Daily Archives: January 6, 2018

January 6 Identifying with Christ

“God … has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Eph. 1:3, emphasis added).

✧✧✧

Christianity isn’t simply a belief system—it’s a whole new identity.

Many people mistakenly believe that one’s religious preference is irrelevant because all religions eventually lead to the same spiritual destination.

Such thinking is sheer folly, however, because Scripture declares that no one comes to God apart from Jesus (John 14:6). He is the only source of salvation (Acts 4:12) and the only One powerful enough to redeem us and hold us secure forever (John 10:28).

Every Christian shares a common supernatural union with Christ. Paul said, “The one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him” (1 Cor. 6:17). We are in Him, and He is in us. His life flows through us by His Spirit, who indwells us (Rom. 8:9).

As a non-Christian, you were in bondage to evil (Rom. 3:10–12), enslaved to the will of Satan (1 John 5:19), under divine wrath (Rom. 1:18), spiritually dead (Eph. 2:1; 4:17–18), and without hope (Eph. 2:12). But at the moment of your salvation a dramatic change took place. You became a new creation in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17), alive in Him (Eph. 2:5), enslaved to God (Rom. 6:22), and a recipient of divine grace (Eph. 2:8). When you came to Christ, you were “delivered … from the domain of darkness, and transferred … to the kingdom of [God’s] beloved Son” (Col. 1:13). You now possess His righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21) and share in His eternal inheritance (Rom. 8:16–17).

All those blessings—and many more—are yours because you are in Christ. What a staggering reality! In a sense, what He is, you are. What He has, you have. Where He is, you are.

When the Father sees you, He sees you in Christ and blesses you accordingly. When others see you, do they see Christ in you? “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16).

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Suggestions for Prayer:  Thank God for His marvelous grace in taking you from spiritual death to spiritual life in Christ. ✧ Ask Him for wisdom and discernment to live this day for His good pleasure.

For Further Study: Read the book of Ephesians, noting every occurrence of the phrase “in Christ.” ✧ What has God accomplished in Christ? ✧ What blessings are yours in Christ?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 18). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

T.D. Jakes Releases 24-Karat Gold Study Bible

DALLAS, TX—Prosperity gospel preacher Bishop T.D. Jakes just announced at long last the release of his first official Bible, a study edition whose cover and pages are made entirely of a high-quality, 24-karat gold. Valued at $450,000, the copy of the Scriptures will let everyone around you know just how blessed you are. With a […]

. . . finish reading T.D. Jakes Releases 24-Karat Gold Study Bible.

Strong Delusion: We Are Seeing the Deception of the Masses Even Now

Absolute Truth from the Word of God

Coming from an ultra-liberal Jewish family, I am seeing first hand how easily the evil one can seduce and capture the minds of the unsaved.

In order for me (or any of us) to be used by the Lord to bring His truth into the lives of liberal friends and family, we must love them as Jesus loves them. We must also tell them “truth” as Jesus told Truth.  And our Jesus was not always tactful as we read of Him calling the Pharisees “You hypocrites!

Jesus IS the Truth.

 “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me”  (John 14:6).

The Leftwing Media Becomes Their god

If you engage in conversation on a regular basis with a liberal, then surely you have listened as they parrot back what they have heard on CNN, MSNBC and…

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JANUARY 6 THE BIBLE: MORE THAN A VOLUME OF FACTS

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.

2 TIMOTHY 3:16

Charles G. Finney believed that Bible teaching without moral application could be worse than no teaching at all and could result in positive injury to the hearers. I used to feel that this might be an extreme position, but after years of observation have come around to it, or to a view almost identical with it.

There is scarcely anything so dull and meaningless as Bible doctrine taught for its own sake. Theology is a set of facts concerning God, man and the world. These facts may be and often are set forth as values in themselves; and there lies the snare both for the teacher and for the hearer.

The Bible is more than a volume of hitherto unknown facts about God, man and the universe. It is a book of exhortation based upon these facts. By far the greater portion of the book is devoted to an urgent effort to persuade people to alter their ways and bring their lives into harmony with the will of God as set forth in its pages. Actually, no man is better for knowing that God in the beginning created the heaven and the earth. The devil knows that, and so did Ahab and Judas Iscariot. No man is better for knowing that God so loved the world of men that He gave His only begotten Son to die for their redemption. In hell there are millions who know that.

Theological truth is useless until it is obeyed. The purpose behind all doctrine is to secure moral action![1]


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

January 6, 2018 : Afternoon Verse Of The Day

 

 

Entering God’s Rest

Hebrews 4:6–11

So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. (Heb. 4:9–10)

Heaven is like first base in a Little League baseball game. It is said that the hardest challenge in sports is hitting a baseball, and after you do there are nine devils out there trying to keep you from safely reaching first. To many young boys and girls, reaching first base is a distant goal, a high calling not unlike Israel’s thoughts of the Promised Land.

I use this comparison without making light in any way of the heavenly rest that waits for all believers in Christ. I realize that the Christian life is considerably harder than Little League and that the stakes are so much higher. But what draws me to this comparison is the presence of two figures on the Little League scene: a father and his child.

It is not the child alone who labors to reach first base. There was a father who dreamt of seeing and cheering on, perhaps when those first steps were taken or even before. There was a father who conveyed his own love of the game, who told stories and first kindled the passion for line drives and stolen bases. He came home early from work when he could; he stood in the blazing heat or drizzling rain, throwing soft pitches one after another. There is a father who sits on rusty bleachers agonizing with his child over every pitch. Finally, when after long strife that little boy or little girl puts wood on the ball, races toward first, and plants foot on the bag while the umpire screams, “Safe!” it is toward the father that the child’s beaming face turns, as they together bask in the sheer joy of what has been gained. “Did you see my son?” he cries with delight. “Did you see my little girl?”

This is why first base is like heaven—not merely because of the toil that precedes it, but also because of the satisfaction we will share with our heavenly Father when we finally arrive.

The Rest That Remains

It is ultimately heaven that is on the mind of the writer of Hebrews as he urges his readers to enter into the rest of God through faith in Christ. The term “rest” occurs five times in this passage (Heb. 4:6–11). It first occurred in 3:11, where he quoted Psalm 95 with reference to the faithless generation of Israel during the exodus: “As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest.’ ” There “rest” referred to entry into the Promised Land of Canaan, the land of prosperity and security. For several paragraphs, the writer of Hebrews has been exhorting us not to follow the example of that exodus generation that complained against God, accused him of failing to provide, and refused to place their trust in him. As a result, they did not enter the Promised Land, but died in the desert between Egypt and Canaan.

As this argument develops, the author anticipates an objection. His readers might naturally wonder, “Yes, that faithless generation did not enter the rest in Canaan, but their children did under Joshua. Why, then, do you keep talking about a ‘rest’ that still remains?” The writer responds:

Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, again he appoints a certain day, “Today,” saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on. So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. (Heb. 4:6–9)

The last verse of that passage (v. 9) makes clear that our salvation rest is something that is ultimately future; it is something that still remains for the people of God to enter. As great as Israel’s rest in Canaan was, it was not the ultimate rest that God intended for his people. It was outward. It was physical and symbolic; rather than fulfilling God’s rest it symbolized the rest that was to come. John Calvin explains: “This is not the final rest to which the faithful aspire, and which is our common possession with the faithful of that age. It is certain that they looked higher than that earthly land; indeed the land of Canaan was only thought of as of value for the reason that it was the type and the symbol of our spiritual inheritance.”

Realized Eschatology

To understand what Hebrews means by a rest that remains, it helps to understand a theological concept known as realized eschatology. Eschatos is the Greek word for “last,” and eschatology means “last things” or “with reference to the end.” When we say that Hebrews holds a “realized” eschatology, we mean that the writer emphasizes our present possession of things that God has promised. Although those blessings will be fully received at the end of history, we already begin to realize their benefits now by faith.

For instance, we have already seen how Christ “destroyed” Satan by dying on the cross (Heb. 2:14). Some might argue that Satan is not yet removed from the scene; he is still a raging lion who torments us. Nevertheless, his doom is sealed and even now we experience freedom from slavery to him. This reality—which will be consummated at the end—is conveyed to us now by faith.

Another example of realized eschatology is the rest offered to God’s people. On the one hand, we now enter that rest by faith: “We who have believed enter that rest” (Heb. 4:3). Note the present tense. Through faith we know the certainty of salvation and come into communion with the living God, which is what eternal life is all about. Instead of laboring in futility to earn forgiveness of sins and acceptance with God, we rest upon the finished work of Jesus Christ. Even in this present life of toil, our faith rests on him and his saving power. This is what we mean by a “realized eschatology”: the things of heaven, the things of the future which are promised us by God, are made real to us now through faith, so that we live by a strength that is not of us but of God. A major burden of this entire epistle is to encourage its early readers, with all their trials and weakness, that by faith they can be sure of what they hope for and certain of what they do not see (Heb. 11:1).

As strong as that emphasis is, however, it is important that we do not overstate the case. Israel in Canaan had a foretaste of God’s rest; that is what the Promised Land signified. But they were in fact surrounded by real enemies; their need for labor and warfare was very great. The Book of Joshua tells of their successes and failures; it is a book of war and not of peace. The Canaan rest pointed to a greater salvation, of which it gave a foretaste but not the fulfillment.

This same understanding applies to the Christian life. How wonderful it is that we rest upon our Lord Jesus Christ. We lay our burdens upon him, we bring to him our tears and our fears, and we find real rest in him. Yet what we long for is the day when there will be no more tears, when there will be nothing to fear, and when God’s promised rest is brought to full consummation in glory. Isaiah says of that day: “The ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away” (Isa. 35:10).

But this is not our present experience. This present life compares to the wilderness journey, to the time of trial and testing, and not to the Promised Land itself. “There remains,” the writer of Hebrews reminds us, “a Sabbath rest for the people of God.” Though we have very real blessings in this present life, what we now experience is not all there is for the believer, and we rightly long for a greater rest to come.

From Sabbath to Lord’s Day

This brings us to another matter that is of real importance for the Christian, namely, the relationship of the Old Testament Sabbath to the Christian church. There are two basic views on the Sabbath, both of which draw from this passage in Hebrews. What makes Hebrews of special interest is a change in terminology that takes place in these verses. All through this exhortation, the writer has been using the Greek word katapausis for the idea of rest, which in the Greek translation of the Old Testament stood for rest in the land of Canaan. In verse 4 he expands his idea of rest by referring to God’s rest in creation, so that his readers will start linking that geographical rest to the weekly Sabbath-rest of Israel. Now, in verse 9, the writer pointedly changes the word he uses for rest. Here he uses apoleipetai, combined with the word sabbatismos, a construction that designated the rest of the Sabbath day. It is because of this change of terminology that many English versions use the translation “a Sabbath-rest.”

Clearly, the New Testament readers are being directed toward the Sabbath day, but the question is how this fits in the new covenant dispensation. There are two views. The first is that with the coming of Jesus Christ and the end of the old covenant, the Sabbath ordinance no longer exists and the fourth commandment does not continue in force. This is a view widely held among evangelicals today, and draws the support of such writers as Ray Stedman, D. A. Carson, and Andrew Lincoln.

This argument holds that since the Old Testament Sabbath, like Joshua’s entry into Canaan, is a symbol that points to the greater Sabbath that came in Jesus Christ, it no longer holds force. The reality has come; the symbol has been fulfilled. The fourth commandment reads, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God” (Ex. 20:8–10). According to Ray Stedman, in the new covenant this refers to “that cessation from labor which God enjoys and which he invites believers to share … [it is] dependence on God to be at work through us.” That being the case, Sabbath-keeping no longer consists of observing a special day, but sabbathkeeping “is achieved when the heart rests on the great promise of God to be working through a believer in the normal affairs of living.”3 Those who make this argument also point to Paul’s admonition in Colossians 2:16–17: “Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.” Based on these arguments, the view that is perhaps dominant today holds that the Sabbath command is exhausted with the coming of Christ and thus has no binding control on Christian practice.

As compelling as that position is, there are some significant problems with it. These are pointed out by those who differ, among whom are John Owen, A.W. Pink, and Richard Gaffin. First, they note that the Sabbath is instituted as one of the Ten Commandments. They then observe that all of the other nine commandments remain in force in the New Testament. For instance, children are admonished to obey their parents, and in making that admonition Paul explicitly references the fifth commandment (Eph. 6:1–3). More obvious examples have to do with murder, adultery, and blasphemy; no one denies that these are prohibited as much in the New Testament as in the Old. Isn’t it peculiar, therefore, for only one of the commandments to be abrogated, especially when no such abrogation is stated in the New Testament?

Another problem is more telling. Those who argue against a Christian Sabbath note that the Sabbath was a sign pointing to something that now has come. When the reality comes, the sign passes away. This is the very argument that Hebrews will make about the sacrificial system of the Old Testament. Since the true Lamb of God has come and shed his blood for sins once-for-all, there is no longer any need to sacrifice bulls and goats and lambs. Indeed, to do so is to deny the reality and sufficiency of Christ’s work.

But when it comes to the Sabbath, the very point of verse 9 is that the reality to which it points has not yet come: “There remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God.” In other words, there is still a valid need for and benefit from the sign of the Sabbath rest. Yes, Hebrews teaches a realized eschatology in which we have a great part of its possession now as we trust in the Lord Jesus and rest on him. But this realized eschatology is not yet fully realized. There is something still to come, and the Sabbath points not to what has already come in Christ but to what has yet to come in fulfillment as part of his future work.

As is often the case, the concerns of both sides are worth listening to. People opposed to the idea of a Christian Sabbath are concerned that we not fall into either a legalistic or a mechanical approach to our worship. It is certainly true that with the coming of Christ we have passed from the administration of law to that of grace. But this does not do away with the Ten Commandments. We still must reckon with the realities of God’s moral obligations, one of which deals with observing a full day of rest out of dependence on God. What then was the point of Paul’s admonition to the Colossians (Col. 2:16–17)? In context with the whole New Testament, it seems that Paul was correcting those whose faith consisted of little more than keeping a calendar of special days.

It is as a concrete expression of faith in the sovereign resting God that the idea of a weekly Sabbath has particular value. Even Ray Stedman, who opposes the Sabbath, can still write:

This does not mean that we cannot learn many helpful lessons on rest by studying the regulations for keeping the sabbath day found in the Old Testament. Nor that we no longer need time for quiet meditation and cessation from physical labor. Our bodies are yet unredeemed and need rest and restoration at frequent intervals. But we are no longer bound by heavy limitations to keep a precise day of the week.

Citations like this show that among Bible believers, even opponents of the Sabbath end up advocating what amounts to Sabbath-keeping. The reason for this is obvious. Everyone agrees that Sabbath-keeping amounts to dependence upon God. But how you can possibly say that you actually depend on the Lord, that you are looking ultimately to him for provision, and not to your boss or to the work of your own hands, if in fact you labor without ceasing every day of the week, if you observe no regular pattern of rest? We have freedom to follow God’s own pattern of labor and rest precisely because we are not left to our own devices. If I were to examine your weekly schedule, would it be clear that you are a person who depends upon the living God? If you find it impossible to set aside one full day a week (and surely this is the pattern we find in Scripture, not to mention the example of Jesus, who regularly assigned long portions of time to prayer and communion with the Father) to worship and draw near to God, then your claims to dependence on him are surely called into question.

A recent television commercial for an overnight parcel service began with great fanfare and the rolling of drums to herald a big announcement: “We now offer full service on Sundays. Now you can work unhindered seven days a week!” I could not help but think of the mud-pits of Egypt, in which the slave population of Israel labored day after day, without a Sabbath rest. I found it depressing that today we celebrate our willing return to the very kind of slavery from which the people of Israel were delivered in the exodus. Surely Christians will avoid such a view of life.

At a minimum, Christians need to set aside time not only to worship God but also to enjoy him and his bounty, to rest upon him and experience at least a partial taste of that Sabbath rest that is to come. And while we are admonished by the apostle Paul not to set stock in particular days or calendars, surely we will find ourselves worshiping together with the people of God on a regular schedule, so that our normal practice will be to set apart Sunday as the Lord’s Day, for both his worship and our enjoyment of the rest he has promised and now gives, at least in part. Few things are more profitable for Christians than to set apart the Lord’s Day for true rest and enjoyment of God’s provision, as well as for the worship he so surely is due.

Some will object that this seems legalistic. One use of the law is to reveal God’s character; the fourth commandment does this like all the others. The second use of the law is to condemn sin and drive us to the cross for salvation. All of us, no doubt, have sins under the fourth commandment which, like the others, can be forgiven through Christ. Third—and this is my emphasis here—the law is a fitting guide for living our lives. In this respect, the fourth commandment is an apt example of what James meant when he spoke in his epistle of the “law of liberty” (James 1:25). Having been forgiven by Christ and now living by the power of God’s grace, for us to live according to his commandments is the path of blessing and true freedom. In the case of the fourth commandment the freedom is from working without ceasing to a life of worship and rest.

Entering God’s Rest

All of that hard interpretive work puts us in a good position to make sense of the last two verses in our passage, which tell us: “Whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience” (Heb. 4:10–11). At first glance, this seems contradictory. Verse 10 tells us that entering God’s rest means resting from our work as he did from his. The very next verse tells us to get busy working for that rest; we are to make every effort to enter it and not fall away, as the Israelites did in the wilderness.

In fact, there is no problem here at all. The overarching model for this whole exhortation is the exodus wanderings of Israel. They had left the bondage of Egypt, but had not yet entered into the land of rest. We, too, are to press onward through our difficulties, not complaining against God or hardening our hearts against him, but relying on him in this present day of testing. We are to strive with the resources of his rest. In contrast to the unfaithful Israelites, who failed to trust the provision of God’s grace, we follow and strive because our faith receives the benefits of God’s saving work in Jesus Christ. Appreciating the reality of our present challenge—here is the difference between a realized and an overrealized eschatology, the latter of which forgets our present pilgrim status—we eagerly draw forth on every resource of grace that God provides.

Now is the day of our labor, the day when we do work. We rest our burdens on Jesus Christ, and he sends his Holy Spirit to help us shoulder the load. But the same Savior who offers us rest is also the Lord who commands, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). Our final day of rest is yet to come. It awaits us in heaven. God worked for six days and then he rested; now is the time when we work, after which we too will rest. This is what verse 10 emphasizes, pointing to the rest that is yet to come.

So understand that your labor now is not in vain. Your struggle, born of faith, fueled by God’s Holy Spirit as he works in you, is not for nothing. We are storing treasure up in heaven. As the angel proclaimed to the prophet Daniel: “Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever” (Dan. 12:3).

All of this brings me back to the subject of little boys and girls and the trials of Little League. Yes, it is they who swing the bat; but it was the father’s hands which taught them how to grip it, his strong hands gently wrapping around their little ones until they got it right. His voice patiently gave instruction, coached them, encouraged them, inspired them. And when they get that first base hit, it is his voice that rejoices with them, saying to them as our heavenly Father will say to us on that great day, “Well done, my child. Well done.”

Now is the day of our trouble and our toil. Now is the time of tears, of wrestling with sin, of witnessing to those around us, many of whom will scorn and abuse us. But if we do it all with our eyes looking up to heaven, gazing toward our home, trusting our heavenly Father, and asking him to find pleasure in our meager works, then we can be sure that he will. And in the day of our rest, we too will find joy in them forever.[1]


9–10 And picking up the reflections of vv. 3–5, that rest is now described as a “sabbath-rest.” The term used is not the regular sabbaton but sabbatismos, a verbal noun used nowhere else in biblical literature but with the effect of focusing on the experience of “sabbathing” rather than merely on the day itself. Such an experience of enjoying sabbath “remains” for God’s people in that it has not yet been fulfilled in history. It is boldly equated with God’s own experience of enjoying sabbath when he had finished his work of creation. So too God’s faithful people (the evocative noun laos [GK 3295], typically used in the LXX for Israel as God’s chosen people, is here used for the people of faith), their earthly work of serving him duly completed, can look forward to joining him in his heavenly rest (cf. Rev 14:13). For the prospect of joy and security in heaven as an incentive for faithful service on earth, cf. 11:13–16; 12:22–24.

11 The lesson of Psalm 95 is rounded off by another direct appeal to make sure that each individual (“no one”; see on 3:13) remains faithful so as to achieve the ultimate rest rather than repeating the disastrous disobedience of the Israelites in the wilderness; “fall” (TNIV, “perish”) echoes the verb used in 3:17 and Numbers 14:29, 32. The call to “make every effort” could also be translated “be zealous or eager.” It is a matter of attitude as well as of activity. The author wants his readers to be in no doubt that this matter of “entering rest” must be their single most important concern. For if that rest is lost, everything else is lost as well. Their faith in Christ means they are on the road to heaven, but it is still possible to “fall” and to lose the prize.[2]


4:9 / The promised rest, therefore, remains … for the people of God to enjoy. Sabbath-rest comes from a single word that occurs only here in the whole of the Greek Bible. This word suggests God’s own sabbath-rest after creation (v. 4). God’s gift of rest may thus be regarded as the gift of his own rest. To enjoy the blessings of the eschaton is to participate in the sabbath-rest of God.

4:10 / By a skillful combination of language drawn from two of the ot passages that have already been quoted (Ps. 95:11 in 3:11, 18; 4:3, 5; and Gen. 2:2 in 4:4), the author indicates that the promised rest and God’s rest are of the same kind. Thus anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work (lit., “works”). In view here is the present experience of rest already available to the readers (the tense of the Greek verb is actually aorist, or past), a point the author intends to stress.

The way in which “works” is to be understood is not clear, and commentators have differed in their interpretations of the word. Since the rest or cessation from works is something meant to be begun here and now, it must not be thought of as a cessation of life or as that rest enjoyed only by the saints who through death have gone to be with Christ. If we look for something to be enjoyed in the present, it is unlikely that the works should be thought of as works-righteousness in the Pauline sense, so that the rest is one of justification by faith. This view is not articulated anywhere in the epistle and, more importantly, it is not appropriate to the context. Faith for our author, furthermore, is not put over against works but is practically interchangeable with obedience. Possibly by “works” the author may have in mind the activity of the sacrificial ritual and the minutiae of ceremonial purity so important in the Judaism to which the readers were attracted. The most plausible interpretation, however, is that the author has in mind the ideal qualities of the sabbath-rest, namely, peace, well-being, and security—that is, a frame of mind that by virtue of its confidence and trust in God possesses these qualities in contradiction to the surrounding circumstances. In short, the author may well have in mind that peace and sense of ultimate security “which transcends all understanding” (Phil. 4:7). This interpretation has the further advantage of making the argument very pertinent to the needs of the readers—a concern never far from our author’s mind.

4:11 / That the above interpretation is on the right track is confirmed by the exhortation now given to make every effort to enter that rest (once again the allusion to the original quotation is plain). If this rest is entered into now, then none of the readers will fall as did the Israelites in the wilderness due to disobedience. Thus the rest, if entered into, will produce obedience—here in the sense of faithfulness. The readers will thereby not take the road of apostasy, by following the example of the Israelites, but will, armed with the existential peace of God’s sabbath rest, endure the hardships and persecution that they apparently face as Christians. It should be noted that in the argument of this chapter we encounter the tension between the indicative (we have entered the rest) and the imperative (we are to strive to enter the rest) that is often encountered in Paul’s argumentation (e.g., Rom. 6:7, 12). This is but a reflection of the tension between realized and future eschatology. The author’s pastoral concerns for his readers are evident in this application as well as in the following two verses.[3]



9. There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; 10. for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his.

From Psalm 95 the author has shown that the rest that the Israelites enjoyed in Canaan was not the rest God intended for his people. The intended rest is a Sabbath-rest, which, of course, is a direct reference to the creation account (Gen. 2:2; see also Exod. 20:11; 31:17) of God’s rest on the seventh day.

For the believer the Sabbath is not merely a day of rest in the sense that it is a cessation of work. Rather it is a spiritual rest—a cessation of sinning. It entails an awareness of being in the sacred presence of God with his people in worship and praise. John Newton captured a glimpse of what Sabbath-rest is to be when he wrote:

Safely through another week

God has brought us on our way;

Let us now a blessing seek,

Waiting in His courts today;

Day of all the week the best,

Emblem of eternal rest.

The day of rest is indeed an emblem of eternal rest! During our life span on earth, we celebrate the Sabbath and realize only partially what Sabbath-rest entails. In the life to come, we shall fully experience God’s rest, for then we will have entered a rest that is eternal. “ ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’ ‘Yes,’ says the Spirit, ‘they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them’ ” (Rev. 14:13).

Who then enters that rest? Only those who die in the Lord? The answer is: All those who in faith experience happiness in the Lord because they are one with him. Jesus prays for those who believe in him, “that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you” (John 17:21). In God we have perfect peace and rest.

My heart, Lord, does not rest

Until it rests in Thee.

—Augustine

However, the text indicates that whoever enters God’s rest does so only once. He enters that rest fully when his labors are ended. He then enjoys uninterrupted heavenly rest from which death, mourning, crying, and pain have been removed; at that time God’s dwelling will be with men; he will live with them and be their God, for they are his people (Rev. 21:4).

11. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience.

Hebrews 4:6 serves as an introduction to 4:11. With the introductory clause, verse 11 reads: “Since therefore it remains for some to enter, let us, then, make every effort to enter that rest.” The intervening verses must be understood as a parenthetical thought.

  • “Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest.” From now on, says the author, let us exert ourselves to enter God’s rest. Let us not take that rest for granted but earnestly strive to live in harmony with God, to do his will, and to obey his law. Paul in his Epistle to the Philippians puts the same thought in different words: “Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (2:12). This eagerness ought to be the hallmark of every believer and the password of the church. We are not to be fanatical, but are to demonstrate inner assurance in obedience to God’s Word. The writer of Hebrews does not cease to warn and to exhort his readers. He is utterly serious when he says, “In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood” (Heb. 12:4).
  • “So that no one will fall.” The key word in this clause is the term fall, which of course is a direct reminder of the desert journey of the Israelites as it is recorded in the Pentateuch and in Psalm 95. These people sinned, and as a consequence of God’s curse, their bodies fell in the desert. The word fall must be taken in a broader sense than referring only to physical death; it includes falling away spiritually and thus being completely ruined. Those who fall have lost their salvation and deserve eternal destruction.

As a pastor watching over his flock, the writer of Hebrews admonishes his readers to take care of one another spiritually. He stresses the responsibility of each believer toward the individual members of the church. No one in the Christian community should be neglected and thus, left to himself, be allowed to fall (see Heb. 3:12; 4:1).

  • “By following their example of disobedience.” The disobedient Israelites who perished in the desert became an example to their descendants. They became the object lesson of how not to live in the presence of God. Fathers would teach their children (Ps. 78:5–8) what the consequences of disobedience were for the rebellious Israelites on the way to the land of Canaan. And they would warn them not to follow this example.

Implicitly the author of Hebrews is saying to his readers: If any of you falls by following the example of the Israelites in the wilderness, he himself will be an example to his contemporaries, and everyone will take his failure as a warning not to make the same mistake. Rather, the reader must do everything in his power to walk the pathway of obedience and to exhort his brother and sister in the Lord to do likewise.

Unbelief leads to willful disobedience, which results in an inability to come to repentance. And what is the conclusion? The answer is forthright and to the point: eternal condemnation. Therefore, says the writer, let us make every effort to enter God’s rest.[4]


4:9 The preceding verses have been leading up to this conclusion: There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. Here the writer uses a different Greek word for rest (sabbatismos), which is related to the word Sabbath. It refers to the eternal rest which will be enjoyed by all who have been redeemed by the precious blood of Christ. It is a “Sabbath” keeping that will never end.

4:10 Whoever enters God’s rest enjoys a cessation from labor, just as God did on the seventh day.

Before we were saved, we may have tried to work for our salvation. When we realized that Christ had finished the work at Calvary, we abandoned our own worthless efforts and trusted the risen Redeemer.

After salvation, we expend ourselves in loving toil for the One who loved us and gave Himself for us. Our good works are the fruit of the indwelling Holy Spirit. We are often weary in His service, though not weary of it.

In God’s eternal rest, we shall cease from our labors down here. This does not mean that we will be inactive in heaven. We shall still worship and serve Him, but there will be no fatigue, distress, persecution, or affliction.

4:11 The previous verses demonstrate that God’s rest is still available. This verse says that diligence is necessary in order to enter that rest. We must be diligent to make sure that our only hope is Christ the Lord. We must diligently resist any temptation merely to profess faith in Him and then to renounce Him in the heat of suffering and persecution.

The Israelites were careless. They treated God’s promises lightly. They hankered for Egypt, the land of their bondage. They were not diligent in appropriating God’s promises by faith. As a result, they never reached Canaan. We should be warned by their example.[5]


9–11 God intends his people to share in his own Sabbath-rest. This involves resting from the work that is committed to us at present (cf. Rev. 14:13), just as God did from his. However, we are not to think of God’s rest as the rest of inactivity. Scripture makes it clear that he continues to uphold, direct and maintain his creation, having completed the work of establishing it (e.g. 1:3; Ps. 104; Jn. 5:17). The image is rather one of freedom from toil and struggle, to enjoy with God the satisfaction and perfection of his work in creating and redeeming us. Put another way, we will be liberated from all the trials and pressures of our present existence to serve God without hindrance and to live with him for ever (cf. Rev. 7:13–17). There is, therefore, need to make every effort to enter that rest. Since faith is the means by which we enter God’s rest (3), the writer is clearly restating the warning about hardening our hearts in unbelief. He is not saying that we secure our salvation by good works. On the other hand, if faith is genuine, it will be expressed in obedience. So our concern should be that no-one will fall by following the example of the disobedience of the Israelites, as highlighted in Ps. 95:7–11.[6]


4:9 The Greek word for rest in this verse is different from the word used in vv. 1, 3, 5, 10, 11; 3:11, 18. This word means “Sabbath rest” and is found only here in the NT. Jews commonly taught that the Sabbath foreshadowed the world to come, and they spoke of “a day which shall be all Sabbath.”

4:10 rest from his own work: This may refer to the rest believers will enter in when they finish their work for God’s kingdom on this earth (Rev. 14:13).

4:11 us: Including himself as well as his readers, the author exhorts believers to be diligent, a phrase meaning “make every effort.” to enter that rest: The rest is not automatic. Determined diligence is required. The danger is that believers today, like the Israelites of the past, will not stand, but fall in disobedience.[7]


[1] Phillips, R. D. (2006). Hebrews. (R. D. Phillips, P. G. Ryken, & D. M. Doriani, Eds.) (pp. 123–132). Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing.

[2] France, R. T. (2006). Hebrews. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews–Revelation (Revised Edition) (Vol. 13, p. 67). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Hagner, D. A. (2011). Hebrews (pp. 71–73). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[4] Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of Hebrews (Vol. 15, pp. 111–113). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[5] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (pp. 2168–2169). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[6] Peterson, D. G. (1994). Hebrews. In D. A. Carson, R. T. France, J. A. Motyer, & G. J. Wenham (Eds.), New Bible commentary: 21st century edition (4th ed., p. 1331). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press.

[7] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 1641). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

Resources on Depression and the Christian

The End Time

depressed
Depression is something Christians don’t talk about much. Some are embarrassed by it, deeming it a weakness. Others believe that they are supposed to present a joyful countenance all the time, every day. Others adopt a plan of fake it till you make it.

So I was surprised and heartened to read Drew Dyck’s heartfelt sharing of his own journey through a long-term depression which was also punctuated by panic attacks. Mr Dyck is an acquisitions editor at Moody Publishers and a senior editor at CTPastors.com. He’s the author of Yawning at Tigers (2014) and Generation Ex: Christian (2010).

It’s always risky when one is open about something that some parts of society stigmatize. He muses on some of that in his article, as he shares the lessons he’d learned. His article is here:

You Can Break Your Brain … And 4 Other Things I’ve learned from My Struggle with…

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Top Weekly Stories from ChristianNews.net for 01/06/2018

Twitter Users Express Concern After Chelsea Clinton Wishes Church of Satan a ‘Happy New Year’   Jan 05, 2018 11:56 am

Photo Credit: Kyle Cassidy Twitter users are expressing concern after Chelsea Clinton wished the Church of Satan a “Happy New Year” on Tuesday. The matter began as Clinton had commented on a tweet by model Chrissy Teigen, who was upset that someone had posted photos of her daughter in making claims that she and her husband were a part of the “pizzagate”…

Continue reading the story 


J.J. Hanson, Voice Against Physician-Assisted Suicide in the Midst of Own Battle With Cancer, Dies at 36   Dec 31, 2017 06:09 pm

ALBANY, N.Y. — J.J. Hanson, who staunchly fought against physician-assisted suicide in the midst of his own battle with terminal brain cancer, has died at age 36. In May 2014, Hanson was diagnosed with stage 4 glioblastoma, the most aggressive form of brain cancer, and was told that he had four months left to live. He was advised that his tumors were inoperable…

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Man’s ‘Swatting’ Hoax Amidst Gaming Feud Ends in Fatal Shooting of Innocent Father of 2   Dec 30, 2017 05:41 pm

Barriss WICHITA, Kan. — An innocent Kansas man is now dead and his two children are fatherless after a dispute over a game of “Call of Duty” resulted in a SWAT team showing up at a false address called in by a convicted prankster. According to reports, a video gamer that had been in an argument in playing a “Call of Duty” game with a $1.50 wager contacted…

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UK National Health Service Apologizes After Woman Complains About ‘Transgender’ Nurse for Pap Smear   Jan 01, 2018 03:54 pm

LONDON — The National Health Service (NHS) of the U.K. has issued an apology after a woman contacted them to complain that after she requested a female nurse for her pap smear, a man who identified as a woman arrived to handle the procedure. A pap smear is a routine test that is performed on adult women every 3-5 years, depending on age, and involves the…

Continue reading the story 


Utah Lawmaker Proposes Criminal Assisted Suicide Bill After Teen Helps Friend Kill Herself   Dec 30, 2017 12:24 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — A lawmaker in Utah has proposed a bill that would classify assisted suicide as manslaughter after an 18-year-old allegedly coaxed a 16-year-old girl to kill herself and then recorded her as she died. Tyerell Przybycien has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the death of Jchandra Brown after being accused of transporting the girl…

Continue reading the story 


Discovery of Clay Seal From First Temple Period Viewed as Another Support of Biblical Text   Jan 02, 2018 03:07 pm

Photo Credit: Israel Antiquities Authority/Clara Amit JERUSALEM — The discovery of a 2,700-year-old clay seal dating back to the era of the First Temple is being viewed as another fascinating support of information already outlined in the Bible. The Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported on Monday that the stamped clay docket was found in the Western…

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Swarthmore College’s Religion Course Catalog Includes Study in ‘Queering the Bible’   Jan 04, 2018 03:49 pm

Photo Credit: Wikipedia/Kungming2 SWARTHMORE, Pa. — A private liberal arts college just outside of Philadelphia is drawing concerns over a “Queering the Bible” class included in its course catalog that is meant to provide “queer and trans readings of biblical texts.” Swarthmore College, founded in 1864 by Quakers, provides a description of the course on its…

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Planned Parenthood’s Annual Report: 321,384 Abortions Performed by Organization in 2016-2017   Jan 02, 2018 11:39 pm

Photo Credit: All Nite Images WASHINGTON — The abortion and contraception giant Planned Parenthood has released its annual report, which shows that while the number of abortions it performed last year are the lowest in a decade, still over 321,000 babies were murdered in their mother’s womb during the 2016-2017 fiscal year. “As we enter our 101st year,…

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Serial ‘Swatter’ Who Called in Deadly Hoax Amidst Video Gaming Feud Charged With Creating False Alarm   Jan 04, 2018 11:58 am

LOS ANGELES, Calif. — The convicted prankster who called 911 with a false murder and hostage report that resulted in a SWAT team surrounding an innocent man’s home—with police fatally shooting the father of two—has been charged with one felony count of creating a false alarm and will be extradited to Kansas to face trial. Tyler Raj Barriss, 25, appeared in a…

Continue reading the story 


California Man Accused of Plotting Attack on San Francisco’s Pier 39 in the Name of ISIS   Jan 01, 2018 12:40 pm

MODESTO, Calif. — A California man has been arrested and charged with plotting a terror attack on San Francisco’s Pier 39 in the name of the barbaric Islamic group ISIS. Everitt Jameson, 26, of Modesto was arrested on Dec. 22 and charged with attempting to provide support to a foreign terrorist organization after being investigated by the FBI. The government…

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JANUARY 6 YES, GOD LOVES US

We love him, because he first loved us.

1 John 4:19

If we are to have any satisfying and lasting understanding of life, it must be divinely given. It begins with the confession that it is indeed the God who has revealed Himself to us who is the central pillar bearing up the universe. Believing that, we then go on to acknowledge that we have discovered His great eternal purpose for men and women made in His own image.

I heard a brilliant Canadian author being interviewed on the radio concerning world conditions, and he said: “I confess that our biggest mistake is the fond belief that we humans are special pets of Almighty God and that God has a special fondness for us as people.”

We have a good answer: Man as he was originally created is God’s beloved. Man in that sense is the beloved of the universe. God said, “I have made man in My image and man is to be above all other creatures. Redeemed man is to be even above the angels in the heavens. He is to enter into My presence pardoned and unashamed, to worship Me and to look on My face while the ages roll on!” No wonder we believe that God is the only certain foundation!


Dear Lord, thank You for Your unconditional love for me. I pray that I will not act like a spoiled child but that my life will honor You in all my relationships.[1]


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

January 6 The Holy Spirit Validates Jesus

The heavens were opened, and he [John] saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him.—Matt. 3:16b

About the supernatural sign that occurred at the conclusion of Jesus’ baptism, one commentator has suggested, “Just as the veil of the Temple was rent in twain to symbolize the perfect access of all men to God, so here the heavens are rent asunder to show how near God is to Jesus, and Jesus to God.”

But did Jesus really need an anointing from the Holy Spirit? When He came to earth, Jesus retained His full deity. In His complete humanity, however, He needed divine strengthening for ministry. Like any human being, Jesus experienced fatigue, hunger, sleepiness, and the like. Only the Holy Spirit could strengthen such humanness (cf. Matt. 4:1; Luke 4:14).

That the Spirit came upon Him at His baptism was a fulfillment of the prophet’s words, “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners” (Isa. 61:1). It was also the sign God had given to John the Baptist so that he would know Jesus when he saw Him (John 1:33).

This anointing by the Holy Spirit was unique in several ways, including being the only New Testament instance in which the Holy Spirit appeared as a dove. Most important, however, this act not only empowered Jesus as the Son of Man for redemptive service, but it was a confirming sign to everyone present—and to us as well—that Jesus is indeed the Messiah.

ASK YOURSELF

If Jesus was dependent on the Spirit’s empowering for effective service, how much more do we need His help and strengthening? In what ways are you making yourself fully open to the Holy Spirit’s power and direction? Pray that He will make you ever aware of your need for Him.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 14). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

January 6 The Incomparable Christ

He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.

Colossians 1:17

Jesus Christ is the most incomparable personality of all human history.

Socrates taught forty years, Plato fifty, and Aristotle forty. Jesus’ public ministry lasted less than three years, yet the influence of His life far outweighs the combined 130 years of the three greatest philosophers of all antiquity.

Jesus never painted a picture, yet some of the finest paintings of Raphael, Michelangelo, Da Vinci, and many other artists found in Him their inspiration.

Jesus did not write poetry, but Dante, Milton, and scores of the world’s greatest poets have been inspired by Him like no other. Ralph Waldo Emerson said that the name of Jesus “is not so much written as ploughed into the history of this world.”

Jesus wrote no music, yet Haydn, Handel, Beethoven, Bach, Mendelssohn, and a myriad of others reached the highest perfection of melody in compositions about Him.

Jesus has affected human society like no other. The incomparable Christ is the good news. And what makes it such good news is that man is so undeserving but that God is so gracious.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 17). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

January 6, 2018 : Morning Verse Of The Day

 

11 Jesus took the few barley cakes and fish, gave thanks, and distributed them to the people sitting on the grass. The Synoptics report that Jesus, “looking up to heaven, … gave thanks and broke the loaves” (Mk 6:41 par.). Note that Jesus did not “bless the bread”—he “gave thanks” for it. Note also that he looked up to heaven to give thanks, a welcome change to the usual “bow your head and pray.”[1]


6:11 / Gave thanks: Gr.: eucharistēsas (cf. 6:23). From this word the term “Eucharist” is derived. The parallel passages (Mark 6:41; Matt. 14:19; Luke 9:16) use a different verb eulogein (lit., “bless,” but in niv consistently translated “give thanks,” as here). The verb in John corresponds to the verb used in the second feeding (i.e., of the four thousand) in Mark (8:6) and Matthew (15:36). The giving of thanks plays a crucial part in the working of a miracle again in John 11:41. Thanksgiving becomes Jesus’ way of calling on the Father to display his power.[2]


11. With wonderful simplicity the miracle is now recorded: Jesus, therefore, took the bread-cakes, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them among those that were seated; similarly the fishes as much as they wanted. Note that the thanksgiving comes first, then the miracle, just as in 11:41, 42. (For prayer after meals see Deut. 8:10.) In this connection it is often said that Jesus must have used a customary table-prayer. This is barely possible; nevertheless, the best answer is that we just do not know. It must be borne in mind in this connection that our Lord’s addresses delivered to the multitudes were always characterized by freshness and originality—he never spoke like the scribes, merely copying the words of former rabbis. Is it probable, then, that when he addressed his Father in heaven he borrowed a formula-prayer?

Jesus distributed the bread-cakes among those that were seated. Notice how John abbreviates here. He seems to take for granted that the readers have learned the further details from the other Gospels. From them (Mark 6:41; Matt. 14:19; Luke 9:16) we learn that after the Lord had given thanks, he took the bread-cakes and began to break off fragments (of edible size) which he then gave to the disciples, who carried them (in baskets collected here and there from the crowd?) to the people. With the fishes the procedure was somewhat similar. The point that is emphasized is that those present received as much as they wanted. Some even took more fragments than they were able to consume. Thus, with majestic simplicity, the miracle is related. Did the bread multiply in the hands of the Savior? Just at what point did the miracle occur? All we know is that a great miracle took place, a sign which was transformative in character. Just as Jesus at Cana did not simply create wine, but changed water into wine, so here he does not just create bread, but changes bread into more bread. This was entirely in line with the purpose of his coming to earth. He had come not to create but to transform, and in the process of this glorious work he shows his (and therefore also the Father’s) amazing generosity: whenever he gives, he gives lavishly.[3]


6:11 Jesus took the loaves and gave thanks for them. If He did this before partaking of food or serving it, how much more should we pause to thank God before eating our meals. Next He distributed the food to the disciples. There is a real lesson for us in this. The Lord Jesus did not do it all Himself. He enlisted the service of others. It has been well said, “You do what you can do; I’ll do what I can do; and the Lord will do what we cannot do.”

By the time the Lord distributed the bread to the disciples, it had been wonderfully multiplied. The exact moment when this miracle took place is not recorded, but we know that in a miraculous way those five loaves and two small fish became enough in the Lord’s hands to feed this great throng. The disciples went about serving the bread and the fish to those sitting down. There was no scarcity because it is distinctly stated that they gave them of the fish as much as they wanted.

Griffith Thomas has reminded us that in this story we have a beautiful picture of:

(a) the perishing world; (b) the powerless disciples; (c) the perfect Savior. This miracle involved a true act of creation. No mere man could take five loaves and two small fish and expand them in such a way as to feed so many people as this. It has been well said, “ ‘Twas springtime when He blessed the bread, ’twas harvest when He brake.” And it is also true, “Loaves unblessed are loaves unmultiplied.”[4]


6:11 The miraculous multiplication of the food demonstrated Jesus’ deity, because only God can create. This is the only miracle of Jesus that is recounted in all four Gospels.[5]


[1] Mounce, R. H. (2007). John. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Luke–Acts (Revised Edition) (Vol. 10, p. 437). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[2] Michaels, J. R. (2011). John (p. 103). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[3] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Gospel According to John (Vol. 1, pp. 222–223). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[4] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1499). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[5] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 1327). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.


 

JANUARY 6 SPIRITUAL RECEPTIVITY

When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek.

—Psalm 27:8

Pick at random a score of great saints whose lives and testimonies are widely known. Let them be Bible characters or well-known Christians of post-biblical times….

I venture to suggest that the one vital quality which they had in common was spiritual receptivity. Something in them was open to heaven, something which urged them Godward. Without attempting anything like a profound analysis, I shall say simply that they had spiritual awareness and that they went on to cultivate it until it became the biggest thing in their lives. They differed from the average person in that when they felt the inward longing they did something about it. They acquired the lifelong habit of spiritual response. They were not disobedient to the heavenly vision. As David put it neatly, “When thou saidst, Seek ye may face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek” (Psalm 27:8). POG062-063

Lord, give me open ears, a quiet mind, a receptive heart and a willingness to obey. I commit before You my desire to acquire a “lifelong habit of spiritual response.” Amen. [1]


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

January 6 The Passion Fueling the Worthy Walk

“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

✧✧✧

A passion for Christ is what compels us to live an exemplary life.

What do you think of when you hear the word beggar? You probably picture a haggard person in tattered clothes with an outstretched hand asking for money or food.

Would it surprise you to know that the apostle Paul was a beggar? He didn’t beg for money, though, but for people to follow Christ. The word translated “entreat” in this verse means “to call out to someone with intensity” or “to plead with someone.”

Paul pleaded with many people. He begged Herod Agrippa to hear the gospel (Acts 26:3). He told the church at Rome, “I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice” (Romans 12:1). To the Corinthians he said, “We beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (2 Cor. 5:20). When Paul was committed to some principle of divine truth, he implored people to respond. He didn’t approach the ministry with detachment or indifference.

Paul again feels compelled to beg in Ephesians 4:1: “I … entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called.” He doesn’t just coldly say, “It is essential that you walk worthy.” He begs them. Why? Because when you don’t walk worthy, God is not glorified in your life, you are not fully blessed, the church cannot fully function, and therefore the world cannot see Jesus Christ for who He is. So much depends on our worthy walk. Paul pleads with us, to show how vital it is.

Paul’s passion demonstrates an important truth: while knowledge is necessary in the Christian life, it is our desire to be like Christ that compels us toward righteousness. And when we have that desire, it will be natural for us to beg those around us to follow Christ as well.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: Ask God to give you the heart of the apostle Paul who said, “We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were entreating through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (2 Cor. 5:20).

For Further Study: Read Philippians 3:7–14. What characterized Paul’s zeal? ✧ Which of these characteristics do you lack? Look for ways to bolster them as you daily work through this book.[1]


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

January 5 Daily Help

NEVER, never neglect the word of God; that will make thy heart rich with precept, rich with understanding; and then thy conversation, when it flows from thy mouth, will be like thine heart, rich, unctious and savory. Make thy heart full of rich, generous love, and then the stream that flows from thy hand will be just as rich and generous as thine heart. Oh! go, Christian, to the great mine of riches, and cry unto the Holy Spirit to make thy heart rich unto salvation. So shall thy life and conversation be a boon to thy fellows; and when they see thee, thy face shall be as the angel of God.[1]


[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (1892). Daily Help (p. 9). Baltimore: R. H. Woodward & Company.

January 5, 2018 : Evening Verse Of The Day

The Joy of Anticipation

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. (1:6)

A fourth element of joy is anticipation. Nothing can encourage a Christian so much as the knowledge that, despite life’s uncertainties and difficulties, and no matter how many spiritual defeats there may be long the way, one day he will be made perfect.

Confident translates peithō, which here means to be persuaded of and have confidence in. Paul’s confidence was much more than human hope; it was the absolute confidence that comes from knowing and believing God’s promise that He [God] who began a good work in him will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. Salvation is wholly God’s work, and for that reason its completion is as certain as if it were already accomplished.

Began is from enarchomai, a compound verb meaning “to begin in.” It is used only twice in the New Testament, both times in reference to salvation. Paul rebuked certain believers in the Galatian churches who believed that they could finish in their own power what God had divinely begun in their lives solely by the power of His Holy Spirit. “Are you so foolish?” he asked rhetorically. “Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” (Gal. 3:3). In the present text the apostle, in effect, responds to that same question, assuring the Philippians that their salvation is solely a gracious work of God. God requires faith for salvation, but faith is not a meritorious work. Salvation is by the power of God in response to faith; and, as already noted, faith itself is God’s work, divinely initiated and divinely accomplished (Eph. 2:8–9). Although Lydia, the first convert in what would become the church at Philippi, believed the gospel of Christ, Luke made it clear that “the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul” (Acts 16:14).

Later in the present epistle, Paul emphasized that “to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake,” and “it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Phil. 1:29; 2:13). “As many as received Him [Christ],” John declared, “to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12). When “the apostles and the brethren who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God” through the witness of Peter, “those who were circumcised took issue with him,” believing that the gospel was only for Jews or Jewish converts. But after they heard Peter’s report, “they quieted down and glorified God, saying, ‘Well then, God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life’ ” (Acts 11:1–2, 18). “In the exercise of His will,” James wrote, “He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures” (James 1:18).

As noted earlier, salvation is solely by God’s grace. God “chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him” (Eph. 1:4). God chose all believers before time, long before they could possibly choose Him; and apart from His choice of them, they could not choose Him (John 6:44). It has always been true, in every age and circumstance, that only “as many as had been appointed to eternal life [have] believed” (Acts 13:48). Paul clearly expressed that truth in Romans 5:8–10:

God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.

Later in that epistle Paul gave a parallel to Philippians 1:6, noting that “those whom [God] foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified” (Rom. 8:29–30). All the chosen will be glorified. God will finish what He has begun.

Every aspect of salvation is by God’s sovereign will and choice. Paul wrote to the Ephesians that:

God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. (Eph. 2:4–8; cf. Titus 3:4–6; James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:2–3)

It is the Lord who begins the work of salvation, and it is the Lord, through His Holy Spirit, who will perfect it. To the Galatians Paul wrote, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me” (Gal. 2:20). Epiteleō (to perfect) is a compound, formed by the preposition epi and the verb teleō (“to complete”) to give the intensified meaning of “fully completed.” Paul was absolutely certain that God will fully complete His work of salvation in the Philippians. There is no possibility of failure or of partial fulfillment.

The eschatological expression the day of Christ Jesus does not refer to what both the Old and New Testaments prophesy as the final Day of the Lord, the time of God’s judgment on the sinful world. The Day of the Lord is described by Paul in 1 Thessalonians:

For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. While they are saying, “Peace and safety!” then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief. (5:2–4; for more information on the Day of the Lord, see Isa. 13:6–22; Joel 1:15; 2:11; Acts 2:20; 2 Thess. 1:10, “that day”; 2 Peter 3:10, and Revelation 1–11, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary [Chicago: Moody, 1999], 199–201)

Also an eschatological expression, the day of Christ Jesus, on the other hand, clearly refers to the time when believers will be glorified, when their salvation will be completed and made perfect (1 Cor. 3:10–15; 2 Cor. 5:10). It is the same as “the day of Christ” that Paul mentions several times later in Philippians, the day for which Christians should be prepared by living sincerely and blamelessly (1:10) and by “holding fast the word of life” (2:16). In his first letter to the Corinthian church, the apostle called it “the day of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 1:8), and in his second letter to them he called it “the day of our Lord Jesus” (2 Cor. 1:14). In each instance, the personal names Jesus or Christ are given (rather than Lord), and in each instance the reference is to the time when believers will fully share the Lord’s perfect righteousness, when “Christ is formed in [them]” (Gal. 4:19), and “[they] also will be revealed with Him in glory” (Col. 3:4).

Believers are “predestined to become conformed to the image of [God’s] Son” (Rom. 8:29), because “just as [they] have borne the image of the earthy, [they] will also bear the image of the heavenly, … [and] in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, … [they] will be changed.… For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality” (1 Cor. 15:49, 52–53). “We know that when [Christ] appears,” John wrote, “we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is” (1 John 3:2). Peter wrote: “When the Chief Shepherd appears, [we] will receive the unfading crown of glory” (1 Peter 5:4). Although a believer living in unrepentant sin may be delivered temporarily to Satan for discipline, “his spirit [will] be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus” (1 Cor. 5:5). The day of Christ Jesus is the time of perfection and glorification, when the glorious manifestation of the children of God will finally come (Rom. 8:18–19, 23).

When God saves, He saves completely and eternally. In promissory covenant terms, to be justified is to be sanctified and glorified. There is no such thing as experiencing one of those aspects of salvation without the other two. Each is an integral and necessary part of the whole continuum of salvation. For God to begin salvation in a person’s life is an irrevocable guarantee of His completing it. As William Hendriksen has observed, “God … is not like men. Men conduct experiments, but God carries out a plan. God never does anything by halves” (Philippians, 55).

The Lord said of David: “I will not break off My lovingkindness from him, nor deal falsely in My faithfulness” (Ps. 89:33; cf. v. 20). Jesus gives every believer the absolute promise that “all that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.… This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day” (John 6:37, 39). Later He reiterated that promise, saying, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand” (John 10:27–28). Paul declared, “I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:38–39). The apostle wrote to Timothy that “the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, ‘The Lord knows those who are His’ ” (2 Tim. 2:19; cf. John 10:14). Peter exulted:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:3–5; cf. Jude 24)

It is easy for believers to become discouraged when they focus on their problems and imperfections (and those of other believers). Those sins should not be ignored or minimized; but neither should they be allowed to overshadow the marvelous reality of the future perfection of the church and of every individual believer, as God’s Word guarantees so frequently and clearly. Remembering that glorious truth removes the debilitating pressure of doubt and fosters triumphant joy, gratitude, and anticipation. In so doing, it also frees God’s people to live more abundantly and fruitfully.

The nineteenth-century commentator F. B. Meyer wrote,

We go into the artist’s studio and find there unfinished pictures covering large canvases, and suggesting great designs, but which have been left, either because the genius was not competent to complete the work, or because paralysis laid the hand low in death; but as we go into God’s great workshop we find nothing that bears the mark of haste or insufficiency of power to finish, and we are sure that the work which His grace has begun, the arm of His strength will complete. (The Epistle to the Philippians [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1952], 28)

God has no unfinished works. The God who saves is the God who justifies, sanctifies, and glorifies. The God who begins is the God who completes. During His incarnation, the Lord gave this absolute and unambiguous assurance, which is a source of joy to all those who will ever trust in Him: “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out” (John 6:37).[1]


God Finishes What He Starts

Philippians 1:6

… being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Philippians 1:6 is perhaps one of the three greatest verses in the Bible that teach the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints, the doctrine that no one whom God has brought to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ will ever be lost.

People lack perseverance. People start things and drop them. As men and women, you and I are always beginning things that we never actually find time to finish. But God is not like that. God never starts anything that he does not finish. God perseveres. Has God begun something in your life? Have you been born again by the Spirit of God? Then you need not fear that you will ever be lost. Your confidence should not be in yourself, neither in your faith nor in your spiritual successes in earlier days, but in God. It is he who calls us as Christians, he who leads us on in the Christian life, and he who most certainly will lead us home.

A Biblical Truth

The two passages that I regard, along with Philippians 1:6, as being the greatest expression of this theme in the entire Bible are John 10:27–28 and Romans 8:38–39. In John 10:27–28, Jesus said, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.” In Romans 8:38–39, Paul assures his readers, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

The doctrine of the perseverance of the saints is also found in less formal statements in literally dozens of other passages. David writes in Psalm 138:8, “The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me.” Hebrews 10:14 says, “By one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” The Lord spoke to Jeremiah saying, “I have loved you with an everlasting love” (Jer. 31:3). We read in 2 Corinthians 4:8–9, 14, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed … because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence.”

The doctrine is also suggested by the images that are applied to believers throughout the Bible. The saints are compared to trees that do not wither (Ps. 1:3), to the great cedars of Lebanon that flourish from year to year like the redwoods of California (Ps. 92:12), to a house built upon a rock (Matt. 7:24), to Mount Zion that cannot be moved (Ps. 125:1). These passages teach that the one who has been born again by God will never be lost. God never abandons his plans. God never begins a work that he does not finish.

All of God

There are many people who do not like this teaching because they like to think human beings are responsible for their own salvation. They prefer to believe that we can be accepted by God on the basis of our good works or the use of the sacraments, and that our final salvation depends more or less on how faithful or persevering we can be. This is not biblical, and it is contradicted by every moment of the Christian’s experience with God.

It is contradicted by our experience with God during the first moments of our salvation. People do not seek God; they reject him. If we are saved, it is only because God comes to us first in grace. Paul wrote to the Romans that no human being will ever be justified in God’s sight by his own good works, for all works (no matter how good they may seem in man’s sight) fall short of God’s standard of righteousness. Moreover, human beings do not seek him. Paul writes, “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God” (Rom. 3:10–11). This is true of all of us. I am like that, and so are you. You do not even begin to meet God’s standard of righteousness, and you do not know it unless God reveals your failure to you. You do not understand his standard. You do not seek the One who can help you. Still God comes to you, opens your eyes, gives you the faith to believe, and draws you to himself.

Do you know what C. S. Lewis said about his conversion? Lewis was a brilliant British scholar who was also a thoroughgoing agnostic. Yet God sought him and found him. In his autobiography, Surprised by Joy, Lewis described his conversion like this: “In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed; perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all of England. I did not see what is now the most shining and obvious thing: the Divine humility which will accept a convert even on such terms. The Prodigal Son at least walked home on his own feet. But who can duly adore that love which will open the high gates to a prodigal who is brought in kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting his eyes in every direction for a chance of escape.”

Eternity magazine once published an interesting article called “Encounter with Light,” telling of a young atheistic student who had heard of C. S. Lewis and began corresponding with him. As this student unburdened himself of his doubts and questionings to the famous scholar, Lewis responded very simply: “I think you are already in the meshes of the net. The Holy Spirit is after you; I doubt if you’ll get away.” Not long afterward, the atheistic student, pursued by God for so long, finally surrendered. He had found, as C. S. Lewis himself had found, that salvation is of God. He ran, but God successfully pursued him.

Did you seek God? Of course you didn’t. You resisted him, and he had to beat down your resistance until you yielded to him like a vanquished enemy. If in the struggle there was ever a moment you seemed to seek him, it was only because he was there beforehand moving you to do it.

I sought the Lord, and afterward I knew

He moved my soul to seek Him, seeking me;

It was not I that found, O Savior true;

No, I was found of Thee.

So it is. Salvation is always of God. We love because he enables us to do so.

Now what is true of the first moments of our salvation is true of it all. Before you were even a gleam in the eye of your earthly father, you were beloved in the eye of your heavenly Father. He who knew all about you even before you were born, chose you and saved you, and he did so in order that one day he might make you like the Lord Jesus Christ in love, knowledge, holiness, and all his other perfections. That is why Paul can say of salvation, focusing every phrase upon God, “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified” (Rom. 8:29–30).

Did you ever stop to wonder why God saves people in this way? The answer is given in the Bible. God has saved us in this way so that no one might boast in his presence. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Eph. 2:8–9). God will have no one in heaven boasting about how he or she got there. He will not let you say, “Well, I must admit that God did most of it. I was far from him, and he called me. But there were five crises in my life in which I really showed my nettle and hung on tight. I’m really here because of my faith.”

This is human thinking, but God will have none of it. No one will be in heaven except saved sinners, those who deserve hell, and they will be there because salvation is entirely of God.

God never begins a thing that he does not intend to finish. And when he does it, God does it all!—in spite of our foolishness, in spite of our running away, in spite of ourselves! We are brought to safety, not by our own efforts or our own devices but solely by the faithfulness of our heavenly Father.

God’s Purpose

Everything that I have said thus far has been an encouragement for Christians, but there is a somber side to it as well. If you are a Christian, God has not saved you just to save you. He has saved you for a purpose. Paul says, “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6).

Did you ever think of this verse in that light? Not like this: “Oh, everything will be all right for me because God will certainly keep me secure until I finally get to heaven.” But rather, “I know that God Almighty saved me for a purpose and he will keep on whittling away at me until he accomplishes it in me, whether I want him to or not.” This is a somber thought, but it is certainly what the verse teaches.

Look at the verse again more closely. Paul says that God is determined to do a good work in us. What is that good work? The answer is not spelled out too clearly in Philippians 1:6, but it is spelled out very clearly in Romans 8:29. You know Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” But do you know the next verse? It tells what that purpose is: “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”

Think of it: God is so delighted with Jesus Christ that he has called millions of sinful human beings to himself in order that Jesus might reproduce himself in them and that this universe might be populated with millions of Christs. This does not mean that we will become divine. We will still be his creation, the fruit of his fingers, but we will be like him. That is the point. We will show forth his character; we will be conformed to the image of Christ.

This will mean that our growth in the character of Christ will be accompanied by growth in the knowledge of our own sinfulness. There are those who think sanctification means becoming aware of how perfect we are becoming. But those people are hypocrites and they discredit the faith. Sanctification means discovering how sinful we are and learning to turn to Jesus for hourly forgiveness and cleansing.

It is something like formal education. Take a student in high school who has just had a basic introduction to English literature. He has read Macbeth and Julius Caesar; he has read a few modern short stories and some modern plays—Shaw’s Pygmalion and others. He thinks that he has a pretty good grasp of English literature. After all, he has read the best of it, and the rest is probably not worth reading anyhow. But then he goes to college where he takes a more advanced course. He learns that he did not really know Shakespeare so well after all. In addition to the other tragedies, there are also the history plays where Shakespeare’s theories of kingship are most clearly seen, and the comedies that reveal another side of his outlook on life altogether, the realm of fantasy and nature, of Puck and Ariel and Falstaff. The student begins to realize how ignorant he is. And he goes on to learn not only what Shakespeare wrote but to master Shakespeare’s background—the Holinshead Chronicles, Boethius, Chaucer, Boccaccio—and he learns to do this for other writers and other disciplines. The search is unending.

That is the way we are to go on in Christian living. When we are first born again we think we are not too bad. We say to ourselves, “After all, I believed, didn’t I? That puts me head and shoulders above those who do not believe.” But as we live with Christ we begin to see how sinful and ignorant we really are. Instead of saying, “Oh, I’m pretty good,” we say, “I’m pretty sinful.” Eventually we say, “I’m a sinful person indeed; I am the chief of sinners” (1 Tim. 1:15). That’s sanctification. Dr. Donald Grey Barnhouse used to say, “There is no Christian listening to my voice who will think as well of himself five years from now as he does this morning.” That is true because God’s purposes will not be thwarted, even in the sanctification of Christians.

Leaning on God

The purpose of this process is to teach us to rely on God. God does not take great pleasure in forcing us to develop low opinions of ourselves, but he knows that we will never rely on him until we realize that we cannot rely on ourselves.

When I was in grade school, I spent a number of summers at a Christian camp in Canada. One summer I spent several hours watching one of the campers learn to climb a telephone pole. This boy was one of these campers who partially pay for their vacation by working; and since the camp needed more adequate wiring, he had the job of stringing the wires. For that he had to learn to climb a pole.

The secret of climbing a telephone pole is to learn to lean back, allowing your weight to rest on the broad leather belt that encircles yourself and the pole, allowing your spikes to dig into the pole at a broad angle. Climbing a pole is easy—as long as you lean back. Of course, if you fail to lean back and pull yourself toward the pole, then your spikes will not dig in and you’ll slip. It isn’t very pleasant to slip because the pole is covered with splinters that easily dig into your body.

At first my friend would not lean at all, and as a result he never got off the ground. The spikes simply would not go into the wood. It was frustrating. After a while he learned to lean back a bit and got started, but as soon as he was a few feet off the ground he became afraid and pulled himself close to the pole. Down he would go with a bump, getting covered with splinters in the process. This practice went on until he learned that he had to lean fully into the belt that held him. When he learned this, he began to climb.

It is the same in the Christian life. God wants you to climb. This is his purpose in saving you. He wants you to rise to Christ’s own stature. What is more, he is going to insist on it. He is going to teach you to climb by resting on him. There will be times when you think that you can hold on better by grasping the pole than by leaning on the belt, and when you do you will slip spiritually and God will let you get covered with splinters. He will do it because he knows that that is the only way you will learn to trust him, and to trust him is the only way to climb. What is more, he will keep at you; he will not let you quit. “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (v. 6).

Perhaps you are saying, “But that is unreasonable. God can’t work like that. It must depend on me.” But it is the way God works, and you will find it out sooner or later in your Christian life. Perhaps you are saying that you will run your own life, pick your own goals, choose your own purposes. Well, then, God may have to break you until you learn that he is determined to accomplish his purposes in you.

Perhaps, instead, you will be willing to learn to rely on him, growing in grace as he molds you into the image of Christ. If this is so, then for you Philippians 1:6 will become a blessed truth rather than a bitter lesson.[2]


6 The opposite of joy is not gloom but despair, the incapacity to trust in any new and good future. Paul rejoices because he is “confident” of what God’s future holds (see 1:25; 2:24). His confidence does not derive from the sterling qualities of the Philippians or from his ability to write a stirring letter, which would only be a “confidence in the flesh” (3:3–4). It derives instead from the character and faithfulness of God, who finishes what he starts and does not leave his people in the lurch to fend for themselves (cf. 1 Th 5:23–24). Despite his imprisonment, Paul remains confident that the divine grace working in them, as manifested in their gift to him, and their continuing “partnership in the gospel” will culminate as God intends when they stand together before Christ on the day of his return.

“Good work” may be an allusion to their generosity in supporting Paul’s mission endeavor. Paul uses it in 2 Corinthians 9:8 in connection with the charity for the Jerusalem saints and attests that it is kindled by God’s grace (2 Co 8:1–4; 9:14), glorifies God (2 Co 9:13), and inspires many thanksgivings to God (2 Co 9:11–12). Their “good work,” he assures them in 4:19, will be abundantly repaid by God.

Paul takes over the “day of the Lord” concept—a standard feature in OT prophetic texts for the moment when God will completely and decisively establish his reign—and transforms it into the “day of Jesus Christ” (see also 1:10; 2:16; 1 Co 1:8; 3:13; 5:5; 2 Co 1:14; 1 Th 5:2, 4; 2 Th 2:2; 2 Ti 1:12, 18; 4:8). He ties it to the parousia of the risen Lord, when Christ will right all wrongs, bring judgment, and put all things under his feet.[3]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2001). Philippians (pp. 26–30). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Boice, J. M. (2000). Philippians: an expositional commentary (pp. 33–38). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[3] Garland, D. E. (2006). Philippians. In T. Longman III (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, p. 193). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

January 5: Decisions Are Vexing, but There’s an Answer

Genesis 8–9; Matthew 7:12–8:34; Ecclesiastes 2:12–17

Finding the right path to take in life is an ongoing challenge. It’s easy to flail in the realm of possibility rather than face the realities in front of us. Waiting upon the Lord is no easy virtue.

Jesus tells us, “Enter through the narrow gate, because broad is the gate and spacious is the road that leads to destruction … narrow is the gate and constricted is the road that leads to life” (Matt 7:13–14).

Although these lines are a proclamation of how we enter God’s kingdom—how we choose salvation back—they’re also a proclamation of how we continue to live for God’s kingdom. Whatever decision we face, and whatever odds that are against us, there is only one solution: following God’s narrow path. He has a providential way, a primary way for us, and we are asked to follow it. When we do, we’re gifted with the understanding that God is using us in the way He saw most fitting to make the most difference for others.

In Genesis 8:1–9:17, we’re shown how God honored Noah, because of Noah’s decision to follow God’s plans for his and his family’s lives. If we’re willing to follow God’s calling, He will work in the same way in our lives. He has a plan for each of us and although the blessings may come after great trial, like far too long on a boat with smelly animals, they will come—in this life or the next.

What is God calling you to? What do you need to do today to respond accordingly? (If you don’t know yet, pray. And if you do know, continue to pray.)

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.