This is the eighth year of our daily devotionals. For the month of September, I have chosen select writings from the past eight years. I do hope they are a blessing. I strongly encourage you to read the Scriptural passages carefully, including the references given in the devotions. God’s Word is so much more important than my feeble comments. May the Lord bless you as you commit yourself to the reading and study of God’s precious Word.
Psalms 148 - 150
Ps 150:6 Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD.
Praise God from Whom all blessings flow.
Praise Him all creatures here below.
Praise Him above ye heavenly host.
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
Be real still just for a moment. Are you breathing? Are you sure? Well, you have a responsibility; PRAISE THE LORD! The average person takes about 28,800 breaths per day. If you are 30, that means you have breathed about 315,360,000 times in your life. At 60, just double that at about 630,720,00 times. Some say a little more, some say a little less, but you get the idea. You have been breathing in a lot of God's air, so "Praise the Lord."
You will notice that the command was not, "Praise Him when all things are well." It was not, "Praise Him when there are no struggles, heartaches, difficulties and so on." We are not told to "Praise the Lord" because it feels good when we do, and its fun. We are commanded to "Praise the Lord" because He is the Lord. Praise Him in song. Praise Him is prayer. Praise Him with a godly life of obedience. Praise Him with sanctified lips. Praise Him with a single-minded heart and life. You get the idea? God wants us to, and has commanded us to "Praise the Lord."
Do I have to all the time? Sometimes I just don't feel like praising the Lord. The answer to that question is, "No." You don't have to all the time, just as long as you are breathing. When you stop breathing the command is satisfied. Of course, then you will really want to praise Him when you are ushered into His presence, look upon the One who saved your soul, and when you see all of the wondrous things He has prepared just for you, no one will have to remind you to "Praise the Lord." It will flow from your glorified lips as naturally as that breath you just let pass through them. "Praise the Lord."
Father, reading through the Psalms has reminded me that we do have hard times, enemies that seek to do us harm and days that are simply more difficult than others. But we are reminded that You are good, and we are so incredibly blessed to know You through the Lord Jesus. Praise the Lord! Amen!
The first three verses of Genesis 12 are of the utmost importance. This has been called the Abrahamic Covenant, the promise that God made to Abram (later called Abraham) concerning the nation that would come from he and Sarai (later called Sarah). In this covenant, God promised that through Abram's seed, all the world would be blessed. As we have noted earlier in our devotions, this "Seed" is the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham. In Chapter 10, we saw the Table of Nations. In Chapter 11, we see the Divine judgment upon men that resulted in the confusion of languages and the dividing of mankind into those various people groups we identify as the nations of the world. In Chapter 12, God begins to focus His attention in a special way on one particular nation, Israel, from which the Messiah would come. This focus and God's dealings with and through this particular people is one of the major themes of the rest of the Bible.
As we read the account in the following chapters of God's dealings with the man Abraham, we will come to realize that this "patriarch" was just that, a man. As a man, he had a sin nature with which he had to contend. He had doubts, questions and times of spiritual frailty and failure. God did not choose Abraham because he was sinless. There was only one sinless soul who ever lived, the Lord Jesus. Abraham was a man just like all other men. He was, however, a man of faith; a man that believed God, and God counted to him for righteousness. (Note Romans 4)
Genesis 12 is one of those turning points in the Bible. Here, God is beginning to narrow His plan for our redemption. Thus far, we have seen that Messiah would be the virgin born, Son of God. (Genesis 3:15) He would descend from the godly line of Seth (Genesis 4:25), whose descendants were spared the flood through the Ark prepared by Noah. Now we are learning that Messiah will be a descendant of Abraham, that Descendant through Whom all the world would be blessed; through Whom you and I have been so greatly blessed. Thank God for His wonderful plan of redemption!
For our world to be so advanced, so educated and so proud of its achievements, there seems to be a real dearth of true wisdom. The diagnosis made in Romans 1, verse 22 seems to identify the situation perfectly; "Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools...." A good percentage of the "wisest" minds of our day have come to the conclusion that there is no God, or if there is, there is no way that we could ever know Him. Again, the Scripture speaks of this when it says, "The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God." (Psalms 53:1) Unfortunately, if one who is an accredited scientist, or a medical professional or a college professor makes a seemingly educated comment on any given subject, the vast majority accepts this as a proven reality.
Can a person be educated to the fullest degree and still be lacking in the department of true wisdom? Absolutely! If that be true, then where can real wisdom be found? According to the Scripture, "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him." (James 1:5) You see, there is a difference in being educated and having wisdom. In fact, a person could be illiterate and still have wisdom. Now, illiteracy is not the key to wisdom, and being illiterate is a disadvantage that no person in this world should be cursed with, but true wisdom can never be achieved by sitting in a classroom or reading a textbook.
Note the first nine verses of the Book of Proverbs. From the beginning we learn that Proverbs is concerned with wisdom; "To know wisdom...To receive the instruction of wisdom...A wise man will hear, and will increase learning...." In Chapter 1, verse 7, we read, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge...." And, in Chapter 9, verse 10, we read, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom...." True wisdom comes from God and begins with God. What a mistake it is to seek to have "wisdom" apart from God and without beginning with God! Stay in the Word of God, reading, meditating, committing to memory and applying the truths you learn, and wisdom will come. Seek wisdom from the very source of all wisdom and He will answer your quest and meet your desire to have that wisdom that comes from above. When you have that, it will be like an ornament of grace around your neck.
"...those things which are most surely believed among us...."
Everyone believes in something. Christians have many things that are "most surely believed." We believe that the Bible is the very Word of God, (2 Tim 3:16) that it is infallible, (Pro 30:5), and forever settled in heaven. (Ps 119:89). We believe in God, the Triune God, manifest in three Persons; God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. (Rom 1:20; 2 Cor 13:14) We believe that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, very God Himself (1 Tim 3:16), came into this world through the virgin's womb (Luke 1:30-37), lived a sinless life (1 Peter 2:22; Luke 23:4), died on the Cross in our stead and for our sins (1 Peter 2:24), was buried and raised back to life again (1 Cor 15:3-4). And we believe that salvation is only possible through faith in Him, Jesus Christ the Son of God (Acts 16:30-31). Praise the Lord! Now, there are many other things that we believe, far too many to be enumerated in this devotional work. Suffice to say, there are "things which are most surely believed among us."
Child of God, "those things" are worthy of your belief, and worthy of your trust. May I encourage you to hold to "those things," build your life on "those things," and allow nothing to deter you from your faith in "those things." The world would tell you that "those things" are false, or myth and the fabrication of man. They try to claim that the Bible might be fine for matters of religion, but not trustworthy in matters of science. We know better. That is the reason that Luke wrote that they were "most surely believed among us."
Understand this, the things that we hold in the Word of God have been given to us by a loving heavenly Father who wants us to know Truth and to rest in Truth. Nothing can or should be able to alter that at all. Some of our spiritual ancestors were willing to lay their lives down rather than to deny or reject any of the Truth that their heavenly Father had given them. Others traveled the world to share that Truth. There is a reason for this. Jesus said, "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:32) And again, He said, "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth." (John 17:17)
In Chapters One through Three, Paul is proving the fact that all the world is guilty, sinful before God. In this Chapter, he emphasizes that the Jews are also guilty before God, that their ancestry does not automatically make them right with God.
It is interesting that here in the Bible Belt of America we have souls that are deceived in thinking that their ancestry makes them right with God. We know from the Bible that none are made right with God through some birthright. Yet, some think they are "Christians" simply because they have attended church occasionally or because they have relatives that are dedicated church goers. Some are of the opinion that they are Christians because they believe in God, celebrate Christmas and are not followers of some other religious belief. Their blindness is just as dark as was the Jews in Paul's day. Herein lies our responsibility as "light" in the world. We are to "so shine before men that they might see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven." (Matthew 5:16)
Lord Jesus, I praise You for the truth, the Light that You brought into my life. Help me to share that light today in this sin darkened world.
Ezekiel 36 - 37
Seventy two times in the Book of Ezekiel we read the word, "shall know." "And ye shall know...." "And they shall know...." The Lord is telling us that, through His works, judgments and the blessings of His people, all shall know that He is the Lord. By the time these prophecies past and present are fulfilled, all of the world will know that the Lord is God, and that there is none other. Chapters 36 and 37 deal with a subject that will eventually remove all doubt concerning the Person of our God. These chapters deal with the land and people of Israel being restored and once again blessed by the Almighty.
Chapter 35 deals primarily with the land. Today it is referred to as the land of Palestine, a name that is not found in the Word of God. The land has born the curse of it's people's sins. Israel's idolatrous ways marred the land, and the judgment of God against His people left it scarred and barren. However, God promised a day when the land would be restored to its former glory. Actually, God promised that the day would come when it would be far superior to what it was in the beginning when Israel first occupied it. In Ezekiel's prophecy, God said that the land would be like the Garden of Eden someday. While any casual observance of the land today would conclude that the land of Israel is probably the best today that it has been since before the captivity, it has not reached that prophesied beauty and productivity as yet. That will not happen until the Lord Jesus sets up His kingdom upon this earth.
Chapter 37 is one of the most amazing prophecies in Scripture, predicting the rebirth of the nation after the years of the captivity. We are a generation that has witnessed a partial fulfillment of this prophecy. From the vision of the valley of dry bones, Ezekiel prophesied that, as a nation, Israel would be brought back from the dead. That is exactly what happened in 1948 after over 2500 years of defeat and deportation. Complete fulfillment of this promise will not be realized until "David my servant shall be king over them." This "David" is none other than his greater Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. A glorious day for Israel is on the horizon, but she must endure some difficult days through the "time of Jacob's trouble." Child of God, pray for the safety of Jerusalem, and listen for the sound of the "trump." Jesus is coming for His Church and setting the stage for the final drama to unfold that He predicted thousands of years ago.
1 Peter 1:25
1Pe 1:25 But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.
Feelings come, and feelings go,
And feelings are deceiving.
My warrant is the Word of God,
Naught else is worth believing.
Opinions change. Predictions change. Laws change. Philosophies change. We live in a world that is ever changing, but God's Word never changes. It is "forever settled in heaven." (Ps 119:89) It is interesting to read old newspapers, or old Readers Digests. I have an old magazine that was printed on September 5th, 1953, two days after I was born. The changes in adds, styles and ideas between then and now are really fascinating. But the Word of God is unchanging.
That means that His promises are unchanging. He hasn't changed His mind about promises He made concerning salvation and eternity for those who have trusted in Jesus. It also means that His Word is unchanging concerning what is sin and what is not. It matters none whatsoever what man decides is acceptable and what is not, for "the Word of the Lord endureth forever."
As you are reading your devotions this month, remember that the words you are reading are sure, they are true and they will never change. This Word is worthy of your most sincere trust. Read it. Believe it. Trust it. Obey it, for "the word of the Lord endureth forever."
Thank You Father for Your Word. Help me as I read it, and help me to put to practice the things I learn. In Jesus' Name, Amen!
John 20:16 Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.
John's Gospel alone records this meeting between Mary Magdalene and the risen Lord. This "Mary" was one of the women that traveled with the Lord and His disciples, ministering to them "of their substance," which means that they contributed financially to the ministry of the Lord Jesus. She had been given a great deliverance by the Lord, for Scripture says that it was this Mary "out of whom he had cast seven devils." (Mark 16:9) Her love for her Savior drew her with the other women early to the sepulchre to anoint His lifeless form. Of course, there was no lifeless form to anoint, for He had risen from the dead. After the women heard the proclamation from the angels of the resurrection, they made hast back to the disciples with the news. Obviously Mary had returned to the sepulchre, and remained nearby after Peter and John departed. That is when the Lord appeared to her. The record of this appearance is a most touching example of the tenderness of Christ and His love for His own. When Mary first saw Him, she did not recognize Him, supposing Him to be a gardener. Even after the Lord spoke to her, she still did not recognize Him until He called her by name: "Mary." Immediately, she knew that this was no gardener, it was Her resurrected Lord. The response was immediate, and was reflective of her love, devotion and submission to Jesus. When we read this, we are reminded of what Jesus said about His relationship with His sheep. "...the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out." (John 10:3) The instant this confused sheep heard her name called by the Good Shepherd, "Mary," she knew beyond question it was the voice and call of her Lord. Every true sheep knows the voice of the Good Shepherd!
John 20:29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.
Doubting Thomas; that's what he has been called for the past two thousand years. Of course, all of the disciples doubted, he was just the most vocal. We really owe Thomas a debt of gratitude. Had this event not happened, there could have been more reason for some to have continued to claim that the resurrection of Christ was only spiritual. It was not! His was a literal, physical resurrection. In Luke we read, "Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have." (Luke 24:39)
It was grace that brought Jesus back to the disciples when Thomas was present. Thomas had flatly refused to believe in the resurrection when he was told of His appearance when he was absent. Jesus returned to the disciples and dealt directly with Thomas' doubts, and He did so in tenderness, not in rebuke. These men had been through so much, and the Lord knew that well. He dealt with Thomas in grace and love, removing his doubts once and for all. And, while He was doing this, He removed the doubts of all who would read this account honestly and earnestly from that time forward. Jesus Christ did rise from the dead. Have you believed in His resurrection? Jesus pronounced a blessing on all who would believe without actually seeing Him. "That if thou shalt confess with the mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." (Romans 10:9) No greater blessing could be given to those who believe, for through that faith we are saved!
1 Corinthians 15:1-34
1Corinthians 15:20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.
We continue our thoughts on the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. This is certainly worthy of our attention, for there is nothing more important to the follower of Jesus Christ than the fact of His conquering death in glorious resurrection. In Corinth, in the early days of Christianity, some were teaching that Jesus did not actually physically rise from the dead and that there would be no resurrection for the followers of Christ. This was only one of many doctrinal and practical issues that had to be addressed in this letter. The Church at Corinth was under attack, and the brunt of the attack was launched against cardinal, essential doctrines of the Christian faith. The resurrection of Jesus Christ, one of the single most important articles of our faith, has continually been attacked since the beginning. Paul provides an excellent argument for the resurrection of Christ, citing over five hundred eye witnesses of the Lord alive after that glorious morning. Christ's resurrection is actually one of the most provable events in the history of the world.
We are told that in His resurrection, Jesus became the "firstfruit" of "them that slept," or had died. The thought of the firstfruit in Scripture is that many will follow. Death had reigned from Adam to Jesus, but He conquered death in His resurrection. While people still die, there is now hope beyond death through the Lord Jesus Christ, our living Savior. He did conquer death, becoming the "firstfruit of them that slept," thereby guaranteeing those who place faith in Him as Savior to also share in His wonderful resurrection. Because of this, rather than being of all men most miserable, we are of all men most blessed. Praise God for the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead!
1 Peter 2
1Peter 2:15 For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:
It is said that what you do not know want hurt you. We know that is not true. Ignorance is most harmful, especially in some things. When it comes to God, His salvation and the accountability of all to Him, ignorance is devastating. One of the tasks of the believer is live in such a way that those who know not God may see Him through their lives.
No generation of Christians has lived in a more educated and advanced world as this one. There has never been advances in technology, science, medicine or a host of other fields like we have witnessed in the past century. Many carry in their hands "smart" phones with greater capabilities than the computers that were instrumental in getting astronauts to the moon. And yet in this incredibly advanced world we are living in, ignorance has never been more rampant. The "ignorance of foolish men" is at an all-time high, and getting worse every day. What is the answer?
Well, we know from Scripture that the world is not going to get any better until the Lord Jesus comes in power and glory. Knowing that, we understand that the vast majority of people living on this planet are not going to become believers in the Lord Jesus. They will continue in their "ignorance" regardless of our "well doing." But through our "well doing," some can be reached, some can be saved. This is the will of God for us as followers of the Lord Jesus. According to Peter's counsel, through "well doing" we will put to silence the ignorance of foolish men. We certainly do not want to give them reason to think we are deceived as followers of Jesus Christ.
Lord Jesus, teach us "well doing" and all that is implied in this charge Peter gives us in his epistle. Help us to be what You want us to be in this world. Amen!
Hebrews 6:1-3; Matthew 5:48; Philippians 3:12-15; 1 Peter 5:10; 2 Peter 3:18
Paul analyzed one of the main issues facing the Jewish Christians he was addressing in this epistle as spiritual immaturity; they needed to grow up spiritually. The limit of their spiritual understanding was basically the “principles of the doctrine of Christ.” They had been presented the Gospel of Christ, understanding their need of the Savior and His ability to meet that need through His death, burial and resurrection, but they had never really gone beyond this basic knowledge of Christ. They had need that one teach them again the basic principles when they should have been able to be ready teachers of the Scriptures. Because of their spiritual immaturity, many were unable to withstand the pressures they were called upon to endure and were, consequently, forsaking their association with Christ and His Church to return to Judaism.
The challenge Paul was placing before these Christians was, “Let us go on unto perfection.” “Perfection” did not speak of a sinless state, but meant “completion.” He had used the Children of Israel as an illustration earlier. God’s will for Israel was that they be brought out of Egypt and into Canaan. Those who died in the wilderness because of their unbelief were never “completed,” or “perfected” in their faith. They died in an incomplete state, never fully realizing God’s perfect will for their lives. God’s will for every believer is that they reach that state of “perfection,” or “completion.” His desire is that each achieve spiritual maturity. When writing to the Church at Ephesus, Paul listed some of the purposes of the office of the pastor of the local assembly. One of the main functions of the pastor was that he lead the church into a state of spiritual maturity. He wrote, “And he gave...pastors...for the perfecting of the saints...till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man....” (Ephesians 4:11-13)
The need for these Jewish Christians was to move on in their spiritual life. All need to go past the basics of faith in Christ into deeper understanding of the things of God. The Word of God is a vast reservoir of spiritual nourishment that God’s people have been given to bring them to maturity in their faith. May God help us to draw from this bountiful supply that we may be “perfect.”
Zechariah 13; Matthew 26:30-36
The prophecies of the crucifixion are many and are most vivid. Psalms 22 is a good example of that. Here in the 13th Chapter of Zechariah several detailed prophecies of the event are given. Notice the first verse: “...a fountain opened...for sin and cleansing....” We sing the hymn written by William Cowper, “There is a fountain filled with blood, drawn from Immanuel’s veins. And sinners plunged beneath the flood, lose all their guilty stains.” This song was undoubtedly inspired by this passage. By the end of the chapter, it will become obvious that this is a reference to the smiting of the Shepherd. “And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.” Then, of course, there are the words, “Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the LORD of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones.” A fountain opened, wounded hands and a smitten Shepherd are vivid references to Christ’s death on the Cross. Matthew points out the prophet’s reference to the scattering of the Shepherd’s sheep. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus made reference to Zechariah’s prophecy and the fact that they would all forsake Him on that fateful evening. Indeed, they did! See Matthew 26:56.
The crucifixion and death of the Messiah is definitely a prophecy of the “One That was to come” as we have already noted. This should encourage our faith as followers of Jesus Christ. Understanding that the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus was God’s eternal plan, and that His plan was motivated by His great love for us (John 3:16), gives us great assurance that His plan will see ultimate fulfillment. As Paul said it, “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ....” (Philippians 1:6) Throughout eternity, the wounds in the hands of the Son of God will bear testimony of His love, and His determination to grant eternal live unto those given Him of the Father. (See John 6:37) Praise the Lamb of God Who gave Himself for us!
When the Ethiopian eunuch asked Philip if the words found in this great chapter were about himself or another, Philip showed him Jesus Christ in these prophetic words of Isaiah. Most would have recognized quickly that these words were a prophecy of the Coming Messiah, and certainly not references made by the prophet concerning himself. Note the descriptions given carefully in this short chapter. He speaks of the Messiah being “despised and rejected of men....” What an apt description of the way in which Jesus was hated and rejected by the majority of men in His day, and this attitude continues to this very day. “A man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief,” also describes the Lord Jesus during the days of His earthly ministry. Then, Isaiah speaks of the Messiah as being, “stricken, smitten of God and afflicted,” and that because of “our transgressions,” and “our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him....” Can you imagine the thoughts, the questions that filled the mind of the eunuch as he read Isaiah 53? He must have been especially perplexed when he read, “with his stripes we are healed.” How blessed it must have been when Philip showed the dear man that these words were prophecies of One Who had recently been beaten, bruised and crucified in Jerusalem, One that had died but had conquered death in resurrection.
Now, consider other prophetic views of the rejection and death of the Messiah: Psalms 22; Psalms 31; Psalms 69; and there are many others. This is most important, for the Jews who were looking for the Messiah to come had access to these sacred writings depicting in prophetic detail that coming. If Jews today would take an honest look at both the Old and New Testament references of the Messiah, they would be forced to face the reality that Jesus is the Christ of God.
Look closely at the last four verses of Isaiah 53 and see if you can find reference to the burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. In this one chapter in the Old Testament, there is the clear teaching given that the Messiah would be rejected by men, be afflicted and die (being bruised by God), and resurrected from the dead. Thank God, my friend, if He has revealed these truths to you through faith. Amen!
“...Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day....”
The details of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ were clearly prophesied in the Old Testament. We have already noted how that the prophets told in advance of His rejection by the spiritual leaders of the day, His betrayal by Judas Iscariot and the fact that Judas sold our Lord for thirty pieces of silver. The prophets also gave in detail the events of the crucifixion (Psalms 22), even allowing us to view these events through the eyes of the Crucified. Isaiah spoke of physical punishment Jesus would suffer leading up to the cross, including the plucking of His beard, the scourging of His back and the stokes and spitting He received on His face. (Isaiah 50:6) In Psalms 69, we read of the “gall” and the “vinegar” that He would be given as He suffered. (Psalms 69:21) Indeed, prophecy revealed that the Lord Jesus would be “hated without a cause” by His rejectors. (Psalms 35:19; 69:4)
There are also prophecies given of the resurrection of Christ from the dead. For instance, in Isaiah 53 we see His rejection, His death and His resurrection. (See Isaiah 53:10-12) The glorious fact of the resurrection of the Messiah is found in Psalms 110:1, Psalms 16:9-11, Psalms 2:7 with Acts 13:33.
Why was it essential that the Messiah thus suffer rejection and crucifixion? And, why was it essential that He be resurrected from the dead? Isaiah gives an excellent answer to these questions: “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and by his stripes we are healed.” It was essential in order for Him to be the Messiah, the Deliverer, the Savior. Paul wrote that the Lord Jesus was, “...delivered up for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.” (Romans 4:25)
“So didst thou get thee a name, as it is this day.”
Many can remember in the 70’s when “Watergate” was in all the news. It literally spelled disaster for Richard Nixon, the 37th President of the United States of America, resulting in him resigning from his office prematurely in 1974. He was the only President of our nation to ever do so. Those who can remember that can probably also remember preachers preaching on the great revival at the “water gate.” Of course, that was not the same as Nixon’s “Watergate.” This was the water gate in the wall of the city of Jerusalem, the gate which led from the Temple to the brook Kidron. It was here that Ezra read the Word of God in the hearing of the people, and the result was a great turning to God in repentance.
In this great revival of repentance, certain men who are named in this chapter began rehearsing many of the mighty works God had wrought among His people, Israel. Among those mentioned, there is reference to God’s dealings with Pharaoh of Egypt. When the Lord was dealing with Pharaoh, who had treated the Children of Israel bitterly, He repeatedly hardened the wicked king’s heart, so that He might continue to manifest His glory through that earthly ruler. He said to Pharaoh, “And in very deed for this cause have I raised thee up, for to shew in thee my power; and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth.” (Exodus 9:16) In the Abrahamic Covenant, Genesis 12:1-3, God had promised blessings on those that blessed Israel, and curses on those that cursed Israel. Pharaoh had cursed Israel with cruel bondage, and had thus reaped to himself the negative part of the covenant God had made with Israel through Abraham.
In His dealings with Pharaoh, the Lord God had sent a message to all around the world of His faithfulness to His promises, His faithfulness to Israel and His faithfulness to His Word. What can we take away from these truths? Just as God has been faithful to His promises made to Israel, all the promises we have received through Christ are sure. Just as He was, and is faithful to Israel, He has ever been, and will ever be, faithful to His Church. And, of course, all of His Word testifies to His faithfulness to His Word, the Word of God. This is so important to us in this day of wickedness and confusion. There is not much certain in our day. Everything changes, and is changing, but our Lord never changes. He is the same yesterday, today and forevermore. Praise God for that security, child of God!
Song of Solomon 5
“What is thy beloved more than another beloved, O thou fairest among women?”
There have been many that have claimed to be the promised Messiah, to be saviors of mankind. In the fifth century, a would be Messiah on the Island of Crete, calling himself Moses, persuaded a group of Jews to follow him back to the promised land. He convinced them that a path would open up for them across the sea just as it had when the Children of Israel came out of Egypt. On a given day, they followed him out to a high point above the sea and cast themselves in, where many drowned in the water below, or were killed on the rocks in their fall. After that, “Moses” disappeared. In the 1700’s, there was a man named Jacob Joseph Frank, who claimed to be the reincarnation of King David. He did create a following known as “Frankism” that at one time claimed to have 500 thousand followers, a system that encouraged immorality and indecency. Obviously, these were not “Messiahs” after all.
The question is asked in the Song of Solomon, “What is thy beloved more than another beloved?” That is a fair question. It’s one that might easily be asked of us, “What makes Jesus so special” “There are many religious leaders that claim to have the answers to life’s questions. Why should we listen to, or follow the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth?”
There have been many so called “religious” leaders, but there has only been one Jesus. There has only been One whose birth, life and death were so minutely detailed in prophecy. Throughout the Old Testament, there are specific and detailed prophesies given there were so designed to identify Him beyond question when He came. There has only been One whose teachings were so filled with wisdom, love and grace. His ministry while on earth was filled with power, healing, signs and wonders. And, of course, there has only been One Who suffered and died for the sins of the world, and then proved beyond question that all of His claims were true by conquering death in glorious resurrection.
What makes Jesus so special? He is the Son of God, God Incarnate, the Savior of the world. There are many religious leaders, but there is only One Who can grant forgiveness and pardon, and eternal life to all who will trust in Him. Have you trusted in Him today? “Whosever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13)
Job 19:25 For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth....
All have read of the trials and the patience of Job. There are times Job’s words are depressing, almost hopeless as he answers his friends. He called them “miserable comforters” because of the counsel they gave him in his suffering. They were his friends, but they were not helpful.
Of a truth, Job didn’t understand the things he was having to endure. Throughout the book, he questioned his very existence, the sufferings he was experiencing and even God’s workings in his life. Through all the suffering and the questions that it raised, Job maintained his integrity and his faith in God. In 19:25, he expressed that faith when in essence he said, “There are many things I do not know, but I do know that my Redeemer lives, and at the latter day He will stand upon the earth.” In the next verse, Job proclaimed that he would personally witness that in the very flesh he was suffering in. Job believed in the Lord, and he believed in the glorious resurrection of all believers.
What a blessed hope we have that have placed faith in Christ! Is everything in our lives beautiful and painless? No! Will there be days of suffering and hurt? Yes! We are not exempt from the maladies that face all of the human family just because we have been born again. In fact, our troubles may be more because of our faith in Christ. We have an adversary that hates Him and His own. Jesus said that the world would hate us because it hated Him. However, unlike others in the world who know not the Lord, we have His hope, His comfort, His direction and His Blessed Holy Spirit.
Because of sin and its effect on humanity, every son and daughter of Adam can expect to be called upon to endure times of suffering and difficulty. All will endure times of sickness, and of course, all are facing death. Beloved, our faith in Christ does not exempt us from the maladies facing all, but it does fill our hearts with hope. Like Job, in our darkest days, we can look ahead at the reality that our Lord has promised us, a reality that will be free from anything hurtful or sorrowful. What a blessed hope we have in Christ! When your circumstances are less than desirable, like Job proclaim through faith, “For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth....”
Eph 4:30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
Eph 4:31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:
Eph 4:32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.
One of the greatest blessings of the believer’s salvation is the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit. He indwells the believer after conversion, never to leave and never to forsake. He comforts, directs, convicts, strengthens, enlightens, and gives assurance of salvation. It would be impossible to live in victory as a follower of Jesus Christ without the Blessed Dove of Heaven.
In Ephesians 4:30, we are commanded not to grieve the Holy Spirit in our lives. Notice the ways in which we can do so. The first thing we are told is that “bitterness” if a grief to the Spirit. The word speaks of an attitude in our hearts that is acrid, harsh, spiteful, and just generally nasty. Bitterness can be caused by hurt that we have experienced, or by disappointment. We can become bitter when we perceive that we have been wronged, or slighted. It can also be caused by a disagreeable attitude, one that is forever critical. Bitterness grieves the Holy Spirit.
Wrath and anger grieve Him. Are you always angry, upset about something? Does it take much to fire you up in anger, and when you are filled with wrath and anger, does it make you feel good? No! It robs you of peace and joy. The result of wrath and anger can be clamor, or crying out, saying things that ought not to be said. This can also lead to evil speaking and malice, the desire to hurt or get even, to strike back or out in anger with the desire to inflict hurt.
Can you see how that such attitudes and actions in a believer grieves the Holy Spirit? Through the Lord we can overcome these natural tendencies. And, when all is said and done, gaining the victory over these works of the flesh makes our lives more blessed, joyful and peaceful. Let’s pray for His strength and guidance that we might not grieve Him, but please Him in all we do. Amen!
“...God shall reveal even this unto you.”
In Philippians 3:15, Paul encouraged the spiritually mature Philippian believers to be “minded,” or to give mental consideration toward the challenge he had given them in the previous verse. In verse 14, he had said, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” He challenged them to have that same mindset. The follower of Christ has received a “high calling,” a calling to be a true Christian, a living example of the redemptive work of Christ. “Let us therefore, as many as be perfect (spiritually mature) be thus minded (have this same mindset): and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.” Or, in other words, as we are seeking in our lives to please our Lord, He will guide us. He will direct us in every area of our lives that we might achieve that “high calling” we have received as His followers.
Believer, our Lord will reveal His will to us. He will direct us, correct our errors and lead us in paths of righteousness for His Name’s sake. Our duty is to be sensitive to His leadings, to the revelations that He gives as He directs our lives, and then to be obedient to what He has revealed to us. What a blessed thought; that God is so concerned for us individually that He will reveal His will to us, and give us direction where needed.
In what ways does the Lord “reveal” His will? He does so through the indwelling Holy Spirit. As Jesus told His disciples, “He will guide you into all truth....” (John 16:13) The Spirit of God will take His Word and give personal direction, correct any wrong attitude or actions we might have and show us, or reveal to us, His will. This will comes at times when we are doing our personal devotions, reading the Word of God and meditating on what we are reading. He will take that which we are reading, and make personal application to us. In this way, He is revealing His will. At other times, He will speak to us through a message preached from a man of God, or through a spiritual song. It’s as though the Lord is saying, “This is the way, walk ye in it.” (Isaiah 30:21)
The Lord has a perfect will for your life. He is concerned for you and for what is best for you. He has infinite wisdom, and is capable of seeing all things past, present and future. What a blessing that He is so concerned for you that He will give you personal direction! Let’s be sensitive to Him as He leads us!
“And they shall see His face....”
Today we walk by faith, and not by sight. I have been saved for a long time, but I have never seen the Lord. O, I have seen His handiwork. I have seen the workings of His unseen hand, but I have never looked upon Him. There is coming a day, however, when faith will be blessed with sight, and we will see all those things that we have read about in Scripture. We will see the pure river of the water of life. Our eyes will behold the tree of life, with its healing leaves. Yes, we will behold all of those things that our Lord is preparing for us, but the greatest blessing will be looking upon Him; “And they shall see his face....”
When I was about 15, I wrote a song about seeing the Lord when we get to heaven. I remember the first time I was going to sing it in church, I stood before the congregation with guitar in hand, the words on the podium in front of me, but I forgot the tune. As I look back upon it now, I realize that it wasn’t a very well written song, but the message was right. We read of many wonderful things that are going to make heaven such a wonderful place. One of the blessed things about heaven will be the fact that there will be no more sickness, pain or dying. There will be no more debilitating diseases to make life unbearable. But the truly wonderful thing about heaven is the fact that we will be able to see the One that loved us and gave Himself for us. We shall see His face!
No one living can be sure what He looks like. I feel certain that some of the depictions we see of Jesus today are not even close. Of this we can be sure, when we see Him, we will be looking in the kindest, most loving face we will have ever seen. That face will speak acceptance, forgiveness and pardon. It will welcome us home to the place that He has prepared.
Much can be known from the expression on a face. It can speak anger, or frustration, or disappointment. The look on a face can announce excitement, joy or anticipation. When we look upon His face, His look will not speak to us a negative thought, but will fill our hearts with assurance and joy. Writing to the Church of Corinth, Paul said, “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:6) When we look upon His face, we will be behold the very glory of God. What a blessed thought!
“...nevertheless, at thy word....”
This should ever be the motto of the child of God, “nevertheless, at thy word....” When God created humanity, He made us with a brain capable of thought; an organ that was designed to question, to figure things out and to analyze. When the Lord commanded Peter to launch out into the deep and to cast his net into the water, Peter’s brain told him that he had already tried that, all night, in fact. Being a seasoned fisherman in those waters, he knew when efforts were fruitless it was best to pack things up and plan for another day. He was tired, and the Man sitting in his boat was a carpenter, not a fisherman. The night had been long, Peter and the fishermen with him were ready to head home for some rest. After Jesus finished His message, He had one last request of Peter, “launch out into the deep and let down your net.” It really wasn’t a request, but a command. Peter disagreed at first, “Master, we have toiled all night, and have taken nothing.” Then he added this all important qualifier, “...nevertheless, at thy word....” The result was an amazing catch of fish, perhaps the greatest single catch that Peter and his crew had ever caught. And, it came because Peter submitted to the command of Christ.
Admittedly, some of His commands seem difficult, even unreasonable. Whether it be something that He has given us in His Word, or something that He has personally dealt with us about through the Holy Spirit, our initial reaction might me, “Master, this really won’t work,” or “Master, I am just not able to do that.” Some of His commands just might not make sense to our little finite minds as we weigh the rhyme and reason of what He is requiring of us. But, we do have limitations; our vision is not as His, and our wisdom certainly does not begin to compare with that of the Ancient of Days. Peter had no way of knowing that there was a huge school of fish heading his way as he listened to Jesus speaking from his boat. He had no way of knowing that his life was about to radically change from that day forward. But Jesus did! Jesus knew the fish were headed that way when he first stepped foot in Peter’s boat, and He knew that this fisherman would soon become a great fisher of men that would spend the rest of his life in the service of his Master. So, when Jesus gave the order, Peter’s best answer was, “Nevertheless, at thy word....” This must ever be our response to His commands.
“...when he had by himself purged our sins....”
Sin is a dirty thing. It defiles. It mars everything it touches. When it has run its course, when it has finished with its defilement, what is left is a dirty, putrid mess. Across this planet, where the light of the gospel is not shining, or where it has been extinguished, the filth of sin is obvious. A society may appear clean outwardly, but if sin reigns supreme, spiritual filth abounds.
When a person is saved by placing faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, a cleansing takes place. As Paul mentioned in Hebrews, there is a “purging” of the soul of the believer. The word means “to make clean.” In Mark’s Gospel, a leper came to Jesus, falling down before Him and said, “If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.” Leprosy was considered an ultimate defilement, making one unclean in the strongest sense of the word. The leper was too defiled to intermingle with others, even those within his own family. He was considered ceremonially unclean, making it impossible for him to go to the Temple. He couldn’t even allow himself to get close to others, but had to cry out, “Unclean, Unclean” if anyone approached him. When Jesus saw the man, He was moved with compassion, doing the unthinkable; He reached out and touched the defiled. As He touched him, He spoke gently to the hurting soul, “I will; be thou clean.” Immediately, the man was cleansed of his leprosy.
That incident is a vivid picture of what Jesus does for every soul that bows before Him in faith. Regardless of the depth of their sin, or the filth that sin has caused in their lives, the sinner is cleansed from all the defilement of sin through faith in the Lord Jesus. John said, “...the blood of Jesus Christ his son cleanseth us from all sin.” What a blessed truth!
When a lamb is being prepared for show, it is thoroughly bathed, usually with dishwashing detergent. Before washing, the lamb’s wool, which is somewhat tacky with lanolin, is an off-white, dingy color. Using dishwashing detergent cuts the lanolin oil from the wool, and what is left is a sparkling white coat. Isaiah wrote, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” (Isaiah 1:18) That’s what Jesus does for sinner, He cleanses them from all sin. Amen!
“...shew me thy glory....”
Moses could have asked for many things; comfort, fame or fortune. He certainly could have asked for some relief from the stress he most surely was experiencing. He asked to see the glory of God; “shew me thy glory.”
That really should ever be the heart felt request of every child of God, for God to shew us His glory. We should ever cry out, “Father, let me glimpse Your glory today. Allow me to see You glorified in all that I do. Be glorified in my work today. Let the unsaved see Your glory through my testimony, through my demonstrating before all the beauty of Your grace in a saved sinner. Be glorified in Your church. Let the unsaved be eternally influenced by that glory.”
This was not a selfish request on Moses’ part. God is pleased when we long to draw closer to Him, when we are desirous to see Him manifest in our lives, in our homes and in our church. Jesus said, “He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.” (John 14:21) This manifesting of Himself to His own is a reward for faithfully obeying and serving Him, a reward that should be sought by every child of God.
In what ways will God show us His glory? One way that He does is through communing with our hearts through the Person of the Holy Spirit. As we are reading His Word, His Spirit speaks to us, revealing and explaining truth. He also manifests His glory to us in blessing our prayer time, our time of communion with Him as we sense His presence. Another way that we can experience God’s glory is when He manifests Himself in our church services and in the ministries we are involved with.
O, how we ought to long for these manifestations of the glory of our God. We should like Moses be praying, “...shew me thy glory.” Incidentally, God granted Moses’ request, revealing His glory to the man of God, and in doing so it radically changed him. So it does for us. When God manifests Himself to us it changes us, it encourages and challenges, and it motivates us to a closer and more obedient walk with our Lord. Let this be our prayer throughout this day, and all days to come, “O Savior, show my Your wonder glory. Manifest Yourself in my life, and I will praise Your Holy Name forevermore.”
1 john 4
“...God is Love.”
Our God is many things. He is the Almighty Creator we read of in the early chapters of Genesis Who simply spoke the Word and the universe came into existence. He is the All-knowing One, the Ancient of Days Whose wisdom is beyond our comprehension. He is the ever present One, Who is not limited by time, environment or any other of those limitations that we mortals are governed by. He is God, and beside Him there is none other. While it is true that the human vocabulary is insufficient in describing the many glories of our God, the one word that perhaps describes Him best is the one used by John when he wrote, “God is love.”
“God is love.” Why did God create? Why did He create mankind, giving us the ability to know Him, to commune with Him and to experience Him? Why did Jesus condescend to this earth, robing Himself in flesh? Why did He go to Calvary to pay the sin debt for all? Why did He send the Holy Spirit to deal with our hearts, drawing us to Himself? Why did He give us His Word that describes for us the beauty of His Person, and the glories of His plan of eternal redemption? Why? Because “God is love.”
Because we know that “God is love,” we can have confidence that everything He is doing in our lives, or allowing to take place in our lives, is under His control. We may not always understand Him or His workings in our lives, but we can understand that He loves us. How much does He love us? Enough to give Himself for us, and to us. That’s how much God loves us!
Beloved, we should take great consolation in the fact that He loves us so, and we should ever be sharing that fact with all around us. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” God loves sinners, and so should we. Our witness for Him will never be successful until it is motivated by His love and displayed in all we do and say. If we are to walk like and talk like Him, His love ought to be vividly demonstrated in us. Let’s pray that it be so. Amen!
“...whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother.”
There are many things to consider when it comes to the will of God. It was His will that you be saved, for He would have all to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. It is His will that the saved live holy and pure lives, “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour....” It is His will that His own be witnesses for Him, telling others how they can be saved. God wills for the saved to be faithful to His house, faithful in their attendance, their support and in their service.
According to our text, those nearest to Him are those who are concerned with the “will of God,” both knowing it and doing it. What a challenge this is to us! There are general things to consider that are the same for all the saved. However, there are more specific things for each believer individually. It is not His will that all be preachers or missionaries, but it is His will that all be saved, and that all the saved be holy. Are you seeking His will?
Paul encouraged the believers of Ephesus to have wisdom, understanding the the will of God. This will require time spent in His Word, and time spent before His throne. His will is not always easily determined, but is always worth the search, and the effort put forth in performing it.
As you seek His face today, seek His will, and seek His wisdom and power as you endeavor to be in the will of God for your life. Pray for your Church; that it will ever be filled with the understanding of His will, and the drive to see it fulfilled among His own. Let’s seek to be His nearest and dearest kinsmen!
2 Corinthians 5
“...absent from the body...present with the Lord.”
We have all dealt with death our entire lives. One of Lynn’s early memories is going to a funeral service with her Grandmother Bessie. I also have an early memory of attending a wake in my grandfather’s house. People do not have wakes like they used to. There is a church in Cherokee where I preach revivals every year. Several years ago, there was a death in the community, and the Indians still observe wakes. We had a wake on Wednesday night of the revival, and the church was filled with people. They remained after the service through the night. Different cultures deal with death in various ways, observing customs that have been practiced by their people for generations. How should followers of Jesus Christ view death?
Regardless of one’s faith, when death strikes in a family it is painful. Paul acknowledged that believers “sorrow,” but “not as others which have no hope.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13) A dear brother in our church passed away recently and I observed this phenomenon of Christians dealing with the grief of death. Was there sorrow? Of course! Was there grief? Without question! But there was also rejoicing. I’m sure that would seem strange to those who have no faith, but this family knew where their husband, their father, grandfather - where their loved one had gone. They knew that when he had ceased being present with them, the he was immediately present with the Lord. He was ushered into the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ, never again to suffer the debilitating pain he had endured for some time.
Paul compared our bodies to tabernacles, or tents. These are only temporary dwellings, just like a tent is a temporary dwelling. Some day our tents will be all worn out, and they will be folded up and placed in a grave. When this happens to a believer, the instant that life is ended here, that believer is present with the Lord. Jesus said, “I will come again and receive you unto myself, that where I am, there ye may be also.” (John 14:3) If the Lord doesn’t come and rapture His Church out before our race is ended, we will experience the promised going to be where He is. That’s how we should view death as believers, it is just a change of location. It is a leaving of this world, with its sorrows and pain, and going to be with the Lord Jesus, where no such things exist. Death is sorrowful, but joyful for the believer.
“That their hearts might be...knit together in love....”
That is an interesting thought. Knitting is accomplished by interlocking loops of wool or other yarn, using knitting needles or on a machine. In Colossians, we read of the interlocking of the hearts of followers of Christ, and that being accomplished by love. Unity among believers has ever been the will of God, both in the Old and the New Testaments. The Psalmist David wrote, “Behold, how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity. (Psalms 133:1)
While I’m typing these thoughts, I am sitting on my front porch watching our sheep. They are all laid together in the sunshine against our barn. If one of them were to get up and start out through the pasture, they all would follow. They stay close together for the most part. Now, they will butt each other, and act ill toward one another at times, but they stick close together. That’s just their nature.
There was a reason why the Lord compared His people to sheep. We are so dependent upon our Shepherd to lead us, and to feed us. He is the Good, the Great and the Chief Shepherd of the sheep, and He cares for us at all times. Like the sheep in our pasture, we have a tendency to butt one another at times, and that is displeasing to our Shepherd. It is His will that our “hearts be knit together,” that there be unity among the flock. We do so need each other.
I was watching the sheep the other day, and one of the ewes was trying to find a place to lay down. She got a bit close to one of the others, and there ended up being a humorous confrontation. There was some butting, pushing and shoving. As I observed this sight, I thought that we of the Lord’s flock are like that at times. Our close proximity sometimes stirs up little head butting confrontations. These must be overcome, and they can be through love. If we love each other the way we are told to in Scriptures, even when there are disagreements, these can be overcome and unity in God’s flock can continue.
We are in a hostile world. Jesus warned us that the world would hate us as it hated Him. O, how we need each other. With that in mind, let’s seek to fulfill the Lord’s will for us in working toward unity and love in His flock. Quit the head butting and love one another as commanded by our Lord. Amen
Isa 40:31 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
We are in such a hurry, aren’t we? It seems that we are all the time. We find ourselves constantly looking at our watches, thinking of the demands of the day and wondering if we are going to have the time to get all done that we’ve planned. Scores of books have been written on the management of time. We read that all successful people have mastered this much needed skill of mastering time. Well, I’m rambling and I know you need to hurry up and finish this reading, so I will continue on.
Our hurried lifestyle spills over into our relationship with the Lord. We even get impatient with Him. Our relationship with the Savior is not like a microwave meal that can be ready in 60 seconds. We can’t multitask our fellowship with Him while balancing our checkbooks at the same time. In our modern, technologically advanced day, we are so accustomed to quick fixes, lightning fast computers, automated banking and the web bringing the world to our fingertips, that we expect the Lord to cooperate with our impatience. Quick food, heat and serve, just add water - these are just a few indicators of our day and the life that we are accustomed to, but these are not phrases found in the Bible. They are certainly not prescriptions of how we are to approach God, or what we are to expect from Him. I, too, am far too hurried most of the time, and I must remind myself that the Master of the Universe, the God that has all wisdom and power, is not working on my supposed time schedule. He never gets in a hurry, never worries about what is around the next curve and never gets behind in His schedule. A day with Him is as a thousand years, and a thousand years is as one day. (2 Peter 3:8) The challenge for me is to learn to “wait upon the Lord.”
I need to learn to wait upon His directions, His instructions for what is next. It is essential that I wait upon His answers to my prayers, wait upon His comforts that I am constantly needing and wait upon Him to work out the particulars of every situation that I am confronted with in His service. I must learn to wait upon Him in times of fellowship, giving Him time to speak to my heart. This is definitely a need in my busy life, how about you?
“...the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth.”
Israel was special to God. He had chosen them to present to the world His Word, and to provide for the world the Christ, the Savior. Because He had so blessed them, it was His desire that they be a special people, a special nation unto Himself that would reflect His goodness and grace that He had bestowed upon them. That is the reason in His law that there were certain restrictions concerning the practices of the heathen nations around them. He wanted them to be recognized in the world as being different; not strange or weird, but separated from the sinfulness of the world unto Him.
Christ’s Church is special. His Church is His Bride, His body on the earth. It was for His Church that He died on Calvary, “that He might sanctify and cleanse it (Ephesians 5:26)....” Peter said, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light...” (1 Peter 2:9) Just as God wanted Israel to be the special people that He had made them in the earth, He wants His Church to be the special people that they truly are in Him. He wants each of us that make up His Church to be special for Him.
Lynn and I took a few days off recently and went camping. Down below our campsite, there were some people camping that had old trucks they were obviously showing in an antique car show in town. Wow, they were neat! Of course, I like old trucks anyway, but these were really nice. They were super clean and super shined. I’m not sure if these fellows had restored these trucks themselves, or if they had bought them already restored, but they were in mint condition. It was obvious that these guys loved their trucks and were very proud of them. They were special to them, perhaps a great investment, and they kept them looking special.
The Lord invested much in us as His Church; His own shed blood on Calvary. From things written in Scripture, it is obvious that He is proud of His Bride, and loves her very much. His Church is the most special thing to Him on earth, and He always wants her to be special for Him. Let’s keep ourselves clean and presentable to the world, that they might see His great workmanship in us!