After navigating a quiet end to money-market trading in 2019—greased by a massive wave of central bank liquidity—the Federal Reserve Bank of New York injected a modest amount of money into financial markets.
“The same people adding to her [Rachel Denhollander) fame and popularity were intimidating same-sex abuse victims into silence. Both she and her husband failed to do due diligence about the organization. Had they looked into the recent history of the ERLC and the SBC, they would have seen that only four months prior to the Caring Well conference, the SBC had blocked a resolution on whistleblowers and sex abuse.”
(Bobby Lopez) “Virtue Signaling” has become a bit cliché. Still, the term describes a certain kind of public persona. Though the term includes virtue, we all know that when we say someone is virtue-signaling we are criticizing them. If you have virtue you do not signal it….
The first and foremost vice is pride. So the virtuous by nature tend not to feel the need to brandish their status as righteous people.
I have assembled this vogue/rogue gallery of the greatest purveyors of gilded righteousness. Let me say, yes, I am a hypocrite and shameless virtue-signaler, which is why I include myself in the top 20! Also, I want to forewarn you that two names will not appear on this list. Mike Wilkinson and Randy Stinson got a lot of attention in the controversy surrounding my firing. I do not want to dwell on their meetings with me. The other names on this list may strike a chord.
Among “ordinary” Americans, an overnight hero of the right who emerged at year’s end is Jack Wilson (pictured above), a 71-year-old former reserve deputy sheriff, who stopped what surely would have been a ghastly mass shooting by dropping a shotgun-wielding killer with a single shot during services at the West Freeway Church of Christ in the Fort Worth suburb of White Settlement. “I don’t see myself as a hero,” Wilson told reporters, which is exactly what selfless heroes say. “I see myself as doing what needed to be done to take out the evil threat.”
(Mark Tapson – Frontpage Magazine) The end of one year and the beginning of another is a natural time for reflection, both personally and culturally, and one way to examine ourselves as a culture is to think upon the figures we held up as the most admired persons in the past year….
The people we define as heroes and role models also define us and what virtues and values we consider important. Unsurprisingly, as polarized as Americans are politically, left and right have sharply contrasting heroic ideals.
Of course, there are many examples of heroic and/or admirable behavior that we can all agree on: a man who pulled a driver from a burning vehicle; a high school coach who defused a possible school shooting with compassion; a cancer-stricken teen who founded a movement to help sick, homeless, and foster children. But beyond those, there is a stark difference between heroes embraced solely by the leftist media and those only the right would claim.
Let’s begin with Time magazine’s “Person of the Year” selection. Because the news media lean almost exclusively left, teen climate Cassandra and globe-trotting anti-capitalist scold Greta Thunberg predictably was chosen for 2019. Of course she was – did anyone imagine that token Republican Rudy Giuliani, who was among the final ten candidates, would win? In all fairness, Time did select Giuliani in 2001, amid the patriotic spirit that swelled across the country in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. But these are different times; now the spirit swelling across the country is a wave of sheer panic about the environmental apocalypse that the left assures us is coming within the next twelve years if we do not jettison our exploitative capitalist system and embrace Green New Deal socialism.
Happy New Year from the Heidelblog. Thanks to the two-hundred sixty-three thousand Heidelblog readers in 2019 and to the thousands of you who listened to the Heidelcast. Together (between the Heidelblog and rscottclark.org) you downloaded posts, pages, and podcasts over 758,000 times. Since 2012 the Heidelblog has had 5.1 million views. I am deeply grateful to those donated (see below) to help keep the HB available. Thank you.
As always a heartfelt thanks to the Wonderful Wizard of Web, whose remarkable and skillful work keeps the HB functioning. On the Heidelblog alone there are more than 6,000 posts (in addition to the Heidelcasts and videos) to manage.
Thanks to those who donated to help keep the Heidelblog and Heidelcast going. Remember, when the coin in the coffer clinks, the cost of bandwidth shrinks.
The Most Downloaded Posts Of 2019
- Just In Time For Reformation Day: The Return Of The Federal Visionists (And Their Allies)
- He Is Not A Pastor Any More
- Machen’s Warrior Children, Ed Stetzer, And Beth Moore
- American Gospel Documentary Now Available Online
- What Christians Can Learn From Drew Carey About Subverting Culture
- Has Doug Wilson Really Changed His Mind About The Federal Vision?
- Yes, The Reformed Churches Do Baptize On The Basis Of The Abrahamic Promise
- Is It Sin To Vote For Trump Or How Understanding The Twofold Government Helps
- Mark Driscoll 2019: Young, Restless, and Freudian
- Time To Kiss New Calvinism Goodbye
Podcast: Play in new window
What is the Bible all about? Sometimes we get too close to it and can’t see the big picture. Join Frank as he takes you on a grand overview of the Bible using the acronym CRIME: Creation, Rebellion, Intervention, Mission, Eternity. This will help you see how the Bible fits together to tell one overarching story of the Savior, who comes to save the very creatures who rebelled against him. So, while the Bible starts with a CRIME, it ends with redemption in Eternity for those who want it. That’s why we all have an important mission right now.
I’m old enough to remember GCE O-level exams before they were replaced by GCSEs many years ago. As part of our English Language classes, we had an exercise called précis. We had to reduce a long text to its minimum while still retaining the essence of its message. I don’t know if today’s schoolchildren have to complete a similar exercise, but it was a useful test of our language and comprehension skills.
What about the text of the Bible? If you hold a Bible in your hands, there are pages and pages of text. In fact, looking at the Bible can feel quite daunting. There are 66 books; 23,145 verses and 783,137 words in one well-known version… but, what’s it all about?! What is the Bible’s message?
If, in my English précis lesson, I had been set the task of reducing the Bible to a minimum while maintaining the essential essence of its message, I wonder what’s the lowest word count I could go to? Now, of course every word of the Bible is important because it is God’s word to us! The Bible itself is clear on this matter. It says, ‘All Scripture is breathed out by God and is profitable’ (2 Timothy 3:16).
Having said that, within the 783,137 words, there is an essential message that I need to grasp. But what is that message? How low can I get my ‘word count’ without compromising the message?
Martin Luther once said that John 3:16 contains the Bible ‘in a nutshell’.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
That’s 26 words: a reduction of 783,111! Not bad! And it does tell us ALL we need to know in order to receive eternal life and avoid perishing. I simply need to believe in him.
But, if that’s the only part of the Bible that I had, it would leave me with lots of questions and to answer them I’d need other parts of the Bible.
Questions like: Who is God? Why am I perishing? What does it mean to perish? What is eternal life? Who is his Son? What has this Son done for me? What does it mean to believe?
If I read further in the Bible, I’d discover that I was made by God and made to know him in a living, vibrant relationship and that this indeed is the essence of eternal life. I’d find that my sin means that I can’t know God and that I am perishing and will perish forever. Further, I’d discover that although I cannot alter my state, God in his astonishing love has sent his Son, Jesus, to take away my sin. Jesus, the Son of God, came and lived a sinless life for me. Then he died as if he were me: he perished in my place that I may have life. I’d find he rose again from the dead. Finally, for this to work, to give me eternal life, I need simply to believe in Jesus!
That’s 123 words, more than Luther, but still a big reduction of 783,014!
4 beautiful words
Now, let’s cut to the chase – how low can we really go?
I’ve been saved now for more than 43 years. By God’s goodness, Jesus gets more and more wonderful to me and the message of the Bible more and more beautifully simple. I’ve read the Bible many times and as a preacher delivered many thousands of sermons and gospel messages. In my daily life as a Christian, I’ve had the privilege of sharing the message of the Bible on a personal level with many people. If I were asked to summarise or to précis its stunning message, how low could I go? Well, I’d knock off a further 22 words from Martin Luther!
Here it is, my summary of such wonderful, heart-melting, tear-jerking, stunning, astonishing words:
‘Jesus died for ME!’
Four words. Four beautiful words to eternal life! Reader, can you say that from the depths of your being? Read the Bible until you can, because it’s in there, and it needs to be alive in you!
U.S.—The nation’s Christians are lamenting the fact that God never gave them a leader they could follow who was unimpeachable, incorruptible, and absolutely perfect in every way.
“If only God had given us a leader who could never be impeached, whose moral character was impeccable, and who would even sacrifice himself to save us,” said one man in Oklahoma. “Alas, he just gave us Trump, who’s pretty close to that, I guess. But still — he makes mistakes, like David did.”
Christians said that God could have used the pattern of David but instead given them a leader who was “even better than David.”
“Like, maybe He could have appointed someone to rule who’s like a second David — following King David’s type but without sin,” said Pastor Jeremiah Benson in Arkansas. “He could be the better Adam, the better Moses, the better Trump.”
Believers across the country said that if God had seen it fit to give them a leader like that, they wouldn’t need to trust in kings, princes, or presidents. “We could just, like, not worry too much about how things are going in the political realm, because we would know that our leader could never be removed or corrupted.”
39 And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41 And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mk 4:39–41). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
The Calm after the Storm (4:39–40)
Having heard the frantic cries of His disciples, Jesus got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Hush, be still.” In Genesis 1, the pre-incarnate Christ established the boundaries of the seas with nothing more than a word (Gen. 1:9–10; cf. John 1:3; Col. 1:16). On this occasion, He similarly used a simple command to restrain the waves and restore calm on the lake. The word for hush comes from the same Greek word that Jesus used earlier when He commanded a demon to “be quiet and come out of him” (Mark 1:25). In the same way that Jesus rebuked spiritual powers, and they obeyed Him, so natural powers submitted to the authoritative command of their Creator.
The result was instantaneous. In a moment, the wind died down and it became perfectly calm. The towering waves vanished, the howling gusts were silenced, and the surface of the lake became like glass. As Charles Spurgeon expressed, “There was no trace of storm another moment after He had been awakened. The most blustering of the conflicting winds slept like a babe in its mother’s bosom. The waves were as marble” (Charles Spurgeon, “Christ Asleep in the Vessel,” sermon no. 1121, July 13, 1873). When Christ rebuked the wind and the waves, they did not subside gradually until calm was restored. Both disappeared immediately. The storm may have arisen suddenly, but it vanished even faster than it came. Mark’s use of the word megas (meaning “great,” translated perfectly) indicates the absolute stillness that now characterized the Sea of Galilee.
With the storm gone, Jesus turned to address the astonished disciples—who undoubtedly stared back at Him wide-eyed with mouths agape. The Lord said to them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” (cf. Matt. 6:30; 14:31; 16:8; 17:20; Luke 12:28). Having silenced the literal tempest, Jesus turned His attention to the winds of fear and the waves of faithlessness that had been raging in their hearts (cf. James. 1:6). The answer to Jesus’ first question is implied by the second: the reason they were afraid (from the Greek word deilos, meaning cowardly or timid) was because they still had no faith. They knew He possessed divine power, having seen Him perform miraculous healing for many others. Yet, when their own lives were at stake, the inadequacy of their faith was exposed.
Clearly, Jesus intended to teach the disciples a critical lesson: that they could trust Him even in the most treacherous and helpless situations. Even after Jesus’ ascension, they would need to be reminded of that truth. As the author of Hebrews reminded his readers, “He Himself has said, ‘I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,’ so that we confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?’ ” (Heb. 13:5–6). The apostle Peter similarly encouraged believers to cast “all [their] anxiety on Him, because He cares for [them]” (1 Peter 5:7; cf. Ps. 55:22). Writing to the Romans, Paul expressed that same kind of confident trust in the permanence of divine love: “For 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).
40 Jesus also rebuked his disciples for their lack of faith. The preferred reading (oupō, “not yet”; NIV, “still”) indicates that Jesus had expected them by this time to have demonstrated more mature faith. “Faith” here means faith in God’s saving power as it is present and active in the person of Jesus. This rebuke of the disciples is the first of several scoldings by Jesus for their lack of understanding and faith (cf. 7:18; 8:17–18, 21, 32–33; 9:19).
40–41 Jesus rebuked the disciples for the lack of faith expressed in their terror and fear. This is the first in a series of rebukes (cf. Chs. 7:18; 8:17 f., 21, 32 f.; 9:19) and its placement at this point is important. It indicates that in spite of Ch. 4:11, 34, the difference is one of degree, not of kind, between the disciples who have received through revelation some insight into the secret of the Kingdom of God as having come near in the person of Jesus and the multitude who see only a riddle. The disciples themselves are still quite blind and filled with misunderstanding. When Jesus asks, “Do you not yet have faith?” he means specifically faith in God’s saving power as this is present and released through his own person. The failure of the disciples to understand this is expressed in their awe-inspired question, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”
As the conclusion to Mark’s paragraph the question is rhetorical, inviting the response of faith, “He is the Christ, the Son of God.” In the account of the subduing of the sea we are told that Jesus is the living Lord. What is true of the God of Israel is true of him. At all times and in every sphere he exercises sovereign control over the situation. The subduing of the sea and the wind was not merely a demonstration of power; it was an epiphany, through which Jesus was unveiled to his disciples as the Savior in the midst of intense peril. Very early this incident was understood as a sign of Jesus’ saving presence in the persecution which threatened to overwhelm the Church. It is not surprising that in early Christian art the Church was depicted as a boat driven upon a perilous sea; with Jesus in the midst, there was nothing to fear.
4:40 / Do you still have no faith?: This is another instance in which Mark’s emphasis upon faith appears (cf. 2:5; 5:34; 10:52; 11:22; also 5:36; 9:23). Compare Luke 8:25 (“Where is your faith?”) and Matt. 8:26 (“You of little faith”).
4:40 afraid … no faith. Many have looked upon this story as primarily about discipleship, but that theme is secondary to Christology. Still, in verses 39–40 we have the harbinger of the failures that will dominate chapters 6–16 (see the introduction). The disciples are faithless because they are focused entirely on the earthly dilemma and lack faith in God/Jesus. Fear is the sign of a lack of faith (cf. 5:15, 36; 6:50; 10:32; 16:8).
40. And he said to them, Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?
Before proceeding with the explanation of this verse it may be well to point out that there are times when a comment should be made not only about what Scripture says but also about what it omits. The disciples, by implication, had accused the Master of indifference or hard-heartedness, of not being concerned about them (verse 38). Is it not really marvelous and very comforting to take note of the fact that Jesus never rebuked them for the grim, thoughtless words, “Don’t you care that we’re perishing?” This is the same Savior who was going to give an answer to Simon’s base denials accompanied by curses. His answer, however, would not be a sharp rebuke but a look full of pain, yet also full of love; and subsequently (after the resurrection) a penetrating, soul-searching yet loving interrogation: “Simon, Son of John, do you love me more than these?… Do you love me?… Do you have affection for me?”
Luke 8:25 makes it very clear that not only before but also after the miracle the disciples were afraid. They had been frightened by the storm. Now they were filled with fear because of the presence of the One who had so suddenly, completely, and dramatically stilled the storm. For similar instances of awe induced by the consciousness of being in the presence of Majesty see Isa. 6:5; Luke 5:8. So Jesus asks them, “Why are—not Why were—you afraid?” As if to say, has not the stilling of the storm and the soothing of the waves, in answer to your hysterical outcry, taught you that this Master of yours is not only very powerful but also very loving? Therefore, should not your response be that of complete, childlike trust?
What Jesus actually said was, “Have you still no faith?” See also Mark 8:17–21; 9:19. They were “men of little faith,” that is, men who were too timid sufficiently to rely upon the comfort and confidence which they should have derived from the presence, promises, power, and love of their Master (Matt. 6:30; 8:26; 14:31; 16:8; Luke 12:28); too hesitant to realize that the Father’s loving care was bestowed upon them through the Son.
Still no faith; that is, no faith in spite of all that you have seen, heard, experienced? This little word “still” must not escape us. By using it Jesus is teaching that the experiences of life are sent to men with a purpose. They must be used to good advantage, for furtherance in sanctification. Joseph understood this (Gen. 50:19–21). So did David (2 Sam. 23:5; Ps. 116); the man born blind (John 9:25, 30–33); Paul (1 Cor. 15:9, 10; Phil. 2:7–14; 4:11–13). Laban, too, learned something by experience, but applied his knowledge selfishly (Gen. 30:27b).
4:39–41. Jesus rebuked the wind (Hush) commanding it be quiet. To the sea He said be still (literally “be muzzled”). It was as though He were placing His hand over the sea. Immediately it became perfectly calm. Jesus did not stop with the physical elements. The greatest danger was the disciples’ unbelief. He rebuked them: Why are you afraid? After months following Jesus, why did they not have greater faith? Now they were very much afraid. Their reverential awe was far greater than their fear of the storm. They were standing in the presence of divine power. They had never seen physical elements respond to a human’s command. Jesus’ point was to use the calming of the storm to reveal how powerful He really was, even to reveal His deity.
 Wessel, W. W., & Strauss, M. L. (2010). Mark. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew–Mark (Revised Edition) (Vol. 9, p. 766). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
President Donald Trump said on Tuesday he would be happy to have a trial in
the U.S. Senate following his impeachment by the Democratic-led House of
Representatives, but that he did not really care.
President Trump’s re-election campaign raised $46 million in the fourth
quarter of 2019, a major haul that was boosted by a surge of donations in
the wake of the Democrats’ impeachment bid.
Bernie Sanders raised more than $34.5 million in the last quarter of 2019,
the largest three-month haul of any Democrat so far in the contest to take
on Republican President Donald Trump.
Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg raised $24.7 million in
the fourth quarter, well ahead of the $19.1 million he collected in the
Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Andrew Yang raised $16.5 million in
the fourth quarter, well ahead of the nearly $10 million he collected in
the third quarter.
Tens of thousands of holiday makers fled seaside towns on Australia’s east
coast as bushfires approached, and military ships and helicopters began
rescuing thousands trapped by the blazes.
President Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday up to 250,000 migrants were
fleeing toward Turkey from Syria’s northwest Idlib region after weeks of
renewed bombardment by Russian and Syrian government forces.
French police used tear gas to disperse protesters blockading a Paris bus
depot on Thursday, the latest confrontation between the authorities and
unions over plans to reform the pension system.
The number of Americans filing claims for jobless benefits edged lower last
week, a positive signal for the U.S. labor market amid recent signs that
new claims may be trending slightly higher. Initial claims for state
unemployment benefits decreased 2,000 to a seasonally adjusted 222,000 for
the week ended Dec. 28.
Denmark sourced almost half its electricity consumption from wind power
last year, a new record boosted by steep cost reductions and improved
AP Top Stories
Iran’s supreme leader and President Donald Trump are locked in an
unprecedented war of words over the storming of the American embassy in
Iraq, each blaming the other for unrest engulfing the country
As Chief Justice John Roberts prepares to preside over the impeachment
trial of President Donald Trump, he issued pointed remarks Tuesday in his
year-end report on the state of the federal judiciary that seemed to be
addressed, at least in part, to the president himself. The two men have a
history of friction, and Roberts used the normally mild report to denounce
false information spread on social media and to warn against mob rule.
Over a dozen Chinese lawyers and activists were detained or went missing in
the final days of 2019 in a crackdown on participants of a private
democracy gathering, rights groups said.
Opioid overdose deaths have spiked in the wake of automotive assembly plant
closures across the U.S. South and Midwest, a new study suggests. Plant
closures were associated with an 85% surge in opioid overdose mortality
rates among working-age adults five years later, compared with what would
have been expected if these factories had remained open
A federal judge has temporarily blocked a California labor law meant to
take effect from Jan. 1 from impacting over 70,000 independent truckers by
granting a ‘temporary restraining order.’
Thailand began the year with a ban on single-use plastic bags at major
stores, continuing a campaign launched by the government and retailers
towards a complete ban in 2021 to reduce waste and debris in the sea.
A white nationalist who ran for the U.S. Senate in Florida and was a
featured speaker during the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in
Charlottesville, Virginia, was arrested on charges of kidnapping, domestic
violence and possession of a firearm during a crime of violence.
In the most anticipated speech of his career today, North Korea’s Kim
Jong-un told hundreds of cadre from the Workers’ Party of Korea to prepare
for a long-term standoff with the United States over its drive to “seek its
own political and diplomatic interests” in Korea while “wasting time away
under the signboard of dialogue and negotiations.”
The European Space Agency is about to pull one of the bigger hunks of
garbage from orbit. But there’s a problem: The same tech that could help
make space cleaner might, in the long run, also make it more dangerous.
That’s because the ESA’s ClearSpace-1 orbital garbage truck, as well as
other spacecraft like it, could double as a weapon.
Protesters who have been demonstrating outside the US embassy in Iraq for a
second day have withdrawn from the area after a tense standoff.
Hillary Clinton is to be the new chancellor of Queen’s University, Belfast
(QUB). She is the university’s 11th chancellor and first woman to take up
the post. In a statement, Mrs Clinton said it was a “great privilege” to
become the chancellor of QUB.
At least 16 inmates have been killed after a riot broke out at a prison in
The mob that attacked the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad on Tuesday was in fact a
collection of “mourners,” according to The New York Times — a statement
that drew an angry response from the paper’s critics.
As the year 2020 rings in, one of the most controversial names in American
politics may soon lose her seat in the House of Representatives. That
well-known leftist figure is U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.
With this being the year of the 2020 Census, it’s possible the Democrat’s
district could be completely eliminated.
A number of senior Palestinian officials claimed this week that Jesus was
the “first Palestinian,” and one called him the “first Islamic martyr.”
Mid-Day Snapshot · Jan. 2, 2020
Headlines – 1/2/2020
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“A simple layman armed with Scripture is to be believed above a pope or a council without it…” – Martin Luther
January 2.—Morning. [Or January 3.]
“Praise ye the Lord.”
AND God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. (There was light before the appearance of sun or moon; but God made these the bearers thereof, that they might declare his glory. He could have done without them, but he did not please so to do. He could enlighten men’s minds without his ministers or his church; but, if he chooses to use them as lights in the world, let us be thankful for them, and pray for them.)
16 And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.
Thus a chaos of light was reduced to order. Order is a law of God. Families are unhappy without it.
17 And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,
18 And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good.
The delightful alternation of the day so suitable for labour, and the night so proper for rest, is certainly “good” for us in many ways, and we ought to adore the goodness of God therein.
19 And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.
20 And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.
Thus the Lord’s work of creation advanced to higher stages each day, and we shall find it so in grace; he will yet reveal choicer mercies to us.
21, 22 And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.
23 And the evening and the morning were the fifth day. (The inconceivable numbers of fish and fowl in the earth show how potent was this primeval blessing. Let but the Lord bless his church in the same manner, and her converts shall be as the stars of heaven for multitude. Such wonders of creation ought not to be rehearsed without a song of praise: let us therefore turn to—
1 Praise ye the Lord. Praise ye the Lord from the heavens: praise him in the heights.
2 Praise ye him, all his angels: praise ye him, all his hosts.
3 Praise ye him, sun and moon; praise him, all ye stars of light.
4 Praise him, ye heavens of heavens, and ye waters that be above the heavens.
5 Let them praise the name of the Lord: for he commanded, and they were created.
6 He hath also stablished them for ever and ever: he hath made a decree which shall not pass.
7 Praise the Lord from the earth, ye dragons, and all deeps:
8 Fire, and hail; snow, and vapours; stormy wind fulfilling his word:
9 Mountains, and all hills; fruitful trees, and all cedars:
10 Beasts, and all cattle; creeping things, and flying fowl:
11 Kings of the earth, and all people; princes, and all judges of the earth:
12 Both young men, and maidens; old men, and children:
13 Let them praise the name of the Lord: for his name alone is excellent; his glory is above the earth and heaven.
14 He also exalteth the horn of his people, the praise of all his saints; even of the children of Israel, a people near unto him. Praise ye the Lord. (All this day let us praise God with our hearts, words, and actions; for he has dealt very kindly with us as a family. Blessed be his name.)
Praise him, ye gladdening smiles of mom;
Praise him, O silent night;
Tell forth his glory all the earth;
Praise him, ye stars of light!
Praise him, ye stormy winds, that rise
Obedient to his word;
Mountains, and hills, and fruitful trees,
Join ye and praise the Lord!
Praise him, ye heavenly hosts, for ye
With purer lips, can sing—
Glory and honour, praise and power
To him, the Eternal King!
January 2.—Evening. [Or January 4.]
“Thy Maker is thine husband.”
THE Lord first prepared the world for man, and then placed him in it. He fitted up the house before he made the tenant. This is an instance of his thoughtful care for our race.
26 ¶ And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
Note the words, “Let us make.” The three divine persons hold a council; let us learn to adore Father, Son, and Spirit, as the One God. Man was the highest work of the six days’ creation, and was not fashioned without special consideration. He was made to be lord of the world; and if now the beasts rebel against him, it is only because he also has rebelled against his God.
27 So God created man in his own image; in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
29 ¶ And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it’ shall be for meat. (Before he sinned man did not kill animals, but lived on fruits; every meal of flesh should remind us of our fall.)
31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.
AND the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
8 ¶ And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.
9 And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
10 And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads.
Thus there was abundance of food and drink, and a pleasant variety of prospect: the garden was a paradise of comfort. “No herb, no flower, no tree was wanting there that might be of ornament or use; whether for sight, or for scent, or for taste. The bounty of God wrought further than to necessity, it provided for comfort and recreation.”
15 And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. (Some occupation is necessary to happiness. Lazy people would not enjoy even Eden itself. A perfect man is a working man.)
16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:
17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
This was an easy yoke. Only one tree out of thousands was denied him as a test of his obedience. The Lord’s commandments are not grievous.
18 ¶ And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.
Before Adam knew that he wanted a companion, his tender Creator knew it, and resolved to find him one. Thus with gracious foresight does the Lord supply our needs.
21 And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;
22 And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.
23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.
We ought dearly to love mother, and wife, and sister, and aunt. These dear friends greatly minister to our happiness; and boys and young men should always treat them with tender respect.
24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.
We ought never to be proud of our clothes, for our weakness makes us need them; and they prove that we are sinful, since until we are covered we are ashamed to be seen. May Jesus cover us with his glorious righteousness.
Do Not Worry about Tomorrow
Possessions delude the human heart into believing that they provide security and a worry-free existence, but in truth they are the very cause of worry. For the heart that is fixed on possessions, they come with a suffocating burden of worry. Worries lead to treasure, and treasure leads back to worry. We want to secure our lives through possessions; through worry we want to become worry free, but the truth turns out to be the opposite. The shackles that bind us to possessions, that hold us fast to possessions, are themselves worries. The misuse of possessions consists in our using them for security for the next day. Worry is always directed toward tomorrow. In the strictest sense, however, possessions are intended only for today. It is precisely the securing of tomorrow that makes me so insecure today. “Today’s trouble is enough for today” (Matt. 6:34b). Only those who place tomorrow in God’s hands and receive what they need to live today are truly secure. Receiving daily liberates us from tomorrow. Thought for tomorrow delivers us up to endless worry.
I have had the experience over and over again that the quieter it is around me, the clearer do I feel the connection to you. It is as though in solitude the soul develops senses which we hardly know in everyday life. Therefore I have not felt lonely or abandoned for one moment. You, the parents, all of you, the friends and students of mine at the front, all are constantly present to me.… Therefore you must not think me unhappy. What is happiness and unhappiness? It depends so little on the circumstances; it depends really only on that which happens inside a person.
Bonhoeffer’s final Christmastime letter to fiancée
Maria von Wedemeyer, December 19, 1944
“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
“So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”
 Bonhoeffer, D. (2010). God is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas. (J. Riess, Ed., O. C. Dean Jr., Trans.) (First edition, pp. 82–84). Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.
My reward is with me
We are to be rewarded, not only for work done, but for burdens borne; and I am not sure but that the brightest rewards will be for those who have borne burdens without murmuring. On that day He will take the lily, that has been growing so long among thorns, and lift it up to be the glory and wonder of all the universe; and the fragrance of that lily will draw forth ineffable praises from all the hosts of Heaven.
So also is My Word. I send it out and it always produces fruit.
(Isaiah 55:11, TLB)
Are you worried today? If you are, begin to pray these words until they take root in your heart, awaken your faith, and become your fixed attitude towards God! This prayer will bring results!
“Father, You told me not to fear, for You are with me. You will strengthen me, You will help me, and You will uphold me with the right hand of Your righteousness. You said those who rise up against me will be confounded (see Isaiah 41:10–11). You also said that no evil would befall me, neither would any plague come near my dwelling, for You have given Your angels charge over me to keep me in all my ways (see Psalms 91:10–11). You declared that when I walk through the rivers of difficulty, You won’t let me drown. When I walk through the fires of oppression, I will not be burned, for You are the Lord my God (see Isaiah 43:2–3).
“You said that no weapon that is formed against me will prosper and that You will silence every tongue that rises against me in judgement because I am Your servant (see Isaiah 54:17). You promised that if I ask anything according to Your will, You would hear me and that I could have it (see 1 John 5:14–15). You said I am blessed when I go out and blessed when I come in (see Deuteronomy 28:6). You told me to cast all my cares on You, and You would take care of me (see 1 Peter 5:7).”
“These are Your words and I thank You for bringing them to pass in my life. You said it! I believe it! And that settles it! Amen”
 Gass, B. (1998). A Fresh Word For Today : 365 Insights For Daily Living (p. 2). Alachua, FL: Bridge-Logos Publishers.
I need to begin with a disclaimer: this will be a positive article written to encourage Christians that we can face any circumstance we encounter this year with optimistic, joyful faith in our Father’s power and provision.
However, to get there, I need to explain why this topic is on my mind today.
“It’s Time We Dealt With Your Religious Intolerance”
On last Sunday’s Meet the Press, NBC News anchor Chuck Todd read and endorsed a letter claiming that supporters of Donald Trump “want to be lied to” since they believe in “fairy tales” such as Noah’s ark.
Leaving the politics of this claim aside, let’s note that Jews believe in Noah’s ark because it is described as an historical event in the Torah (Genesis 6–9). Jesus (Matthew 24:37–39) and Peter (1 Peter 3:20; 2 Peter 2:5) believed in its historicity as well. And Muslims find it in the Qur’an (29:14–15).
A recent article in Medium goes further in denigrating biblical faith. In “Dear Christians, It’s Time We Dealt With Your Religious Intolerance,” the writer laments that his Nigerian grandfather was chased from his village by Christian converts because he refused to convert to Christianity. He also notes that Christian missionaries imposed upon his father a new name, age, language, and clothing they deemed more appropriate to the faith.
He points to John Allen Chau, the Christian who broke numerous laws and was then killed while attempting to share the gospel with an unreached people group off the coast of India. The author’s conclusion is that any religion that believes others need to accept its message or face damnation is egotistical, intrusive, invasive, and intolerant. He is convinced that we should oppose such religions as vehemently as he does.
Of course, sins committed in the name of a religion or ideology are not necessarily the fault of that religion or ideology. As a Christian, I strongly believe that the writer’s grandfather and father were treated horrifically and indefensibly. We should not blame all Muslims for 9/11 or all atheists for Lenin’s atrocities.
And we should note that the writer’s rejection of religious “intolerance” is itself a form of intolerance.
ISIS beheads Nigerian Christians
While American Christians should note and respond to those who demean or attack our faith (1 Peter 3:15–16), we should also remember those who are facing far worse persecution than we experience.
I’m thinking of the eleven Nigerian Christians who were executed by ISIS terrorists, ten of them by beheading. It is thought that they were killed on Christmas Day. And government oppression in China that seeks to rewrite the Bible, tears down hundreds of church buildings, and imprisons pastors.
Open Doors states in its 2019 report that 245 million Christians around the world—one in nine globally—are currently suffering from persecution. On average, eleven believers are killed every day for their faith.
The countercultural way to be “blessed”
Jesus taught us: “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account” (Matthew 5:11). Notice that our Lord says “when,” not “if.”
Persecution is inevitable for true followers of Jesus (cf. John 16:33). Those who hate our Father will hate his children (John 15:18–21). Paul was blunt: “All who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12).
Here we learn that if we are not facing opposition for our faith, we should ask whether our faith is as public and uncompromising as it should be. I’m not suggesting that we need to seek to be persecuted. But I am suggesting that we should not be surprised when we are.
What persecution teaches us
Jesus continued: “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:12, my emphasis).
Persecution forces us to decide whether we are living for reward on earth or reward in heaven. Until we face opposition for our faith, we can easily deceive ourselves into thinking that we can live for this world and the next. When we are forced to choose between “treasures on earth” and “treasures in heaven” (Matthew 6:19–20), we discover which truly comes first for us.
This discovery is crucial whether we are facing persecution or not since “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (v. 21).
65,000 students began the new year in worship
More than 65,000 college students gathered in the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia, to begin the new year with worship, Bible teaching, and prayer.
The purpose of Passion 2020, which ends today, “is you and me saying goodbye to lesser things and saying yes to Jesus, the One whose name is above every name.” Those attending are seeking “to live in such a way that their journey on earth counts for what is most important in the end.”
Let’s join them.
“The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD shall be safe.” – Proverbs 29:25
Scripture reading: Proverbs 3:24-26
Everyone is afraid of something. But not all fear is bad. You may fear standing at the edge of a cliff, touching a hot stove or hearing the rattle of a rattlesnake. Those are good fears. So use these fears. They will save your life.
What about bad fears? First, there are irrational fears, like the fear of house spiders or the fear of enclosed spaces. There is no real danger, but some are afraid of these things. Second, some fear things that are outside of their control, like the future. And this type of fear is based on a distrust of God, or at least it is based on a weak trust in God.
Fear makes people prisoners. They don’t do what they should because they are afraid they can’t control their circumstances. They don’t drive because they think they could have an accident and hurt someone. They won’t evangelize because they are afraid of rejection. They lack trust in God’s providence. They don’t think that God is willing and able to help. They may isolate themselves and not fulfill their responsibilities.
How can you cure bad fears? The fear of God is the cure for sinful fears. Proverbs 9:10 tells us “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom…” The “fear of God” means you know and trust Him. You know and trust Him through Jesus. You experience love. Perfect love casts out fear. Love conquers fears. The more you love, the less you fear.
Suggestions for prayer
Pray that you will see how fear cripples you from doing God’s work and ask the Lord to remove fears so you can live for Him.
This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Mitchell Persaud is pastor of New Horizon URC in Scarborough, ON, a mission church under the oversight of Cornerstone URC in London, ON. He was born in Guyana, South America, into a Hindu home, baptized Roman Catholic, raised Pentecostal and then became Reformed.
Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall; Humpty Dumpty had a great fall; All the king’s horses and all the king’s men, couldn’t put Humpty together again.
As a biblical counselor, I think a lot about sanctification. While few people with whom I interact lack knowledge about the saving work of Christ or their future home with the Lord, many wrestle with what happens in the interim. Using Humpty Dumpty as the illustration, they would agree that in Adam we have had a great fall and are in need of a savior. They also have a good basic understanding that at death we go to heaven, where there is no sin or death or crying, and everything will be set right. What happens in between their justification and their glorification is often a bit murky, as they look at the various pieces of their lives as a sinner and a sufferer, and they wonder how and when they will be put together again.
Despite being Christians, some see themselves as poor Humpty, laying on the ground with the king’s horses and the king’s men passing by, unable to put Humpty back together. For some, these fractured pieces might be their past – ways in which they sinned or were sinned against. They think that those pieces remain forever broken at the base of the wall of their lives. They wrongly view themselves as a “victim” or they speak of their “brokenness.” For others, these pieces might be their ongoing struggle with sin and their seeming lack of growth. They focus on their failures, forgetting that is it God who works in them both to will and to do (Phil. 2:13) and that he is faithful to complete the work that he begins (Phil. 1:6). Finally, these pieces might be a present paralysis based upon a future that seems fearful and uncertain to them.
Notice the emphasis on self. While certainly we are sinners who fall short of the glory of God, we are also justified by God’s grace through the redemption of Christ (Rom. 3:23-24). Thus, we should never think that we are still defined by our past or present sin. Paul reminds us that despite our past, we were washed, we were sanctified, and we were justified (1Cor. 6:9-11).
While we are mindful that we are sinners, we must also remember that we are called saints because of the work of Christ. We must remind ourselves that a broken and contrite heart is not despised by the Lord (Ps. 51:17) and that he is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit (Ps. 34:18).
We should not view ourselves as broken. We are the redeemed of the Lord, who know that it is vain to trust in horses or human kings to put us back together again. We know that the Lord doesn’t delight in the strength of horse or the legs of man, but he takes pleasure in those who fear him (Psalm 147:10-11).
Yes, until the Lord calls us home, we still sin, and we still suffer the effects of the fall. There are still some pieces scattered about, and at times it seems like some of the glue of our sanctification hasn’t yet set. Through the work of the Holy Spirit, however, we truly are enabled more and more to die unto sin and live unto righteousness (Westminster Shorter Catechism #35).
As the new year begins, remember that you are not saved by a king’s horses or his men. They are a false hope of salvation (Ps. 33:16). Because you are in Christ, you are not broken. Our Lord binds up and heals the brokenhearted and proclaims liberty to those who were bound (Ps. 147:3; Isa. 61:1). Choose to welcome his work in your life. Choose to look at the ways he has been creating a new heart in you and renewing a right spirit within you. Don’t ignore those pieces that still need some attention, but don’t view yourself as a broken person. He doesn’t leave us broken in pieces. We are servants of the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, who is in the business of putting us back together again.
And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” (Rev. 21:5)
35 For (kî) links v. 35 with v. 34. They pay close attention for their beloved’s opening of her doors to them lest they miss their opportunity. The verse adapts the promise that finding a wife is equivalent to finding goodness and obtaining the Lord’s favor (18:22) with finding Wisdom. The one who finds me (mošeʾí; n. 54; 3:3) entails loving her and seeking her diligently (see 8:17; cf. 1:28; 7:15). Finds (māṣāʾ) life (ḥayyîm; see pp. 104-107) resonates with the declaration in 3:18 that wisdom is a tree of life. Both Wisdom and the parents promise their obedient sons the most precious prize of all, eternal life, suggesting again the equation of Wisdom and her words with the father and his teaching (see 3:1–2, 21–22; 4:10, 13, 20–22; 6:23). And so obtains (wayyapeq, see 3:13) favor (rāṣôn) from the Lord (mēYHWH; see 1:7) entails that the person sought his favor. According to Walker, “The root meaning of rāṣôn is two-sided, namely will and pleasure, whether oneself or another. Doing one’s own will and pleasure involves one’s desire, but doing the will and pleasure of another results in acceptance, approval, delight of another, and his returning favor and blessing.” In Proverbs rāṣôn denotes either the abstract notion of being or becoming in a state of favor with others, usually of one in high authority, mostly God (8:35; 11:1, 20; 12:2, 22; 14:9; 15:8; 18:22) and the king (14:35; 16:13, 15; 19:12). In Mal. 2:13 the parallel to not finding favor is “he no longer looks at the gift.” In short, the Owner of life mediates it to those who seek it through the inspired sage’s wisdom.
8:35. ‘For he who finds me finds life, And obtains favor from the Lord.’
As verses 32–34 hang together thematically, so verses 35–36 cohere around contrasting themes: ‘life’ and ‘favor’ (v. 35), on the one hand, and ‘injures’ and ‘death’ (v. 36), on the other hand. The theme of ‘life’ is a common one in Proverbs (Prov. 3:2, 18; 4:4, 13, 22–23; 7:2; 9:11; 10:17; 19:23; 21:21) as is ‘favor’ (Prov. 3:4; 12:2; 18:22). The word for ‘favor’ means ‘pleasure,’ ‘delight,’ and ‘favor.’ This noun and its companion verb have a wide range of meaning, but find their primary importance as the most common expressions for God’s preceptive will.
How can one who reads Proverbs fail to see this life or death summons? ‘I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants’ (Deut. 30:19).
Ver. 35. Whoso findeth Me findeth life.—The Christian life delineated: Christ to be found in the ordinances, with the import and happy effects of finding Him:—
- The ordinances are the place where Christ is to be found of poor sinners.
- What are the ordinances? The Divine ordinance of meditation. Christian conference about spiritual matters. Singing of the Lord’s praises. Prayer. The Word. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
- Confirm this doctrine. The ordinances are by Christ’s own appointment the trysting-places wherein He has promised to be found of those that seek Him. Trysting-places for sinners, where they may be convinced, converted, and regenerated. Trysting-places for saints, where they may receive life more abundantly. They are the places wherein His people seek Him, who know best where He is to be found. They are what the Lord has allowed His people to supply the want of heaven, until they come there.
- Apply this doctrine. It reproves those who slight attendance on ordinances; those who come to meet some they have worldly business with; who come, but not to find Christ there; who stand in the way of others attending on ordinances. It urges to seek Christ in ordinances. He is well worth the seeking.
- People may come to ordinances and not find Christ.
- Reasons on the sinner’s side. Some have no design of finding Christ in ordinances at all. Many are indifferent whether they find Christ or not. Some desire not to see Him at all. Some cannot wait patiently at the gates.
- Improve this point. Seek Him sincerely and uprightly with all your heart. Seek Him honestly and generously for Himself. Seek Him fervently, humbly, diligently, mournfully. Seek Him till you find.
III. Then do people find Christ when, upon a saving discovery of Christ made to their souls, they close with Him by faith.
- Things in general touching the finding of Christ. There is a twofold finding of Him, initial and progressive. The immediate effect of the former is union, of the other actual communion with Christ. Some things to be observed. Sinners in their natural state have lost God. Man is a seeking creature. There is no satisfying of the soul till it come to God. God is in Christ, and is to be found in Him only.
- More particularly explain the soul’s finding Christ. The soul savingly discovers and discerns Jesus Christ by a new light let into it. There is a twofold discovery of Him in the gospel, objective and subjective. There are six things the soul sees in Christ: A transcendent excellency. A fulness for the supply of all wants. A suitableness to meet his case and to glorify God. The Wisdom of God in Him. An ability to save. Willingness to save. Upon this discovery of Christ made unto and by the soul, the soul closes with Christ by faith. Such a discovery is not made to the soul till it be hunger-bitten. The nature of the object discovered speaks for itself. And the discovery is always attended with a heart-conquering power.
- Sinners finding Christ find life.
- Unfold that life which sinners find. It is a life of grace, in regeneration. A life of favour with God. A life of new obedience. A life of comfort. And eternal life.
- What are the qualities of this life? It is a Divine life. A life of the whole man. A pleasant life. A persevering life. A growing life.
- Confirm this doctrine. The sinner finding Christ finds all things necessary to make him happy. Look to the whole of Christ’s purchase, what He bought for poor sinners with His blood; and the soul finding Christ finds it all, and may say, “It is all mine.” (T. Boston, D.D.)
Some man might say, “Why should we watch so much for Wisdom? What shall we get by so much labour? Lest any should refuse and despise Wisdom, as terrified with the mention of so much pains in getting, Wisdom promises large rewards of life and favour from God. Heavy things grow light, when great rewards are propounded. And if any man be inquisitive to know what is that blessedness promised to such as take pains to get Wisdom, she tells them that their diligence in seeking her shall be recompensed in a most copious reward. As if she had said, “They that find Me shall not obtain some vulgar matter of little weight, but an incomparable treasure of all good things—to wit, life, which all men naturally desire, and eternal life, which only God can give, and all that a man can justly desire; and so shall he be fully happy in God’s favour.” (Francis Taylor, B.D.)
The life that is found in Christ, who is our life—the life which, if diligently sought, shall be assuredly found, and which, when found, fills the soul with joy and peace.
- The advantage of seeking Christ. We seek not only Him personally, but all that is in Him. We seek Him in whom all fulness dwells, and in seeking Him all the fulness that dwells in Him becomes ours. In finding Christ we find happiness, holiness, and heaven; pardon, peace, a quiet conscience, relief from the weary load of sin.
- What do we find in Christ? Life is the great aim of all sentient beings; to obtain life, and having obtained it, to preserve it. Inquire, by way of contrast, what is gained by that life which is found elsewhere than in Christ? Sometimes life is sought in pleasure, in the world, in the love of things of the world, and in sin. Mistaking the great object of living, and pursuing a career of sin, men find that sin bringeth forth death—death of body and of soul, death for time, and death throughout eternity. There is a more excellent way, a way which has the promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come. The true life commences here. This life of ours is a pilgrimage. “He that findeth life” finds a life that is clothed with immortality, that revels in eternal day, that climbs unwearied the everlasting hills, that wears the crown of everlasting victory. (Robert Maguire, M.A.)
And shall obtain favour of the Lord.—Sinners interested in Christ obtaining favour of the Lord:—
- Show some things supposed in this truth tending to clear the meaning of it.
- There is a treasure of favour for poor sinners with the Lord. A treasure speaks preciousness, variety, and abundance.
- This treasure is locked on sinners out of Christ, they have no access to it.
- The sinner once interested in Christ has free access to the treasure, to bring forth from thence whatever he needs.
- The sinner, when interested in Christ, will still be needing, while he is in this world.
- It is the privilege and duty of believers to bring forth and fetch supply for all their wants out of that treasure.
- Show wherein the soul once interested in Christ shall obtain favour of the Lord.
- In prosperity. They shall have balancing grace, to make them carry evenly and usefully. Balancing providences; some such mixture of bitterness in their cup as keeps them from miskenning themselves.
- In personal outward affliction. But they shall be bettered by it; supported under it, and have deliverance in due time.
- In desertion. They shall never be totally or finally forsaken.
- In temptation. They shall either be made to keep their ground against the temptation, or at least temptation shall not be allowed to gain a complete victory over them.
- Even when fallen into sin, the Lord will not leave them, nor cast them off.
- In time of public calamity. They shall either be hid, or gracious favour shall be mixed with the trouble, or the sting shall be taken out of it.
- Death. They shall then be freed from sin and freed from trouble.
III. Confirm this doctrine.
- Sinners have a right to the whole treasure of favour in Christ, in whom they are interested.
- Jesus Christ is the dispenser of the treasure, the high Steward of the house of heaven.
- The enjoyment is secured by the covenant of promises.
- They have each of them a private key to the treasure, and that is faith. Improve this doctrine—
(1) In a way of information;
(2) in a way of encouragement. (T. Boston, D.D.)
What found with wisdom?—
- Wisdom may be found. Else these promises were annexed in vain.
- If wisdom be found, life is found withal.
- Eternal life.
III. Not only life, but God’s favour is gotten also by getting wisdom.
- He shall find favour from God in receiving Him.
- He shall find favour from God in rewarding him here.
- He shall find favour from God in preserving him from many dangers.
- He shall receive favour from God in preferring, or crowning him with eternal glory in heaven. Use—
- To confute the doctrine of merits.
- Seek wisdom earnestly and truly; not faintly and hypocritically, seeing ye look not only for life, but also for God’s favour from thence, which is the very cause of life, and the very life of life itself. (Francis Taylor, B.D.)
The favour of God obtained by wisdom:—
The intention of this text is to represent a very great blessedness to good men, whether in the present or a future state, annexed to wisdom, or religious virtue, in consequence of their obtaining God’s favour.
- How great, how substantial and comprehensive a felicity this is. It will be easily allowed, if we consider our most obvious notions of the Deity, as a Being infinitely perfect and all-sufficient, the fountain of life and happiness. We judge of the importance of any person’s favour, and of the security and advantage which may arise to ourselves from it, by his power and capacity. It is impossible that God’s favourites should be unhappy, because He neither wanteth power to effect what His good-will inclineth to, nor wisdom to contrive the best method for their safety and advantage. Though there are objects suitable to the inclinations God hath planted in our nature, yet even supposing them sought after, and enjoyed without sin, they come short of being our true felicity, both in the perfection of degree and in the duration of them. They cannot yield solid contentment and satisfaction to the mind of man, because they are too low in their kind for its high capacity; and they are of a perishing nature; pleasure is but for a season, honour only an empty shadow; nothing can be more variable and uncertain than it is. But the favour of God is a substantial good, and never-failing foundation of hope and spring of comfort; it extendeth to all possible cases, and is a support in the most distressed situation of affairs.
- Upon what grounds may we expect that, if we find wisdom, we shall obtain favour of the Lord? How can men do anything that is good out of a regard to the Deity, unless they first believe Him to be good, and a lover of virtue? The greatest corruptions of religion and morality have taken their rise from wrong notions of God. But how doth it appear that the wise and virtuous obtain favour of the Lord, since His providence doth not distinguish them by marks of favour, but, by the confession of the sacred writers themselves, they are in as bad a condition with respect to the affairs of this life as the wicked? This objection hath been advanced against the equity and wisdom of Providence, and as seeming to prove that the affairs of this world are under no intelligent direction, but left to blind chance or necessity; but this is not conclusive against the doctrine of the text for the following reasons:
- The present state is appointed in the wisdom of God to be a state of discipline and improvement.
- The sufferings of good men in the present state may be considered as trials, and it is consistent with the favour of God to His servants that He should try them in order to their growth in virtue, and so becoming still more the objects of His favour.
- We must keep in mind those things promised in the gospel. Two practical reflections.
(1) See what is the noblest end of life, the worthiest of our affections, our choice, and of our most diligent and constant endeavours, that we may attain it.
(2) The way to obtain this end is plainly marked out to us in Scripture, and it is very inexcusable folly and thoughtlessness if we mistake it. (J. Abemethy, M.A.)
READING: Psalm 67
Some people see blessings as the reward for their hard work. Others view blessings as the means to prepare for a prosperous retirement; they save for the “rainy days” to come in the future. Still others see them as a sign of significance and power, making sure that others know just how much they have.
The psalmist, on the other hand, tells us clearly why God blesses us: He blesses us so that His “way may be known on earth, [His] salvation among all nations” (Psa. 67:2). He looks on us with favor so that via our blessings, the nations might know His name; He produces the harvest in our fields so that He might draw to Himself the peoples of the earth. The goal – repeated twice in the psalm for emphasis – is: “Let the peoples praise You, God; let all the peoples praise You” (Psa. 67:3, 5).
This text, then, challenges us to consider how we might invest our blessings eternally. We might, for example, set aside funds to do mission trips . . . or to increase our giving to God’s church . . . or to support the work of missionaries . . . or to assist in Bible translation . . . or to train the next generation of pastors and missionaries . . . or even to move overseas and support ourselves as cross-cultural workers for the rest of our lives. The option we do not have is to spend the money on ourselves, buying temporary stuff that brings only fleeting excitement.
Frankly, Pam and I work hard to support God’s work among the nations, but this psalm pushes me to ask again, “Do we receive God’s blessings graciously, and then truly, sacrificially give them so the peoples will praise Him?” Perhaps it does the same for you.
PRAYER: “God, remind me daily that Your blessings are not for my sake.”
TOMORROW’S READING: Psalm 100
*devotion first published in 2017