Daily Archives: February 18, 2020

February 18 Life-Changing Moments With God

You are my hope in the day of doom.

Loving Father, there are many who say, “Who will show us any good?” Lord, lift up the light of Your countenance upon us. I will sing of Your power; yes, I will sing aloud of Your mercy in the morning; for You have been my defense and refuge in the day of my trouble.

You hid Your face, and I was troubled. I cried out to You, O Lord; and to You, Lord, I made supplication: “What profit is there in my blood, when I go down to the pit? Will the dust praise You? Will it declare Your truth? Hear, O Lord, and have mercy on me; Lord, be my helper!”

You say, Lord God and my Redeemer, that for a mere moment You have forsaken me, but with great mercies You will gather me. With a little wrath You hid Your face from me for a moment; but with everlasting kindness You will have mercy on me. Sorrow will be turned into joy. Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.

What hope I have in You, my Redeemer—

in You who brings joy after sorrow, who offers mercy after wrath,

who serves as my Refuge in trouble.

Jeremiah 17:17; Psalm 4:6; Psalm 59:16; Psalm 30:6, 8–10; Isaiah 54:7–8; John 16:20; Psalm 30:5[1]

 

[1] Jeremiah, D. (2007). Life-Changing Moments With God (p. 59). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

February 18, 2020 Evening Verse Of The Day

Sacrifice

Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. And do not neglect doing good and sharing; for with such sacrifices God is pleased. (13:15–16)

Sacrifice was extremely important to the Jew. It was God’s provision for cleansing of sin under the Old Covenant. Many Christian Jews were no doubt wondering if God required any kind of sacrifice under the New Covenant. They knew Christ offered the one and only sacrifice for sin. But they were used to many kinds of sacrifice, and perhaps God still demanded some offering, some sacrifice, even of Christians.

Yes, He does, they are told. He demands the sacrifice of our praise and of our good works in His name. He demands sacrifice not in the form of a ritual or ceremony, but in word and in deed—in our praise of Him and in our service to others.

in word

God no longer wants sacrifices of grain or animals. He wants only the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. The psalmists knew a great deal about this sort of sacrifice. If their writings could be characterized by any single word it would be praise. “I will give thanks to the Lord according to His righteousness, and will sing praise to the name of the Lord Most High” (Ps. 7:17). “Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why are you disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him” (43:5). “I will give thanks to Thee, O Lord, among the peoples; and I will sing praises to Thee among the nations” (108:3). All of the last five psalms begin with “Praise the Lord,” which in Hebrew is hallelujah. The sacrifice God desires is the cry of our lips in praise to Him.

The Christian’s sacrifice of praise is to be offered continually. It is not to be a fair-weather offering, but an offering in every circumstance. “In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess. 5:18).

in deed

John warns us that “the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen” (1 John 4:20). In other words, if our praise of God in word is not accompanied by doing good and sharing, it is not acceptable to Him. Worship involves action that honors God.

Isaiah gave a similar warning to Israel. When the people asked God, “Why have we fasted and Thou dost not see?” the Lord replied, “Is this not the fast which I chose, to loosen the bonds of wickedness, to undo the bands of the yoke, and to let the oppressed go free, and break every yoke? Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into the house; when you see the naked, to cover him; and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?” (Isa. 58:3, 6–7).

Praise of God in word and deed are inseparable. Lip service must be accompanied by life service. “This is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father, to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world” (James 1:27). The only acceptable sacrifice we can offer to God with our hands is to do good to one another, to share, to minister in whatever ways we can to the needs of others in His name. “Little children,” John says, “let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth” (1 John 3:18).[1]


15 Were they told that they had no sacrifices and no altar? But of course they still had sacrifices to offer, even if there remained no more sacrifice for sin. The sacrifice of thanksgiving had once been accompanied by an animal sacrifice in the temple—it was a form of peace offering, according to Lev. 7:12. Animal sacrifices had been rendered forever obsolete by the sacrifice of Christ, but the sacrifice of thanksgiving might still be offered to God, and indeed should be offered to him by all who appreciated the perfect sacrifice of Christ.88 No longer in association with animal sacrifices, but through Jesus, the sacrifice of praise was acceptable to God. The dissociation of this sacrifice from animal sacrifices had already been adumbrated in an Asaphite psalm:

If I were hungry, I would not tell you;

for the world and all that is in it is mine.

Do I eat the flesh of bulls,

or drink the blood of goats?

Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving;

and pay your vows to the Most High;

and call upon me in the day of trouble;

I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.

The sacrifice of praise is further described as “the fruit of lips which acknowledge his name,” in language borrowed from the Septuagint version of Hos. 14:2 (MT, LXX 14:3). In the Masoretic text of that passage the sacrifice of praise is a substitute for animal sacrifices; so the ERV/ARV translate it: “so will we render as bullocks the offering of our lips.” In this spirit the Qumran Rule of the Community declares that when the prescriptions of the community are carried out in Israel, “to obtain favor for the land apart from the flesh of burnt-offerings and the fat of sacrifice, then the oblation of the lips according to right judgment shall be as a sweet savor of righteousness, and the perfection of one’s ways as an acceptable free will offering.” At Qumran, however, this did not involve a total repudiation of animal sacrifices on principle. Similarly, while Philo provides parallels to this insistence on the sacrificial value of thanksgiving and deeds of piety, and holds that sacrifice is acceptable only if it is the expression of true heart-devotion, he does not suggest that the sacrificial ritual itself can be dispensed with.92 Our author’s treatment of the sacrificial ritual as antiquated is due to his understanding of the finality and perpetual efficacy of the sacrifice of Christ.[2]


15–16 The pastor has used both theme and style to weave these two verses together as a seamless robe. Notice the chiastic arrangement of verbs and their complements in the Greek text: (A) “let us offer” (B) “a sacrifice of praise”; (B1) “doing good and sharing” (A1) “let us not forget.” The first words in the Greek of v. 15 are “through him,” referring to Jesus the mediator of these sacrifices. The last word in v. 16 is “God,” the one who is pleased with these offerings. Thus the praise of v. 15 and the good works and mutual concern of v. 16 taken together constitute the sacrifices that are pleasing to God. These are the sacrifices appropriate for those who partake of Christ’s “altar” (v. 10) and live in ardent expectation of the heavenly City (v. 14).

The worship of the faithful does not consist of those rituals based on false teaching mentioned in v. 9 above. They are not to be “borne away” by those teachings, but to “bear the reproach” of Jesus and to “offer” the sacrifice of praise and good works “through” him. Verses 15–16 are the positive counterpart to vv. 11–13. Within the context of the unbelieving world, the life of faith is best described as going out to Christ and bearing “his reproach” (vv. 11–13). When considered, however, in relation to God and the Christian community, this same life is most appropriately represented as the offering of praise and good works to God through Christ (vv. 15–16). These verses are the pastor’s final description of the life of faith so forcefully advocated throughout his sermon. Such sacrifices are not sacrifices for sin but sacrifices offered to God through the cleansing power of and in grateful response to the once-for-all, sin-removing sacrifice of Christ (cf. 12:28). Thus, this replacement of animal sacrifices with praise and good works is not based on mere rational argument, as in some contemporary Jewish and pagan writers, but on the work of Christ.72 The sacrifices of the Old Covenant were offered perpetually because they were never effective in removing sin (10:1–4). The sacrifices of praise and right living described in these verses are to be offered perpetually because Christ’s obedient self-offering has effectively done away with sin.

This understanding of these verses is confirmed by the pastor’s definition of the “sacrifice of praise” as “the fruit of lips that confess his name.” Throughout this sermon he has been urging his hearers to persevere by maintaining their “confession” of Christ before an unbelieving world (3:1; 4:14; 10:23; cf. 11:13). Now he affirms that the “fruit of lips confessing his name” is also the “sacrifice of praise” pleasing to God, and thus the ultimate act of worship.75 “His name” may be a reference to God’s “name,” but it is probably a reference to the “name” of the “Son” of God (cf. 1:4). In either case, to “confess his name” is to affirm and offer praise for the ultimate revelation of God in his Son.77 In the OT God’s people praised him by “confessing” his goodness revealed in his great acts of redemption. Now they praise him by “confessing” all that he has done in Christ as the ultimate fulfillment of those earlier blessings. This kind of praise is an expression of “godly fear” (12:28) because it acknowledges God’s rightful place in the lives of the faithful. Thus to maintain one’s confession in the Son of God as all-sufficient High Priest is both the means of perseverance in this unbelieving world and the ultimate act of worship that is pleasing to the living God.

“Do not forget” takes the hearers back to v. 1, where they were encouraged not to “forget” the ministry of hospitality. One Greek article unites “doing good” and “sharing” as a grand description of the way the faithful are to treat each other. “Doing good” suggests kind deeds.80 “Sharing” encompasses the mutual concern already stressed by the pastor (10:24–25) as well as the sharing of material goods. The combination of these two words creates a rich and comprehensive description of the mutual practice of doing good in every way to one another within the community of the faithful.82 By this expression the pastor recalls in summary form the brotherly love, devotion to hospitality, ministry to the needs of the suffering, sexual integrity, and generosity born of trust in God that he enumerated in vv. 1–6. He uses the term “such sacrifices” to contrast both the good works of v. 16 and the praise of v. 15 with the animal sacrifices of old. Generous treatment of others joins the praise of God as the sacrifices “with which God is pleased.” Divine approval is the ultimate motivation for the life of faithfulness.84 Attridge provides an apt summation of this passage: “Having a share in Christ’s altar means finally to follow him on the road of suffering, to worship God through sacrifices of praise, and to devote oneself to loving service of other members of the covenant community.”[3]


13:15–16 / There are forms of sacrifice—spiritual, and not literal—that are still pleasing to God. To these the author now calls his readers. The first he mentions, utilizing ot language, is a sacrifice of praise. This expression is used a few times in the ot to indicate a particular category of literal sacrifice (e.g., 2 Chron. 29:31), but it also becomes a figure of speech for a grateful heart (e.g., Ps. 50:14, 23). This continual sacrifice is to be made through Jesus (lit., “him”), and it is further defined as the fruit of lips that confess his name. Barclay’s translation is appropriate: “which publicly affirm their faith in him.” In this instance, the sacrifice of praise first called for will be the readers’ faithfulness to their Christian confession. Only in this way can they show their thankfulness to God for what he has done. There are, however, other sacrifices with which God is pleased, the spiritual counterpart of the sacrifices of the old covenant. These include actions such as to do good and to share with others. The readers are not to forget these common Christian virtues. This, and not through the sacrifice of animals (cf. 9:8f.), is the way that faithfulness to God is to be manifested.[4]


15. Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name.

First in the sentence stands the phrase through Jesus. That is significant. Because of the once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus, the need for offering sacrifices to God had ended. Are Christians, then, without sacrifices and without a priest to present these offerings to God? No.

We are exhorted to go to Jesus outside the camp. He is our eternal, faithful, and merciful high priest. He represents us in the presence of God, and he prays for us. To come to God the Father we must go through the Son (John 14:6). Set free from the burden of guilt and sin, we want to express our thanks to God. This we do through Jesus. We offer to God not the material sacrifices that Christ made superfluous but the continual confession of praise and thanks. Whereas Jesus offered himself once, we present our praises continually. Our entire life ought to be a song of adulation expressed in words and deeds.

The Israelites expressed their thankfulness by offering cakes of bread to the Lord as a sacrifice of thanksgiving (Lev. 7:12). But Christians show by a dedicated life of obedience their thankfulness to God. The Ten Commandments are not a set of dos and don’ts; rather, for the Christian, they are rules for thankful living.

How then do we live before God? Paul and Peter have something to say on this subject:

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God. [Rom. 12:1]

Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. [1 Thess. 5:18]

You also, like living stones, are built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. [1 Peter 2:5]

The author of Hebrews specifies what the sacrifice of praise should be: “the fruit of lips that confess his name.” The expression fruit of lips comes from Hosea 14:2, where the prophet urges the people of Israel to return to the Lord and pray, “Forgive all our sins and receive us graciously, that we may offer the fruit of our lips.” And the phrase confess his name may be taken from the Septuagint translation of Psalm 54:6, “I will praise [confess] your name, O Lord.” God reveals himself in his name, and therefore his name is revelation. The psalmist makes God’s revelation known to the people. Similarly the author of Hebrews intimates that a life of praise should be a continual confession of God’s name.

16. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

Living a holy life consists of loving the Lord with heart, soul, and mind, and of loving one’s neighbor as oneself. The early Christians illustrated their love for the Lord by devoting themselves to the teaching of the gospel, the worship services, communion, and prayer (Acts 2:42). But they also showed their love for their fellow man by sharing everything they had (Acts 4:32). In fact, they took care of the poor so that “there were no needy persons among them” (v. 34). Love for the Lord has its counterpart in love for the neighbor. These two go hand in hand. When we say that we love the Lord, we must be ready to help our neighbors in need. This is what the Macedonian believers did. Says Paul, “Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service [showing generosity] to the saints” (2 Cor. 8:3–4).

The readers of the Epistle to the Hebrews had neglected their ministry to the needy (see also 13:2). Praising God in the local worship service they observed, even though some people stayed away (10:25). But praise and love were not always put to practice in relieving the needs of the poor (6:10; 10:33–34). The writer tells the readers “to do good and to share with others.” He sees these deeds of love and mercy as sacrifices of praise. And with these sacrifices God is pleased.

When the author says that God is pleased with good deeds, he reminds us of his description of Enoch’s life. Enoch was commended for his intimate fellowship with God (11:5). Also we are reminded of our duties to care for the needy, for if we keep the royal law—“Love your neighbor as yourself” (James 2:8)—we do well and please God.[5]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1983). Hebrews (pp. 443–444). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Bruce, F. F. (1990). The Epistle to the Hebrews (Rev. ed., pp. 383–384). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[3] Cockerill, G. L. (2012). The Epistle to the Hebrews (pp. 704–707). Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, UK: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

[4] Hagner, D. A. (2011). Hebrews (pp. 243–244). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[5] Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of Hebrews (Vol. 15, pp. 423–424). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

February—18 The Poor Man’s Evening Portion

A citizen of no mean city.—Acts 21:39.

It certainly was very laudable in Paul, in a moment of danger, to avail himself of the common privileges of his freedom, in the common rights of men. But it would have been a sad things for the apostle, had he not, at the same time, been also “a fellow-citizen with the saints, and of the household of God.” He, like the patriarchs, knew his right in that city “which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” My soul, see to it this evening, that thy name is enrolled among the citizens of those who are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone. And if thou canst find evidences of this high calling, thou wilt know also, as well as Paul, that thou art “a citizen of no mean city.” Now, a city that hath foundations, and whose builder and maker is God, differs totally from all the cities founded among men. All these have their rise, their increase, and fall. Where are the vast monarchies of past generations? Alas! time hath passed over them as a flood, and swept them all away. And what the sacred writer hath said of one, may be equally applied to all: “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen; in one hour is thy judgment come!” But the citizenship of a believer is firm, eternal, and secure. God the Father is the founder of it: he hath laid the foundation-stone in Zion. God the Son is the Rock on which it is built. And God the Holy Ghost is the eternal source of life and strength, and all the immutable privileges of it. This city is everlastingly and eternally secure, for “salvation hath the Lord appointed for walls and bulwarks.” And the peace and happiness of its inhabitants must ever remain the same; for the citizens are of one body, and one spirit, even as they are called, in one hope of their calling. For the Son of God hath made them free by his blood and righteousness, and they are free indeed. Such, my soul, among numberless other distinguishing characters, are the outlines of the history of that city which hath foundations, and of which we may say with the Psalmist, “Glorious things are spoken of thee, O City of God!” If thou art a citizen of it, the enrolment of thy name among the freemen may be easily seen, for Jesus, the King of Zion, must have signed it with his blood. And then art thou come, as the apostle describes, not to the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire; not unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest; but unto Mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels; to the general assembly and church of the first-born, which are written in heaven; and to God the Judge of all; and to the spirits of just men made perfect; and to Jesus, the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling.—Then, hast thou found also the blessedness of the place, and the immense privileges of its inhabitants? In the freedom of this city is found peace with God, through the blood of the cross; and access at all times, through him, by one Spirit, unto the Father. And as among other citizens there are certain marks and characters by which the privileges of one city are distinguished from another, so, in this, the language, the dress, the manners, and customs, are wholly foreign to all the rest of the world. A citizen of God’s house talks the language of God; he is dressed in the garment of salvation, and the robes of Jesus’s righteousness. His manners and customs are altogether peculiar to a child of God and an heir of heaven; for all is in conformity to the gospel of Christ. My soul! what sayest thou to these characters? Are they thine? If so, thou mayest assume Paul’s account of himself; for, like him, thou art “a citizen of no mean city!”[1]

 

[1] Hawker, R. (1845). The Poor Man’s Evening Portion (A New Edition, pp. 54–55). Philadelphia: Thomas Wardle.

Worship Team Replaced By Animatronic Band From Chuck E. Cheese — The Babylon Bee

LYNNWOOD, WA—Although employment is at an all-time high, one industry is struggling as its workers are constantly under the looming threat of automation: worship bands.

The leadership team at Seafarers Community Church recently fired its entire worship band, letting them know that they’d been replaced by Munch’s Make-Believe Band from a nearby Chuck E. Cheese. This is happening more and more all across the country as churches are realizing that worship songs are so easy to play, even robots can do it.

“Munch and the guys are reliable and talented, and they never ad-lib anything or give little mini-sermons between songs,” said church elder Steve Dean. “They’ll play whatever we program them to, no questions asked. They don’t introduce a weird song every week that no one knows the lyrics to, and they can play a B-minor chord pretty well.”

Percussionist Pasqually P. Pieplate has garnered considerable acclaim for his ability to keep tempo, play in 6/8 time when required, and never play too loud. “We don’t even have to cage him,” Dean said. “Pieplate is the future of worship drumming.”

The band does not have a bass guitar, but the old bassist was never turned up in the house anyway.

In place of a church greeting time, a siren goes off and tickets are thrown out to the crowd. Once in a while, the band glitches out and plays “Happy Birthday” or songs about pizza like “Cheeses Messiah,” “Prince of Pizza,” or “10,000 Sauces,” but an elder just runs onto the stage and kicks them, and they quickly shape up.

“This is totally unfair,” said previous worship leader Evan “Slayer” Paulsen. “While Chuck E. and the gang are talented musicians, they simply don’t have the intuition it takes to know how many times to repeat the bridge in ‘Reckless Love.’ You just gotta feel it, man. It’s like, you can’t program that.”

Sadly, Paulsen is wrong, and you can, indeed, program that.

via Worship Team Replaced By Animatronic Band From Chuck E. Cheese — The Babylon Bee

February 18 Streams in the Desert

Have faith that whatever you ask for in prayer is already granted you, and you will find that it will be.” (Mark 11:24.)

WHEN my little son was about ten years of age, his grandmother promised him a stamp album for Christmas. Christmas came, but no stamp album, and no word from grandmother. The matter, however, was not mentioned; but when his playmates came to see his Christmas presents, I was astonished, after he had named over this and that as gifts received, to hear him add,

“And a stamp album from grandmother.”

I had heard it several times, when I called him to me, and said, “But, Georgie, you did not get an album from your grandmother. Why do you say so?”

There was a wondering look on his face, as if he thought it strange that I should ask such a question, and he replied, “Well, mamma, grandma said, so it is the same as.” I could not say a word to check his faith.

A month went by, and nothing was heard from the album. Finally, one day, I said, to test his faith, and really wondering in my heart why the album had not been sent,

“Well, Georgie, I think grandma has forgotten her promise.”

“Oh, no, mamma,” he quickly and firmly said, “she hasn’t.”

I watched the dear, trusting face, which, for a while, looked very sober, as if debating the possibilities I had suggested. Finally a bright light passed over it, and he said,

“Mamma, do you think it would do any good if I should write to her thanking her for the album?”

“I do not know,” I said, “but you might try it.”

A rich spiritual truth began to dawn upon me. In a few minutes a letter was prepared and committed to the mail, and he went off whistling his confidence in his grandma. In just a short time a letter came, saying:

“My dear Georgie: I have not forgotten my promise to you, of an album. I tried to get such a book as you desired, but could not get the sort you wanted; so I sent on to New York. It did not get here till after Christmas, and it was still not right, so I sent for another, and as it has not come as yet, I send you three dollars to get one in Chicago. Your loving grandma.”

“As he read the letter, his face was the face of a victor. “Now, mamma, didn’t I tell you?” came from the depths of a heart that never doubted, that, “against hope, believed in hope” that the stamp album would come. While he was trusting, grandma was working, and in due season faith became sight.

It is so human to want sight when we step out on the promises of God, but our Savior said to Thomas, and to the long roll of doubters who have ever since followed him: “Blessed are they who have not seen, and yet have believed.”—Mrs. Rounds.[1]

 

[1] Cowman, L. B. (1925). Streams in the Desert (pp. 55–56). Los Angeles, CA: The Oriental Missionary Society.

When You Leave This Life, What Will You Hear? — CultureWatch

When this life is over, we will hear one of two things:

I could make this the shortest article I ever wrote. I could simply run with two biblical passages I have in mind, and leave it at that. The time saved adding another 1300 words or so could be spent in prayer: asking God to convict all of us of the reality of these verses.

Well, I will offer the two texts, and I will add some further commentary here, and I will also do some praying that I and others are touched by God in a very real way as we consider these verses. They have to do with what every single person on the planet will one day hear when our time on earth is over.

Each one of us will eventually hear one of two things:

–“Well done, good and faithful servant… Enter into the joy of your master.” (Matthew 25:21, and 23)

–“I never knew you; depart from Me.” (Matthew 7:23)

Those are two very sobering verses. And we all need to carefully consider right now just what we will hear from the Lord when we stand before him one day. Will it be good news or bad news? Will we be welcomed with open arms, or will we be cast into outer darkness?

Now before I go any further, I better make a few qualifying remarks, to head off any purists, pedants or Pharisees who will completely miss my point here and not at all get the spirit of what I am trying to say. I fully realise that many things may be said to us on that day when we stand before our Creator and Judge.

And of course these two texts may not be used then either. But you hopefully get my drift: some people will enter into God’s presence and live with him forever, but some will be rejected and cast out of his presence. It all depends on how we have responded in this life to what Christ did for us on the cross.

Have we turned from our sins and placed our faith and trust in Christ, or have we rejected his offer of forgiveness and reconciliation and continued defiantly in our selfishness and sin? It is our choice to make, and we all need to choose wisely.

And each of these texts of course has a context. Both look at the issue of our eternal destiny. The bigger context of the first verse is Matthew 25:14-30 in which we read about The Parable of the Talents. In this parable some of the servants make careful and wise use of the talents they are given, and they are given this commendation for it.

But sadly some do not make good use of what God has given to them. They are not commended but condemned. As we read in verse 30: “And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

The second passage has as its larger context Matthew 7:21-23, part of the Sermon on the Mount. It reads as follows:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness’.”

Again, we have some more very important words from Jesus as to our eternal destiny. They are words we all need to take to heart NOW. You never know when your days on earth will come to an end. It could be today. Are you ready to meet your maker? Are you ready to stand before the Lord to give an account of your life?

I may have an extra sense of urgency here: I just returned from a funeral of a Christian friend. He had been a real champion for Christ, and we can say of him what the Apostle Paul said of himself in 2 Timothy 4:7-8: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store 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 longed for his appearing.”

The thing is, while he was a bit older than I, just a few months ago he seemed to be doing just fine. But then, out of nowhere, a month or two ago an inoperable brain tumour appeared. And almost as soon as this was detected, he was gone.

Of course he was fully ready to meet his Lord. Indeed, as loved ones reported, he eagerly looked forward to it. He had a grin on his face as he lay in his sick bed, just thinking of what a sweet homecoming this would be. He put Christ first throughout his life, and now he is hearing these words, or words like them: “Well done, good and faithful servant… Enter into the joy of your master.”

But regrettably not everyone is in that situation. Some have lived their entire life shaking their fist at God, rejecting him as the rightful boss of their life, seeking to be fully autonomous. When they die there will be no second chances. When they die they will instead hear words like this: “I never knew you; depart from Me.”

The funeral I just came from was an obvious mixture of sadness and joy, as are all funerals for Christians. There is always sadness and sorrow because of a lost friend and loved one, but great joy in knowing that they are now in the best place imaginable, rejoicing forevermore with their Saviour.

I must say, when attending funerals like this – and there were many hundreds of people in attendance – I sometimes wonder, ‘Hmm, will I get even a fraction of that many folks showing up at my funeral?’ I am always reminded of that humorous meme which has a picture of a very sparsely attended funeral service. A gal says to a guy, “He had over 2000 Facebook friends. I was expecting a bigger turnout.”

I still question if anyone will show up for mine! But the important point of course is not so much what people think of me when I am gone, but what the Lord thinks of me. That is the only thing that will really matter. Will I be welcomed into his glorious presence, or excluded from it?

And bear in mind again the reality that today might be your last day on earth. You may be a fit and healthy 22-year-old. You may be in super shape and seemingly invincible. But before you finish reading this article you may take your last breath.

Life is short my friends. Real short. Make sure you are ready for eternity. Which words will you be hearing?

via When You Leave This Life, What Will You Hear? — CultureWatch

02/18/20 Don’t Worry — ChuckLawless.com

READING: Exodus 35-37, Psalm 26, Philippians 4

It’s one of the toughest teachings in the Bible for me to obey. I’m generally a worrier, and I let things fester in my mind. Many have been the nights over the years when I have lain awake wondering about stuff – stuff that, if I’m completely honest, I allow to become an idol when I don’t follow Paul’s teachings of Philippians 4:  “Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:6-7).

There’s so much here I need to remember. If I take everything to God in prayer and am thankful for all things, I don’t have to worry about anything. Even those things that concern me are under God’s hand, and I can trust His love even when my mind doesn’t want to rest well. That trust comes as I take my petitions to God and make sure that my mind dwells on “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable” (Phil 4:8). Thinking on the good stuff helps drive out the bad stuff; that is, dwelling on God drives out the enemy.

The world may not understand the peace we have in the midst of trials, but that’s the point: God-given peace and continual rejoicing are a witness to the power of God in us. I’m ever learning that my worries are always counter to thinking the way that Paul commends.

PRAYER: “God, help me to turn my worries over to You. Every moment.”

TOMORROW’S READING: Exodus 38-40, Hebrews 1

via 02/18/20 Don’t Worry — ChuckLawless.com

The Idolatry of Mary Worship — Grace to You Blog

The Roman Catholic Church has committed the error of promoting a mere citizen of heaven to an improper place of authority and honor. Despite the overwhelming testimony of Scripture, the Catholic Church has elevated Mary—a self-described servant of the Lord (Luke 1:38)—to the same level as God, if not higher.

READ MORE

via The Idolatry of Mary Worship — Grace to You Blog

February 18 – Nun (2): Resolve — Reformed Perspective

“I incline my heart to perform your statutes forever, to the end.” – Psalm 119:112 

Scripture reading: Psalm 119:105-112

The psalmist is “severely afflicted…the wicked have laid a snare for [him]” (107,110). Nevertheless, he is resolved to overcome such challenges or afflictions and serve his God. How will he outface such challenges? By learning to live according to the will of God and involving his whole being in that pursuit. He expresses a deep confidence in the power of God’s Word, and therefore he can go forward with resolve.

So, he confirms his oath to keep God’s Word (106). He acknowledges his devotion by referencing his worship and sacrifices (108). He highlights his determination, “I do not forget your law…I do not stray from your precepts…your testimonies are my heritage forever, for they are the joy of my heart” (109-111). He has his heart set on obedience, “I incline my heart to perform your statutes forever, to the end” (112).

The psalmist shows that his resolve to serve God involves his whole being: he offers his feet (105), his mouth (106,108), his hand (109) and his heart (111,112). He is fully and wholly committed to serving his God. It’s a picture of what God’s true Servant will do perfectly and faithfully to the end, for us, in our place. Jesus Christ came down to be our righteousness before God. Therefore, He had His eyes resolutely set on Jerusalem, for there He would go to deliver us from our sins by dying on the accursed cross. May we in response to God’s faithfulness and Christ’s righteousness, be resolved to live thankfully with our whole lives to God’s glory.

Suggestions for prayer

Pray that God will give you a full resolve and a whole commitment to live for Him. Pray for His Holy Spirit to fill you.

This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. James Slaa is pastor of the Smithers Canadian Reformed Church in British Columbia, Canada.

via February 18 – Nun (2): Resolve — Reformed Perspective

February 18th The D. L. Moody Year Book

Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.—1 Peter 1:23.

WE hear nowadays so much about “culture.” Culture’s all right when you have something to cultivate. If I should plant a watch, I shouldn’t get any little watches, would I? Why? Because the seed of life is not there. But let me plant some peas or potatoes, and I will get a crop.

Don’t let any man or woman rest short of being born of the Spirit of God. Don’t cultivate a dead and corrupt thing, first make sure that you have that divine nature, then cultivate it.[1]

 

[1] Moody, D. L. (1900). The D. L. Moody Year Book: A Living Daily Message from the Words of D. L. Moody. (E. M. Fitt, Ed.) (p. 39). East Northfield, MA: The Bookstore.