach us in whatever situation we are to be content; let us know how to be brought low and how to abound; in any and every circumstance, let us learn the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. Philippians 4:11-12(ESV) And let godliness with contentment be great gain to us, 1 Timothy 6:6(ESV) and a little with the fear of the LORD and quietness, be better than great treasure and trouble with it. Proverbs 15:16(ESV)
Lord, grant that our life may be free from the love of money, and we may always be content with what we have, Hebrews 13:5(ESV) ever saying, “Let the will of the Lord be done.” Acts 21:14(ESV)
Enable us in our endurance to possess our own souls; Luke 21:19(KJV) and let steadfastness always have its full effect, that we may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:4(ESV)
Lord, give us grace to mourn as though we were not mourning, and to rejoice as though we were not rejoicing, and to buy as though we had no goods, and to deal with the world as though we had no dealings with it, because the appointed time has grown very short, and the present form of this world is passing away. 1 Corinthians 7:29-31(ESV)
Matthew Henry’s Method For Prayer
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