Institute for Creation (Credulous) Research (Retards), PO Box 2667, El Cajon, CA 92021 Voi

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________________________________________________________________________ Institute for Creation Research, PO Box 2667, El Cajon, CA 92021 Voice: (619) 448-0900 FAX: (619) 448-3469 ________________________________________________________________________ ||||||||| |||||||| |||||||||| |||| |||| |||| |||| |||| ||||| |||| |||| |||| |||| |||| ||||| |||| |||| |||| |||| |||| ||||| |||| |||| |||| |||| |||||||||| |||| |||| |||| |||| |||| |||| |||| |||| |||| |||| ||||||||| |||||||| ||||| ________________________________________________________________________ December, January, February Winter 1992 "DAYS OF PRAISE" ________________________________________________________________________ Daily Bible Readings and Devotional Commentaries Copyright (c) 1993 by I.C.R., Santee, California 92071 EDITOR: Henry M. Morris CO-EDITOR: John D. Morris MANAGING EDITOR: Donald H. Rohrer ASSISTANT EDITOR: Ruth Richards ELECTRONIC EDITOR: Donald H. Barber ________________________________________________________________________ "In His hand are the deep places of the earth; the heights of the hills are His also" (Psalm 95:5). The holiday season always brings a time of reflection and thanksgiving to a Christian or a Christian organization, and things are no different here at ICR. When we, as Christians, review how God has provided for our needs and made use of our feeble efforts this past year, we should be driven to humble thankfulness. And so it is at ICR. This year the ministry at ICR, including this daily devotional, Bible-study booklet, has reached more people than ever before, and we are greatful. Likewise, we must stand in ready anticipation to be used by Him in any way He chooses this coming year. Speaking of "Days of Praise," you probably know that we have attempted to eliminate any excess expense by asking those who desire to continue receiving the booklet to make this known. It is our desire to send this booklet as our gift to any who wish to receive it, but the cost is substantial and it is not wise to send it if it is not being used. If your subscription stops, please let us know and we'll gladly reinstate it. Please be aware, however, that we would appreciate any gift to help defray the cost, for Days of Praise is sent absolutely free to all who request it, including many on the mission field and in prisons. But please feel no obligation; simply accept this as our Christmas gift to you, and know that it comes with our prayers that God will use it and you in the coming year in many ways which will count for eternity. SAA Steven A. Austin, Ph.D. PGH Paul G. Humber, M.S. BJC Mrs. Barbara J. Cicognari HMM Henry M. Morris, Ph.D KBC Kenneth B. Cumming, Ph.D. HMM,III Henry M. Morris III, D.Min. MBD Marcia B. Daniels JDM John D. Morris, Ph.D. ADE Arnold D. Ehlert, Th.D. NPS Norman P. Spotts, D.D. ________________________________________________________________________ December 1, Sunday PRIESTLY INTERMEDIARIES "And take thou unto thee Aaron thy brother, and his sons with him, from among the children of Israel, that he may minister unto me in the priest's office" (Exodus 28:1). God granted Aaron and his descendants authority to "serve" as intermediaries between God and the people. The priests had no authority to forgive sins (forgiveness comes only from God), but they were given authority to oversee the sacrificial process. The high priest had additional duties, most notably offering "an atonement for the children of Israel for all their sins once a year" (Leviticus 16:34). The Bible teaches us that "without the shedding of blood is no remission" (Hebrews 9:22) of sin, but also that "it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins" (Hebrews 10:4). Forgiveness is based on repentance, recognizing that one has offended God, and turning from that sin. The very fact that blood sacrifices continued on a daily basis, and by the High Priest for the sins of all the people once a year, proves that those sacrifices were imperfect and insufficient. Moreover, since repentance was seldom a part of Israel's sacrifice, and even though the sacrifices continued, God judged the nation's sins by sending the people into captivity. Thankfully, Christ acted to fulfill the law and eliminate the sacrificial system with the final sacrifice. "We are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all" (Hebrews 10:10). "There is no more offering for sin" (v.18). He has assumed the office of High Priest, administered the final sacrifice, and made priests of all His followers. Just as the Old Testament priest, we have "boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus" (v.19). We have no need for human intermediaries; we are believer-priests with a High Priest that has made it possible for us to come on His merits to the Father. Just as He gave certain authority to the Old Testament priests, He has given us this authority. JDM ________________________________________________________________________ December 2, Monday PERILOUS TIMES AND THE WORD OF GOD "This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come" (II Timothy 3:1). These sobering words introduce the last message of the Apostle Paul, just before his martyrdom. Instead of the world being converted to Christ and getting better and better as the Gospel goes out around the world, "evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived" (II Timothy 3:13). The twenty characteristics of people in the last days, listed in the verses following our text, constitute almost a definition of humanism--self-love, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, etc. The humanistic basis of all these peril-producing attributes of the last days is most evident in the last two: "having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof" and "ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth" (II Timothy 3:5,7). The most disturbing aspect of this situation is that these are given as characteristics of people in a professedly Christian society, having a form of piety, but rejecting creation and the miraculous aspects of true Biblical Christianity. Furthermore, those in such a pseudo-Christian society who determine to "live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution" (II Timothy 3:12). The answer to such an environment, however, is neither conformity nor compromise. Paul's counsel is simply to "continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of,...from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus" (II Timothy 3:14,15). Thus, the basic answer to every problem, even in the perilous times of the last days, is simply to continue believing and obeying the inspired, profitable, perfecting Word of God (II Timothy 3:16,17). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ December 3, Tuesday LESSONS FROM THE RICH FOOL "But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?" (Luke 12:20). This sobering verse gives, in a nutshell, God's evaluation of people whose dominating concern is the accumulation of material possessions. Such a person is, by the Lord's own testimony, a fool. But before the man in this parable became a covetous fool, he first became a self-centered clod, interested only in his own desires. In the verses comprising his monologue (Luke 12:17-19), he used the personal pronouns "I" and "my" no less than eleven times, and then even addressed himself, using the pronoun "thou" or "thine" twice more. "My" is the devil's pronoun. It was Satan who first said "I." "I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God:...I will be like the most High" (Isaiah 14:13,14). Lucifer's primeval self-seeking covetousness brought rebellion and sin into the angelic host, and then into the human family. Ever since his fall, he has used this deadly sin of self-centeredness to keep men away from God, and to lead them into all kinds of other overpowering sins. In the case of the rich man, his pampering of self had led him into a life of such greed and covetousness that he was still concerned only with his own personal comfort ("eating and drinking") right up to the day of his death. He "thought within himself" (v.17), giving no thought whatever to God's will, or the fact that all his possessions really belonged to God. Multitudes over the ages have been overtaken by this same sin of self-centered covetousness, perhaps never more pervasively than in modern America, even among American Christians. To anyone of such covetous spirit, the day may soon come when the Lord will say: "Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee." HMM ________________________________________________________________________ December 4, Wednesday WHEN STRENGTH BECOMES POWER "The king shall joy in thy strength, O LORD; and in thy salvation how greatly shall he rejoice!" (Psalm 21:1). Why would any king need to look higher for anything? The king is the top, the ultimate authority, and the benefactor of his subjects. So why should David turn to the Lord to receive blessings or material goods? The answer is that this king was committed to the King of kings. David was a subject of a higher kingdom than his own. One attribute of the Lord is His strength--that inherent capacity to act upon or affect something. David suggests that God's strength has provided his salvation; changing his own lost and dying state into a state of eternal life. "He asked life of thee, and thou gavest it him, even length of days for ever and ever" (v.4). How could David have accomplished that miracle with resources from within his kingdom? Neither his people, his money, nor his authority could provide it. David had desires in his heart which only God knew and gave him. The Lord gave him "blessings of goodness" (v.3), "a crown of pure gold on his head" (v.3), "honour and majesty" (v.5), and "made him most blessed for ever" (v.6). No wonder David joyed in the Lord's strength and rejoiced in his saved state. "The king trusteth in the LORD, and through the mercy of the most High he shall not be moved" (v.7). How did the Lord accomplish this? Through the agent of His own right hand (v.8). Work requires a force applied through a distance. The Lord truly has to change our position from lost to saved. There has to be a point of decision in time when we agree with God to change our state. Herein is where His power comes into play (God's force on an object, moving it from lost to saved in a moment of real time). Let us join with David as he concludes: "Be thou exalted, LORD, in thine own strength: so will we sing and praise Thy power" (v.13). KBC ________________________________________________________________________ December 5, Thursday THE PRECIOUS BLOOD "Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot" (I Peter 1:18,19). The concept of the shed blood of Christ, offered in substitutionary sacrifice for guilty and condemned sinners, is profoundly offensive to the modern mind. Even many evangelicals who believe in the concept doctrinally, usually de-emphasize it in their pulpits and classroom ministries. But it is still in the Bible, and is inestimably important. Our lost souls could never have been redeemed ("bought back") from hell by all the silver and gold in the universe. The blood of Christ, however, is infinitely "precious" (i.e., "valuable" or "costly") because it was the life ("the life of the flesh is in the blood"--Leviticus 17:11) of the very Creator of life! Its shedding on the altar of divine sacrifice was, therefore, eminently sufficient "to make an atonement (or `covering') for our souls." The blood is not only a covering, however. Its cleansing and life-giving powers purge our sins and make us righteous before a holy God. "Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him" (Romans 5:9). The application of the blood to our souls becomes effective, of course, only "through faith in His blood" (Romans 3:25). Not only is the precious blood able to blot out past sins, but "the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin" (I John 1:7). It is sufficiently powerful to overcome every attack of the wicked one. "And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb" (Revelation 12:11). Finally, its efficacy is eternal, and will never lose its power, for it is "the blood of the everlasting covenant" (Hebrews 13:20). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ December 6, Friday HE GAVE HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). The six words listed in the title above can better be appreciated by considering Genesis 22. God said to Abraham in verse 2, "Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest...and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of." Note the emphasis on Abraham's love for his only son. The place of sacrifice, Moriah, approximates Calvary's location (cf. II Chronicles 3:1). Isaac was to carry wood (v.6); Jesus, a cross. Isaac plaintively inquired of his father, "Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?" (v.7). What was in Abraham's mind when he answered, "My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering" (v.8). God was pleased with Abraham's faith (cf. v.15ff). He promised Abraham that "in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed" (v.18). The very first verse of the New Testament identifies Jesus as "the son of Abraham" --Abraham's seed. We know that God the Father spared Isaac (Genesis 22:12) but not His own Son. "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" (Romans 8:32). He did "provide himself a Lamb," as Abraham prophesied. Our text says, "He gave His only begotten Son." Jesus, John the Baptist proclaimed, was God's Lamb "which taketh away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). Our text is well known, but how many people really appreciate its content? Many are afraid of God. They do not want to "perish," but do they fathom God's inestimable love? Would that every person reading these precious words from the Bible would bow the heart, praise God for His priceless gift, and receive Him into his/her heart. PGH ________________________________________________________________________ December 7, Saturday WHEN THE HORSEMEN RIDE "If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses? and if in the land of peace, wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan?" (Jeremiah 12:5). It is relatively easy, in a land of religious freedom such as ours, to live and witness for the Lord, but the time may well come when that freedom will be lost, and one can only serve the Lord openly at great risk. There are many countries in the world today where it is physically dangerous to take a strong Christian stand, and it is not unlikely that such a condition will prevail here too one of these days. If such a time should come to America, how would Christians behave? Would they be careless and sleeping, as so many were on Pearl Harbor Day 50 years ago? The frightening aspect of today's Christian community is that, with so few willing to stand for God's truth against mere intellectual attacks, what will they do when real persecution comes? When Christians compromise so readily with the pressures of modern evolutionary humanism, will they one day actually surrender to the enemy, when godless atheism reigns? How many will choose to receive "the mark of the beast" rather than the martyr's "crown of life" (Revelation 13:17; 2:10), if such a choice should be faced? America's leaders today, time after time, have been caught off guard by terrorist actions, just as they were at Pearl Harbor. Time after time, nothing is done for fear of offending public opinion and America's enemies. Similarly, America's Christian leaders are intimidated into one unscriptural compromise after another, whenever liberals and humanists launch public attacks on Biblical positions. When the horsemen ride and the floods overflow, how will we do? HMM ________________________________________________________________________ December 8, Sunday DIVINE ELECTION "Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied" (I Peter 1:2). Peter starts out his first epistle with a rather heavy greeting. Election is an act in which an individual or a group is chosen for a specific purpose. When God chose Israel, He told them, through Moses: "Thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: 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" (Deuteronomy 7:6). Then He gives His reasons: "The LORD did not set His love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: But because the LORD loved you, and because He would keep the oath which He had sworn unto your fathers" (vs.7,8). Peter now addresses his readers with the information that there is another election. This election is according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, but it involves, also, the sanctification of the Spirit and the blood of Christ. Here we have, in very explicit language, the three Persons of the Trinity. The secret transactions of the Trinity are beyond our comprehension, but not beyond our realization. Forgiveness, through the blood of Jesus Christ, is what brings us into this inheritance. Paul speaks of "being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins" (Romans 3:24,25). Israel's election is a national matter. It did not guarantee the salvation of individual Israelites. The Christian's election is a personal matter, and when accepted by faith, is eternally effective. ADE ________________________________________________________________________ December 9, Monday NOW IS THE TIME "For He saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation" (II Corinthians 6:2). There are many wonderful things that we as Christians are looking forward to in the ages to come, when the earth and our bodies are made new, and the entire beautiful creation of God is open to us for all eternity. But there are also many wonderful privileges that belong to us right now, as well. First of all, our eternal salvation is here and now, for this is the time acceptable to God in which to receive His great salvation, through faith in Christ. No one will ever be saved in the ages of eternity, for all who enjoy His salvation then will have received it now! Those who have salvation now also have been set free from condemnation (or "judgment") now. "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1). "Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him" (Romans 5:9). "And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath He reconciled In the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in His sight" (Colossians 1:21,22). Not only do we now have the assurance of eternal salvation, but we also have all necessary provisions for a happy, fruitful, victorious life in this present age. "The life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God" (Galatians 2:20). Now, because all these doctrines are present realities, we have full confidence that all God's yet-to-be-realized promises are also true. "Beloved, now are we the sons of God...but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is" (I John 3:2). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ December 10, Tuesday MILK AND THE NEWBORN "As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: if so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious" (I Peter 2:2,3). The rooting reflex is a God-given drive that causes infants to seek nourishment. Stroking a baby's cheek stimulates this reflex. A strong reflex causes the infant to turn its head toward the stroked side. Unless stimulated and strengthened, a weak rooting reflex will hinder the baby's growth and development. The Lord stimulates our spiritual rooting reflex with instances of His grace in our lives. Once having "tasted that the Lord is gracious" (v.3), we keep coming back for more. Thus, He whets our spiritual appetite, creating a hunger for the Word. Time and again, Scripture enjoins us to refrain from retarding our growth by continuing to drink only spiritual milk--basic doctrines of salvation alone. We are never to forget or ignore these all-important truths, but we are to mature in our understanding and wisdom, and feast on spiritual meat, i.e., food for the mature. However, old behavior patterns often distract believers from spiritual matters. Weak spiritual growth results. In the verse preceding our text, the Apostle Paul encourages us to lay aside "all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings" (v.1). As these sins drop from our lives, we experience renewed interest in study of the Word. Our rooting reflex strengthens, and we begin to grow. Consider, also, the purity of the milk. Even mother's milk becomes dangerous when adulterated with alcohol or drugs. God's Word is "sincere," or pure. It alone satisfies the believer. "How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!" (Psalm 119:103). "O taste and see that the LORD is good" (Psalm 34:8). BJC ________________________________________________________________________ December 11, Wednesday THE FUTILE WRATH OF MAN "Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee: the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain" (Psalm 76:10). One of the most amazing anomalies in human life is the oft-repeated testimony to God's grace and power unwittingly rendered by men who would dethrone Him if they could. Biblical examples are numerous. Joseph's brothers hated him and sold him into slavery, but "God meant it unto save much people alive" (Genesis 50:20). Haman tried to destroy the Jews in the days of Queen Esther; but, instead, their leader, Mordecai, was elevated to prime minister, and Haman was hanged upon his own gallows. Daniel's enemies maneuvered him into the lions' den, but these enemies, themselves, were later devoured by the animals, and King Darius decreed "That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for He is the living God, and steadfast for ever" (Daniel 6:26). In the awful hour of Satan and the powers of darkness, Jesus died on the cross, but "having spoiled principalities and powers, He made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it" (Colossians 2:15). "Why did the heathen rage?...The rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against His Christ." Their plans turned to frustration and rage, because all they could do was "whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done" (Acts 4:25,26,28). Let men be ever so bitter against God, and hateful to His people. The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church, and the more His enemies rage, the more will God be glorified. The wrath of man can never prevail against the Lord. It will either be restrained in due season or will be turned into praise, for "we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ December 12, Thursday THE TITLE "CHRISTIAN" "Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf" (I Peter 4:16). The word "Christian" occurs only three times in Scripture, and seems to have changed in its meaning from first to last. In the first instance, "the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch" (Acts 11:26). The name merely identified them as followers of Christ, with no reproach intended. The second usage was some years later, by which time the term was evidently well known, even among unbelievers. After Paul had witnessed to him, "Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian" (Acts 26:28). A more literal translation, which renders the sentence, "Do you try in such a short time to make a Christian of me?" indicates an air of superiority or incredulity in Agrippa's voice. It would take more than a short testimony to make a Christian of him. As the years went by, the church began to be plagued by persecution. Our text indicates that even the name "Christian" was by then regarded with contempt and reproach. But Peter tells us that there is no shame involved in the name "Christian" or in following Christ. Peter, no doubt, recalled the shame he felt for denying the name of Christ, but he also recalled with thankfulness how that even though the Jewish council had "beaten them," and "commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus" (Acts 5:40), he and the other apostles departed, "rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name" (v.41). Furthermore, we can "glorify God on this behalf," or, "in this name." This implies more than just praising the name. We can glorify God in what we do--in how we live in that name. We can certainly also bring dishonor to the title "Christian" by our actions. A solemn responsibility is then ours, to bring honor and glory to God through our lives. JDM ________________________________________________________________________ December 13, Friday FEAR NOT "And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God" (Luke 1:30). There are many "fear not's" recorded in the Bible. God knows our hearts, and understands how crippling the emotion of fear can be. Many have been devastated by fear, and have become a slave to it. For the born-again Christian to fear indicates one of two things: Either he doesn't know what the Bible promises about victory over fear, or, if he does know, he doesn't trust what God has promised. "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear:...He that feareth is not made perfect in love. We love Him, because He first loved us" (I John 4:18,19). The greatest act of love in all the annals of time was the sending of God's Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to this earth to die for the sins of mankind. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). In the Christmas narratives, there are several "fear not's." (1) The "fear not" of salvation: "And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings...which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord" (Luke 2:10,11). (2) The "fear not" of the humanly impossible: "Fear not, Mary:...the Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee:...For with God nothing shall be impossible" (Luke 1:30,35,37). (3) The "fear not" of unanswered prayer: "Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John" (Luke 1:13). (4) The "fear not" of immediate obedience: "Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife:...Then Joseph...did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him" (Matthew 1:20,24). NPS ________________________________________________________________________ December 14, Saturday HARK! THE HERALD ANGELS SING "And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men" (Luke 2:13,14). Can we imagine how the shepherds felt that night? One moment they were sleepily watching their flock (v.8), and the next, they were confronted by "the angel of the Lord" (v.9). Little wonder that they were "sore afraid." But the angel allayed their fears, and announced the wonderful news that the long-awaited Messiah had just been born, and that they were invited to go see Him (vs.10-12). But before they could act, the sky was ablaze with "a multitude of heavenly hosts," singing and praising God in jubilation. How could they have responded differently than "Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste" (vs.15,16). The heralding angels deserve more than just a passing look. The Bible teaches that angels are not just inhabitants of heaven, but active participants in the affairs of earth. "Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?" (Hebrews 1:14). They are continually at war with the fallen angels (e.g., Daniel 10:13) and aid us in our spiritual warfare (Ephesians 6:12). In our text, these angels constitute a "host," not a choir! They have not arrived from a perch in the clouds, but have assembled from their various duty stations and battle grounds to celebrate the birth of their Creator, Jesus Christ. They had long been fascinated by God's plan of redemption (I Peter 1:12), and now rejoiced as it began to unfold. For the next four days, let us employ the favorite Christmas carol by Charles Wesley to focus our attention on this majestic event. JDM ________________________________________________________________________ December 15, Sunday GOD AND SINNERS RECONCILED "We pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him" (II Corinthians 5:20,21). In the beginning, when God created Adam and Eve and placed them in the "very good" creation (Genesis 1:31), He gave them one rule to follow (2:17). They were created to live forever in fellowship with Him, but disobedience to this rule would bring death. As Creator, He had both the authority to set the rules over His creation, and the penalty for breaking the rules, declaring, "the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23). A holy, sinless, ever-living God who abhors sin, cannot allow disobedience in His presence, and a just God's nature demands a just punishment. Ever since the events of Genesis 3, God and humankind have been estranged, with the awful barrier of sin separating them. Man has been unable to restore fellowship with God on his own! Sin's penalty must be paid! The angels were present at the creation of Adam and Eve, at their disobedience, and at God's withdrawal of fellowship with them. The angels had ever since been active on behalf of repentant sinners, but they were unable to bring about any permanent solution. But finally, it happened! God, the Creator who had been rejected by His creation, the righteous Judge who demanded the penalty of death for sin, Himself had come to pay that penalty, to redeem by His own death His fallen, rebellious creation--and the angels rejoiced. Hark! the herald angels sing, Glory to the newborn King; Peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled! Joyful all ye nations rise, Join the triumph of the skies; With th'angelic hosts proclaim, "Christ is born in Bethlehem!" Hark! the herald angels sing, "Glory to the newborn King!" JDM ________________________________________________________________________ December 16, Monday THE INCARNATE DEITY "Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men" (Philippians 2:5-7). The entire gospel message runs counter to the human mind. The Creator dying for the creation. The Judge paying the penalty for the guilty. The immortal One dying. Sinless God substituting for human sinners. No human or devil ever could have thought of this scheme, and indeed, no such one did, as is evidenced by the works-oriented salvation offered by all cults and false religions, as conjured up by such sources. But make no mistake! The babe in the manger was the Creator, holy and eternal! "Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:...All things were created by Him and for Him:..that in all things He might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him should all fulness dwell; And, having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself" (Colossians 1:15-20). In order to qualify as a sacrificial substitute, He had to be born as a child into human kind, but without the inherited sin nature of His human parents. A virgin birth was therefore necessary. He had to live a sinless life--a life without a penalty of its own to pay. He had to be fully human, but also fully God, so that His substitutionary death could apply to the sins of more than one guilty sinner. He had to be "God with us," the meaning of the precious title Emmanuel (Matthew 1:23), as prophesied years before (Isaiah 7:14). Christ, by highest heaven adored, Christ the everlasting Lord: Late in time behold Him come, Off-spring of a virgin's womb. Veiled in flesh the Godhead see, Hail th'incarnate Deity! Pleased as man with men to dwell, Jesus, our Emmanuel. Hark, the herald angels sing, "Glory to the newborn King!" JDM ________________________________________________________________________ December 17, Tuesday THE PRINCE OF PEACE "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end" (Isaiah 9:6,7). There will come a time when the Creator's work of salvation will be complete, and we will fully realize the eternal life we now possess. Make no mistake! He has already assured the outcome of this work, but one day sin and its effects will be totally removed (Revelation 21:4,5), and the curse will be repealed (Revelation 22:3), for: "The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death....Death is swallowed up in victory" (I Corinthians 15:26,54). "Unto you that fear my name" He says, "shall the Sun of Righteousness arise with healing in His wings" (Malachi 4:2). The fact that He was born into the human race qualified Him as a sacrifice for us. He had to be human, and a sinless human at that, to die for humans. The fact that He died freed us from paying sin's awful penalty ourselves, for He has paid it! But He rose in triumph over sin and death, assuring us that we, who have accepted His free gift of forgiveness and eternal life through the second birth (John 3:3, etc.) , will also rise again, just as He, the "firstfruits," did (I Corinthians 15:20). Until that day arrives, we have glorious peace, for the Prince of peace "made peace through the blood of His cross" (Colossians 1:20). "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you" (John 14:27). Hail the heav'n-born Prince of Peace! Hail the Sun of Righteousness! Light and life to all He brings, Ris'n with healing in His wings. Mild He lays His glory by, Born that man no more may die; Born to raise the sons of earth, Born to give them second birth. Hark! the herald angels sing, "Glory to the newborn King!" JDM ________________________________________________________________________ December 18, Wednesday THE DESIRE OF NATIONS "I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the LORD of hosts" (Haggai 2:7). To think that the almighty sovereign Creator, the Judge of all the earth, the righteous Sacrifice for our sins, the Conqueror of death would take up residence in our own hearts! Through His work on the cross, He has done away with the need for an earthly Temple at which to meet with man. Instead, "know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" (I Corinthians 3:16). This new and blessed relationship has been in view from the first. Immediately after pronouncing the penalty of death upon all creation, due to Adam and Eve's rejection of His authority over them, the Creator announced the ultimate solution to the problem which He would one day bring to pass. Speaking to Satan, God said: "I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shall bruise His heal" (Genesis 3:15). And from that time on, the nation of Israel has been looking for the conquering Seed of the woman who would return creation to its original created intent. Adam's sin nature was passed on to all his descendants, and likewise the unacceptability of sinful mankind to stand in the presence of a Holy God. But His work in fulfillment of the prophecy above, crushed Satan's hold on and claim over us. "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive" (I Corinthians 15:22). "Glory to the newborn King!" Come Desire of Nations, come! Fix in us Thy humble home: Rise, the woman's conquering Seed, Bruise in us the serpent's head. Adam's likeness now efface, Stamp Thine image in its place: Second Adam from above, reinstate us in Thy love. Hark! the herald angels sing, "Glory to the newborn King!" JDM ________________________________________________________________________ December 19, Thursday THE BRINGING FORTH "Therefore will He give them up, until the time that she which travaileth hath brought forth: then the remnant of His brethren shall return unto the children of Israel" (Micah 5:3). This enigmatic verse must be understood in the light of its context. The verse preceding it is the great Christmas verse: "Thou, Bethlehem Ephrata,...out of thee shall He come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting" (Micah 5:2). Then the verse following says: "And He shall stand and feed in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD His God; and they shall abide: for now shall He be great unto the ends of the earth" (Micah 5:4). There was a babe born in Bethlehem who has been "going forth" forever. He is also to "come forth" unto God, but not until a woman in travail has "brought forth." Once He does come forth, He is to restore and rule Israel, yet be great unto the ends of the earth. Isaiah, a contemporary of Micah, also prophesied concerning this great event. "Behold, (the) virgin shall conceive, and bear a Son, and shall call His name (God with us)" (Isaiah 7:14). "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given:...and His name shall be called...The mighty God, The everlasting Father" (Isaiah 9:6). These great prophecies are amplifications of God's primeval promise of the coming divine/human "Seed of the Woman," who someday would "crush the head" of the great serpent (Genesis 3:15). Ever since Eve, "she which travaileth" must "bring forth children" in sorrow (Genesis 3:16), and the "mighty God," whose "goings forth have been from everlasting," must become a child, "made of a woman" (Galatians 4:4), destroying the serpent, so that all who trust in Him "shall abide" forever. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ December 20, Friday THE ETERNALLY BEGOTTEN SON "When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills, was I brought forth" (Proverbs 8:24,25). It is unfortunate that many modern Bible translations (RSV, NIV, NEB, and others) dilute such key verses as John 3:16 by changing "only begotten Son" to merely "only son." This makes the Bible contradict itself, for Jesus was not the only son of God. Adam is called "the son of God" (Luke 3:38), angels are called "sons of God" (Job 1:6), and, in fact, all believing Christians are called "sons of God" (John 1:12). But Jesus was the only begotten Son of God! The Greek word is monogenes, clearly meaning "only generated" or "only begotten." The word is used only six times in the New Testament (John 1:14; 1:18; 3:16; 3:18; Hebrews 11:17; I John 4:9). Five of these refer to Jesus. One refers to Isaac as Abraham's only begotten son (Hebrews 11:17), indicating him as a type of Christ. The first (John 1:14) is a favorite Christmas verse, telling us that the eternal "Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us...the glory as of the only begotten of the Father." The last (I John 4:9), is also a beloved Christmas verse, reminding us that "God sent His only begotten Son into the world." This verse tells us also that He was God's only begotten Son before He came into the world. But just when was He begotten of the Father? Our text for the day, speaking of the divine Wisdom, tells us that He was "brought forth" before there were any hills or mountains or depths or fountains. In fact, He says, "The LORD possessed me in the beginning of His way....I was set up from everlasting" (Proverbs 8:22,23). No wonder the old theologians spoke of Him as the eternally begotten Son. And it was this Son that the Father gave, that we might have everlasting life! HMM ________________________________________________________________________ December 21, Saturday A TRULY NEW THING "How long wilt thou go about, O thou backsliding daughter? for the LORD hath created a new thing in the earth, A woman shall compass a man" (Jeremiah 31:22). Long ago, the wise man concluded: "There is no new thing under the sun" (Ecclesiastes 1:9). That nothing is now being created is even recognized as a scientific law. But God reminds us, as He reminded His backsliding people of Israel, that He has, indeed, created one new thing in the earth. Since only God can "create," a really new thing would have to be produced directly by the Lord Himself. Of course, God had completed His original work of creating all things long ago (Genesis 2:1-3), including a marvelous mechanism for human reproduction. Nevertheless, because of man's sin, He very soon had to begin a work of reconciliation, and this included a primeval promise that "the seed of the woman" (Genesis 3:15) would come someday to accomplish this great work. Since all normal reproduction requires the male seed, such a miracle would mean God would have to create a new thing when the appropriate time would come. At that time, as Isaiah prophesied many years later, "the virgin shall conceive, and bear a son," and that Son would be "the mighty God," who would establish His kingdom "with justice from henceforth even for ever" (Isaiah 7:14; 9:6,7). Then, still later, Jeremiah reminded his forgetful people of this same great promise: God would create, by His mighty power, a new thing, a perfect human body, without inherited sin or physical blemish, and with no contribution from either male or female, in the womb of a specially called virgin. She would compass that "holy thing" (Luke 1:35) with warmth and love for nine long months as it grew in her womb. Then, in the fulness of time, "God sent forth His Son, made of a woman" (Galatians 4:4), to "save His people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ December 22, Sunday GOOD NEWS/BAD NEWS "When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy" (Matthew 2:10). The familiar story of Herod and the wise men illustrates how news of the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ so effectively separates people into two great companies: the "Gospel" of Christ means, literally, "good news," but most people, sad to say, react as though it were bad news. When the "wise men from the east" came searching for the newborn Savior, this glorious news was received badly, right where it should have been received most gladly. "When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him" (Matthew 2:3). The Jewish leaders were equally unresponsive, who, knowing the prophetic promises, could tell the king where Christ would be born (Matthew 2:5,6), but they were merely "troubled" along with others in Jerusalem. Neither Herod nor the Jewish leaders were glad for the news, and neither would join in looking for the Savior. Later, they all tried to slay Him. The wise men, on the other hand, "rejoiced with exceeding great joy" (Matthew 2:10) when they found Him, and then "they departed into their own country another way" (Matthew 2:12), no doubt with lives changed as well as itineraries. One's attitude of heart is all important. Those who proclaim Christ encounter two reactions: "To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life" (II Corinthians 2:16). Some, like Herod, react with fear and hatred, setting about to destroy the Gospel by persecution. Others, in the scholarly community, like the priests and scribes, seem to react with learned indifference but, when confronted more directly with their own hypocrisy, also eventually resort to persecution. But always there are some who, like the wise men, fall down in joyous faith to worship Him (Matthew 2:11). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ December 23, Monday OUT OF THE IVORY PALACES "All Thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces, whereby they have made Thee glad" (Psalm 45:8). Psalm 45 is one of the Messianic psalms, quoted as such in Hebrews 1:8,9. The section so quoted (vs.6,7), which immediately precedes our text, begins with one Person of the Godhead addressing the Messiah also as "God," whose throne is eternal. Then, He says, "O God,...thy God hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows." The "oil of gladness" was the holy oil used for the anointing of priests and kings, and was compounded of a mixture of spices which included myrrh and cassia (Exodus 30:22-25). Since the Messiah had been anointed to be "above His fellows" (first as High Priest, then as King of kings), "all His garments" would bear the sweet aroma of the holy ointment. At the birth of Christ, His garments were "swaddling clothes," and the gifts of the eastern wise men included a supply of myrrh and frankincense (Luke 2:7; Matthew 2:11). At His death, they gave Him "wine mingled with myrrh to drink, and then parted His garments" (Mark 15:23,24). Then, once again, His body was wrapped in linen clothes and anointed with myrrh and aloes (John 19:39,40) for His burial. The psalmist sees Christ (i.e., "Messiah," both Greek and Hebrew titles meaning "the Anointed One") emerging triumphantly from the "ivory palaces." These mansions, with their ivory walls and pearly gates, are of shimmering white beauty in the distant heavenly city which will someday descend to earth (Revelation 21:2,10-21). The Lord descended once from these ivory palaces, to take on human flesh in Mary's womb, thence to a burial in Joseph's tomb. But someday He will again come forth, anointed as eternal King, and then "shall the people praise thee for ever and ever" (Psalm 45:17). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ December 24, Tuesday THE BABE IN BETHLEHEM "But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall He come forth unto Me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting" (Micah 5:2). This is a very remarkable prophecy, explicitly predicting that the future king of Israel would be born in the little village of Bethlehem, some 700 years before He finally came. Then, to assure its fulfillment, the great Emperor Augustus had to decree a comprehensive census, compelling Joseph to take Mary with him to Bethlehem for her child to be born. That the prophecy involves an actual birth is clear, not only from the phrase "come forth," but also from the succeeding verse, which warns that God will "give them up until the time that she which travaileth hath brought forth" (v.3). The preceding verse had also predicted that "they shall smite (this coming ruler) the judge of Israel with a rod upon the cheek" (v.1), speaking of His initial rejection and execution. But that is not all. The prophecy not only foresees His birth in Bethlehem, His repudiation by His own people, and His eventual installation as King over all Israel (not merely Judah), but also that this same remarkable person was none other than God Himself! His "goings forth" had been "from everlasting." That is, He is eternally proceeding forth from His Father. He did not become God's Son when He was born in Bethlehem; He has been coming forth eternally. There is still another truth implied in the remarkable Hebrew word for "goings-forth." It is also used for such things as the flowing of water from a fountain or the radiations from the sun. Thus, the never-ending flowing forth of power from God, through the Son, is nothing less than the sustaining energy for the whole creation, as He is "upholding all things by the Word of His power" (Hebrews 1:3). And this was the Babe in Bethlehem! HMM ________________________________________________________________________ December 25, Wednesday GOD GAVE HIMSELF "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). It is singularly appropriate that we look at this greatest of all verses on Christmas Day, for it records the greatest of all gifts. The theme of giving is very prominent in the Bible, with such words as "give," "gift," "gave," etc., occurring more than 2,100 times. The first is Genesis 1:17, when God created the sun, moon and stars "to give light upon the earth," and the last is Revelation 22:12, when Christ will return with His rewards, to "give every man according as his work shall be." "He...gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons," as well as "life, and breath, and all things" (Acts 14:17; 17:25). But the greatest gift, clearly, was when God gave Himself for a lost and undeserving world. It was the greatest gift because it met the greatest need, revealed the greatest love, and had the greatest scope and greatest purpose of any gift that could ever be conceived in the heart of an omniscient Creator. That was not the end of His giving, of course. "He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?" (Romans 8:32). " the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy" (I Timothy 6:17). This great gift of God is abundantly sufficient to provide salvation and everlasting life for the whole world. But a gift only becomes a gift when it is accepted, and the greatest of all tragedies is that this greatest of all gifts has been spurned and even ridiculed, or--worst of all--simply ignored, by multitudes who need it so greatly. When they brazenly refuse God's free gift of everlasting life, they can only perish in everlasting death. God did all He could do when He gave His Son; for when He gave His Son, He gave Himself. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ December 26, Thursday THE CHRISTIAN'S HOPE "Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:12,13). The annual remembrance at Christmastime of the first coming of Christ into the world ought naturally to lead to anticipation of His second coming. To the unbeliever, that coming will entail a fiery time of judgment; but to the Christian, the return of Christ is "that blessed hope." This promise does not promote Christian indolence, as some have charged. It encourages us, rather, to "live soberly, righteously, and godly." As John says: "Abide in Him; that, when He shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before Him at His coming" (I John 2:28). Jesus warned: "Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares" (Luke 21:34). How distressing would be the shame of a Christian to be caught in some such situation when his Lord returns! The hope of His imminent coming is also a great incentive to evangelism and missions. In Paul's last message, immediately after his long description of the last days, he says: "I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom; Preach the word....Do the work of an evangelist" (II Timothy 4:1,2,5). Jude, also in the context of the imminent return of Christ, urges us: "And of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire" (Jude 22,23). The blessed hope is, in fact, a quickening incentive in the Christian life. "And every man that hath this hope in Him purifieth himself, even as He is pure" (I John 3:3). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ December 27, Friday IT IS CHRIST "Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us" (Romans 8:34). In our text, Paul asks if there is anyone who can issue a guilty sentence against believers. In light of all Christ has done, as explained in the previous sections of Romans, and the fact that the Father "hath committed all judgment unto the Son" (John 5:22), only Christ has the authority to condemn. Will Christ condemn those for whom He died? Obviously not, and Paul gives four reasons why the very suggestion is absurd. First, "It is Christ that died." He is the very one who left heaven to die as a substitute for us--to Himself bear the guilty sentence. True, "the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23), but "Christ died for our sins" (I Corinthians 15:3). Certainly, the One who bore condemnation for us will not turn and condemn us. Second, He "is risen again." He did not stay in the grave, but He rose victorious, proving that God the Father had accepted His sacrifice. Certainly "the firstborn from the dead" (Colossians 1:18), who desires "that He might be the firstborn among many brethren" (Romans 8:29), will not turn and thwart His own work and plan. Third, He is even now "at the right hand of God," where He is, among other things, preparing a place for us (John 14:2,3). He intends for us to join Him, and will not condemn us. One would think He had done enough for us, but no, Fourth, He "also maketh intercession for us." As long as we, His "brethren," still live, He is interceding to God on our behalf. He asks the Father for our acceptance, not for our condemnation. If the only one with authority to condemn will not condemn, then we have the assurance that nothing "shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (v.39). JDM ________________________________________________________________________ December 28, Saturday GOD KNOWS ME! "O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me" (Psalm 139:1). Perhaps the most frightening attribute of God is that He knows everything about us. Everything! He has "searched" (literally "penetrated") us and "known" ("understood") us. And, since God is both omnipotent and omniscient, it obviously follows that nothing escapes His conscious knowledge about us. He observes our ordinary activities (v.2) and our innermost thoughts. "Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways" (v.3). The Hebrew word translated "compassest" suggests that He actually sees the formation of the words in our tongues before we begin to speak them (v.4). That means that we are transparent to Him; we cannot deceive Him in any way. He knows what I am going to think; I cannot hide anything from Him. God knows what only we know about ourselves, and those things we won't even admit to ourselves. Furthermore, He is everywhere around each one of us (vs.7-10), wherever we are or could be. He fills all space, and there is no escape. We cannot hide from God. He is wherever we go. The Apostle Paul once observed, "For in Him we live, and move, and have our being" (Acts 17:28). This very intimate and complete knowledge about us is what makes God's salvation such a marvelous matter, "For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:6-8). God loves us in spite of what we have become. Yet, since He knows what we could be, He gives us eternal life through His Son so that we will realize, one day, what He knows we will be. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ December 29, Sunday THE AMEN "For all the promises of God in Him are yea, and in Him Amen, unto the glory of God by us" (II Corinthians 1:20). The word "amen" is a most remarkable word. It was transliterated directly from the Hebrew into the Greek of the New Testament, then into Latin and into English and many other languages, so that it is practically a universal word. It has been called the best-known word in human speech. The word is directly related--in fact, almost identical--to the Hebrew word for "believe" (aman), or "faithful." Thus, it came to mean "sure" or "truly," an expression of absolute trust and confidence. When one believes God, he indicates his faith by an "amen." When God makes a promise, the believer's response is "amen"--"so it will be!" In the New Testament, it is often translated "verily" or "truly." When we pray according to His Word and His will, we know God will answer, so we close with an "amen," and so also do we conclude a great hymn or anthem of praise and faith. The word is even a title of Christ Himself. The last of His letters to the seven churches begins with a remarkable salutation by the glorified Lord: "These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God" (Revelation 3:14). We can be preeminently certain that His Word is always faithful and true, because He is none other than the Creator of all things, and thus He is our eternal "Amen." As our text reminds us, every promise of God in Christ is "yea and amen," as strong an affirmation of truth as can be expressed in the Greek language. It is, therefore, profoundly meaningful that the entire Bible closes with an "amen." "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen" (Revelation 22:21), assuring everyone who reads these words that the whole Book is absolutely true and trustworthy. Amen! HMM ________________________________________________________________________ December 30, Monday COMETS AND FALSE TEACHERS "Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever" (Jude 13). When Jude refers to false teachers, he likens them, among other things, to "wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever" (Jude 13). By "wandering stars," Jude may be describing what we know today as comets. In any case, the analogy is evident: just as a false teacher sometimes appears as "an angel of light" (II Corinthians 11:14), so a comet in proximity to the sun has a brilliant tail of gas emanating from its icy head, which is illuminated by the sun. The nearness of a comet to the sun is only temporary, for the comet soon departs to a remote region of the solar system, where the diminished light of the sun cannot vaporize its icy mass. A comet far from the sun is invisible to even the most powerful telescope, and can be described as residing in "outer darkness." This is probably the only reference in the Bible that could be applied to comets as such. Lack of mention of comets may be intentional. The shining, sword-like appearance of comets influenced pagan nations throughout history to regard them as omens of bad events (war, natural disasters, or death of kings). Comets were regarded as capable of influencing the lives of men on earth. The Egyptians even worshipped them as celestial deities. The Bible affirms that the stars (and by inference, the comets) are not divine (Deuteronomy 4:19; 17:3) and do not disclose or control man's destiny (Isaiah 47:13; Jeremiah 10:2; Daniel 4:7), as the nations of antiquity almost all believed. Perhaps because of their association with pagan practices, the subject of comets was best ignored by Bible authors. Scripture shows that the stars of the heavens are evidences of God's handiwork in creation (Psalm 19:1-4), not as deities or omens influencing human life. SAA ________________________________________________________________________ December 31, Tuesday COUNT YOUR MANY BLESSINGS "Thou crownest the year with Thy goodness; and Thy paths drop fatness" (Psalm 65:11). At year's end, a Christian should stop to count his blessings. If he does this honestly and fully, no matter what his problems may have been during the year, he will have to confess that God, as always, has crowned the year with goodness. The coronation figure is frequently used in Scripture to speak of God's blessings in the Christian life. For example: "Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies" (Psalm 103:4). Even our testings and trials are always in the context of God's grace and love. Christ Himself wore a crown of thorns so that we may be crowned with mercy and salvation. Consider also Psalm 5:12: "For Thou, LORD, will bless the righteous; with favor wilt Thou compass him as with a shield." The word "compass" is the same Hebrew word as "crown," the basic meaning being "encircle." Other jewels in the year-end crown for the believer are God's grace and glory. "(Wisdom) shall give to thine head an ornament of grace: A crown of glory shall she deliver to thee" (Proverbs 4:9). Then there is the wonderful testimony that "Thou hast made Him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned Him with glory and honor" (Psalm 8:5). Finally, the believer's crown is none other than the Lord Himself: "In that day shall the LORD of hosts be for a crown of glory, and for a diadem of beauty, unto the residue of His people" (Isaiah 28:5). Most Christians also have an abundance of material blessings to count at the end of the year, for which to thank the Lord. Even if they have none of these, however, God has crowned the year with goodness and favor, with loving kindness and tender mercies, with grace and glory and honor and, best of all, with His own presence. "Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits" (Psalm 103:2). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ January 1, Wednesday RENEW OUR DAYS "Turn thou us unto thee, O LORD, and we shall be turned; renew our days as of old" (Lamentations 5:21). The book of Lamentations was written by the prophet Jeremiah after the people of Judah had been carried captive into Babylon, and Jerusalem itself burned down by Nebuchadnezzar's army. Even though the Jews were the people of God and Jerusalem the city of God, their long-continued compromise with pantheistic idolatry and its associated evils finally had brought down God's wrath on them, and they were now suffering its consequences. Jeremiah, in the five doleful chapters of this book, expresses great sorrow over their sufferings, yet also confesses their sins, seeking forgiveness and restoration. God's people had experienced a glorious beginning, but then the paganism of the surrounding nations had captivated them; they had forgotten God, and this was the result. Jeremiah, on behalf of his people, was pleading for them, and confessing for them, and praying for them: "Renew our days as of old," he cried, concluding his great lamentation. God eventually did just that, for "if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (I John 1:9). An older contemporary of Jeremiah, the prophet Habakkuk, had prayed in similar fashion: "O LORD, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy" (Habakkuk 3:2). Perhaps it would be in order for us today, if we have like Israel been compromising with the paganism of our own day, to paraphrase this prayer and adapt it for ourselves: "O LORD, revive thy work at this beginning of the year; at this New Year make it known once again; in wrath remember mercy!" As Jeremiah prayed: "Turn thou us unto thee, O LORD; and we shall be turned. Renew our days as of old." HMM ________________________________________________________________________ January 2, Thursday GOD IS LOVE "He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love" (I John 4:8). The simplest description of God is the Bible phrase, "God is love." Everyone responds to love, and everything seems empty and pointless without it. Little wonder, then, that the Scripture also says, "He that loveth not knoweth not God." If God were truly known, love--not hate--would be the result. The love of God is not merely a theoretical concept or a theological doctrine. "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins" (I John 4:10). One of the first glimpses we have of God is when He was looking for Adam and Eve after their disobedience. One godly preacher noted, "When you read God's first question to man, `Where are you?,' as though He were some sort of policeman seeking a fugitive from justice, you do not know anything about God. You must read it as though God were a broken-hearted father looking for a lost child." God aches to help us. God loves us more than we can ever understand or even begin to feel. Our text tells us that "God is love." "The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth" (Exodus 34:6), loves us! Yet in spite of God's love and His never-ceasing desire to bless us with His love, our thoughts toward Him and our relationships with Him are often troublesome and uncomfortable--not warm and loving. Could it be that our "iniquities have separated between" us and God, and our "sins have hid His face" from us (Isaiah 59:2)? God is love, but God is holy, too (I Peter 1:16). These meet together in Christ. When we come to Him, we need only to "confess our sins," for "He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (I John 1:9). HMM III ________________________________________________________________________ January 3, Friday THE ABSENCE OF SIN "Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness" (II Peter 3:13). For thousands of years, the followers of God have battled against "principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world" (Ephesians 6:12), led by Lucifer, that old serpent, the arch rebel and self-appointed accuser of the saints of God. Although assured of the ultimate victory through our Lord Jesus Christ, Christians have often suffered cruelly at the hands of Lucifer and his followers. As Christians, the aching longing in our hearts for peace is really none other than the Holy Spirit, Himself, grieving at sin, and our own new, holy nature "groaning" to be free, in its expression of the divine nature. It is the nature of the child of God to "hunger and thirst after righteousness!" (Matthew 5:6). It is the normal thing for one "raised" up and already seated "in heavenly places in Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 2:6) to long for the shackles of the "body of this death" (Romans 7:24) to be loosened. Under ordinary circumstances, our spiritual being--"the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness" (Ephesians 4:24) knows that we are "strangers and pilgrims on the earth" (Hebrews 11:13). Such a knowledge openly declares that we "desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for He hath prepared for them a city" (v.16). If we have lost sight of the place that Jesus has gone to prepare for us, we become both forlorn and despoiled. But if we treasure the great truth that we will spend eternity with our Lord in His "new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness," we are comforted and encouraged, recognizing that both sin and all its effects will be absent. HMM III ________________________________________________________________________ January 4, Saturday SEPARATION FROM GOD "And Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden" (Genesis 4:16). This is a very sad and ominous verse, foreshadowing the tragic fate of all those who "have gone in the way of Cain" (Jude 11). "A fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth," God had said (Genesis 4:12), destined to a restless life of moving to and fro in "the land of Nod" (literally, "the land of wandering") all the rest of his days. Cain's basic sin was not just the murder of Abel. "And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous" (I John 3:12). "By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts" (Hebrews 11:4). Abel's work of sacrifice was judged righteous by God, and Cain's was not, because Cain "was of that wicked one" (I John 3:12). He had refused to offer the blood of an acceptable sacrifice for his sins (and thus forfeited God's witness that he was righteous), instead offering the fruits of the cursed ground, produced by his own efforts. But then Abel's shed blood entered that ground, so even it could "not henceforth yield unto thee her strength" (Genesis 4:12), and Cain became a wanderer. Thus it will be in eternity, for all those who refuse to come to God through the blood of the one acceptable Sacrifice, His own righteous Son. They shall "have no rest day nor night" (Revelation 14:11), like "wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever" (Jude 13), "who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord " (II Thessalonians 1:9). Such eternal separation from God is the very essence of hell. In glorious contrast to such a prospect, all who come to God through Christ will "ever be with the Lord" (I Thessalonians 4:17). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ January 5, Sunday THE ETERNAL EARTH "Who laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed for ever" (Psalm 104:5). Secular astronomers and geologists have become increasingly concerned that the earth might be shattered some day by collision with a swarm of asteroids, or even with a star. Apart from this, they say, the sun is going to burn out (or maybe explode!), and this would also terminate the earth. Possibly some future nuclear war will set off a chain reaction which will disintegrate the earth. We can allay their fears. God has assured us that both the heavens and the earth will abide forever. He is the Creator, and, being omniscient, He does not make mistakes. Note a few of the verses which verify this, in addition to our text: "Thy faithfulness is unto all generations: thou hast established the earth, and it abideth" (Psalm 119:90). "Praise ye Him, sun and moon:...all ye stars of light....For He commanded, and they were created. He hath also stablished them for ever and ever" (Psalm 148:3,5,6). "(David's) seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before me. It shall be established for ever as the moon, and as a faithful witness in heaven" (Psalm 89:36,37). "They that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever" (Daniel 12:3). The earth will not last for ever in its present form, of course, for it is under God's curse because of man's sin. In their present form, the earth and the heavens are "passing away," Jesus said (Matthew 24:35), and one day the very "elements shall melt" and the earth "shall be burned up" (II Peter 3:10). But then, "according to His promise," God will create "new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness" (II Peter 3:13), and then it "shall remain before me, saith the LORD" (Isaiah 66:22). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ January 6, Monday WE WILL SERVE THE LORD "And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD" (Joshua 24:15). As Joshua's death approached, he gathered the people around him for a final address and challenge. "Fear the LORD, and serve Him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served" (v.14), he exhorted as he reviewed the history of God's provision for Israel. Indeed, God was worthy of their service, in light of all He had done for them. Speaking on behalf of the Lord, Joshua used the divine pronoun "I" no less than 17 times in the previous 11 verses, in a majestic listing of His work on their behalf. There seems to be a twist of irony in Joshua's words. Even though the people adamantly maintained: "therefore we will also serve the LORD; for He is our God" (v.18), Joshua evidently knew they had already decided not to follow God. He did not offer them a choice between the true God and false gods, he offered them a choice between sets of false gods--those "on the other side of the flood" (i.e., the Euphrates River), or those "in Egypt" (v.14), or "the gods of the Amorites." None can compare, obviously, to the Lord. Joshua's point is still applicable today. Man must worship; he must have a god. One may recognize his god as an actual "god"--an idol to be openly worshipped. Many times today, however, the god is that of human reason, science, evolution or humanism, and worship is performed unwittingly. Our duty in witnessing includes helping the unsaved to make a knowledgeable choice, pointing out the consequences of their choice of gods. Such a comparison should drive one to the same decision as Joshua's: "as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD." JDM ________________________________________________________________________ January 7, Tuesday THE RANSOM PRICE "So I bought her to me for fifteen pieces of silver, and for an homer of barley, and an half homer of barley" (Hosea 3:2). The prophet Hosea, sent to the Northern Kingdom of Israel, was advised by the Lord to explain to Israel the spiritual whoredom that she had committed. She had sought other gods (lovers), committing spiritual adultery while the wife of the Lord. Punishment must come! But the Lord was not willing to dispose of her, and purchased her back. Frequently, a prophet's message included a visual reminder or example of the broader truth being taught. Accordingly, Hosea was told by God to "take unto thee a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms: for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the LORD" (Hosea 1:2). Later, this same wife returned to her practice of prostitution and eventually was taken into slavery. Hosea was then told to "Go yet, love a woman beloved of her friend, yet an adultress, according to the love of the LORD toward the children of Israel, who look to other gods" (Hosea 3:1). As our text tells us, Hosea had to repurchase her at the slave market. The analogies in this story are obvious. Frequently, even we who have been so purchased find ourselves going after other gods--entertainment, children, vacation, freedom--only to be awakened by the fact that we have been set aside. Fortunately, God loves us and has demonstrated His love by His own actions toward us, as foreshadowed in the analogy acted out by Hosea. He will not forever abandon us, just as Hosea would not abandon his unfaithful wife, or the Lord His people Israel, or the Creator His creation. Just as for Hosea, the story will have a good ending: "Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the LORD their God...and shall fear the LORD and His goodness in the latter days" (Hosea 3:5). KBC ________________________________________________________________________ January 8, Wednesday HOW TO TRAIN A CHILD "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6). This proverb has been widely quoted, but almost as widely misunderstood. The words "train up" (Hebrew chanak) is elsewhere always translated "dedicate." That is, a child is to be "dedicated" to a certain calling, and then trained specifically for that purpose. But exactly what is this calling--this "way he should go?" Parents often make the mistake of trying to lead their children into ways of their own choosing. The father wants his son to follow his own profession; the mother wants her daughter to marry a rich man. The child also may have ambitions that have been colored by the times. The boy may want to be a professional athlete and the girl a country singer. The way he should go, however, is the way the Lord wants him to go, and we can be sure that the child's natural talents and interests will have been implanted in him by God for that high purpose. As Samuel was called into the priesthood while yet a child, and so dedicated by his mother, Hannah, and trained by the old priest, Eli, so we should recognize that God has a specific purpose for each of our children. The child's God-given abilities are to be used "for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ" (Ephesians 4:12) and need to be developed with this high purpose in view. Both child and parents together should diligently seek to discern God's leading, dedicate him or her to the Lord and His will, recognize the special talents and circumstances that God provides for this purpose, and then seek to encourage and prepare the child to fill that calling. Then, God's promise is that the entire life (not just the left-overs after all the mistakes and wasted years) will be productive in the optimum career of God's choosing. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ January 9, Thursday THE PERFECT MAN "And the boys grew: and Esau was a cunning hunter, a man of the field; and Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents" (Genesis 25:27). Seldom have Bible translators done such an injustice to a godly man as the King James translators did to Jacob (the man whom God used to father His chosen nation Israel) when they called him a "plain" man, in contrast to his apparently more glamorous brother Esau. Later translators were little better, using such words as "simple," "mild," etc. The Hebrew word is tam, and its real meaning is "perfect" or "complete." It is the word God used to describe Job, when defending him against Satan--"a perfect and an upright man" (Job 1:1,8; 2:3). It is also the word used by the Bridegroom to describe the Bride in the Song of Solomon, there translated "undefiled" (Song of Solomon 5:2; 6:9). Can one imagine the loving Bridegroom calling His beloved "plain?" Jacob, in God's evaluation, was a perfect man. This does not mean he was sinless, of course, and neither was Job. But his heart was right toward God, believing His Word, caring for his family, earnestly seeking the will of God in preparing for the future ministry which God had revealed to his mother before he was born (Genesis 25:23). His brother Esau was an irresponsible, carnal playboy, despising his birthright and caring nothing about the great plan of God. How strange that so many generations of Christians have repeatedly defamed Jacob (and his descendants) and admired Esau, when God had said: "I loved Jacob, And I hated Esau" (Malachi 1:2,3). God spoke to Jacob many times, after His "stealing" of the birthright and blessing which Isaac was seeking to deny him (though they had been made his by divine commandment), and it is significant that God never spoke a word of rebuke to Jacob about this--only of blessing and promise. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ January 10, Friday NEVER DIE "And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die" (John 11:26). These words of the sovereign just prior to His raising Lazarus seem to be untrue. We attend funeral services of believers, see their dead bodies in coffins, and witness the coffins prior to their being lowered into the earth. How could Jesus say "never die"? When a person has an arm or a leg amputated, the appendage dies, but the person lives on. Does something live on in the case of the believer when the whole body is amputated? The answer is emphatically, "yes!" The Lord taught us not to fear "them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell" (Matthew 10:28). If the believer's soul goes immediately to be with Jesus when he leaves his body (and this is the clear teaching of Scripture, e.g., Luke 23:43 and II Corinthians 5:1-10), can we truthfully describe him as being dead? He is not dead! He is with Life Himself! "God is not the God of the dead, but of the living" (Matthew 22:32). Yes, temporarily the believer is without a body, but even this will be remedied when the Lord returns and the souls of His people are joined to resurrected bodies made incorruptible (I Corinthians 15:52). The believer never dies--even as the Truth Himself (John 14:6) affirmed. After speaking the words of our text, Jesus asked, "Believest thou this?" We all would do well to believe our Maker. He made us. He knows death by experience. He conquered death and ever lives. Our only hope for life beyond the prospects of bodily separation is Jesus. He alone knows what He is talking about! The next time we are tempted to describe a departed believer as being dead, we may want to remember these words of Jesus and apply them to the situation. PGH ________________________________________________________________________ January 11, Saturday THE NEW JERUSALEM "But be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy" (Isaiah 65:18). Here is a remarkable act of creation! The verb "create" always has God as its subject, and it would surely require the divine Creator to "create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy!" Jerusalem, throughout her history, has been a city of conflict and sorrow, and her people have suffered under oppressors longer than any other nation, not only in Jerusalem (meaning, ironically, "city of peace") but throughout the world. The ultimate fulfillment of this striking prophecy can only be when we (like John, in his vision) see "the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband" (Revelation 21:2). In that day, "God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things are passed away" (Revelation 21:4). If there is no more sorrow, there can only be rejoicing; if there is no more death, there will be eternal rejoicing, just as our text assures us. This will be our everlasting home, so indeed "her people" will be, in their new creation, "a joy" forever. Since the New Jerusalem will come down from heaven, it is now in heaven, where Christ has gone to prepare a place for us (John 14:2). Our Creator/Redeemer has created this New Jerusalem for us, as well as the new heavens and new earth. Isaiah then ends his remarkable prophecy with this wonderful assurance: "As the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the LORD, so shall your seed and your name remain" (Isaiah 66:22). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ January 12, Sunday GOING AND RETURNING "I will go down with thee into Egypt; and I will also surely bring thee up again: and Joseph shall put his hand upon thine eyes" (Genesis 46:4). Imagine the turmoil that Jacob must have felt when he heard the news that Joseph was alive and wanted him to move to Egypt. His son, whom he had thought dead for many years, was not only alive but governor of Egypt! As difficult as this was for him to believe, Jacob no doubt had a myriad of other emotions crowding in on him. God had directed him to Canaan, as with his fathers, Abraham and Isaac. This was the land of promise, and yet circumstances seemed to indicate that God was leading him away. In the past, God had always spoken to him directly before each important move, and Jacob must have had that in mind as they traveled. The company stopped at Beersheba, the southern boundary of the promised land. Here Jacob had lived with his parents (Genesis 28:10). Here God had repeated His covenant to Isaac (Genesis 26:24), and here Jacob decided to build an altar to ask God for clear leading before leaving the land (Genesis 46:1) and God graciously answered: "I am God, the God of thy father: fear not to go down into Egypt; for I will there make of thee a great nation" (Genesis 46:3). Furthermore, God assured Jacob, in our text, that when His purposes in Egypt were accomplished, He would "bring thee up again" into the land of promise. Many details were as yet unknown to Jacob, but he gladly obeyed. This pattern is applicable to us. As we endeavor to follow God's leading, we should proceed as best we can discern the situation (assuming there is no Scriptural teaching to the contrary), all the while praying for wisdom and clarification. He may shut the door and redirect, or He may confirm our decision. We can proceed in the confidence that He will go with us, and when the time is right, He will lead us on. JDM ________________________________________________________________________ January 13, Monday LIVE HONESTLY "Pray for us: for we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly" (Hebrews 13:18). It ought to go without saying that a Christian should live honestly in all things. Apparently, it does need saying, however, because the Scriptures contain many such references. For example: "Provide things honest in the sight of all men" (Romans 12:17). For the sake of one's Christian testimony before other men, it is vital that utter honesty must characterize his life. Even if men cannot see our little acts of dishonesty, God can, and so even our secret actions must be "providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men" (II Corinthians 8:21). "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest...think on these things" (Philippians 4:8). We live in a corrupt and cynical society, where genuine honesty is rare. Petty pilfering at the office, cheating on taxes, plagiarizing, loafing at the job, padding expense accounts, cheating on tests, cutting corners on obligations, breaking promises, exaggerating--the list of petty dishonesties is endless, not even to mention the crime and major corruption so prevalent today almost everywhere. In such an environment, dominated and conditioned by a humanistic educational system, unsaved persons easily adapt to such questionable practices, for "unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled" (Titus 1:15). But when Christians do such things (and, unfortunately, they do!), those same people find it scandalous, and blaspheme the Gospel because of it. How vital it is for Christians to become scrupulously sensitive about even the smallest matters. This should, in fact, be a major item of daily prayer, as in our text for the day. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ January 14, Tuesday THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD "Thou hast a mighty arm: strong is thy hand, and high is thy right hand" (Psalm 89:13). In Scripture, God's right hand symbolizes His strength, His power, and His might. The psalmists refer often to God's right hand, revealing many aspects of His divine protection. God's right hand gave Israel the land they inhabited: "For they got not the land in possession by their own sword, neither did their own arm save them: but thy right hand, and thine arm..." (Psalm 44:3). Many times, as in Psalm 17:7, the writers called upon God for deliverance from their enemies. "Show thy marvelous lovingkindness, O thou that savest by thy right hand them which put their trust in thee from those that rise up against them." When the enemy seemed ready to overwhelm, another psalmist cried out, "Shall the enemy blaspheme thy name forever? Why withdrawest thou thy hand, even thy right hand? Pluck it out of thy bosom" (Psalm 74:10,11). Recognizing God's hand in all His victories, David praised God's "right hand (which) hath holden me up" (Psalm 18:35). "In the day of trouble" (Psalm 20:1), he knew that God would "hear him from His holy heaven with the saving strength of His right hand" (v.6). "Thine hand shall find out all thine enemies: thy right hand shall find out those that hate thee" (Psalm 21:8). In Psalm 63, David reviewed the many blessings bestowed upon him by God. He closed the Psalm with these words: "My soul followeth hard after thee: thy right hand upholdeth me" (v.8). No matter what his circumstances, David depended upon the right hand of God. So ought we. "O sing unto the LORD a new song; for He hath done marvelous things: His right hand, and His holy arm, hath gotten Him the victory" (Psalm 98:1). BJC ________________________________________________________________________ January 15, Wednesday THE PRAYER WARRIOR "Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God" (Colossians 4:12). We sometimes speak of others as "prayer warriors," though we may use the term too lightly, and few of us would claim such a title for ourselves. It is fairly easy to pray for our own needs or those of our loved ones, and we more or less naturally are able to thank the Lord for our blessings. It is much more difficult, however, to pray for the needs of those outside our own circle--that is, to be true intercessors. But those who do are the true prayer warriors! Epaphras, who was "always" interceding for the Christians at Colosse, was an exemplary prayer warrior. This term is used advisedly, for he was "laboring fervently" for them. The Greek word translated thus is agonizomai, from which we get our English word "agonize." Thus, Epaphras was actually agonizing in prayer, that the Colossians might grow and do the will of God in their lives. What a ministry is prayer like this, and how few are those who pray in such a way! It is significant that this word occurs just six other times in the New Testament, three times translated "strive" and three times translated "fight." Jesus said: "Strive to enter in at the straight gate" (Luke 13:24). The word is translated "fight" in John 18:36, when Jesus said: "If my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight." Paul said, "I have fought a good fight" (II Timothy 4:7), and urged Timothy to "fight the good fight of faith" (I Timothy 6:12). Thus the intercessions of real prayer warriors like Epaphras involved striving, fighting, agonizing in prayer! And remember that, greatest of all, the Lord Jesus, "ever liveth to make intercession for (us)" (Hebrews 7:25). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ January 16, Thursday THE SHINING PATH "But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day" (Proverbs 4:18). This beautiful promise is inserted in the midst of a sober warning against taking the broad, well-traveled path of the ungodly. "Enter not into the path of the wicked....Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away....The way of the wicked is as darkness: they know not at what they stumble" (Proverbs 4:14,15,19). In contrast to the path of darkness, there is the shining path of the just, leading all the way to "the perfect day," where there is no more night (Revelation 22:5). And what is the light that keeps the pathway shining? "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path" (Psalm 119:105). "The LORD is my light and my salvation....Lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies" (Psalm 27:1,11). It is a frightening experience to drive a dark highway or walk a treacherous pathway on a dark night when there are no lights to shine on it, but that is exactly the peril of the soul without Christ. "But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin" (I John 1:7). Jesus said, "I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life" (John 8:12). The longer and farther we travel in the light of His Word, the brighter grows the path. How vitally important, therefore, that we keep in His Word and to His Word, for this is our one light in this dark place. "For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life" (Proverbs 6:23). "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" (II Corinthians 4:6). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ January 17, Friday FLOWING FACES "They looked unto Him, and were lightened: and their faces were not ashamed" (Psalm 34:5). This is a fascinating verse, speaking of the wonderful afterglow on a believer's countenance when the Lord has answered an urgent and specific prayer. The previous verse contains such a testimony: "I sought the LORD, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears." So does the following verse: "This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles" (vs.4,6). The answered prayer had been so remarkable that it had even required angelic intervention (v.7), prompting David to exclaim, "O taste and see that the LORD is good" (v.8). As a result, their very faces, instead of exhibiting shame in defeat, had become "lightened" in triumphant joy. This unique adjective, normally used to describe a fast-flowing stream of water, has a root meaning of something like "sparkle." As applied to flowing water, the picture is of a fast mountain stream, tripping over the rocks in a cascade of jets and bubbles--a "sparkling" stream. When applied to individual believers, it tells us that their faces became "sparkling" or "radiant." The King James rendering of "lightened" is as good as any, speaking of such a wonderful deliverance that their countenances seemed actually to "light up" with joy. Every Christian can also have such a lightened countenance, for the same God who answered their prayers will answer our prayers today, when we pray according to His will, and ask in faith. "Ask, and ye shall receive," says the Lord, "that your joy may be full" (John 16:24). As the Lord's blessing becomes more real with each prayer answered, our countenances may become flowing countenances and glowing countenances, like a sparkling mountain stream. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ January 18, Saturday SLAVES OF CHRIST "But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life" (Romans 6:22). There are several words translated "servants" in the New Testament, but the most common is doulos, as in our text, and its actual meaning is "bondservants," or "slaves." Its root meaning is to tie or bind, and was commonly applied to the slaves in the Roman empire at the time of Christ. The Apostle Paul had reminded the Roman Christians that they "were the slaves of sin" (Romans 6:17) before they had been saved, having "yielded your members slaves to uncleanness and to iniquity" (v.19). In Christ, however, "being then made free from sin, ye became the slaves of righteousness" (v.18). Those who are slaves to sin will ultimately receive the wages of sin, which is death (v. 23), but the wages (or "fruit") of righteousness is holiness and everlasting life, as Paul answers us in our text. Thus, it is not a burden, but a high privilege, to "become slaves to God." Paul even called himself, though an Apostle, a "slave of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:1; Titus 1:1, etc.), and so did James, Peter, Jude and John (James 1:1; II Peter 1:1; Jude 1; Revelation 1:1). We are certainly no better than they, to say the least, so we also need to recognize that, if we are genuine Christians, we are slaves of Christ. Since "ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men" (I Corinthians 7:23), much less "slaves of sin," but of Christ. This means, of course, that we belong to Him, and He has the right to do as He wills with His own. We have been "bought with a price" (I Corinthians 6:20), and we owe Him full obedience. As a slave is expected to respond to the voice of his lord, so we must hear and obey His Word, without equivocation. "So now yield your members slaves to righteousness unto holiness" (Romans 6:19). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ January 19, Sunday INNOCENT BLOOD "Surely at the commandment of the LORD came this upon Judah, to remove them out of His sight, for the sins of Manasseh, according to all that he did; And also for the innocent blood that he shed: for he filled Jerusalem with innocent blood; which the LORD would not pardon" (II Kings 24:3,4). Foremost among the atrocities practiced by some of the kings of Judah were those of Manasseh. He seemed to have done about everything wrong that could be done: He built high places, put up altars to Baal, made a grove, worshipped all the host of heaven, built altars in the house of the Lord, made his sons pass through the fire, observed times, used enchantments, dealt with familiar spirits and wizards, and set a graven image in the grove of the house of the Lord. Evidently the most serious crime of all was that he shed much innocent blood. Even if the Lord could have forgiven many of his other crimes, He couldn't pardon the bloody atrocities which Manasseh had committed. For all this wickedness, the Lord finally permitted Judah's enemies to destroy her political existence and take her captive. The Lord had said: "Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed" (Genesis 9:6). However, in grace He also provided a way of escape (Deuteronomy 19:9,10) for those who had killed someone accidentally, to prevent further shedding of innocent blood. The cities of refuge were for people who committed crimes by accident, rather than by deliberate intent, but there was no such provision for those who shed innocent blood. But when Jesus came, He brought forgiveness and salvation for all, even for those who had shed innocent blood, if they would truly repent and believe on His name. This He accomplished through the sacrificial shedding of His own innocent blood (Matthew 27:4). KBC ________________________________________________________________________ January 20, Monday THE NEW CREATION "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" (II Corinthians 5:17). To appreciate this wonderful verse properly, it is helpful to remember two things: In the New Testament, both "creature" and "creation" represent the same Greek word and so can be used interchangeably. Secondly, in both Testaments, only "God" or "the Lord" can be the subject of the verb "create" or "created," because God alone is the Creator. Men can "make" things, or "form" things, but only God can create! As far as the physical creation is concerned, the work of creation was finished long ago (Genesis 2:1-3; Hebrews 4:3,10), except for the very special case of miracles (e.g., the miracle of the multiplied loaves and fishes). Nevertheless, He is still the Creator, and the miracle of regeneration is a spiritual creation which does occur every time an individual truly receives Christ as Savior and Lord and is, thereby, "born again." Only God can create! No psychologist, or guru, or anyone else can make a "new man" of an "old man." Only God is Creator, and an unregenerate person must be "born of the Spirit"--that is, God the Holy Spirit--to be truly "born again" (John 3:3-8). But then he does become a new creation, and his life is changed! We "put off...the old man," and "put on the new man, which after God is created (note--`created'!) in righteousness and true holiness" (Ephesians 4:22,24). We "have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him" (Colossians 3:9,10). This is Christ's work, for "Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God" (Galations 2:20). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ January 21, Tuesday THE GATES OF HELL "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matthew 16:18). Many take this verse to teach security, that although Satan and his henchmen are attacking, the church and the Christian are safe within their fortress. In fact, many commentators and translaters understand "gates" metophorically, feeling that since gates are strong and important, they can be viewed as synonymous with "power," implying that the "power of hell" is marshaled against the church. But this is not the case. The Greek word appears only a few times, and in no case can it be understood to mean power. It always means gates--either literal gates in a literal wall or a figurative entryway. Our text is not talking about the "power" of hell, but the "gates" of hell. The picture is not one of Christians cloistered within their castle while Satan attempts to destroy them, but one of Christians on the attack. The forces of evil are the desperate ones huddled within their stronghold, while the church is battering down their gates! The same teaching is found elsewhere: "For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds; Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ" (II Corinthians 10:4,5). These verses sound the battle cry, and the battleground is the minds of men. We are to cast down (literally demolish) improper reasoning and arrogant philosophy, capturing every thought (literally mind) for Christ, thereby destroying the bastions of evil. Christian, there is a time for defense, but let us never forget we are to be on the offensive, as well. The Christ who leads us into the fray will surely lead us to victory! JDM ________________________________________________________________________ January 22, Wednesday GOD'S DIVINE DETOURS "And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt: But God led the people about, through the way of the wilderness of the Red sea; and the children of Israel went up harnessed out of the land of Egypt" (Exodus 13:17,18). No driver enjoys having to take a detour, but there is usually a very good reason for it, and we accept it with little question. A divinely prescribed detour in our personal goals, however, often becomes a focus of complaint and discouragement. Detours and delays of one sort or another occur in the life of every Christian, but they are always for good reason. Remember Christ taught that when we have "been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things" (Matthew 25:21). Trials and detours prepare us for greater responsibility and blessing. The experience of the children of Israel is a prime example. What started as a detour of perhaps 100 miles developed into a delay of 40 years before they were actually prepared to enter the promised land. A mob of slaves--carnal and fearful, selfish and complaining, critical and greedy, worldly and idolatrous--somehow had to become a nation of responsible citizens--disciplined and courageous, industrious and law- abiding, God fearing and spiritual. This transformation required much time and chastening and miraculous guidance, but it was all for their ultimate good and for God's glory. What God does with His own is, by definition, right, and we'll understand it better later on. "Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby" (Hebrews 12:11). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ January 23, Thursday INSTANT CREATION "Mine hand also hath laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand hath spanned the heavens: when I call unto them, they stand up together" (Isaiah 48:13). This is one of many passages in Scripture which not only tells us that God is Creator of both heaven and earth, but also that He created them instantaneously. Creation is not a "process," but a miraculous event! With a wave of the hand, so to speak, God simply called them into being. This is also the testimony of the incomparable account of creation in Genesis. "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth," (Genesis 1:1). This primeval testimony does not say: "From the beginning, God has been creating heaven and earth" as theistic evolutionists would say. Creation of all things was an event completed in the past. The divinely inspired psalmist agrees: "By the Word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth....For He spake, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast" (Psalm 33:6,9). "For He commanded, and they were created. He hath also stablished them for ever and ever" (Psalm 148:5,6). Furthermore, according to our text, when God spoke into existence the heavens and the earth, they both proceeded to "stand up together!" He did not create the heavens 15 billion years ago, then the earth only five billion years ago, as some creationists allege. They stood up together! "In six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is" (Exodus 20:11). It is important to recognize the recent creation of all things, not only because God said so, but also because the multi-billion-year framework of cosmic evolution, pushing God as far away and long ago as possible, is merely the modern pseudo-scientific way of getting rid of Him altogether! Christians should not compromise with such a system! HMM ________________________________________________________________________ January 24, Friday IN CHRIST "For in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily" (Colossians 2:9). In Colossians, the preposition in introduces a multitude of information concerning the Person of Christ, His relationship to us, and ours to Him. The "in's" are as follows: (1) The in of redemption: "In whom we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins" (1:14). (2) The in of fulness: "For it pleased the Father that in Him should all fulness dwell" (1:19). (3) The in of Christ's indwelling: "God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory" (1:27). (4) The in of working: "I also labor, striving according to His working, which worketh in me mightily" (1:29). (5) The in of bonding love: "That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love" (2:2). (6) The in of hidden treasure: "In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (2:3). (7) The in of steadfastness: "Joying and beholding your order, and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ" (2:5). (8) The in of walking: "As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him" (2:6). (9) The in of growth and stability: "Rooted and built up in Him, and stablished in the faith" (2:7). (10) The in of deity: "For in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily" (2:9). (11) The in of completeness: "Ye are complete in Him" (2:10). (12) The in of spiritual surgery: "In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ" (2:11). Always remember: God is in Christ (2:9); Christ is in you (1:27); you are in Christ (2:10). NPS ________________________________________________________________________ January 25, Saturday THE SAINTS "Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 1:1). In the opening salutations to the churches at Rome, Corinth, Ephesus, Philippi, and Colosse, the Apostle Paul addresses the "saints" in those churches--a term essentially synonymous (as in our text above) with "the faithful in Christ Jesus." The Greek word (hagios) is also translated, even more frequently, as "holy." Evidently, "saints" are "those who are holy." For example, just three verses later, Paul speaks thus of believers: "He hath chosen us in Him (Christ) before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy (same word) and without blame before Him in love" (v.4). This immediately raises an obvious question. Paul's rebukes to the "saints" in these churches (especially Corinth) certainly would indicate that the lives of many in them were anything but holy! How can sinners be called holy? The answer to this problem must be, of course, in the fact that Christians are "saints in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 1:1), not necessarily saintly in behavior. It is a wonderful truth that God deals with us, not in our sins, but in Christ. In His sight, we are even seated "together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 2:6). We have surely been "blessed...with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ" (Ephesians 1:3), and it would surely please Him if we would seek to become as holy in our practice as in our position. "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God" (Romans 12:1,2). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ January 26, Sunday THE PROBLEM OF PRESSURE "For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life" (II Corinthians 1:8). Every Christian must endure times of great pressure, for this is part of our training for God's service in eternity. "For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake" (Philippians 1:29). "Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love Him" (James 1:12). Probably none of us, however, will ever be called on to endure the pressures experienced by Paul. When one feels that he or she is "pressed out of measure, above strength," it would be salutary simply to read again his frightful experiences recorded in II Corinthians 11:23-33. And then read how Paul dealt with these pressures! His testimony is found in the three verses following our text verse for the day. "But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that He will yet deliver us; Ye also helping together by prayer for us, that for the gift bestowed upon us by the means of many persons thanks may be given by many on our behalf" (II Corinthians 1:9-11). The answer to the awful pressures of life and circumstances, therefore, is not to rely on our own strength and ability to overcome them, but to trust in the God who can raise the dead! Our own prayerful trust is to be supported also by the prayers of our friends, so that they also can share the joy when deliverance comes. Let us regard such pressures, then, as an opportunity for growth, for prayer, for trust, and for joyful testimony when God delivers. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ January 27, Monday THE GRACE OF QUIETNESS "But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment" (Matthew 12:36). "Let your speech be alway with grace," the Scripture says (Colossians 4:6), "seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man," and "study to be quiet, and to do your own business" (I Thessalonians 4:11). There is such a thing as the sin of talkativeness, and many Christians are beset by it. Note some of the pertinent Scriptures: "He that hath knowledge spareth his words....Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding" (Proverbs 17:27,28). "Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few" (Ecclesiastes 5:2). "Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath" (James 1:19). "But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil" (Matthew 5:37). "In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise" (Proverbs 10:19). "Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks" (Ephesians 5:4). There are many other such warnings, of course, but the one in our text is perhaps the most sobering of all. Evidently, God has a sort of "tape recording" of all our conversations, and we shall be required some day to explain all those words which were not gracious and edifying. We would do well, before the record of our idle and pointless conversations (not even to mention any that are hurtful or profane) mounts any higher, to forsake the sin of talking too much, and to cultivate prayerfully the grace of quietness. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ January 28, Tuesday THE NAME OF THE LORD "And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, the LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation" (Exodus 34:6,7). The children of Israel had seemingly become an excessive burden to Moses, and he felt he needed a further, more specific revelation of God's essence. "I beseech Thee, show me Thy glory" (Exodus 33:18). Although God was not compelled to do so, He graciously consented to "make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee" (v.19), recorded in full in our text. But what a Name! "The LORD," Jehovah, the self-existent Revealer; "The LORD God," Jehovah Elohim, names bursting with meaning and significance to the Old Testament Israelite, reflecting aspects of his nature and character. Five adjectives or descriptive phrases follow--all part of His name--characteristics of the loving God who later would give His beloved Son so that we might fully experience Him. Next we see that He is a forgiving God as well--that even our "iniquity and transgression and sin" can be forgiven. But His forgiveness can only be extended to those who repent, for He "will by no means clear the guilty." Many Christians today are quick to point out that "God is love" (I John 4:8) as well as merciful, gracious, etc. But we must never forget that, just as His name implies, there is more to God than just love. God abhors sin, and an unrepentant sinner will experience His wrath in justice. "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:23). JDM ________________________________________________________________________ January 29, Wednesday HOW TO BE STRONG WHILE WEAK "And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me" (II Corinthians 12:9). Some people impress us with powerful personal images. In others, we see weakness, whether in health or in character. But only God can see deep into a person's being, so as to determine whether they are truly strong or weak. Perhaps a rich man today may have a weakness that causes him to squander his money and lose his wealth tomorrow. There are those who, though weak physically, are strong inside, as was Paul, in our text. God's strength was evidenced in Joseph's resistance of Potiphar's wife and in his patient acceptance of imprisonment. God's strength was also evidenced in David's experience. David credited "The LORD that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, He will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine" (I Samuel 17:37). God can accomplish His purposes in us, as we subordinate our own efforts to His power. "He must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:30). This principle contradicts our human viewpoint, for the world confuses maturity with independence. However, spiritually mature believers learn how to control their selfish wills, and they learn to allow their lives to be filled with God's power. We do not become passive when we hand over our lives and problems to Him. Rather, we put ourselves in a position to receive enhanced benefits of grace from Him. Our ultimate dependence is only upon God; all other dependence is temporal. He is the One to whom we must look to supply our needs. Spiritual maturity involves dependence on God, who can sustain us when our circumstantial underpinnings are pulled from beneath us. MBD ________________________________________________________________________ January 30, Thursday EVEN OUR FAITH "One Lord, one faith, one baptism" (Ephesians 4:5). Everyone has faith in something--faith in some religion, faith in one's self, faith in fate, faith in evolution, faith in mankind. Even the atheist has faith in his own reason. But there is only one real faith that works for time and eternity. True faith is faith in the one true God--the God who made us, who will judge us, and who has paid the price to save us. This faith is an understanding faith, for it is "through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God" (Hebrews 11:3). It is a saving faith, "for by grace ye are saved through faith" (Ephesians 2:8). Since "the just shall live by faith" (Galatians 3:11), it is, therefore, a living faith, and a growing faith, "because that your faith groweth exceedingly" (II Thessalonians 1:3), and a working faith, because "faith without works is dead" (James 2:20). There is more. The true faith is a justifying faith (it makes us righteous in the sight of God) because, "being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:1). It is a protecting faith because, with "the shield of shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked" (Ephesians 6:16). It is a stable faith, "for by faith ye stand" (II Corinthians 1:24). This faith is also a purifying faith, "purifying their hearts by faith" (Acts 15:9). Furthermore, asking faith receives answers to its prayers, "in faith, nothing wavering" (James 1:6), and a strong faith recoiling "not at the promise of God through unbelief; but...strong in faith, giving glory to God" (Romans 4:20). Finally, the Christian faith is a triumphant faith. "For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith" (I John 5:4). This faith--even our faith(!)--is an understanding, saving, living, growing, justifying, purifying, working, protecting, stable, asking, strong, triumphant faith! HMM ________________________________________________________________________ January 31, Friday THE SIEVE OF SATAN "And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat" (Luke 22:31). Most of us do not warrant the personal attention of Satan, as Peter did, for we do not constitute as great a threat to his kingdom as Peter did. Nevertheless, the devil, "as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour" (I Peter 5:8). Whether he attacks us himself--as he did Peter, and David, and Job--or assigns this task to one or more of his demons, the fact is that Satan is real and his legions of evil spirits are real, and they will, indeed, seek to force every believer into Satan's sieve. John calls Satan "the accuser of our brethren...which accused them before our God day and night" (Revelation 12:10). He uses every device to keep us from Christ, or to persuade us to sin against Him, or even to deny Him, as Peter did. Jesus called Satan "a murderer from the beginning...a liar, and the father of it" (John 8:44). He seeks to sow discord among the brethren, to sow tares among the wheat, to sow false doctrine with the truth, to sow evil thoughts in the pure, to do all he can to hinder our work for God and our faith in Him. And, as Martin Luther sang: "On earth is not his equal." Yes, but "we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and He is the propitiation for our sins" (I John 2:1,2). Furthermore, "He ever liveth to make intercession for them" (Hebrews 7:25). The Lord assured Peter that, even though Satan would sift him as wheat, "I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not" (Luke 22:32). And when Jesus prays, God answers! When we, like Peter, have been sifted through the sieve of Satan, and when we also know that our great Advocate and Intercessor has prayed for us and our faith has not failed, then we can, as the Lord exhorted Peter, "strengthen thy brethren" (Luke 22:32). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ February 1, Saturday A PROVOKED SPIRIT "They angered Him also at the waters of strife, so that it went ill with Moses for their sakes: Because they provoked his spirit, so that he spake unadvisedly with his lips" (Psalm 106:32,33). This terse passage summarizes the tragic events described in Numbers 20:1-13. If ever a religious leader had a right to be provoked with an ungrateful and complaining flock, Moses did. Finally, after years of privation in the wilderness, the people complained once too often, and Moses could take it no longer (or so he thought). In anger, he rebuked the rebels and smote the rock, taking credit himself for God's miraculous provision of water. As a result, God rebuked him, and he was not allowed to enter the promised land. It is all too easy, in times of pressure and inconsiderate selfishness all around us, to rise up in "righteous indignation," and, like Moses, "speak inadvisedly with our lips." This is surely one of Satan's most common devices. Such verbal assaults may be well deserved and may seem to give personal satisfaction for a time, but they are usually counter productive in the long run, and very hurtful to one's testimony for Christ, to those so assaulted. (Imagine Peter trying to witness to Malchus after he had sliced off Malchus' ear in anger!) Unfortunately, "the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison" (James 3:8). The Lord Jesus Himself is the ideal example in this difficult realm, for, "He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth" (Isaiah 53:7). He could have called ten legions of angels to destroy His tormentors, but instead, He prayed: "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34). Let us not be easily provoked to so-called righteous indignation. "Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow His steps" (I Peter 2:21). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ February 2, Sunday TRUE LIBERALITY "Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality" (II Corinthians 8:1,2). Giving gifts is usually done in times of plenty, rather than in times of great need. Yet, in this situation, the churches of Macedonia, in spite of being afflicted, were blessed by God's grace to give--not until it hurt, but until it gave great joy. What a peculiar contradiction, that when times are at their worst, we can be at our best! This spirit of giving is a result of God's grace. It results from a right relationship with God and a heart attitude that is committed to Him. Once our hearts are committed to the same priorities as those of God and our desires and burdens are motivated by His Spirit, He will not withhold the privilege of joyful giving to accomplish His purposes. The "abundance" in giving is measured by the situation--what we are willing to do without respect for our own needs. The widow's mite was valued more than the rich men's gifts, because she "cast in all the living that she had" (Luke 21:4). What is our record in similar situations? Have we ever given all we have--not counting the cost? Like it or not; practice it or not; the admonition to wise men is as follows: "If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat" (Proverbs 25:21). "Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days" (Ecclesiastes 11:1). "The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself" (Proverbs 11:25). "He which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully" (II Corinthians 9:6). May our God of all grace enable us to give until it gives us great joy! KBC ________________________________________________________________________ February 3, Monday WAGES OR A GIFT "The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:23). This wonderful verse has been used by the Holy Spirit countless times to bring a person to the point of salvation, and rightly so. Seldom did the Author of Scripture pack so much into so few words, and seldom is the gospel of salvation more clearly and succinctly presented. Perhaps the key to the verse and its teaching is the little word but, for marvelous contrasts hinge on it. In fact, pointing out the parallel but contrasting statements has proven to be an effective witnessing tool. Let us consider these individual contrasts: First, wages versus gift: Wages are something that must be earned, while a gift cannot be earned; it is free. The wages of employment follow directly from having done the work, just as the wages of sin follow directly from having done the sin. Similarly, the gift of God follows directly from God's own character. He is a loving, gracious God, who freely showers His gifts on those who will accept them. Second, sin versus God, or sin versus the sinless One: We might even define sin as the opposite of Godliness. Sin is the deed which merits the wages, while God is the Being who gives the gift. Sin is inanimate, while God is a Person, active and loving. Sin takes; God gives. Third, death eternal versus life eternal: Conscious existence in separation from God versus conscious existence in communion with God. Sin brings death, surely and permanently; God gives eternal life. This gift of eternal life is not given capriciously, however; it is based on the work of Jesus Christ, the One who Himself collected the wages of our sin. The sinner who accepts God's gift, through Jesus Christ, can hardly fail to recognize Him as Lord. JDM ________________________________________________________________________ February 4, Tuesday LET HIM HEAR "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches" (Revelation 3:22). This is the final exhortation in Christ's letters to His seven representative churches. It is the seventh such exhortation, one addressed to each church, so must be unusually important. The emphasis, obviously, is not merely hearing with the physical ear, but hearing with an obedient heart. Such hearing is necessary, first of all, for saving faith, for "faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God" (Romans 10:17). Jesus said: "He that heareth my word, and believeth on Him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life" (John 5:24). Today, however, probably more than in any previous age, there is a cacophony of voices of all kinds that are seeking listeners. In fact, Jesus Himself cautioned: "Take heed what ye hear" (Mark 4:24). There are multitudes of false teachers today--evolutionary humanists, religious liberals, New-Age mystics, and others--all very articulate and often winsome, but speaking false doctrine. "To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this Word, it is because there is no light in them" (Isaiah 8:20). It is important not only to hear the right words, but also to hear the right way. "Take heed therefore how ye hear," also said Jesus (Luke 8:18). Even if we hear the pure Word of God, it will accomplish nothing of value in our lives unless we hear with due reverence. "To this man will I look, even to him that...trembleth at my word" (Isaiah 66:2). And we must also hear with faith. "For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it" (Hebrews 4:2). He that hath an ear, therefore, let him hear, with reverent faith, the true Word of God. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ February 5, Wednesday NEVERTHELESS, AT THY WORD "And Simon answering said unto Him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net" (Luke 5:5). The fishermen at the Sea of Galilee that day were washing their nets after a fruitless night's work. Jesus arrived, and because of the press of the crowd, asked Simon to let him use his boat to push out a little way while He taught. Then, when Jesus finished speaking, He said to Simon (v.4), "Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught." Simon's despair was evident, as he stated the facts: "Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing." But then Simon put his faith in the Lord: "Nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net." The result? "They inclosed a great multitude of fishes" (v.6), and Jesus promised, "From henceforth thou shalt catch men" (v.10). Much later, in Acts 10, Simon Peter, transformed by the Holy Spirit, saw a vision and heard God's voice commanding him to kill and eat "common and unclean" animals. This led him to accept an invitation to the house of Cornelius, the Gentile. "Nevertheless at thy word," must have been on his heart as he "let down the net" to Cornelius. It is no wonder that one of the most beautiful passages regarding the Word of God is found in Peter's first epistle: "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth forever. For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: But the Word of the Lord endureth for ever" (I Peter 1:23-25). There may be times in our own lives when we are tempted to regard so-called facts and traditions above the Word of God. Our response, without hesitation, should be "Master...nevertheless at Thy Word I will...." CJH ________________________________________________________________________ February 6, Thursday GOD SPEAKS "My heart is inditing a good matter: I speak of the things which I have made touching the king: my tongue is the pen of a ready writer" (Psalm 45:1). Communication began with the spoken word. Creation was God's first message to man, testifying of "His eternal power and Godhead" (Romans 1:20). In the beginning, God also spoke directly to men, revealing His mind and will. For a time, God used men as intermediaries. He began with Aaron, who "spake all the words which the LORD had spoken unto Moses" (Exodus 4:30). He continued with Moses, who "wrote all the words of the LORD" (Exodus 24:4). Because "holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost" (II Peter 1:21), today we have Scripture "given by inspiration of God" (II Timothy 3:16). Then for thirty-three years, God spoke to men "by His Son" (Hebrews 1:2). The words Jesus spoke and the works He did came from God (John 14:10). The world killed God's messenger, rather than heed His message. Today the world has the testimony of not only the natural world and the written Word, but the believer's life. "Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart" (II Corinthians 3:2,3). Each life is a living letter. What does the world read as it watches the pages turn, day by day, year by year? What message does it hear from our lips? Is our tongue "the pen of a ready writer," "ready always to given an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear" (I Peter 3:15)? May it please God to "walk in (us)" (II Corinthians 6:16) and to speak through us in these last days. BJC ________________________________________________________________________ February 7, Friday A CREATED PEOPLE "This shall be written for the generation to come: and the people which shall be created shall praise the LORD" (Psalm 102:18). Only God can create, and whenever this verb (Hebrew bara) is used in the Bible, the subject of the verb, either explicitly or implicitly, is God! However, certain "progressive creationists" contend that "creation" does not have to be instantaneous, but can be a protracted process--some form of evolution. The verse above is used as a proof text for this position, the idea being that the Jewish "people" are being gradually created ("molded") into a nation that will eventually bring praise to God. This type of Scriptural distortion illustrates the extremes to which theistic evolutionists and progressive creationists will go, in order to force long evolutionary ages into Scripture. In the context, the psalmist is not speaking of a long process, but a future event. He is speaking of a future time to "have mercy upon Zion," when "the time to favour her, yea, the set time, is come" (v.13). At that future time, "the Lord...shall appear in His glory" (v.16). Then will come the glorious day "when the people are gathered together, and the kingdoms, to serve the LORD" (v.22). It is only then that "the people shall be created" who "shall praise the Lord." When a person receives the Lord Jesus Christ, by faith, as his Creator and Savior, he does, indeed, become "a new creation" (II Corinthians 5:17), and the miracle of regeneration is always recognized in Scripture as an instantaneous event accomplished by the Creator in the mind and heart of the believer at the time of conversion. As for the Jews who are alive when the Lord returns, "in that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David" (Zechariah 13:1). Multitudes will believe and become, at that time, "new creature(s) in Christ Jesus." HMM ________________________________________________________________________ February 8, Saturday THE RAINBOW AND THE CLOUD "And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon His head, and His face was as it were the sun, and His feet as pillars of fire" (Revelation 10:1). This is the last reference in Scripture to the beautiful rainbow, and a most majestic picture it is. A mighty cloud descends from heaven enveloping the great Creator/Savior Himself, here called (as is often true in Scripture) an "angel," but with a description applicable only to the glorified Son of Man (note Revelation 1:7,13-16). The rainbow is above the cloud, crowning the head of the Mighty One, as He stands astride both land and sea, thus claiming possession of all the earth (Revelation 10:2). There seems here to be a clear correlation with the first reference in Scripture to the rainbow and the cloud, neither of which had existed prior to the great Flood, "for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth" (Genesis 2:5) until that awful day of judgment. At the conclusion of the Flood, when the vast "waters above the firmament" (Genesis 1:7) had all condensed and poured down on the ground, then God had said: "I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth" (Genesis 9:13), a sign of God's promise never again to destroy the earth with water, as He had just done. It has, ever since, been a beautiful reminder that God cares for His creation, and that, even in the midst of judgment, He is the God of all grace. It also reminds us that He still rules the world He made. The time is soon coming, when, once again, there shall be no rain and no cloud and "no more sea" (Revelation 21:1), so there shall be no more need for the reminder of the rainbow. All of God's judgments will be over and gone, and "there shall be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen" (Ephesians 3:21). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ February 9, Sunday AS A THIEF IN THE NIGHT "For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape" (I Thessalonians 5:2,3). Whenever there is a war, or a great calamity, or a great time of suffering, there almost inevitably follows an upsurge of interest in Biblical prophecy, with many predictions of the immediate return of Christ. According to our text, however (which immediately follows the glorious description of the "rapture" of all believers into the air to meet the returning Savior), His coming may not be in a time of war and danger, but in one of "peace and safety!" It may well be in a period when "they"--that is, the ungodly world and all its cohorts--will be proudly boasting of their new world order, where they have established worldwide security from further strife and peril. But this system will be built, not on a Biblical foundation acknowledging God as Creator and Redeemer, but on a false foundation of evolutionary humanism, and an attempted amalgamation of all world religions. The euphoria accompanying such false security will even lull many Christians into a sense of complacency. In speaking of His return, therefore, Jesus warned: "Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not" (Luke 12:40). His coming will be as a thief comes in the night, when even those who should be alert and watchful may have fallen asleep. "Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is" (Mark 13:33). Watchfulness, however, does not mean idleness. "Occupy till I come," He said (Luke 19:13). "Blessed is that servant, whom his Lord when He cometh shall find so doing" (Luke 12:43). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ February 10, Monday JOHN'S JOY "And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full" (I John 1:4). The apostle John states four basic reasons for writing his first epistle: (1) "That your joy may be full" (text); (2) "That ye sin not" (2:1); (3) "Concerning them that seduce you" (2:26); (4) "That ye may know that ye have eternal life" (5:13). But his burden, as he wrote to those whom he called, "My little children" (2:1)--those who have been newly born again--was that He especially wanted these new ones to experience joy. This joy is not only mentioned in I John, but also in his second and third epistles, as well. Thus all believers should have: (1) The joy of knowing the Truth (I John 1:4): The Truth is God's Word, stated as, "These things" (text). Knowing and believing God's Word brings fulness of joy. There are many truths written in I John that, when understood and trusted, will fill us with joy--truths concerning the true nature of Christ and His complete forgiveness; truths concerning the world of sin and apostasy and how to avoid them; truths concerning the love of God and answered prayer; and truths concerning the security of the believer. In the midst of tremendous calamity Jeremiah expressed it best: "Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart" (15:16). (2) The joy of sharing the Truth: "But I trust to come unto you, and speak face to face, that our joy may be full" (II John 12). Joy is experienced by the one speaking the Truth, and by the one hearing the Truth! (3) The joy of living the Truth: "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth" (III John 4). This statement of John's is both understood and appreciated by all those who have physical and/or spiritual children. To see your children continue in the faith when they become adults brings great satisfaction and fulness of joy! NPS ________________________________________________________________________ February 11, Tuesday JUSTICE, MERCY, AND GRACE "But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ (by grace ye are saved)" (Ephesians 2:4,5). The first word of our text sets up a great contrast between what we were and deserved as dead sinners, and what we are, due to God's mercy and grace. In the preceding verses, the picture of man's state is very dark; we "were dead in trespasses and sins" (v.1). We were cut off from the things of light and "walked...according to the prince of the power of the air" (v.2), controlled by Satan. Our lives were characterized by the "lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind" (v.3). Everything about us was abhorrent to God, not only our sinful, fleshly actions, but the perversion of our minds, and we deserved His "wrath" (v.3). It is not likely that mere man could have conceived the concepts expressed in the following verses. Scarcely would a human mind have proposed that the very God, whose sense of justice demanded punishment, would take that punishment upon Himself, in order to lavish upon us His incomparable grace. "But rich in mercy" (v.4). He had compassion on us, which with "His great love," compelled Him to act strongly on our behalf. He devised a masterful plan to "quicken," or make alive, those who were dead "together with Christ," for "by grace ye are (lit. completely) saved." Just as certainly as Christ is alive, we are "made alive" through His grace. This plan of grace defies understanding and description. Through it, we have been "saved" (vs.5,8), we have a present home "in heavenly places" (v.6), and we will experience its "exceeding riches" throughout the ages (v.7). Even the faith to accept it is "the gift of God" (v.8). God's gracious plan fully overwhelms our wicknedness and worthlessness; it exceeds all our desperate need. JDM ________________________________________________________________________ February 12, Wednesday THE SACRIFICE OF PRAISE "By Him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name" (Hebrews 13:15). A sacrifice is a costly thing. But the sacrifices which God desires are not merely animals on an altar, or fruits of the harvest, or gifts of money and goods. "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit" (Psalm 51:17). "For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings" (Hosea 6:6). "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice" (Romans 12:1). But how can praise and giving thanks to His name be considered a sacrifice? This is "the fruit of our lips." The ancient prophet even called it "the calves of our lips" (Hosea 14:2). To bear the fruit of praise on our lips means sowing the seeds of praise in our hearts, "for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh" (Matthew 12:34). Note that the sacrifice of praise must be offered continually, to qualify as a true sacrifice. "Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be" (James 3:10). "Let your speech be alway with grace" (Colossians 4:6). Consider the example of Paul and Silas: After casting them into prison for preaching the gospel, "The magistrates rent off their clothes...laid many stripes on them...and made their feet fast in the stocks" (Acts 16:22-24). Yet, instead of cursing or complaining, "at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God" (Acts 16:25). That was a genuine sacrifice! "In every thing give thanks" (I Thessalonians 5:18). No matter how difficult the circumstances, those who know the Lord always have much for which to praise His name, and so should offer such sacrifices continually. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ February 13, Thursday ETERNAL RESPONSIBILITIES "And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and His servants shall serve Him" (Revelation 22:3). Frequently Christians and non-Christians alike have a misconception about the nature of the coming life in heaven. We will not merely "go to heaven" and sit around in some semblance of holy laziness; we will be given jobs to do! Just what those jobs may be, or what they may require is not specifically revealed to us, but it is abundantly clear that the kind of job, or the degree of responsibility, will be a privilege based on what we do here on earth now. In the parable of the pounds (Luke 19:11-27), the Lord Jesus illustrates judgment based on productivity. The same amount of money was given to each of the servants, and only one general instruction was issued: "Occupy till I come" (v.13). The reward that each servant received was in direct proportion to how much profit he had earned on the nobleman's money. In the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30), the nobleman gave differing amounts to each of his servants "to every man according to his several ability" (v.15). The reward was based on efficient use of abilities, not on amount of profit produced. Both of these parables have a common thread: The rewards, (analogous to our rewards when the Lord returns) whether based on their productivity or their effectiveness, were rewards of responsibility. To those servants who had proven themselves capable of leadership, the Lord delegated "authority over cities" and rulership "over many things," assuring us that there will be some sort of social order in the age to come. Likewise we, in our present service for the Lord, are now given the opportunity to earn both God's commendation and His future greater stewardship. HMM III ________________________________________________________________________ February 14, Friday PRISCILLA AND AQUILA "And (Apollos) began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly" (Acts 18:26). On Valentine's Day, rather than concentrating on hearts, flowers, chocolate candy, and Hollywood "love," it might serve us better to look at the lives of a Biblical couple, who were themselves, no doubt, very much in love. In so doing, we can gain some insight into what married love is all about, and what it can do. This couple were evidently some of Paul's dearest friends, and first met him in Corinth, where they had journeyed following the expulsion of all Jews from Rome in AD 49 (Acts 18:2). The couple had a tentmaking business, the same craft as Paul's, and they invited him to live with them (v.3), allowing him freedom to teach and evangelize (v.4). Although exact time is debated, it is likely that sometime during the stay in Corinth they risked their lives for Paul, for he later wrote, "Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus: who have for my life laid down their own necks: unto whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles" (Romans 16:3,4). When the local Jews threatened them, they traveled to Ephesus with Paul. Here they helped the dynamic Apollos to a fuller faith (see our text), and held church meetings in their home (I Corinthians 16:19). After further travels (Romans 16:3), they returned to Ephesus (II Timothy 4:19). We don't know all the details, but we do know that they served God effectually together for years. And perhaps this is what a truly loving Christian marriage is all about. Serving, teaching, hosting, evangelizing, discipling, working, sacrificing, praying, suffering, traveling--together, always together--for a lifetime. "If that's not love, what is?" JDM ________________________________________________________________________ February 15, Saturday WILL THERE BE FAITH ON THE EARTH? "I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:8). This sad query by Jesus seems to suggest that true Christian faith could almost disappear from the earth before He returns. Neither Christ nor His disciples answered the question, leaving it for us to consider on our own. Since all people--even atheists--have faith in something, it is clear that Jesus used the word "faith" to refer specifically to genuine trust in the true God and His Word. That faith would evidently be in short supply in the last days. There are many such warnings in Scripture: "In the last days," said Paul, men shall be "lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof" (II Timothy 3:1,4,5). "In the last days" said Peter, men will be "saying, where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation" (II Peter 3:3,4). "In the last time," said Jude, men would be "mockers...who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit" (Jude 18,19). Nevertheless, the apostles did not say that all men would be lovers of pleasure more than God, or questioners of His promised coming, or mocking sensualists. Paul's warning, in fact, was given specifically to urge believers living in the last days to "preach the Word" (II Timothy 4:2). Peter's exhortation was given to encourage us to "grow in grace" (II Peter 3:18), and Jude's was given to exhort us to be "building up yourselves on your most holy faith" (Jude 20). Finally, John insists that we "abide in Him; that, when He shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before Him at His coming" (I John 2:28). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ February 16, Sunday SIX QUESTIONS "Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us" (Romans 8:37). The eighth chapter of Romans is repleat with unthinkable blessings graciously bestowed on the believer. Then, Paul asks in the first of six questions, "What shall we then say to these things?" (v.31). The answer is that God is on our side. Next, he asks, "If God be for us, who can be against us?" The answer: No one with ability to harm us. Paul continues: "He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?" (v.32). Since God has given us the most important gift, it stands to reason that He will give us ("with Him") all the marvelous (although lesser) things mentioned earlier in the chapter and elsewhere in Scripture. Christ and the attendant blessings are ours, if we are not disqualified somehow. Therefore, Paul asks: "who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect?" (v.33). No one! For we have been justified, declared to be free of sin, and "not guilty" of all charges. The only one capable of leveling a successful charge is Christ Himself, but He is the one who sacrificed to justify us. He will not charge us with anything. Likewise, "who is he that condemneth?" (v.34). The only one capable of condemning us is Christ, but He is the one who died, as He took on Himself our condemnation. Even now, our risen Lord is championing our innocence before His Father. Certainly Christ will not condemn us. The only remaining scenario in which it would be possible for us to lose our standing is for someone to "separate us from the love of Christ" (v.35). "Who can do this?" Paul asks. There follows a list of 17 evils, but Paul is persuaded that none of these, "nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (v.39). Instead, "we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us" (v.37). JDM ________________________________________________________________________ February 17, Monday THE END OF THE LORD "Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heardof the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy" (James 5:11). The Lord often allows godly men and women to go through severe difficulties, but the Apostle says we should "count them happy which endure." "Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake:...Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven" (Matthew 5:10,12). The patriarch Job is the classic example. He was a godly and righteous man in the highest degree, according to the testimony of God, Himself, who said that "there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil" (Job 1:8). Yet God allowed Satan to take away all his possessions, and his health, and even his children. Nevertheless, Job remained faithful, and testified: "For I know that my Redeemer liveth...yet in my flesh shall I see God" (Job 19:25,26). The chastenings of the Lord may seem grievous, especially when they are not sent as punishment for known sin but rather for development of character in likeness to Christ, but "the end of the Lord" (that is, "the final goal and purpose of the Lord") always manifests His love and tender mercy. In Job's case, once the testing was finished, "the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before " (Job 42:10), giving him precisely twice as many head of livestock as those he had lost (compare Job 1:3; 42:12). In addition, "He had also seven sons and three daughters," precisely the number who had died in a great storm at the beginning of his troubles (Job 1:2,18,19; 42:13). He knew he would also see his first set of children again, because they, like he, would live again, giving him twice as many children as he had before. The "end of the Lord" is tender mercy, always, to those who love Him. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ February 18, Tuesday MADE IN WISDOM "O LORD, how manifold are thy works! In wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches" (Psalm 104:24). Nothing could be more plain, either in Scripture or in science, than that the "heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is" (Exodus 20:11) were created by God. The 104th Psalm, which includes our text, powerfully argues for the Lord's creation and sovereign control of all things. Yet evolutionary scientists routinely ignore Him and His work, or ascribe His handiwork to "Mother Nature." For example, studies of the chambered nautilus (implicitly included in the verse following our text) would point out the incredible design, beauty and precision of growth, but would then typically claim that "no one knows how or why the nautilus functions as it does." Indeed, wise men cannot understand these things, but "the foolishness of God is wiser than men" (I Corinthians 1:25), and the "wisdom" of God was involved in their creation. Likewise, many times those who recognize God's handiwork in creation do so incompletely, denying Him the praise that is His due. It was not some impersonal "god" that created, but the Lord Jesus Christ, Himself, as is made abundantly clear in the first chapter of Hebrews. Speaking of God's "Son" (vs.2,5,8), the writer, quoting Psalm 102:25, ascribes to Him the work of creation: "Thou...laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands" (v.10). This psalm clearly refers to Jehovah God, and therefore to Jesus. Both passages discuss not only the work of creation, but the work of salvation, as well. When we look at a chambered nautilus, or any other living creature, we should see not only God's creative wisdom, but identify that God as our Savior, Jesus Christ. He is even now creating eternal life in spiritually dead people, and is worthy of the adoration of all. PGH ________________________________________________________________________ February 19, Wednesday SINCE THE WORLD BEGAN "As He spake by the mouth of His holy prophets, which have been since the world began" (Luke 1:70). According to the theory of evolution, as taught in most schools and colleges today, the world began about 18 billion years ago in a "big bang," when the cosmos evolved into existence out of nothing. The sun and planets evolved out of cosmic dust about five billion years ago, life evolved from chemicals about four billion years ago, and human life, perhaps a million years ago. But this is not what God's Word says! According to the priest Zacharias, as in our text, God has been speaking through His prophets ever since the world began--not beginning 18 billion years after it began. Similarly, Peter, in his temple sermon, preached that God had promised someday to restore all things, "which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began" (Acts 3:21). The restoration of all things obviously was meant to refer to conditions in Eden, not to the primeval cosmic dust cloud of the evolutionists. The Lord Jesus Christ also taught that man has been here since the world began. Referring to the creation of Adam and Eve, and quoting Genesis 1:27, He said: "But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female" (Mark 10:6). Adam and Eve were not created 18 billion years after the beginning of the creation, but just six days after the beginning in a "very good" world. It is dangerously close to mocking God for modern Christian teachers to urge people to accept the Big Bang theory of cosmic evolution and the geologic ages' framework of organic evolution. Men and women were given dominion over the earth when the world first began, and God has been promising His coming Redeemer through His prophets ever since, just as the Bible says. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ February 20, Thursday GOD'S WORK OF PROVIDENCE "Thou visitest the earth, and waterest it: Thou greatly enrichest it with the river of God, which is full of water: Thou preparest them corn, when Thou hast so provided for it" (Psalm 65:9). The 65th psalm speaks especially of God's great work of "providence" as supplementing His primeval work of creation. The latter was completed in the six days of Creation Week (Genesis 2:1-3). The work of providence, however, still goes on, perpetually reminding us of God's care for His creatures. "He left not Himself without witness, in that He did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness" (Acts 14:17). God's providential concern, however, extends not only to men and women. "He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle" (Psalm 104:14). "So is this great and wide sea, wherein are things creeping innumerable, both small and great beasts....These wait all upon thee; that thou mayest give them their meat in due season" (vs.25,27). "Behold the fowls of the air:...your heavenly Father feedeth them" (Matthew 6:26). Note that He is not their Heavenly Father, He is your Heavenly Father--yet He feedeth them! He is merely their Maker and Provider; yet a single sparrow "shall not fall on the ground without your Father" (Matthew 10:29). He even provides for the inanimate creation, "upholding all things by the word of His power" (Hebrews 1:3). The omnipotent God of Creation is thus the ever-sustaining and ever-caring God of Providence. Still, some choose not to believe, even though "that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly that they are without excuse" (Romans 1:19,20). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ February 21, Friday IT IS FINISHED "When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, He said, It is finished: and He bowed His head, and gave up the ghost" (John 19:30). What was finished that day on Calvary's cross? "It is finished." Three words in English, but only one in Greek. Jesus had addressed His Father, one of the malefactors, his mother, and John; but in this sixth word on the cross we believe He addressed the whole world. God is a finishing God. When He starts something, He finishes it. In Genesis 2:1 we read, "The heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them." Likewise we read in Exodus 39:32, "Thus was all the work of the tabernacle of the tent of the congregation finished." Since it was a picture of the plan of redemption, it had a great story to tell. There is another interesting allusion in the Book of Ruth: Naomi had sent her daughter-in-law out to glean in the fields during harvest. After Boaz had filled her apron with six measures of grain, Naomi said: "Sit still, my daughter, until thou know how the matter will fall: for the man will not be in rest, until he have finished the thing this day" (Ruth 3:18). And, indeed, he did (Ruth 4:1,10), for the Kinsman- Redeemer, Boaz, was a type of Christ. Likewise, Christ would not bow His head on the cross until he had "finished the thing" that day. We know that He did finish it, in glorious and complete fashion. Both Christ and Boaz did, indeed, "finish the thing." Redemption was finished for Ruth; it was finished for all men by Christ on the cross. When we accept it, it is finished for us. As a result of the redemption of Ruth by Boaz, Ruth became the bride of Boaz: "So Boaz took Ruth, and she was his wife" (Ruth 4:13). As a result of our redemption by Christ, we become the bride of Christ: "He that hath the bride is the bridegroom" (John 3:29). ADE ________________________________________________________________________ February 22, Saturday COVETOUSNESS IN THE LATTER DAYS "And He said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth" (Luke 12:15). The sin of covetousness perhaps has been the most besetting sin of the human race since Eve, and God finally wrote it into the Decalog itself: "Thou shalt not covet" (Exodus 20:17). The Apostle Paul even made the sweeping statement: "The love of money is the root of all evil" (I Timothy 6:10). " man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God" (Ephesians 5:5). In view of such warnings, the Christian should indeed greatly beware of covetousness. Nevertheless, one of the distressing characteristics predicted for the "last days" is a great increase of covetousness, even among professing Christians. "In the last shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous....Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof" (II Timothy 3:1,2,5). It is sad to see so many modern "Christian" movements promoting what might be called a "prosperity cult," teaching that "gain is godliness." Stressing "positive mental attitude," "self-help," "creative visualization," and various other supposed spiritual psychotherapies, these modern false teachers and their affluent life styles have deluded multitudes of coveting Christians into thinking they have some sort of divine right to material prosperity. The Greek word for "covetous," describing men of the last days (II Timothy 3:2), is the same as that for "love of money" (I Timothy 6:10), an undue attention to material things. It is also used (in negative form) in Hebrews 13:5, and this is the true Christian standard. "Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have, for He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." HMM ________________________________________________________________________ February 23, Sunday A HOUSE IN THE LAND OF SHINAR "Then said I to the angel that talked with me, Whither do these bear the ephah? And he said unto me, To build it an house in the land of Shinar: And it shall be established, and set there upon her own base" (Zechariah 5:10,11). This prophecy of the latter days shows a woman named "Wickedness" being translated rapidly in a great measuring basket (symbolizing commerce and finance "through all the earth" v.6) to a base being built for it in the ancient land of Shinar (same as Sumeria). This was also the land of Nimrod, the leader of the post-Flood rebellion against God at Babel. "He began to be a mighty one in the earth....And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, the land of Shinar" (Genesis 10:8,10). From this first Babylon in the land of Shinar, the dispersed followers of Nimrod carried their anti-God, materialistic religion into every land, through every age. Its current form is mainly a pantheistic evolutionary humanism, promoting a "new world order," featuring a world government and (supposedly) universal prosperity, without God--a world order such as Nimrod tried to build at Babylon long ago. In the final book of the Bible, this woman of Wickedness is called "Mystery Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots and Abominations of the earth;" she is said to be sitting upon "peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues" (Revelation 17:5,15). This monstrous system is evidently once again to have a house built for it in the land of Shinar. It is interesting that Babylon (near Baghdad in Iraq) is already partially rebuilt. Being very near the geographical center of the earth's land masses, this site is the ideal location for a world government. In any case, the day will come when Babylon will fall forever, and there will be "a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia" (Revelation 18:2; 19:1). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ February 24, Monday THE BATTLE FOR OUR MINDS "Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ" (II Corinthians 10:5). Believers today are bombarded by radio, television and movie input. Daily conversation introduces other people's viewpoints on controversial subjects. It is easy to acquire the despairing and critical attitudes that so many have in today's skeptical world. Satan wants us to become critical, depressed, and weak, so that he can render us ineffective in a society that desperately needs strong, positive Christian influences. God and Satan are in a no-middle-ground battle for our minds, and we are allowed to determine the outcome. As we engage in this battle, the basic challenge is specific and voluntary control of our own thoughts! We are to bring every thought (including, first of all, our own) into conformity to God's principles. If a believer is thinking from a human viewpoint, he is open to Satan's influence, and often cannot be distinguished from an unbeliever. Ephesians 6:11 reminds us that we can stand against the wiles or schemes of Satan only if we are protected completely. "Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil." Ephesians 6:17 says, "And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." As we read through Ephesians 6:11-17, we realize that there is only one offensive weapon mentioned--the Word of God. We can use the Bible offensively in our continuous battle with Satan. The Bible is the always up-to-date guidebook for dealing with all of life's circumstances. Systematic study of God's Word, and Scripture memorization condition a believer's mind to think as God thinks in each situation, thereby capturing our "every thought." MBD ________________________________________________________________________ February 25, Tuesday HIDE AND SEEK "When I applied mine heart to know wisdom, and to see the business that is done upon the earth:...Then I beheld all the work of God, that a man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun: because though a man labour to seek it out, yet he shall not find it; yea farther; though a wise man think to know it, yet shall he not be able to find it" (Ecclesiastes 8:16,17). From the depressing outlook of this passage, we might think that education and research are futile undertakings. If the perspective of the elderly, carnal Soloman is correct, and God has set a barrier to knowing about what He has done, then it is hopeless to seek for that which can't be found. But praise God, this is not the point of view taught in the rest of Scripture. To those who seek Him, He can be found. "And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve Him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the LORD searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek Him, He will be found of thee; but if thou forsake Him, He will cast thee off for ever" (I Chronicles 28:9). This verse was spoken by David to Solomon, while telling him that the Lord had chosen Solomon to build the Temple. God gave Solomon great wisdom and success in his building project. That project stands in the historical records as one of the major accomplishments of all time, and is a testimony to the capacity of the mind stayed upon the Lord. Notice that the verse above also deals with the heart. Perhaps this is a reference to the hyothalamic part of the brain where decisions are made based upon what is in the mind (cerebrum). The verse implies that God can read us like a book and even knows the intent of our thoughts. If we direct our thoughts after Him, He will let us find Him. We can know "the business that is done upon the earth." KBC ________________________________________________________________________ February 26, Wednesday THE SHIELD OF FAITH "Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked" (Ephesians 6:16). The shield is a frequently used symbol in the Old Testament, and its spiritual significance is still as relevant now as it was in Biblical days. The very first reference to shields, in Scripture, beautifully defines this significance. "Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward" (Genesis 15:1). Thus, God, Himself, is the shield for those who trust Him. This primeval shield was also, as in our text above, a "shield of faith," for the first mention of faith in the Bible is associated with this first mention of shields. "And (Abram) believed (i.e., "had faith") in the LORD; and He counted it to him for righteousness" (Genesis 15:6). There are numerous other references in the Old Testament Scriptures to God as the spiritual shield for His people, defending them from their spiritual enemies. In the 115th Psalm, for example, there is a three-fold exhortation to trust in the Lord, each time ending with the strong refrain, "He is their help and their shield" (Psalm 115:9-11). Perhaps one of the most beautiful verses in the Bible is Psalm 84:11: "For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly." This is a wonderful promise to the one who walks with the Lord in the light of His Word! A light for the day, protection on the way, grace for every trial, and glory all the while! "Every word of God is pure: He is a shield unto them that put their trust in Him" (Proverbs 30:5). With so many Old Testament assurances, it is fitting that the only reference to shields in the New Testament is in our text. As we put on the armor of God (Ephesians 6:11,13), we are, above all, to take our shield of faith, by which God protects us from every attack of the wicked one. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ February 27, Thursday FROM WHERE DID THE WATER COME? "And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth; and all the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered" (Genesis 7:19). Lack of an answer to this question led many theologians in the early 1800's to abandon the Biblical doctrine of the global Flood, in favor of uniformitarianism. At the time, scientists were saying that the concept of a young earth had been disproved, and that since the mountains had been around since before the time of Noah, obviously, they couldn't have been covered by the Flood waters. There is simply not enough water to cover the present mountain ranges, they said. Theologians responded by proposing a local flood incapable of laying down the fossil-bearing rock of the world. Even today, most evangelical theologians, denominations, and seminaries teach this compromise. The world before the Flood was quite different from the world today. A global water vapor canopy encircled the earth and contained vast amounts of water vapor (Genesis 1:6-8). Furthermore, the topography was much less pronounced, since all present mountain ranges are made up of sedimentary rocks or volcanoes attributable to the Flood. Since it didn't rain before the Flood (Genesis 2:5), yet rivers flowed (v.10), there must have been great subterranean reservoirs of water. At the proper time, these "fountains of the great deep" (Genesis 7:11) spewed out their contents and the "windows of heaven were opened," as the canopy was precipitated. The breaking up of these "fountains," which were under the water, implies great tsunamis elevating water to an abnormal level on land. Coupling these mechanisms with the fact that most of the earth (70%) is still covered with water in sufficient quantity to cover the entire earth (if it were smoothed out) to a depth of about 7,500 feet, we can conclude that the Biblical story is, indeed, quite reasonable. JDM ________________________________________________________________________ February 28, Friday THE GOD OF ISRAEL "Know therefore this day, and consider it in thine heart, that the LORD He is God in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath: there is none else" (Deuteronomy 4:39). It is the standard clich‚ among modern intellectuals that Jehovah, the God of Israel, was nothing but a tribal "god," like Dagon of the Philistines or Baal of the Zidonians. Nothing could be further from the truth, of course. As our text proclaims: "Jehovah (or Yahweh) is God in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath: there is none else!" This statement is found in what has been called the "valedictory address" of Moses. In fact, most of the book of Deuteronomy (meaning "second law") consists of Moses' exhortations and reminders to the children of Israel as they were about to enter the Promised Land. The great burden of his message was that the God of Israel was not like other gods, for they were nothing but nature gods, mere personifications of natural forces, energized to some degree by demonic spirits. "Jehovah, He is God!" He is the Creator of heaven and earth, and the various forces of nature, even of the spirits the heathen were worshiping. "Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the LORD's thy God, the earth also, with all that therein is" (Deuteronomy 10:14), Moses reminded them. Then, in even stronger language, he said: "For the LORD your God is God of gods, and LORD of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward" (Deuteronomy 10:17). One cannot gain God's favor either by position or by purchase, but only by obedient faith. This God of Israel is Maker of heaven and earth! Therefore, said Moses, "ascribe ye greatness unto our God. He is the Rock, His work is perfect: for all His ways are judgment; a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is He" (Deuteronomy 32:3,4). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ February 29, Saturday DO-GOODERS "Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God" (III John 11). The term "do-gooder" has come to be sort of a sarcastic put-down of people who are actively doing good deeds and trying to persuade others also to do good. Standards today have become so confused that actions once considered wrong are now considered quite normal, as easily seen from the plots of Hollywood movies, radio talk shows, and newspaper sports pages. Those who try to call people back to righteousness are ridiculed as officious do-gooders. But it should be remembered that God, Himself, was doing good first. "He did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness" (Acts 14:17). Not only did the Lord do good in creating and upholding our beautiful world, but He continued to do good when He became man. As Jesus of Nazarth, He "went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with Him" (Acts 10:38). Therefore, if we who know Him as our Savior would be like Him in our lives, we, also, must do good. Human standards of goodness may change, but God's standards do not. As our text confirms, the very mark of the born-again nature is doing good, for "he that doeth good is of God," while he who follows evil "hath not seen God." Many other Scriptures remind us of the same truth: "To do good and to communicate (that is, `share with others') forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased" (Hebrews 13:16). Christ even commanded us to do good to our enemies. "Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you..." (Luke 6:27). "As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith" (Galatians 6:10). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ This "Days of Praise" quarterly was converted to ASCII, for BBS use, from the original formatted desktop articles. Comments regarding typographical errors in the above material are appreciated. Don Barber, ICR Systems Administrator Fax: (619) 448-3469 All ICR staff members adhere to a Statement of Faith in the form of two documents: "Tenets of Scientific Creationism," and "Tenets of Biblical Creationism." (see Impact No. 85) ________________________________________________________________________ Institute for Creation Research A unique complex of evangelistic, missionary, and educational ministries. Trans-denominational in structure; worldwide in outreach. Advancing the cause of true science and education, winning people to Christ, and strengthening the Christian witness, by promoting genuine creationism in science and Scripture. If you would like to receive our free monthly newsletter "Acts & Facts," or our free quarterly devotional Bible-study booklet "Days of Praise," just request them by contacting ICR at (619) 448-0900. ________________________________________________________________________ Typical ICR Ministries Scientific Research Related to Origins ICR Graduate School of Creation Science Books and Audiovisual Materials (all levels) Seminars, Debates, Workshops, Bible Conferences, etc. Weekly Radio Program, "Science, Scripture, and Salvation" Daily Devotional Guide, "Days of Praise" (Free on Request) Guided Tours to Areas of Biblical/Science Significance Monthly Newsletter, "Acts & Facts" (Free on Request) ICR Museum of Creation and Earth History Daily Radio Program, "Back to Genesis ________________________________________________________________________ ICR Ministries ICR is primarily supported by voluntary contributions (IRS tax-exempt) from concerned Christian people and churches. 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