Daily Archives: January 15, 2018

January 15 Resting in God’s Sovereignty

“[God] made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in [Christ] with a view to an administration suitable to the fulness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things upon the earth” (Eph. 1:9–10).

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God is intimately involved in the flow of human history and is directing its course toward a specific, predetermined climax.

For centuries men of various philosophical schools have debated the cause, course, and climax of human history. Some deny God and therefore deny any divine involvement in history. Others believe that God set everything in motion, then withdrew to let it progress on its own. Still others believe that God is intimately involved in the flow of human history and is directing its course toward a specific, predetermined climax.

In Ephesians 1:9–10 Paul settles that debate by reminding us that Jesus Himself is the goal of human history. In Him all things will be summed up; all human history will be resolved and united to the Father through the work of the Son.

As Paul said elsewhere, “It was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fulness [of deity] to dwell in [Christ], and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross” (Col. 1:19–20). The culmination of Christ’s reconciling work will come during His millennial Kingdom (Rev. 20). Following that, He will usher in the eternal state with a new heaven and new earth (Rev. 21).

Despite the political uncertainty and military unrest in the world today, be assured that God is in control. He governs the world (Isa. 40:22–24), the nations (Isa. 40:15–17), and individuals as well (Prov. 16:9). God’s timetable is right on schedule. Nothing takes Him by surprise, and nothing thwarts His purposes. Ultimately He will vanquish evil and will make everything right in Christ.

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Suggestions for Prayer:  Thank God for the wisdom and insight He gives you to see beyond your temporal circumstances to His eternal purposes. ✧ Live today with that perspective in mind.

For Further Study: Read Revelation 20. ✧ What happens to Satan prior to the millennial Kingdom? ✧ How does Satan meet his final doom? ✧ What happens at the Great White Throne Judgment?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 27). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

JANUARY 15 THE WORLD CHANGES—BUT NOT THE HUMAN RACE

…That ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind.

EPHESIANS 4:17

To a Christian, conditioned as he is to observing life from above and judging all things in the light of eternal values, the modern feverish devotion to the newest invention and the latest happening seems more than a little ridiculous!

One thing seems to be quite forgotten: the world moves and times change but people remain the same always. Just as a pendulum remains fixed at the top while it swings back and forth from one extreme to another, so the human race remains basically unchanged while it moves through its limited arc.

No responsible person will deny that some changes made by the race over the years have been improvements and so may have represented progress and advance. However, just what we are supposed to be advancing toward has not been made very clear by our leaders!

It would seem humanly difficult, indeed, to show that we are moving toward an end when we do not know what or where that end is, or even if such an end exists at all.

The only parallel we can think of at the moment is that of a deadly-serious and fanatically determined dachshund chasing breathlessly after its tail—a tail, incidentally, which is not there because it has previously been removed. Add a large number of other dachshunds, bespectacled and solemn, writing books to prove that the frustrated puppy’s activity is progress, and you have the picture![1]


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

Why Repentant Pastors Should Be Forgiven But Not Restored to the Pulpit

It’s important to forgive repentant pastors, but not to restore them to pastoral office for years or perhaps ever (depending on the nature of the sin) because Paul’s qualifications pertain to the character. A pastor is an extraordinary ordinary Christian. A pastor is a teacher and a pattern setter. An example. Therefore, he must be above reproach and trustworthy.

Many Christians struggle with what it means to forgive a pastor who has committed a grievous act. Recently, a Memphis megachurch pastor admitted to a “sexual incident” with a high school student 20 years ago in Texas. I’m not in a place to render judgment over another church’s matters. Yet how should we think about forgiveness of a pastor?

Christians struggle with this question because Christianity centers on the idea of forgiveness. Step one in becoming a Christian is acknowledging that you are a sinner in need of forgiveness.

When the pastor is exposed, some push the message of forgiveness. “Who of us is without sin?” they might say, drawing from Jesus in John 8. Meanwhile, others object: “But how can we trust this guy?”

I side with the second group.

A pastor occupies two offices, or roles: the “office” of pastor and the “office” of church member. The requirements for these offices are different. To be a pastor, you at least need to meet the qualifications Paul gave to his disciple Timothy: “Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.” (1 Tim. 3:2-3).

“Above reproach” doesn’t mean a pastor is sinless. It means that if everything about his life is brought into the light, people would still trust him and follow him in the way of godliness.

Typically there are two requirements of holding the “office” of church member: that one be baptized and repentant.

Forgiveness ordinarily (not always) involves two things: forswearing resentment (subjectively) and restoring a person to their previous office or role (objectively).

To “forgive” a pastor means we don’t personally hold his sin against him and that we restore him to his office of church member. If he is repentant, he meets the qualification of membership.

That doesn’t mean we should restore him to the office of pastor. Our forgiveness does not mean he magically meets those qualifications. His life, quite simply, is not above reproach.

By analogy, new-installed President Gerald Ford pardoned Richard Nixon for crimes he might have committed against the United States while president. Ford didn’t explicitly make a distinction between Nixon as president and Nixon as citizen. But the pardon effectively pardoned Nixon as citizen. It prevented him from being indicted and sent to jail. It did not restore him to the presidency.

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The post Why Repentant Pastors Should Be Forgiven But Not Restored to the Pulpitappeared first on The Aquila Report.

Was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Saved?

Was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Saved? This is a question that I have often asked myself. There is no doubt that he had the trappings of a “Christian”, but was he saved as the Word of Almighty God requires (Matt. 7:21-23, Rom. 10:2-4)? This is not a black or white issue but a sound biblical one, for in the END that is what life is ALL about.

Yes, Dr. King had a great dream, vision and was fearless about bringing civil rights to America tagically the lawless white and black Left in this country has hijacked and corrupted his vision with victim status and race baiting. His vision is the dream of millions of Americans (red, yellow, black or white) who are looking for “peace” in this fallen and turbulent world (Isa. 9:6, 48:22, 53:5, 57:21, Jer. 8:11, Eph. 2:14, Col. 1:20). The very world it’s self is seeking to achieve this “peace”, unity, harmony and oneness, but sadly they leave out one key and crucial piece to this utopian equation… ALMIGHTY GOD and His RIGHTEOUSNESS!

The very world it’s self is seeking to achieve this “peace”, unity, harmony and oneness, but sadly they leave out one key and crucial piece to this utopian equation… ALMIGHTY GOD!

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No matter how noble, no matter how heroic, no matter how virtuous, no matter how selfless, no matter how passionate, no matter how courageous, no matter one’s color etc.. etc… When anyone (red, yellow, black or white) leaves out the ETERNAL Creator from time’s hopeless dilemma and His ETERNAL absolutes of RIGHTEOUSNESS all is doomed (Eccl. 12:13-14, Rev. 20:11-15)! There are NO utopias here and there will NEVER be, yet the world in their subjective GODLESS delusion seeks to achieve this la-la land fantasy with relativism, lawlessness, decadence and Machiavellianism. This world seeks true peace through the labors of lawlessness, but in the end all they find is endless war and oppression (Isa. 48:22, 57:21). History is full of valiant men and women who sought to make this fallen world a better place and in some ways they have and we thank Almighty God for them, but in the light of ETERNITY if they knew not the Savior of the world it was ALL vanity and these noble – yet unregenerate men – must stand before their Creator in that Day to give an account (Eccl.). Good and noble deeds with all of itsworks can NEVER manufacture the PERFECT RIGHTEOUSNESS demand by Almighty Godfor fallen man and tragically that is how this world perceives and deceives themselves about the last Day (Rom. 6:23, 10:2-4, Eph. 2:8-9, Rev. 20:11-15).A broken egg is still a broken egg no matter what good it was used for.

There are NO utopias here and there will NEVER be, yet the world in their subjective GODLESS delusion seeks to achieve this la-la land fantasy with relativism, lawlessness, decadence and Machiavellianism.

We need as Adam’s offspring (race) to see things from Almighty God’s ETERNAL perspective. We need to fully understand – as a human race (Adam’s offspring) – that this world is NOT our home (Rom. 5:12). For in the final end, ETERNITY is the final destination of ALL mankind. Whether rich or poor, black or white, man or women, virtuous or vile, saved or unsaved (Heb. 9:27), either a child of Adam HAS the required RIGHTEOUSNESS of Almighty God provided by His Son or He does not. That is the cross road of this world. Either you will receive Almighty God’s propitiation in spirit and in truth or you will not (John 3:16-17, 1 John 2:2, 4:10). It is just that simple.

“He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. (John 3:36)”

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“He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life (1 John 5:12)”

Below is a link to a paper written by a black author and believer in Jesus Christ. It was very insightful and uses Almighty God’s infallible Word to discern whether Dr. King was a true believer in Jesus Christ based on the teachings and sound doctrine of the Bible. I thought this was excellent and wanted to share this with you.

Was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. A Christian? – link to article

Source: Was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Saved?

Everything Begins with God—Including Evangelism

Code: B180115

In the beginning God . . . (Genesis 1:1).

God’s own story of redemption begins with Himself. And that’s where we should begin when preaching the gospel.

That’s not to say an exhaustive discourse on the character and nature of God, or a full-orbed investigation of His infinite attributes, is a prerequisite to understanding and believing the gospel. Even our Spirit-illuminated minds cannot fathom God in His fullness; how much can we expect the mind still darkened by sin to comprehend?

However, we cannot accurately present the gospel without first dispelling the false and idolatrous ideas about God that dominate the world. People today blithely fashion a god out of nothing more than their sentimentality and spiritual preferences. But that popular exercise is as futile as trying to rewrite the law of gravity, or wish it away altogether. God is eternal (Isaiah 57:15) and unchanging (Malachi 3:6), and demands our reverence on His terms, not ours.

God presents and defines Himself in Scripture as the true and living God. He says, “I am the Lord and there is no other; besides Me there is no God” (Isaiah 45:5). Furthermore, God’s Word reveals that the one true God eternally exists as three distinct Persons.

Trinity

The doctrine of the Trinity is impossible to fathom, but John MacArthur points out that Scripture is both clear and nonnegotiable on this subject:

Though the fullness of the Trinity is far beyond human comprehension, it is unquestionably how God has revealed Himself in Scripture—as one God eternally existing in three Persons. . . .

The Scriptures are clear that these three Persons together are one and only one God (Deuteronomy 6:4). John 10:30 and 33 explain that the Father and the Son are one. First Corinthians 3:16 shows that the Father and the Spirit are one. Romans 8:9 makes clear that the Son and the Spirit are one. And John 14:1618, and 23 demonstrate that the Father, Son, and Spirit are one. . . . In other words, the Bible makes it clear that God is one God (not three), but that the one God is a Trinity of Persons. [1]

God must be presented as triune if He is to be proclaimed faithfully. Additionally, the Trinity takes on great importance in the realm of evangelism because all three Persons play distinct roles in the salvation of sinners. The Father elects (Ephesians 1:3–6); the Son redeems (Ephesians 1:7–12); and the Holy Spirit convicts (John 16:8), regenerates (Titus 3:5), and indwells believers (Ephesians 1:13–14).

Creator and Judge

The Bible introduces the triune God as the Creator of all things, including mankind (Genesis 1). As such, He rightfully claims ownership of His creation (Psalm 50:10–12) and demands worship from us, His creatures (Exodus 20:2–5Matthew 4:10).

But fallen humanity rebelliously refuses to worship the Creator. The open communion that should exist between God and man is now blocked by a wall of divine hostility (Psalm 5:5). God’s just wrath toward sinners may be an unsavory subject for modern sensibilities, but it’s a necessary truth to awaken the spiritual complacency of our age.

While the character and nature of God is an inexhaustible subject, the evangelist must labor to instill some sense of God’s supremacy and sovereignty in the hearts of sinners. He must explain why they should tremble at the thought of their future day in God’s courtroom (Hebrews 9:27)! John MacArthur laments the modern evangelistic trends that do just the opposite:

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Psalm 111:10). Much of contemporary evangelism aims to arouse anything but fear of God in the mind of sinners. For example, “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life,” is the opening line of the typical evangelistic appeal today. This kind of evangelism is far from the image of a God who must be feared. The remedy for such thinking is the biblical truth of God’s holiness. [2]

Holy

Scripture ascribes its strongest superlative when it refers to God as “holy, holy, holy” (Isaiah 6:3Revelation 4:8).  Paul Washer points out that God’s holiness “is not merely one attribute among many but is the very context in which all other divine attributes must be defined and understood.” [3] Our evangelistic emphasis on God’s holiness is not meant to dispense with His other attributes such as love, mercy, and grace. Rather, His other attributes find their most profound meaning within the context of God’s holiness.

The word “holy” is translated from the Hebrew qadosh and refers to the otherness of God. As Creator, He transcends His creation and is utterly distinct from all that He has made. Regardless of size or splendor, nothing in creation even remotely approaches the perfections of God.

Why is it so critical to explain that the Creator of the universe is holy? Because we, in our sinful state, are the antithesis of everything He is. There is no greater dichotomy demonstrating our greatest need than the juxtaposition between a holy God and sinful men. John MacArthur points out the dire implications of that infinite gulf:

God is utterly holy, and His law therefore demands perfect holiness: “For I am the Lord your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy (Leviticus 11:44–45). . . . Even the gospel requires His holiness: “You shall be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16). “Without [holiness] no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14, NKJV). Because He is holy, God hates sin. [4]

Putting God in His Place

When believers think about God in terms of the gospel, we usually emphasize His love and mercy. And while those are vital attributes woven throughout the gospel, we must not make the mistake of neglecting His triune nature, His sovereignty over creation, and His holiness. Doing so frequently results in the proclamation of a man-centered gospel—one that portrays God as little more than a hero swooping in at the last minute to save the day.

The truth is that sinners stand in God’s crosshairs. Sinners are God’s creation and it is His law they have violated. God is the Savior only because He is the One from whom sinners need to be saved, for “He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished” (Exodus 34:7).

When we put God at the center of the gospel, we gain a clear perspective on the offense of man’s sin and the depth of his guilt. And that’s where we’ll pick it up next time.

 


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Seven Reasons 1 Timothy 2:12 Isn’t the Crazy Aunt We Hide in the Closet when Company Comes Over

Michelle Lesley

A while back I was scrolling through my Twitter feed and happened to catch part of an interaction between two women discussing a false teacher. I couldn’t come close to the exact wording if I tried, but the gist of it was…

Discerning Christian Woman: Divangelista X is a false teacher and preaches to men.

Non-Discerning Christian(?) Woman: How can you say she shouldn’t be preaching to men? So what! She’s out there helping so many people and charitable causes! People love her! I think she’s great!

Discerning Christian Woman: Well, I’m really not as concerned about the fact that she preaches to men as I am about the false doctrine she teaches.

I didn’t butt in because neither of them was talking to me, but what I wanted to say was, “Why?” Why, Discerning Christian Woman, did you back off the completely biblically valid…

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Google now censoring conservative news, while giving leftist propaganda a free pass

WINTERY KNIGHT

Google's new motto Google’s new motto: be evil

Google is a radically leftist company that fires employees (e.g. – James Damore) who step outside of progressive dogma. And now they’re promoting leftist causes in their search engine – by censoring conservative news sources.

The Daily Caller explains:

Google, the most powerful search engine in the world, is now displaying fact checks for conservative publications in its results.
No prominent liberal site receives the same treatment.

And not only is Google’s fact-checking highly partisan — perhaps reflecting the sentiments of its leaders — it is also blatantly wrong, asserting sites made “claims” they demonstrably never made.

Here’s an example of the fact-checking that Google does:

The Robert Mueller fact check (pictured above) is a case in point for Google’s new feature.

Ostensibly trying to sum up the crux of the post, the third-party “fact-checking” organization says the “claim” in a DC article that special Counsel Robert Mueller is hiring people that…

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January 15, 2018 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

8:56 the Lord who has given rest to his people. After considerable upheaval in the period of wilderness wandering and conquest, Israel had experienced the fulfillment of the good promise, which He promised through His servant Moses (5:4 note; Ex. 33:14; Deut. 12:10). In the New Testament, Christians are exhorted to make every effort to enter God’s rest (Heb. 4:11; cf. Rev. 14:13).[1]


8:56 The prosperity of Solomon’s reign was a result of God’s promises to faithful servants like Moses and David. But each generation has its own covenant responsibility, which led Solomon to the exhortation in v. 61. The church is never more than one generation from extinction.[2]


56 The rest enjoyed by Solomon and his generation was not complete, nor was it final. Psalm 95:7b–11 gives sad expression to the fact that Israel had not entered God’s true rest because of unbelief and rebellion. Hebrews 3–4 probes this theme and admonishes the Jewish readers not to repeat the mistake of their ancestors but to trust God and his Messiah. “There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God” (Heb 4:9). That true and eternal rest is found in Christ and in him alone.[3]


[1] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2005). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (p. 486). Orlando, FL; Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries.

[2]The Open Bible: New King James Version. (1998). (electronic ed., 1 Ki 8:56). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[3] Patterson, R. D., & Austel, H. J. (2009). 1, 2 Kings. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: 1 Samuel–2 Kings (Revised Edition) (Vol. 3, p. 711). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

JANUARY 15 OUR LIFE IS IN CHRIST

Thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ.

2 Corinthians 2:14

Certainly not all of the mystery of the Godhead can be known by man—but just as certainly, all that men can know of God in this life is revealed in Jesus Christ!

When the Apostle Paul said with yearning, “That I may know him” (Philippians 3:10), he was not speaking of intellectual knowledge. Paul was speaking of the reality of an experience of knowing God personally and consciously, spirit touching spirit and heart touching heart.

We know that people spend a lot of time talking about a deeper Christian life—but few seem to want to know and love God for Himself.

The precious fact is that God is the deeper life! Jesus Christ Himself is the deeper life, and as I plunge on into the knowledge of the triune God, my heart moves on into the blessedness of His fellowship. This means that there is less of me and more of God—thus my spiritual life deepens and I am strengthened in the knowledge of His will!

Dear Lord, this morning and throughout this day, may there be more and more of You and less and less of me.[1]


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

January 15 Trusting Self Is Never Justified

He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’ ”—Matt. 4:4

Christians are never justified in trusting solely in themselves to meet their basic needs. No matter how worried we might become, if we turn to God in faith and obedience, He will meet all our essential needs in His own way, according to His sovereign schedule. Implicit in this understanding is that God will meet every need, both physical and spiritual, as Paul promises us, “My God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19; cf. Matt. 6:8, 33).

It is always best to follow Jesus’ example, obeying God and trusting wholeheartedly in His gracious provision, than to impulsively and selfishly attempt to meet our own needs in ways that could disobey or compromise God’s Word.

To trust first of all in ourselves to meet our needs—circumventing or modifying God’s will in the process—not only demonstrates a lack of faith but rests on the false assumption that our earthly well-being is our most crucial need. Jesus contradicts such thinking, which is so natural to fallen humanity, both to unbelievers as well as believers who slip into carnal mind-sets. Therefore our Lord quoted Deuteronomy 8:3, “ ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’ ” The all-sufficient and sustaining power of God is the only true source that meets our every need.

ASK YOURSELF

Where does your dependence lie? Are you trusting in your paycheck? Your insurance policies? Your physical strength and smarts? Or have you finally realized that everything hinges on God, His Word, and His sovereign plan for your life? Find your sense of security in Him alone.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 23). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

January 15 Grace from the King

Being justified freely by His grace throughthe redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

Romans 3:24

Every believer receives the grace of God as a result of responding to the good news. And the good news is that salvation is by grace.

The apostle Paul said, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Eph. 2:8–9). The grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all people. It is offered totally apart from anything we could ever do to receive God’s favor. It is the unmerited favor of God, who in His mercy and loving–kindness grants us salvation as a gift. All we have to do is simply respond by believing in His Son.

We enter the kingdom of God only by the grace of God. There is no place for self–congratulations or human achievement. Remember to thank God for granting you such a gracious salvation.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 26). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

January 15, 2018 Morning Verse Of The Day

Anticipate the Lord’s Coming

Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. (5:7–8)

Three times in this section (vv. 7, 8, 9), James refers to the believer’s great hope, the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. The realization that things won’t always be as they are now, that believers are headed for “the city … whose architect and builder is God” (Heb. 11:10), provides great hope for those undergoing persecution. For that reason, the more persecuted a church is the more eagerly it anticipates the return of Jesus Christ; conversely, an affluent, indulgent, worldly church has little interest in the Lord’s return.

Parousia (coming) is an important New Testament eschatological term. It is the most commonly used term in the New Testament epistles for the second coming of Jesus Christ (cf. 1 Cor. 15:23; 1 Thess. 2:19; 3:13; 4:15; 5:23; 2 Thess. 2:1, 8; 2 Pet. 1:16; 3:4; 1 John 2:28; cf. Matt. 24:3, 27, 37, 39). Parousia refers to more than just coming; it includes the idea of “presence.” Perhaps the best English translation would be “arrival.” The church’s great hope is the arrival of Jesus Christ when He comes to bless His people with His presence. That glorious truth appears in more than 500 verses throughout the Bible.

Our Lord said much about His return, especially in His Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24–25; Mark 13; Luke 21). He taught that His return would be preceded by definite signs (Matt. 24:5–26). He portrayed His coming as a dramatic, climactic event, as striking and unmistakable as the flash of lightning across the sky (Matt. 24:27–30). It will be a time of separation, as the angels gather the elect to enjoy Jesus’ presence (Matt. 24:31) and gather unbelievers to banish them from it (Matt. 24:39–41).

Every Christian is to live in the hope of the certainty of Christ’s return. “The end of all things is near,” wrote Peter; “therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer” (1 Pet. 4:7). With his own death imminent, Paul could confidently say, “In the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Tim. 4:8). The sure hope of Christ’s return is especially comforting to those undergoing trials and persecution. To the Romans Paul wrote, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Rom. 8:18). He reminded the Corinthians that “momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison” (2 Cor. 4:17). Peter also encouraged suffering believers to remember their Lord’s return:

In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Pet. 1:6–7)

Focusing on Christ’s return also motivates believers to godly living. In 1 John 3:3 John writes, “Everyone who has this hope [the Second Coming—v. 2] fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” The study of end time events should not produce speculative eschatological systems, but holy lives. After discussing the destruction of the present universe, Peter exhorted his readers, “Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless” (2 Pet. 3:14; cf. Phil. 3:16–21; 1 Thess. 1:9–10; Titus 2:11–13).

To further reinforce his point that believers need to wait patiently for the second coming, James described a familiar scene using a simple, straightforward illustration. The farmer, he points out, waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. The farmer would have been a tenant farmer or small landowner. Having planted his crops, he waits expectantly for the precious produce of the soil—his crops—to come in. That depends on something outside of his control, God’s providentially bringing together all the elements needed for the crops to grow. Those crops are precious or valuable to him because he depends on them for his existence. All he can do is to be patient (from makrothumeō, the same word used earlier in the verse) as he waits eagerly for the crops to come in.

James’s reference to the early and late rains shows just how long farmers had to patiently wait. The early rains in Palestine arrive at the time of the fall planting season (October and November), the late rains just before harvesttime (March and April).

Applying the analogy to his readers, James exhorted them, you too be patient. Just as a farmer waits patiently through the entire growing season for his crop, so also are believers to wait patiently for the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul addressed a similar exhortation to the Galatians: “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary” (Gal. 6:9). Perhaps James’s readers, like those described in Revelation 6:9–11, were growing impatient for Christ to return. They may also have been plagued by scoffers who denied the reality of the Second Coming (cf. 2 Pet. 3:3–4).

James further exhorted his readers to strengthen their hearts. Strengthen is from stērizō, a word meaning “to make fast,” “to establish,” or “to confirm.” In Luke 9:51 this term is used to describe Jesus’ resolute determination to go to Jerusalem, although He knew He faced death when He arrived there. It is a word denoting resoluteness, firm courage, an attitude of commitment to stay the course no matter how severe the trial. Stērizō derives from a root word meaning “to cause to stand,” or “to prop up.” James urges those about to collapse under the weight of persecution to prop themselves up with the hope of the Savior’s return.

Spiritual strengthening is seen elsewhere in Scripture as the gracious work of the Holy Spirit (e.g., Eph. 3:14–19; 1 Thess. 3:12–13; 2 Thess. 2:16–17; 1 Pet. 5:10), but is here presented as the believer’s responsibility. This is another instance of the profound tension between divine provision and human responsibility that permeates doctrinal truth. Christians are not to “let go and let God,” nor are they to view the Christian life as one of legalistic self-effort. Instead, they are to live as if everything depends on them, knowing that it all depends on God (cf. Phil. 2:12–13).

James does not tolerate double-minded, unstable people. In 1:6 he observed that “the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind,” and warned “that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways” (vv. 7–8). In 2:4 the inspired writer denounced those who equivocated by making “distinctions among [themselves],” and thus became “judges with evil motives,” while in 3:8–12 he pointed out the incongruity of those who bless God while at the same time cursing their fellowmen. James also rebuked those who claimed to love God, yet were in love with the world (4:4), exhorting them, “Purify your hearts, you double-minded” (v. 8). It is not surprising, then, that James exhorted his readers to have a settled conviction that the Lord Jesus Christ would return, and thus strengthen their hearts.

The obvious idea of this exhortation was that believers should realize that their trouble is temporary. It will end when Jesus returns. Though Jesus would not return in the lifetime of the recipients of this epistle, nor in the lifetimes of millions of other believers who have lived and died since—no one has known when He will—all may live in the anticipation that He may come at any moment. This argues for imminency, the idea that the next event on God’s schedule for Christ is the deliverance of believers from this world with all its troubles. This is the message of comforting hope for the church in every age (cf. 1 Thess. 4:13–18).

James emphasizes imminency by reminding his readers of the hope that the coming of the Lord is near. The verb translated near (eggizō) means “to draw near,” “to approach,” or “to come close.” The return of Christ is the next event on God’s prophetic calendar and could happen at any moment. He delays His return because God is still redeeming those whom He “chose … in Him before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4). But from the human perspective, Christ’s return has been imminent since He ascended into heaven (Acts 1:9–11). That reality has always been the church’s hope. “The night is almost gone, and the day is near,” wrote the apostle Paul to the Romans (Rom. 13:12). The writer of Hebrews exhorted his readers not to forsake their “own assembling together … but [to be] encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near” (Heb. 10:25). “The end of all things is near,” wrote Peter (1 Pet. 4:7), while the apostle John added, “Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour” (1 John 2:18). And Jesus’ last recorded words in Scripture are “Yes, I am coming quickly” (Rev. 22:20). It is both the privilege and the responsibility of all Christians to be constantly “looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus” (Titus 2:13; cf. John 14:1–3; 1 Cor. 1:7; Phil. 3:20–21; 1 Thess. 1:9–10; 4:16–18). Any view of eschatology which eliminates imminency (believers in every age living with the hope that Christ could come at any moment) is in conflict with all those passages which provide hope for suffering believers by anticipating the Lord’s coming.[1]


7–8 The passage at hand is connected to the previous unit on the guilt of the wicked wealthy (5:1–6) by the word “therefore” (NASB; oun), indicating that judgment on the rich serves as a basis for encouragement to the righteous. On this basis they are to “be patient” (makrothymeō, GK 3428), a term connoting enduring under provocation or waiting with a right attitude (1 Co 13:4; 1 Th 5:14; Heb 6:15; 2 Pe 3:9). It is almost synonymous with hypomonē (GK 5705), used in both its verbal and nominal forms in v. 11. It may be that life’s hardships in general are in mind (Ropes, 293), but James specifically ties the exhortation back to 5:1–6 and thus seems to have patience under injustice or oppression in view. That patience involves waiting is further highlighted by the duration: they are to be patient “until the Lord’s coming.” Behind the “coming” (parousia, GK 4242) motif lies both the day of the Lord in broader Jewish thought (although the term itself is not used of the Messiah in the Greek OT), as well as the Christian hope of Christ’s return (Mt 24:3, 37, 39; 1 Co 15:23; 1 Th 3:13; 4:15; 5:23; 2 Pe 1:16; 3:4). That day will be a day of judgment on the enemies of God, as well as a day of vindication for God’s true people. The difficulty for the believer under trial is that the day has yet to arrive and thus constitutes a future hope that must be anticipated and waited for.

To encourage his readers to patience, James uses an agricultural illustration. A farmer does not receive his valuable crop shortly after planting. Rather, the maturation of the crop is seasonal, receiving both the “early” rains (NASB), which could refer to rains either in late October and early November or in November and December, and the “late” rains (NASB) in March and April (Neusner and Green, 519). This identification of these two seasons of rain locates James and his audience along the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The reference to the two rains also parallels the LXX (Jer 5:24; Hos 6:3; Joel 2:23; Zec 10:1), including a reference in the Shema, the daily confession (Dt 11:14), which of course would have been very familiar in Jewish circles (Dibelius, 243–44). The early rains got the crop started, allowing the seed to sprout and experience initial growth. The late rains enabled the filling out of the grain. James’s point is that the full cycle of a mature and productive crop is something for which the farmer had to wait with patient endurance. In the same way, the believer must wait for the Lord’s coming with patient endurance.

Therefore, in v. 8 James reiterates the exhortation with which he started the unit, saying, “You too, be patient,” and then goes on to add, “Strengthen your hearts” (NASB). The heart was understood as the seat of all aspects of the inner life—the will, emotions, reason, and moral understanding. To strengthen the heart, then, is to encourage oneself, setting one’s resolve to “stand firm” (NIV) in the faith (Ps 111:8; 1 Th 3:13) in the light of the Lord’s coming, which James describes as “near.” Here he points to the belief in the imminence of Christ’s return as an aspect of Christian posture in the world. Believers are to live in expectation of that day.[2]


5:7–8. James wrote these words to Christian readers, addressing them as brothers. His readers in these verses were the victims of mistreatment by the wealthy mentioned in 5:1–6. James presented an incentive to show stamina, a hindrance to stamina, and two positive examples of stamina.

Trials and afflictions often produce grumbling or complaints. James prohibited this response when he urged his readers to be patient. Be patient demands an attitude which shows long-suffering in the presence of affliction and injustice. Believers should show this stamina without complaining, giving up, or retaliating. They should be ready to endure affliction without complaint and to remain committed in their obedience to God.

Persecuted believers can develop stamina by looking to the coming of the Lord. At that time Jesus will bring judgment on the disobedient (see 2 Thess. 1:6–10). Instead of taking vengeance into our own hands, Christians are to trust God to perform justice and to bring punishment on those who may cause hardship for them (see Rom. 12:19). Such forward-looking waiting requires patience.

The hard-working farmer shows us an example of patience. The farmer can prepare the soil, plant the seed, and keep the field weeded. However, he must expect God to supply the conditions of rain and sunshine which encourage growth. For this he needs patience.

The autumn rains usually appeared in October and softened the ground for planting. The spring rains usually came in April or May and matured the crops for harvest. The fact that the farmer had to wait for these rains showed his stamina or patience. The farmer had learned to trust in the reliability of God to supply the needs for his crops. James called his readers to the same demonstration of trust as they faced persecution.

Verse 8 urges us to show patience and courage because of the nearness of Jesus’ return. We should show a firm purpose and depend constantly on God’s grace. We can find the strength to stand firm because the return of the Lord will bring salvation, eternal life, and spiritual health.

The blessed hope of the Christian is the personal, bodily return of Jesus Christ (see Titus 2:12–13). We must not allow events to dull our hope in Jesus’ return. We must not reduce our hope for Jesus’ return to something like the transformation of society by Christian values. Jesus will come personally!

The hope of Jesus’ return gave the early Christians hope as they faced hardship (Heb. 9:28). We must look at time from the viewpoint of the God for whom a thousand years is only a day (2 Pet. 3:8; 2 Cor. 4:16–18). Though centuries have passed since Jesus promised to return, we serve a God for whom the length of time does not imply a failed promise. Our hope of Christ’s return is an encouragement for us to obey him.

J. Hudson Taylor founded the China Inland Mission in the 1860s. He believed fervently in the impending return of Christ. His belief influenced him to make the evangelism of unreached areas of China his primary aim. His beliefs about Christ’s return gave him direction and urgency in the establishment of the mission.

Our belief in the return of Christ can provide us courage to face difficulty. It can give us stamina to endure persecution. It can deepen our hope that God will provide us reward and recognition to vindicate our actions.[3]


7. Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains.8. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.

Note these observations:

  • Command

Fully aware of their adversities, James tells his readers to exercise patience. The adverb then links the command to be patient to the preceding verses in which James describes the oppressive conditions under which the poor live. In a sense, James takes up the theme with which he begins his epistle: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds” (1:2).

Patience is a virtue possessed by few and sought by many. We are living in a society that champions the word instant. But to be patient, as James uses the word, is much more than passively waiting for the time to pass. Patience is the art of enduring someone whose conduct is incompatible with that of others and sometimes even oppressive. A patient man calms a quarrel, for he controls his anger and does not seek revenge (compare Prov. 15:18; 16:32).

The old English term long-suffering does not mean to suffer a while but to tolerate someone for a long time. To say it differently, patience is the opposite of being short-tempered. God displays patience by being “slow to anger” when man continues in sin even after numerous admonitions (Exod. 34:6; Ps. 86:15; Rom. 2:4; 9:22; 1 Peter 3:20; 2 Peter 3:15). Man ought to reflect that divine virtue in his day-to-day life.

James knows that the readers of his epistle are unable to defend themselves against their oppressors. Therefore, he urges them to exercise patience and to leave matters in the hands of God, who is coming to deliver them. Even if they were able to do so, they should not take matters into their own hands. God has said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay” (Deut. 32:35; Rom. 12:12; Heb. 10:30).

“Be patient … until the Lord’s coming.” The readers know that the Lord is coming back in the capacity of Judge. They ought to exercise self-control toward their adversaries and demonstrate patience in respect to the coming of the Lord. He will avenge his people when he returns (2 Thess. 1:5–6).

  • Example

Throughout his epistle the writer reveals his love for God’s creation. In this verse he portrays the expectations of the farmer who anticipates a bountiful harvest but must patiently wait for the arrival of “the autumn and spring rains.” The farmer has learned that everything grows according to the seasons of the year. He knows how many days are needed for a plant to develop from germination to harvest. Moreover, he knows that without the proper amount of rainfall at the right moment, his labors are in vain.

Although the amounts of rainfall in Israel fluctuate, the farmer knows that he can expect the autumn rain, beginning with a number of thunderstorms, in the latter part of October. Then he can plant his seed so that germination takes place. And he eagerly hopes for a sufficient amount of rainfall in April and May when the grain is maturing and the yield increases every time the rains come down. He depends, therefore, on the autumn and the spring rains (Deut. 11:14; Jer. 5:24; Hos. 6:3; Joel 2:23). He is able to predict the coming of the rain, but he cannot speak with certainty about the harvest. He waits with eager expectation.

  • Repetition

James applies the example of the farmer to the readers. “You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.” As the farmer confidently waits for the coming of the autumn rain and the spring rain on which his harvest depends, so the believer waits patiently for the coming of the Lord. As God promised Noah that “as long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest … will never cease” (Gen. 8:22), so the Lord has given the believer the promise that he will return.

James tells the readers to be patient and to stand firm (“to strengthen your hearts” in the original). They can say with confidence that the Lord is coming back, but they do not know when that will be. While they are waiting, doubt and distraction often enter their lives. For this reason, James counsels his readers to stand firm in the knowledge that the Lord in due time will fulfill his promise made to the believers. He falls into repetition, but the reminder of the Lord’s imminent return is necessary so that the readers will not lose heart in difficult circumstances.[4]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1998). James (pp. 253–256). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Guthrie, G. H. (2006). James. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews–Revelation (Revised Edition) (Vol. 13, p. 266). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Lea, T. D. (1999). Hebrews, James (Vol. 10, pp. 343–344). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[4] Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of James and the Epistles of John (Vol. 14, pp. 163–165). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

JANUARY 15 LESS THAN THE BEST

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

—Matthew 5:6

It is disheartening to those who care, and surely a great grief to the Spirit, to see how many Christians are content to settle for less than the best. Personally I have for years carried a burden of sorrow as I have moved among evangelical Christians who somewhere in their past have managed to strike a base compromise with their heart’s holier longings and have settled down to a lukewarm, mediocre kind of Christianity utterly unworthy of themselves and of the Lord they claim to serve. And such are found everywhere….

Every man is as close to God as he wants to be; he is as holy and as full of the Spirit as he wills to be. Our Lord said, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” If there were but one man anywhere on earth who hungered and was not filled, the word of Christ would fall to the ground.

Yet we must distinguish wanting from wishing. By “want” I mean wholehearted desire. Certainly there are many who wish they were holy or victorious or joyful but are not willing to meet God’s conditions to obtain it. TIC064

Lord, may I settle for nothing less than the best when it comes to my relationship with You. Give me a wholehearted thirst for You, that I may partake of the incredible privilege of intimate fellowship with You. Amen[1]


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

January 15 Contentment: The Opposite of Covetousness

“Let your way of life be free from the love of money, being content with what you have.”

Hebrews 13:5

✧✧✧

If you are content with what God has given you, you will not be a person who is covetous or a lover of money.

I once had a man come into my church office and confess the sin of gluttony. When I told him he did not look overweight, he answered, “I know. It is not that I eat too much but that I want to. I continually crave food. It’s an obsession.”

Covetousness is very similar to that man’s gluttonous attitude. You do not have to acquire a lot of things, or even anything at all, to be covetous. If you long to acquire things and are focusing all your attention on how you might get them, you are guilty of covetousness.

It is not wrong to earn or possess wealth. In the Old Testament, Abraham and Job had tremendous wealth. A number of faithful New Testament believers were also fairly wealthy. The problem comes when we have a greedy attitude that craves money above everything else. Paul warns us, “For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith, and pierced themselves with many a pang” (1 Tim. 6:10). Loving money is perhaps the most common form of covetousness; it is akin to lusting after material riches in various forms.

No matter how it appears, this kind of covetousness breeds the same spiritual result—it displeases God and separates us from Him. More income, a bigger house, nicer clothes, a fancier car can tempt all of us.

But the Lord wants you to be free from the materialism that so easily controls your non–Christian neighbors. Your earthly possessions are only temporary anyway. You will lose them all one day soon enough. So God tells you and me to be “content with what you have” (Heb. 13:5), realizing that we have “a better possession and an abiding one” (10:34) in our salvation.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: Is there any covetousness or materialism in your life today? Confess it to the Lord, and pray that He would give you a renewed desire to trust Him rather than uncertain wealth.

For Further Study: Read Luke 12:13–34. Make a list of the things that illustrate how God cares for our material needs. ✧ How does the rich fool’s attitude contrast with what Jesus teaches in verse 31?[1]


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

January 14 Daily Help

THE great King, immortal, invisible, the Divine person, called the Holy Ghost, the Holy Spirit: it is he that quickens the soul, or else it would lie dead for ever; it is he that makes it tender, or else it would never feel; it is he that imparts efficacy to the Word preached, or else it could never reach further than the ear; it is he who breaks the heart, it is he who makes it whole.

There dwells upon this earth a mysterious Being, whose office is to renew the fallen and restore the wandering. We cannot see Him, or hear Him, yet He dwells in some of us as Lord of our nature. His chosen residence is a broken heart and a contrite spirit.[1]


[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (1892). Daily Help (p. 18). Baltimore: R. H. Woodward & Company.

January 14, 2018 Evening Verse Of The Day

8:11 do not forget the Lord your God. Sufficient food would lead to the satisfaction of Israel in the Land (vv. 10, 12). This satisfaction and security could lead to Israel forgetting God. Forgetting God means no longer having Him in the daily thoughts of one’s life. This forgetfulness would lead to a disobedience of His commandments. Whereas, in the wilderness, Israel had to depend on God for the necessities of life, in the rich land there would be a tempting sense of self-sufficiency.[1]


8:11 Satisfaction carries a warning: Take care (see 4:9, 23), the command that 8:7–10 has been working toward. forget. See note on vv. 2–3. For a parallel of vv. 7–11, see 6:10–12.[2]


8:11 Take care for yourself so that you not forget See note on Deut 8:1–20. Disobedience is equivalent to forgetting what God has done for them.[3]


8:11 Truth remembered must issue forth in faithful actions for genuine obedience. Even the promise of the land could be a source of testing because it offered to provide all their physical needs, which in reality were only a part of the blessings God intended for His people (vv. 12–14). Also, the temptation would be to attribute their successes to human ability rather than to divine blessing, and to look upon the land as theirs by human conquest rather than by divine gift (vv. 14–16). Therefore, God’s purpose was to prepare the people for prosperity through an experience of testing which would turn them again to dependence upon God, and to the realization that it is God who gives the power to obtain wealth.[4]


11 In the light of God’s abundant provision for his people, Israel’s heart should be full of gratitude. So Moses warns them to beware of “forgetting” their covenantal Lord (see Note on 4:10). He delineates the reason why this forgetting is so reprehensible. It manifests itself in failing genuinely to obey God’s covenantal demands. The terms “commands,” “laws,” and “decrees” serve as near synonyms to refer to God’s detailed expectations of his servant-nation (cf. chs. 12–26; see Note on 6:1).[5]


8:11 / Unfortunately, a more common response than gratitude is the forgetfulness this verse warns against in the climax of the chapter. Forgetfulness is not merely a matter of amnesia. To forget the Lord involves at least two things, both of which are characteristic of what it means to “forget a person” (as distinct from merely forgetting a fact). First, it means forgetting all the history of what God had done for them, both the lessons of the hard times (vv. 2–5) and the blessings of the good times (vv. 7–9). To forget a person is to lose touch with the story of the relationship and all it meant in the past and should still mean now. That is why it is such a hurtful and diminishing thing to “feel forgotten” by other human beings (or by one in particular) with whom one has shared a story in relationship. This is no less true for the God of Israel. Such “forgetting” is felt as deliberate rejection, not just as a mental lapse. So much of the pain of God expressed through the prophets (who frequently shared it in their own lives) is the result of this kind of forgetting.

Secondly, forgetting God is defined in verse 11b as moral disobedience, as failing to observe God’s commands. In the ot memory is closely linked to obedience. It is possible, according to this verse and those following it, to be enjoying the material blessings of God and yet be living in fundamental and forgetful disobedience to God. While this situation will not ultimately last (vv. 19f.), it has lasted long enough to cast serious doubt on the kind of automatic and immediate connections that purveyors of prosperity gospels would like to make between material wealth and personal faith and obedience.[6]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Dt 8:11). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[2] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 344). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[3] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Dt 8:11). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[4] Criswell, W. A., Patterson, P., Clendenen, E. R., Akin, D. L., Chamberlin, M., Patterson, D. K., & Pogue, J. (Eds.). (1991). Believer’s Study Bible (electronic ed., Dt 8:11). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[5] Grisanti, M. A. (2012). Deuteronomy. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Numbers–Ruth (Revised Edition) (Vol. 2, p. 581). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[6] Wright, C. J. H. (2012). Deuteronomy. (W. W. Gasque, R. L. Hubbard Jr., & R. K. Johnston, Eds.) (pp. 126–127). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

January 14: Unexpected Rivalries

Genesis 25; Matthew 18; Ecclesiastes 5:12–20

When in survival mode, you have to compete against anything that could hinder your survival. Strong competitors, like professional athletes, often can’t explain their almost inhuman acts under pressure; adrenaline takes over. The same thing that the ancients used to escape from wild animals is what makes us win. Yet, for all the good that comes from a competitive survival instinct, it can result in ostracizing others. Esau and Jacob, the twin sons of Isaac and Rebekah, reminds us of this.

From the prophecy of Yahweh forward, we know that they will be rivals: “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you shall be divided; the one shall be stronger than the other, the older shall serve the younger” (Gen 25:23). Yahweh didn’t necessarily desire that the two would feud. A division doesn’t always mean a strained relationship, and the word “divided” in Hebrew doesn’t imply derision.

Those of us with siblings know how frustrating the relationship can be, but we also know that when siblings learn to appreciate each other, they can be a great support system and a comfort in times of need.

Like many siblings, Jacob and Esau are opposites: the older red and hairy when born—per his name (Esau)—and the younger, Jacob, grabbing his brother’s heel—like his name, “He who takes by the heel,” or idiomatically, “an ankle biter.” Indeed, the ankle biter rules his brother, but his brother makes the choice for it to be so (Gen 25:29–34). Esau, when exhausted (and likely near death), gives into his survival instincts, allowing his competitive brother to take charge.

There is no doubt that Jacob is a swindler. But aside from the scandal, this story teaches us something about Yahweh: when given something by Him, no amount of competitiveness makes it worth forfeiting. We never know the results of the poor decisions we make in times of destitution. Esau was unaware that his impulsive, perhaps angry actions would mean forfeiting His descendants’ place later in God’s kingdom. And Jacob didn’t know that his zeal for winning and financial certainty would plague him for the remainder of his life. He may have been rich, for a while, but he wasn’t happy or joyful.

What competitions do you need to give up? How is competitiveness impeding your relationship with God and others?

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.