Daily Archives: January 1, 2018

January 1 The Measure of True Success

“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints who are at Ephesus, and who are faithful in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 1:1).


God is more interested in your faithfulness than He is in your accomplishments.

Our society is success-oriented. We love success stories. We even have television programs that exalt the lifestyles of the rich and famous. But God’s standard for success is quite different. Unimpressed by our status or wealth, He looks instead for faithfulness to His will.

Paul understood that principle and diligently pursued his calling as an apostle—one of those unique men who were foundational to the church and who were recipients, teachers, and writers of the New Testament.

That was a high calling, and yet, judging from Paul’s lifestyle, most people would hardly call him successful—having suffered imprisonments, beatings, death threats, shipwrecks, robberies, hatred from his theological enemies, sleepless nights, hunger, thirst, and exposure to the elements (2 Cor. 11:23–27). But none of those things deterred him from obeying God’s will. His final testimony was, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4:7). That’s true success!

Although we’re not apostles, we’re to follow Paul’s example of faithfulness (1 Cor. 11:1). That’s possible because, like the Ephesian believers, we are “saints [holy ones] … who are faithful in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 1:1). By God’s grace we’ve trusted in Christ as our Lord and Savior (Eph. 2:8–9) and have received His righteousness (Phil. 3:9) and His Spirit (Eph. 3:16) and every spiritual resource necessary for faithful, victorious Christian living (Eph. 1:3).

What remains is to cultivate greater love for Christ and more consistent obedience to His Word. Those are the hallmarks of a true disciple and God’s measure of success. Make it your goal that your life today warrants the Lord’s commendation: “Well done, good and faithful [servant]” (Matt. 25:21).


Suggestions for Prayer:  Praise God for His wonderful grace, by which He granted you salvation and all the spiritual resources you need. ✧ Thank Him for His Word, through which you learn the principles of godly living. ✧ Ask Him for opportunities today to encourage the faithfulness of others.

For Further Study: Read Ephesians 1:3–4; 2:10; Titus 2:11–12. ✧ What is the goal of your salvation? ✧ Are you living each day in light of that goal?[1]

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 13). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.


I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the LORD.


God is always first, and God will surely be last!

In the plan of God, man is never permitted to utter the first word nor the last. That is the prerogative of the Deity, and one which He will never surrender to His creatures.

Man has no say about the time or the place of his birth; God determines that without consulting the man himself. One day the little man finds himself in consciousness and accepts the fact that he is. There his volitional life begins.

Before that he had nothing to say about anything.

After that he struts and boasts, and encouraged by the sound of his own voice he may declare his independence of God.

Have your fun, little man; you are only chattering in the interim between first and last. You had no voice at the first and you will have none at the last!

God reserves the right to take up at the last where He began at the first, and you are in the hands of God whether you will or not.

Adam became a living soul but that becoming was not of his own volition. It was God who willed it and who executed His will in making Adam a living soul. God was there first!

And when Adam sinned and wrecked his whole life, God was there still. Adam’s whole future peace lay in this—that God was still there after he had sinned.

It would be great wisdom for us to begin to live in the light of this wonderful and terrible truth: God is the first and the last![1]

[1] Tozer, A. W., & Smith, G. B. (2015). Evenings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

The Spurgeon Center | Spurgeon’s Top 4 New Year’s Resolutions

Spurgeon preached at least 14 sermons about the New Year in his 38 years at the Metropolitan Tabernacle. Though many themes arise in his comments, belief is as pervasive as any.

“Oh, to believe from January to December!”

Spurgeon prayed and called for belief in every New Year’s sermons—for Christians and non-Christian. He hoped that the New Year would bring forth the new mercy of the new birth.

“I pray God that a new year may not be begun by you in sin, but may God begin with you at the fall of the year, and bring you now to know his power to save.”

“Ere yet the midnight bell proclaims the birth of a new year, may you be born to God: at any rate once more shall the truth by which men are regenerated be lovingly brought under your attention.”

“If this New Year shall be full of unbelief, it will be sure to be dark and dreary. If it be baptized into faith, it will be saturated with benediction. If we will believe our God as he deserves to be believed, our way will run along the still waters, and our rest will be in green pastures. Trusting in the Lord, we shall be prepared for trials, and shall even welcome them as black ships laden with bright treasures.”

Spurgeon’s New Year’s Resolutions

On the last evening of 1891 and first morning of 1892, Spurgeon gave two brief addresses. He hadn’t preached at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in several months because of sickness. He was a month away from death. In reflecting on 1891, he spoke about the God-intended lessons of the year, such as the “instability of earthly joys.” As friends came together again in the morning, he gazed upon the new year journey of 1892.

Spurgeon’s New Year’s resolutions involved seeing more than being.

“Let me tell you, in a few words, what I see as I look into the new year.”

So what did Spurgeon resolve himself to see? Here are the preacher’s top five resolutions:

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Sanctification > Resolutions: 6 Ways God Could Sanctify You in the New Year

Michelle Lesley

Happy New Year!

There’s just something about the beginning of a new year that brings with it a yen for getting a fresh start. We think back over the past year, evaluate what we’ve spent our time and efforts on – or what we should have spent our time and efforts on – and, invariably, there’s a desire to make this year better.

Lots of people will make lots of resolutions for 2018: to lose weight, to stop smoking, to exercise more. And by mid-February, some 80% of those people will have failed and given up on their resolutions.¹ Why? Partly because (statistically speaking) most of those people are lost and the flesh is exceedingly hard to tame by sheer “pull yourself up by your own bootstraps” willpower. Even Holy Spirit-indwelt Believers can testify to the pull of the flesh.

Should we, as Christians make New Year’s resolutions? Is it…

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Why Did Early Christians And Pagans Fight Over New Year’s Day?

Romans looked forward to the free food and games that occurred at the annual New Year’s Day celebrations, but early Christian clerics were not as keen on the revelries. Long before the so-called “war on Christmas,” there was the war on New Year’s.

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January 1, 2018 : Afternoon Verse Of The Day

4 The psalmist longs for the moment when the Lord will invite his suffering saint to fellowship with him. The imagery of dwelling in the tent goes back to the desert experience (cf. Ex 33:7–11; Nu 11:16–17) when the Lord resided among the tribes of Israel in a tent. It is this symbol of faith that the psalmist draws on as though to say, “May I be your invited guest of honor in your tent” (cf. 15:1; Isa 33:20; cf. Ps 27:5). Over against the present affliction is the hope of the lasting joy of communion with the Lord. The psalmist longs to be a welcome guest with the Lord “for ages” (NIV, “forever”; cf. 23:6). Another metaphor for divine protection and recognition is that of “the shelter of your wings” (cf. 36:7; 57:1; 91:4; see Reflections, p. 931, The Ark of the Covenant and the Temple).[1]

61:4 / I long to dwell: The niv’s “long to” is a paraphrase of a Hb. cohortative, which should normally be translated, “may I dwell.” This rendering is supported by the following verse, “for you have heard my vows,” which appears to substantiate a request, not a confession of trust (as v. 3, for …, supports the requests of vv. 1–2).[2]

61:4        I will abide in Your tabernacle forever;

I will trust in the shelter of Your wings. Selah

Prayers like this cannot fail to touch the throne of God! Such tender affection and simple trust could never be refused. No wonder that God called David a man after His own heart (1 Sam. 13:14). The expression “the shelter of Your wings” may be an allusion to the wings of the cherubim which overshadowed the blood-sprinkled mercy seat.[3]

61:4I will abide implies strong determination. It is used of a worshiper in God’s house in 15:1. Elsewhere, the psalmist compares himself to (1) an everlasting guest in the tent of the Lord (Ps. 15) and (2) a chick who has complete trust under its mother’s wings (63:7; 91:4).[4]

61:4in your tent The Hebrew word used here, ohel, meaning “tent,” can refer specifically to God’s tabernacle (Exod 26:1–37; 2 Sam 6:17) or the temple (Ps 15:1; 27:4–6). God’s tent is a symbol of His presence and protection.

under the covering of your wings Compares God’s tender care for His people with the way a bird protects and cares for its young. See 91:4 and note; Ruth 2:12 and note.[5]

61:4 The psalmist yearns for God’s fellowship. See v. 2.

under the shelter of your wings. Some see here a metaphor for God’s compassion, as in the protection of the mother bird for her young. On the other hand, David’s reference to the familiar wings of the cherubim portrayed on the ark of the covenant seems more likely.[6]

[1] VanGemeren, W. A. (2008). Psalms. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Psalms (Revised Edition) (Vol. 5, pp. 481–482). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[2] Hubbard, R. L. J., & Johnston, R. K. (2012). Foreword. In W. W. Gasque, R. L. Hubbard Jr., & R. K. Johnston (Eds.), Psalms (p. 257). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (pp. 641–642). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[4] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 688). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

[5] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ps 61:4). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[6] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2005). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (p. 789). Orlando, FL; Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries.


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.

Colossians 1:20

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.

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!

This we know: When we turn our faces toward the Eternal One, asking, “God have mercy on me, a sinner,” we are finally being what God intended us to be in the first place!

Almighty God and Eternal Father, help me to journey through the coming year with a new set of eyes. Enable me to see life from Your lofty, eternal perspective.[1]

[1] Tozer, A. W. (2015). Mornings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

January 1 Jesus’ Public Baptism

Then Jesus arrived from Galilee at the Jordan.—Matt. 3:13a

There is something majestic about Jesus’ baptism that brought all the previous events of His earthly life into focus. Here He came fully onto the stage of the gospel story and His work and ministry truly began.

Following an eternity past in heaven and thirty years of obscurity in Nazareth, God presented the Savior publicly to the world. John the Baptist, as “the voice of one crying in the wilderness,” had heralded the coming of the Messiah (3:3; cf. Isa. 40:3), and now He was fully and publicly prepared to begin the fulfillment of His earthly mission.

A parallel passage in Luke tells us that this was no private or secluded ceremony: “Now when all the people were baptized, Jesus was also baptized” (Luke 3:21). The word translated “arrived” in Matthew 3:13 often indicated an official arrival or public appearance by a dignitary. From now on Jesus would be in the public eye and call no place His permanent earthly home (8:20).

This important episode from the beginning of Christ’s ministry clearly shows us that Jesus, though knowing what a high degree of visibility would ultimately cost Him, obediently stepped from the comfort of obscurity into the high-risk position of a public figure. His work would invite strong opinion, but in order to accomplish the Father’s will, it must take place in full view of the world. It must come at the cost of being widely observed.


We are called to be salt and light, not merely to enjoy God’s seasoning and illumination in our own lives but to be His conveyors of grace to others. How does this public calling alter the way you express and live your Christianity? Pray that you will live not in fear but in faith.[1]

[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 9). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

January 1 The Power of the Gospel

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation.

Romans 1:16

People want to change. All advertising is based on the presupposition that people want things different from the way they are. They want to look better, feel better, think better, and live better. They want to change their lives but, except from an external standpoint, they are unable to do so.

Only the gospel of Jesus Christ has the power to change people and deliver them from sin, from Satan, from judgment, from death, and from hell. Acts 4:12 says, “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” And that name is Jesus Christ.

So God’s Word, which is all about Jesus Christ, can do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. We are sinful and unable to remedy our condition, but from God comes the incredible, limitless power that can transform our lives.[1]

[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 12). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

A Weak Man’s Strong Tribute, Part 1

By James Boice on Jan 01, 2018 12:00 am

Psalm 40 ended with the confession that the psalmist was “poor and needy” (v. 17). Psalm 41 picks up at this point with a promise of blessing for the one who has regard for just such needy people. “Weak” is the word used. And that is what the psalmist is! He is in an extremely low point in life. He is sick, slandered by malicious enemies, surrounded by false friends, even betrayed by one of his close friends, whom he trusted. Besides, he is aware, as we should all be, that he is a sinner and therefore not without guilt of his own. These conditions have been preying on his mind and have distressed him.

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January 1, 2018 : Morning Verse Of The Day

35  For whoever finds me finds life
and obtains favor from the LORD,
36  but he who fails to find me injures himself;
all who hate me love death.”

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Pr 8:35–36). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

32–36 Verses 32–33 offer the explanation to the sons to listen, for a blessing is in store for all who live by Wisdom’s teachings. The explanation of this follows in vv. 34–36. The alternatives could not be more striking—it is a choice between life and favor (vv. 34–35) and harm and danger (v. 36). The contrast is further marked out by the verb “finds me” (māṣāʾ; v. 35) and “fails to find me” (ḥāṭāʾ, lit., “misses me”; v. 36).[1]

8:35–36. Wisdom gives life (cf. 3:18; 4:4, 22; 7:2; 9:11; 19:23) and the Lord’s favor (cf. 12:2; 18:22). The word for “favor,” rāṣôn, is used 14 times in Proverbs, and means “acceptance, goodwill, or approval.” It comes from the verb rāṣâh, “to be pleased with.” Rejecting wisdom results in harm (cf. 6:32; 7:23; 9:12b) and death (cf. 2:18; 5:5; 7:27). Wisdom is the way of life and folly is the way of death. These are people’s two choices.[2]

8:35 Life is obtained ultimately from Christ, who is the life (John 14:6) and the wisdom of God (1 Cor. 1:30).[3]

8:35 he who finds me Life is the reward for those who pursue wisdom (compare 3:18; 4:22). This probably indicates a fullness of life, as it is life according to God’s ways.

favor The person who seeks to do good is pleasing to Yahweh (see note on 12:2).

8:36 he who misses me injures himself Choosing to reject wisdom is portrayed as self-destructive (compare 15:32).

All those who hate me love death Rejecting wisdom can ultimately result in death (14:12; 16:25; 21:6), whereas righteousness and wisdom can save from death (14:27, 32).[4]

8:35 The benefits of wisdom are equated with life itself. To be truly alive is to be rightly related to God, other people, and the created order. See notes 3:2, 18.

favor from the Lord. That is, acceptance and goodwill. The sage is not describing an alternative way of gaining acceptance other than that provided in the covenant community and sacrifices. Rather, he describes the richness of the believers’ fellowship with the Lord as their lives are molded by true wisdom (12:2).

8:36 hate. To hate wisdom is to hate life, and therefore to love death.[5]

[1] Ross, A. P. (2008). Proverbs. In T. Longman III, Garland David E. (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Proverbs–Isaiah (Revised Edition) (Vol. 6, p. 102). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[2] Buzzell, S. S. (1985). Proverbs. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 1, p. 923). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[3] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1149). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[4] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Pr 8:35–36). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[5] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2005). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (p. 885). Orlando, FL; Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries.


O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!

—Romans 11:33

Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary lists 550,000 words. And it is a solemn and beautiful thought that in our worship of God there sometimes rush up from the depths of our souls feelings that all this wealth of words is not sufficient to express. To be articulate at certain times we are compelled to fall back upon “Oh!” or “O!”—a primitive exclamatory sound that is hardly a word at all and that scarcely admits of a definition.

Vocabularies are formed by many minds over long periods and are capable of expressing whatever the mind is capable of entertaining. But when the heart, on its knees, moves into the awesome Presence and hears with fear and wonder things not lawful to utter, then the mind falls flat, and words, previously its faithful servants, become weak and totally incapable of telling what the heart hears and sees. In that awful moment the worshiper can only cry “Oh!” And that simple exclamation becomes more eloquent than learned speech and, I have no doubt, is dearer to God than any oratory. BAM084-085

Lord, I come, with my heart on its knees, into Your awesome presence this first day of the year. I long to know You better and to sense that awesomeness that leaves me speechless before You. Amen.[1]

[1] Tozer, A. W., & Eggert, R. (2015). Tozer on the almighty god: a 365-day devotional. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

January 1 Commitment to God’s Standards

“I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called.”

Ephesians 4:1


Just as organizations have rules their members must follow, God has standards Christians must live by.

When someone is part of a group, he or she is obligated to follow its laws or standards. American citizens are required to obey the laws of the United States. Employees must conform to the rules of their company. Athletic teams are expected to listen to their coach.

Most of us want to be part of a group because with belonging comes acceptance. This desire to conform can be quite strong, sometimes dangerously so. During Jesus’ time, “many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God” (John 12:42–43). Those rulers were so committed to their religious system that they damned their souls by rigidly adhering to its code.

Some people think belonging to the church is different though. They want the blessings, rights, and privileges of being a child of God, but they’re unwilling to conform to biblical standards. But God expects Christians to live a certain way. Paul told the Corinthian believers to remove from their midst all who live immorally (1 Cor. 5:1–2). In 2 Thessalonians 3:6 he says, “Keep aloof from every brother who leads an unruly life and not according to the tradition which you received from us.”

Since people can join athletic teams and businesses and follow the rules, since people can be so fearful of being cast out of their society that they forfeit their souls, since people can be so devoted to things that don’t matter, shouldn’t Christians make an even greater commitment to what matters most? In Ephesians 4:1–6 Paul tells us how we can “walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which [we] have been called” (v. 1). Let’s commit ourselves to obey God as we learn what He requires of us.


Suggestions for Prayer: Ask God to show you areas where your commitment to Him is lacking, and for help in strengthening those areas.

For Further Study: Read John 9. What were the parents of the man born blind most committed to? ✧ What effect did that commitment have on them?[1]

[1] MacArthur, J. (1997). Strength for today. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

December 31 Daily Help

“IN the last day, that great day of the feast Jesus stood and cried, saying, if any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink!” No other distinction is made but that of thirst. No waiting or preparation is so much as hinted at. Drinking represents a reception for which no fitness is required. Sinful lips may touch the stream of divine love, they cannot pollute it, but shall themselves be purified. Jesus is the fount of hope. Dear reader, hear the dear Redeemer’s loving voice as he cries to each of us, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink.”[1]

[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (1892). Daily Help (p. 369). Baltimore: R. H. Woodward & Company.

December 31, 2017: Evening Verse Of The Day

11  But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;
let them ever sing for joy,
and spread your protection over them,
that those who love your name may exult in you.
12  For you bless the righteous, O LORD;
you cover him with favor as with a shield.

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ps 5:11–12). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

11–12 The just acts of God leading to the conviction and destruction of the wicked give the godly community reason to rejoice in his righteousness. The righteous acts of God include the preservation of the godly, “who take refuge” (see 7:1) in him, and their glorification, as they praise him for the establishment of his righteousness and justice on earth. The psalmist hopes that God’s judgment of the wicked will provide the righteous with greater reason to rejoice in the marvelous powers of salvation and victory, which he shares with his own. The “righteous” (v. 12; see 1:6) are the same as “those who love your name” (v. 11; cf. 69:36; 119:132). The wicked rebelled against his sovereignty, whereas the godly longed for his love and fellowship (cf. v. 7). They love the covenantal name Yahweh, for it is their shield. Yahweh protects his own under the cover of his wings (cf. 91:4).

The grand conclusion exalts Yahweh as the God who deals graciously with the righteous. Though the word “righteous” is not used with reference to God, the language of “blessing,” “protection,” and “favor” are all expressions of his righteous acts for his people. The hope of the godly lies in Yahweh, who will constantly guard his own as with a “shield.” The affirmative particle (“for surely,” v. 12), along with the emphatic use of “you,” forms a fitting conclusion to the prayer that began with an appeal to God’s kingship (v. 2). Truly the king will protect and care for his own. It has to be so! (See Reflections, p. 733, Yahweh Is the Divine Warrior.)

“You surround them” (v. 12) may also be translated as “you crown them” (taʿṭerennû). From one hand the Lord extends his protection and favor, likened to a “shield” (cf. 35:2; 91:4); from the other hand he bestows his royal glory on the godly (cf. 3:3). The crowning with his “favor” is an integral part of the blessing of the Lord (see A. A. Anderson, 1:86; cf. Dt 33:23; Ps 30:5).[1]

5:11–12 / While the wicked are to be excluded, all who take refuge in God are to find that refuge; God will spread his protection over them. “Your protection” is supplied by the translators because the Hebrew text has no direct object for “spread.” It is odd for this verb to lack an object. It may be that the reference to the symbolism of temple worship was readily apparent to the original worshipers. The Hebrew verb skk is frequently used in connection with the cherubim, whose wings “cover” the ark of the covenant (Exod. 25:20; 37:9; 1 Kgs. 8:7; 1 Chron. 28:18; cf. Ezek. 28:14, 16). Psalm 91:4 illustrates how the symbol of the protective cherubim became a metaphor for Yahweh himself: his feathers “cover” the one who “takes refuge” (the same words as in 5:11) under his wings. Also like 91:4, Psalm 5 shifts to a military metaphor for God: you surround them with your favor as with a shield. The symbol of the cherubim-chariot is in part a military image where “Yahweh of (the military) hosts” presides as warrior (see the Introduction).

The ultimate goal sought in this psalm is not entry into the temple or protection but joy, mentioned three times in the space of a single verse. And it is to be a joy enjoyed by both the worshipers themselves (let them be glad and sing for joy) and by God (rejoice in you). Joy is to have a central place in the pilgrimage with God.

It is interesting to note that the psalm distinguishes the two parties by different criteria. The enemies are described morally: they “do wrong, tell lies,” and are “bloodthirsty and deceitful.” The righteous, however, are described religiously: they “by your great mercy … come into your house, take refuge in you,” and “love your name.” The key feature that separates the righteous from the wicked is not their moral conduct but their affinity to Yahweh’s house. In addition, if we are correct in seeing Psalm 5 as the pilgrim’s confessional response to priestly entry liturgies like Psalms 15 and 24, it is striking to observe that it does not explicitly lay claim to the righteous behaviors prescribed in those psalms. Rather, it disclaims the company of the wicked and seeks entry into Yahweh’s holy temple by his great mercy and by self-descriptions such as “refugees” and “lovers of his name” (v. 11).[2]

5:11, 12 But while God deals with His enemies in judgment, may His friends always have reason to rejoice and shout for joy as they find Him to be their Refuge, strong and sure. May all who love Jehovah magnify Him as their unfailing Defender! No question about it—God does favor the righteous man; He will surround him with grace like a protective shield.[3]

[1] VanGemeren, W. A. (2008). Psalms. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Psalms (Revised Edition) (Vol. 5, pp. 118–119). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[2] Hubbard, R. L. J., & Johnston, R. K. (2012). Foreword. In W. W. Gasque, R. L. Hubbard Jr., & R. K. Johnston (Eds.), Psalms (pp. 60–61). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 554). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

December 31: From Beginning to End

Lamentations 4:1–5:22; Romans 16:1–27; Proverbs 31:10–31

Endings are always difficult. But when they’re new beginnings, they’re revitalizing.

At the end of Paul’s letter to the Romans, we not only see Paul the apostle, but Paul the empathetic and concerned pastor. Paul knows that if dissension or temptation rules over the Roman church, they will fail in their ministry, so he warns them (Rom 16:17–19) and offers them a word of hope: “And in a short time the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you” (Rom 16:20). Here, Paul is echoing God’s words to Adam, Eve, and the serpent after the fall, when, instead of carrying out God’s request to bring order to creation (as He had done in the beginning), humanity turned from Him, defacing His image (Gen 1:1–2, 27–28; 3:14–20). But while Gen 3:15 merely depicts Satan biting the heel of humanity and being struck on the head in return (Gen 3:15), Paul depicts Satan as being crushed under the heel of the Church. Through Christ, people will be victorious over Satan. Christ did use, is using, and will continue to use people to restore order to the world.

Paul sees the end as a time when Satan will no longer have control and Christians will be victorious through Christ. Satan is fighting a losing battle. His ravaging of humanity is temporary; likewise, in the ot, the prophet Jeremiah saw the other nations’ ravaging of God’s people as temporary. Jeremiah remarks: “You, O Yahweh, will sit forever on your throne for generation to generation.… Restore us to you, O Yahweh, that we will be restored; renew our days as of old” (Lam 5:19, 21). Yet Jeremiah must qualify his statement—he adds: “Unless you [Yahweh] have utterly rejected us, unless you are angry with us beyond measure” (Lam 5:22).

Today, there is no qualification. Christ loves us beyond all measure. Satan has lost this battle. The ravaging of God’s people will come to an end when Jesus ultimately returns (Rev 22). The end is full of hope. The end is a new beginning.

How can hope restore and revitalize your life?

John D. Barry[1]

[1] Barry, J. D., & Kruyswijk, R. (2012). Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.