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 ________________________________________________________________________ ||||||||| |||||||| |||||||||| |||| |||| |||| |||| |||| ||||| |||| |||| |||| |||| |||| ||||| |||| |||| |||| |||| |||| ||||| |||| |||| |||| |||| |||||||||| |||| |||| |||| |||| |||| |||| |||| |||| |||| |||| ||||||||| |||||||| ||||| ________________________________________________________________________ March, April June Spring 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 ________________________________________________________________________ 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 1:24,25). Paul wrote to his young disciple with the well-known admonition, "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" (II Timothy 2:15). His charge applies to each of us today, as well. Our prayer is that this edition of Days of Praise will encourage and to some degree enable you to do just that. Each author has spent "study" time in the Word of God to prepare each daily lesson, and has received tremendous blessings from it. We desire that your reading will spur you on to deeper study and meditation in the Scriptures. Many of the articles are written by ICR scientists who spend much time studying the Scriptures, in addition to scientific reading and research. We believe each of these contributes to our effectiveness in the other. We have also found Days of Praise to be useful in our daily staff prayer meeting. We often read the day's article and discuss it before praying for the needs of ICR, its staff, and for others who write and ask us to pray about some burden in their lives. We trust you will find this little booklet to be as much of a blessing as do we, and that God will use it in your lives as He has in ours. KBC Kenneth B. Cumming, Ph.D. CJH Mrs. Connie J. Horn PGH Paul G. Humber, M.S. HMM Henry M. Morris, Ph.D. JDM John D. Morris, Ph.D. NPS Norman P. Spotts, D.D. ________________________________________________________________________ March 1, Sunday THE AGES TO COME "That in the ages to come He might shew the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 2:7). People may ridicule Christians for believing in "pie in the sky bye and bye," but the sober truth is that "the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us" (Romans 8:18). Why should we get enamored with the philosophies and projects of this present world, when the Scriptures tell us that "the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God," and that both the wisdom and "the princes of this world" are going to "come to nought" (I Corinthians 3:19; 2:6). Anyway, should we not "lay up for (our)selves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal" (Matthew 6:20), instead of foolishly "supposing that gain is godliness" (I Timothy 6:5). Christ "gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world" (Galations 1:4), not to make us more comfortable living in it. In fact, "all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life...passeth away:..but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever" (I John 2:16,17). God has not promised us pie in the sky, but He has promised to show us "the exceeding riches of His grace." He has assured us that there will be "glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end" (Ephesians 3:21). "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). Therefore, like Moses, we choose "rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season," for we have "respect unto the recompense of the reward" (Hebrews 11:25,26). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ March 2, Monday LABOR AND PROFIT "Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labor that I had labored to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun" (Ecclesiastes 2:11). One of the inequities of human life seems to be that there is no dependable relationship between the diligence with which one labors and the reward he receives for that labor. Some men may work hard all their lives, yet live in poverty; the "idle rich," on the other hand, may inherit their wealth. The trouble is that perfect equity can never be achieved in such matters while man's entire dominion is in bondage to sin and death, under God's curse (Genesis 3:17-20). As long as one's goals and motives in working are only "under the sun," there is bound to be "vanity and vexation of spirit," no matter what his current economic and social status may be. The accounts are not to be settled in the fallible ledgers kept here on earth, but in God's books. "Labor not for the meat which perisheth," said the Lord, "but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life" (John 6:27). To bondslaves, Paul said, "Whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ" (Colossians 3:23,24). It is important to remember that, when all accounts are settled at His judgment seat, the "profit" we receive is not based on quantity, but quality, of services rendered. "Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it...and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is" (I Corinthians 3:13). Not "how much," but "what sort!" There is little profit under the sun, but, if we are "abounding in the work of the Lord...(our) labor is not in vain in the Lord" (I Corinthians 15:58). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ March 3, Tuesday THE BLOOD OF CONSECRATION "And he slew it; and Moses took of the blood of it, and put it upon the tip of Aaron's right ear, and upon the thumb of his right hand, and upon the great toe of his right foot" (Leviticus 8:23). This unique ceremony, conducted when Aaron was being consecrated as Israel's high priest, is rich in symbolism. The blood was taken from the "ram of consecration" (Leviticus 8:22), which had been slain by Moses, its death signifying the death to self which priests should experience in order to be fully dedicated to the will and service of God. Then the blood was applied to the head, hands, and feet of the priest, thus, in effect, to his whole body, symbolizing cleansing and forgiveness of personal sins, in order that he might be an acceptable intermediary between God and the people. Further, it of course signified that the priest must have ears willing to hear God's Word, hands willing to do God's work and feet willing to carry God's message wherever He led. In fulfillment, the high priest is Christ, the sacrificial offering is Christ, and the consecrating blood is His own blood, shed at Calvary (Hebrews 9:11-14). As the perfect high priest, His ear was perfectly attuned to God's Word, His hands worked the perfect work of God, and His feet walked all the way from Bethlehem to Calvary, to accomplish the saving will of God. But then each believer must remember that he, also, is a member of "an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices" (I Peter 2:5). As believer-priests, we must hear God's Word, for "faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God" (Romans 10:17). Our hands and feet must also be ready to do the work of God and walk in His ways, if we would be faithful to our high calling. This is our "reasonable service" as "living sacrifice(s)" presented unto Him (Romans 12:1). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ March 4, Wednesday WHO IS WORTHY? "I (i.e. Jacob) am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which thou hast showed unto thy servant; for with my staff I passed over this Jordan; and now I am become two bands" (Genesis 32:10). Scripture records statements of others who have felt their own unworthiness in the presence of God. John the Baptist told the crowd at the Jordan: "He that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear" (Matthew 3:11). The Roman centurion said to Jesus: "I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof" (Matthew 8:8). These were men who saw Jesus as the Son of God and themselves as they truly were before Him. We can never be worthy of the One who is worthy of all "glory and honour and power," for He is the Creator of all things, and He has "redeemed us to God by (His) blood" (Revelation 4:11; 5:9). However, Jesus chooses to call us "worthy," if we confess His name before men. "Whosoever, therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven....He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me" (Matthew 10:32,37). "They shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy. He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before His angels" (Revelation 3:4,5). The saint has been found "worthy" to have his name confessed before the Father, not because of an actual "work" of confessing his Savior before men, but because the heart attitude of he who confesses the Savior is a heart of faith that leads to salvation. "For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation" (Romans 10:10). CJH ________________________________________________________________________ March 5, Thursday MUCH MORE "Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him" (Romans 5:9). The fifth chapter of Romans is sometimes called the "much more" chapter, because of five wonderful "much more" verses. The first is our text for the day, consisting itself of a commentary on the tremendous truth in the preceding verse. That is, because of the tremendous love expressed by God "in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (v.8), we shall also be delivered completely from the just wrath of a holy God. Then, there is the truth of verse 10: "For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life." Formerly His adversaries, we are not only delivered from God's wrath on sin, but also delivered from sin's power, because Christ's life becomes our life, once we are restored to complete fellowship with Him. Thirdly, we have more abundant grace. "But not as the offense, so also is the free gift. For if through the offense of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many" (v.15). His grace is far greater than all our sin. Next, there is verse 17. "For if by one man's offense death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ." Note the progression in these "much mores": saved from wrath; saved unto righteousness; a life abounding in grace; and, now, a life of victory. Finally, and in summary: "Moreover the law entered, that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord" (vs.20,21). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ March 6, Friday THE SINNING BROTHER "But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat" (I Corinthians 5:11). Here is a sober reminder that a Christian brother -- one who has accepted Christ as Savior and repented of his sins can again fall into gross sin. This seems so anomalous that we might question whether such a one was ever saved in the first place. Some modern translations even let this question distort the real thrust of the verse. The NASV, for example, calls such a person a "so-called brother," and the NIV translates the phrase as "anyone who calls himself a brother," both thus implying that he was not really a brother in Christ. The Greek word, however, is onomazo which means, simply, "named" or "called," as the King James version correctly renders it. The thrust of the whole phrase is, "any man who bears the name of brother." Paul is stressing the anomaly itself. Any brother in the Lord should live in a manner befitting this high calling. If he does not, however, and if he is not responsive to the pleadings of his brethren who seek to restore him, in the manner of Galations 6:1 ("ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness"), then he should be subject to church discipline, and be removed from the fellowship of the church. "If he neglect to hear the church," said Jesus, "let him be unto thee as an heathen man" (Matthew 18:17). If such a person later repents, of course, Paul says we "ought rather to forgive him, and...confirm your love toward him" (II Corinthians 2:7,8). In the meantime, knowing that it is possible for a true believer to fall into gross sin, through carelessness, or doubt, or whatever, "let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall" (I Corinthians 10:12). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ March 7, Saturday IN THE IMAGE OF GOD "So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them" (Genesis 1:27). The Lord Jesus Christ "is the image of God" (II Corinthians 4:4), "the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person" (Hebrews 1:3), "the image of the invisible God" (Colossians 1:15). Human beings were created "in" God's image. From the beginning we were made to be like Jesus, God the Son, but we miserably failed. God the Father did not forsake His purposes, however. In the fullness of time He sent His Son to take on our flesh so that the believer might "be conformed to the image of His Son" (Romans 8:29), "renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created Him" (Colossians 3:10). Animals do not share this privilege. They were not made to resemble Jesus. Animals have instinct; humans, creativity -- like the Creator! He reasons with His human creatures and wants us to reason back (cf. Isaiah 1:18). Like Jesus, we also have authority. He calmed the storm; we tame killer whales and whole herds of cattle. Yet, our rebellion against God shows up in many and varied abuses, but the ingredients are stamped on our beings nevertheless. The fact that we can worship God and commune with Him in prayer is a tremendous truth. God is tripersonal; each Person of the Trinity communes with the Other. But God also invites us into His fellowship. Let us be what we were meant to be. Let us imitate the Lord Jesus Christ -- trusting solely in the merits of His cross, commune with the Father through the Son, and experience the joy of fellowship with the Spirit for all eternity so that "we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord" (II Corinthians 3:18). PGH ________________________________________________________________________ March 8, Sunday INHERITING THE EARTH "Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth" (Matthew 5:5). This third of Christ's beatitudes has always seemed paradoxical because those who now rule the earth seem anything but meek. It has always been the strong and aggressive who control the world, not the meek of the world. Christ, however, was confirming an ancient promise given through David: "But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace" (Psalm 37:11). Surprisingly, there are also four other promises in this psalm describing those who are to inherit the earth: "Those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth" (v.9). "For such as be blessed of Him shall inherit the earth" (v.22). "The righteous shall inherit the land (same word as `earth')" (v.29). "Wait on the LORD, and keep His way, and He shall exalt thee to inherit the land (i.e. `earth')" (v.34). It is Jesus Christ, of course, who ultimately will receive "the uttermost parts of the earth for (His) possession" (Psalm 2:8). However, we also (if we are among the "meek") are "heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ" (Romans 8:17), and thus we also shall inherit the earth with Him. But how does this quality of meekness equip believers for such an exalted future? In the Bible, meekness does not mean "weakness," of course, nor is it even an innate mildness that may characterize some unsaved people. "The fruit of the Spirit is...meekness" (Galatians 5:22,23), which means that meekness is not a natural human trait at all. It is best defined as the character of Christ, Himself, for He said: "I am meek and lowly in heart" (Matthew 11:29), and Paul measured his own actions "by the meekness and gentleness of Christ" (II Corinthians 10:1). In Psalm 37, it was seen that "the meek" (v.37) are synonymous with those who "wait on the LORD, and keep His way" (v.34). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ March 9, Monday IN THE WAY "And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of my master Abraham, who hath not left destitute my master of His mercy and His truth: I being in the way, the LORD led me to the house of my master's brethren" (Genesis 24:27). The remarkable, providential leading of Abraham's servant to the maiden who was to be the bride of Isaac has been a source of inspiration to every generation of believers. One very important principle can be gleaned from this wonderful journey: Before the Lord could lead the servant to the object of his quest, he had to start out on his way. "Being in the way, the LORD led me," he testified. Abraham himself knew this by experience: "By faith Abraham, when he was called...obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went" (Hebrews 11:8). God first led him from Ur to Haran, thence to Bethel in the land of Canaan, on to Mamre, and finally, to Beersheba. He had no certain home, but because he was "in the way," the Lord assured him that "in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed" (Genesis 22:18). Consider also the Apostle Paul, who carried the saving gospel of Christ to the Gentiles. He did not, however, dawdle around waiting for this call. "After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not....And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us" (Acts 16:7,9). The principle is this: Those who truly desire to be called to some special field of service should first be doing what they can where they are. Then the Lord will re-direct them, if it is His will. "Thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left" (Isaiah 30:21). When we are actively "in the way," then the Lord can lead us. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ March 10, Tuesday MINE "For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills" (Psalm 50:10). What does God own? What belongs to Him? What does God say is "mine"? The answer to these questions is quite simple -- everything! 1. God owns the animal creation, as in our text: "I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are mine" (v.11). 2. God owns the world: "If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is mine, and the fulness thereof" (v.12). 3. God owns the wealth of the world: "The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the LORD of hosts" (Haggai 2:8). 4. God owns the land of Palestine: "The land shall not be sold for ever: for the land is mine" (Leviticus 25:23). 5. God owns all souls: "Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine" (Ezekiel 8:4). God surely does own everything, and has chosen, in His grace, to share it all with us. Why then do we many times not trust our heavenly Father to supply all our needs? "For your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask Him" (Matthew 6:8). Plus, He has promised to supply "our daily bread" (Matthew 6:11). He knows what we need today, and He has the wisdom and power to meet that need: "Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things." "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matthew 6:31-33). It would be helpful if we could continually remember Paul's familiar words: "My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:19). Not some, or most, but all! NPS ________________________________________________________________________ March 11, Wednesday BUT GOD "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). For two one-syllable words, the opening words of this passage speak endless volumes of truth. Before they appear, there is nothing but wrath and death. Then, suddenly, there is rich mercy, and great love, and grace, and salvation, and eternal life! The difference is God! The world before God intervened was dead in trespasses and sins and completely helpless. Instead of the "universal fatherhood of God," all men were "children of disobedience" and "children of wrath" (vs.2,3), living "according to the course of this world" and "according to the prince of the power of the air" (that is, the devil) (v.2). But God! Note that the Word does not say "But man." Salvation is all of God and all of grace. It is God, and God alone who "hath quickened" those who were "dead in sins." Instead of walking according to the course of this world, He has made us "sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus" (v.6). It is not humanistic works by which we are saved, but by "the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Jesus Christ" (v.7). All of this has been made possible by an even greater divine intervention: "And when they had fulfilled all that was written of Him, they took Him down from the tree, and laid Him in a sepulchre. But God[!] raised Him from the dead" (Acts 13:29,30). Jesus Christ, who rose victorious over sin and death and Satan, "is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him" (Hebrews 7:25). Because He has done all this, we can enjoy, throughout "the ages to come...the exceeding riches of His grace" (Ephesians 2:7). HMM _______________________________________________________________________ March 12, Thursday WHOM I SERVE "And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? They say unto him, Caesar's. Then saith He unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's" (Matthew 22:20,21). In this episode, Jesus was confronted by a group of Pharisees who stood for theocracy, and another of Herodians who wanted the dynasty of Herod to be re-established in the place of the Roman procuratorship. If Jesus concluded that it was lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, then the people would be angry; if Jesus sided with the Pharisees, He would be charged with sedition by the Romans. What a predicament! Jesus' answer was to render tribute based on ownership. If taxes were based on money, and that system was Roman, then we should obey the constraints of citizenship and pay the tax. On the other hand, whatever is due to God, because of ownership, should be paid to Him. Interestingly, the marks of ownership were the "image" and the "superscription" of the object under question. The image of God was a special gift of God to man at the creation (Genesis 1:26). We are warned against making graven images of God or of any creature, because there will almost inevitably develop a desire to worship that image as a "god." The true God is invisible -- not body, but spirit. Regarding titles of ownership, we decide how we shall be labeled. If we have decided to follow Christ, we gain the superscription "Christian." Paul put it simply when he was in the midst of the storm at sea: "For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve" (Acts 27:23). Even though he was shortly to be imprisoned by Caesar (v.24), and was in no way advocating rebellion against Caesar's authority, there is no doubt as to where his true allegiance lay. KBC ________________________________________________________________________ March 13, Friday THE WITNESS OF CONSCIENCE "And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst" (John 8:9). This is the first of 32 occurrences of the word "conscience" in the New Testament. Through this pricking of their consciences, Jesus had prevented a mob from stoning a woman charged with adultery, for through it, the accusers recognized their own unworthiness to judge another. A conscience can be a reliable guide, however, only if it is a good conscience. The Scriptures, on the other hand, speak of some who have a "weak conscience" (I Corinthians 8:7,10,12), which may become a "defiled conscience" (Titus 1:15) and eventually a "seared conscience" (I Timothy 4:2) or even an "evil conscience" (Hebrews 10:22). If used properly, however, the conscience is a blessing. God has given us a conscience to help guide us. The question is, what makes a conscience "good?" There are two references in Scripture to a "pure conscience" (I Timothy 3:9; II Timothy 1:3) and six to a "good conscience" (Acts 23:1; I Timothy 1:5,19; Hebrews 13:18; I Peter 3:16,21), but none of these tell how such a conscience is acquired. The answer to this vital question appears to be found in the Apostle Paul's testimony before Felix: "And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offense toward God, and toward men" (Acts 24:16). The "exercise" (literally `training') which had produced such a conscience in Paul, he said, was this: "So worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets" (Acts 24:14). A lifelong study of the Scriptures, accompanied by absolute faith in their veracity and authority, had produced in Paul a strong, pure, good, reliable conscience, and it will do the same for us. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ March 14, Saturday LET THEM PRAY "Is any among you afflicted? let him pray....Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him" (James 5:13-15). This familiar passage is a difficult one. Many suffering Christians have tried in all sincerity to follow the instructions given here, yet have not been healed. This may be because the promise has a specific, rather than general, application. First, "is anyone afflicted?" This word means "troubled," referring especially to persecution or deprivation. For such a person, the admonition is: "Let him pray." Assuming that he is right with God, and is praying in His will (I John 5:14,15), he can expect either the needed relief or the needed grace. Secondly: "Is any sick?" Here the Greek word actually refers to physical illness. However, the context shows that this particular sickness has come specifically "since (the true connotation of `if') he have committed sins." The remedy is for such a person to call for the church elders (not the reverse), and "let them pray" (after he has first openly confessed and repented of his sins) in faith, anointing him with oil. Then the promise is that, if the elders themselves have faith and are right with God, the Lord will forgive his sins and raise him up. Furthermore, their prayer of faith will "save the sick." The Greek word in this case means "wearied," rather than "ill," and it tells us that the sinner has been delivered from the heavy burden of guilt which had wearied his soul, as well as the illness which had weakened his body. There are other reasons for illness besides unrepented sin, but this is a wonderful promise of both spiritual and physical healing when sin is the problem. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ March 15, Sunday ASHAMED OF THE LORD "Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God" (II Timothy 1:8). This exhortation of Paul follows immediately upon his assertion that "God hath not given us the spirit of fear" (II Timothy 1:7). Thus, any Christian who is afraid to give a clear testimony for the Lord, or who is unwilling to support those who may be suffering because of their testimony (Paul was in a Roman dungeon when he wrote these words), did not receive such a spirit of fear from God. A courageous, uncompromising stand for the truth, even in the face of ridicule and persecution, characterized the early Christians, who rejoiced "that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name" (Acts 5:41). On the other hand, pride is such a besetting sin of human nature, and peer pressure so intimidating, that most Christians today -- whether Christian intellectuals on the campus being pressured to compromise with evolution, or Christian laborers confronted with dishonesty and vile language on the job, or Christian teen-agers being urged to partake of drugs and sex -- either yield to the pressure or retreat in silence. We need to remember the words of Christ: "Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when He cometh in the glory of His Father with the holy angels" (Mark 8:38). The Apostle Paul, suffering in prison and soon to be executed, still could say: "Nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed" (II Timothy 1:12). God gives us "power and love and a sound mind" -- not the spirit of fear! Therefore, we can well afford to be partakers of the gospel's afflictions, by the power of God. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ March 16, Monday DOES GOD DWELL IN TEMPLES? "But Solomon built Him an house. Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands" (Acts 7:47,48). Scripture teaches that the Creator God could not be confined to a man-made temple, but it is also true that the temple in Jerusalem was indeed the house of God. God, Himself, had even stated that "For now have I chosen and sanctified this house, that my name may be there for ever: and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually" (II Chronicles 7:16). Of course, there is no real conflict. God implies that this place would enjoy His special attention, favor, and Name, but He never claimed it as a dwelling place. Solomon even recognized this. He said, "Who is able to build Him an house, seeing the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain Him?" (II Chronicles 2:6). Today, God dwells in many temples, but they are not made with hands either. "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?...the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are" (I Corinthians 3:16,17). Likewise, "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost?" (I Corinthians 6:19), and "ye are the temple of the living God" (II Corinthians 6:16). Not only is each individual believer the temple of God, but the corporate body of believers, the church, enjoys the same standing. Speaking of the melding of Jewish and Gentile believers into one body, Paul teaches that each believer is a stone in "the building fitly framed together (which) groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord" (Ephesians 2:21). As individual building stones, we are "fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone" (Ephesians 2:19,20). The sanctuary of the living God is not a temple or a church auditorium, but hearts yielded to Him. JDM ________________________________________________________________________ March 17, Tuesday GRACE AND THE LAW "For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ" (John 1:17). Some have argued that the Old Testament God was rigid and legalistic, whereas the God of the New Testament is a God of grace and love. But "Jesus Christ (is) the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever" (Hebrews 13:8). The word for "grace" (Hebrew chen) occurs at least 68 times in the Old Testament, and "gracious" and "graciously" some 98 times. The related attributes of "mercy" and "lovingkindness" (Hebrew chesed) are mentioned over 200 times. The Old Testament is abundantly supplied with references to these supposedly New Testament concepts. It is significant that the first mentions of "grace" and "graciously" in the Bible refer to the grace of God, rather than to any human grace. In the first instance, it is said that even in a world of universal wickedness, "Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD" (Genesis 6:8), and God saved him and his family through the terrible judgment of the Flood. Then Jacob, the father of the children of Israel (to whom God eventually revealed the law through Moses), spoke of his children as gifts of God's grace, testifying to his brother Esau of "the children which God hath graciously given thy servant" (Genesis 33:5). Even the law was given in grace and truth to the people whom God had chosen in grace, as the psalmist indicated when he prayed: "Grant me thy law graciously. I have chosen the way of truth" (Psalm 119:29,30). It is significant that the last reference to "grace" in the Old Testament refers to the salvation of all the children of Israel, when they see finally Jesus as He really is. "I will pour upon the house of David,...the Spirit of grace...: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Him..." (Zechariah 12:10). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ March 18, Wednesday STRENGTH AND GRACE AND GLORY "They go from strength to strength, every one of them in Zion appeareth before God" (Psalm 84:7). The Christian life should never be a stagnant life, satisfied with the spiritual status quo. It should be a life of continued growth and progress, day by day. The believer has an infinite supply of resources available, and thus is expected to continue to increase in spiritual strength and grace and glory all his life. First, "blessed is the man whose strength is in thee." With such strength, the believer can, when "passing through the valley of Baca (`weeping') make it a well" (Psalm 84:5,6). Next, as seen in our text, "They go from strength to strength" -- that is, from one level of strength to another, as they appropriate the strength of the Lord Himself. But strength is more than just spiritual power. "Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus" (II Timothy 2:1). We are saved by grace, and God's grace should be increasingly evident in our lives. "Of His fullness have all we received, and grace for grace" (John 1:16). His grace is endless and inexhaustible, and we can receive (literally) "grace upon grace," as we "grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (II Peter 3:18). Then, as we go from strength to strength, and receive grace upon grace, "we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory" (II Corinthians 3:18). The "glass" in which we behold the Lord's image, in context, is the reading of the Scriptures. His glory shines through its open pages and becomes reflected in the very character of the believer. This is how the Christian's spiritual life should progress from day to day. Receiving first of all His strength and His grace, and His glory, we "may grow up into Him in all things, which is the head, even Christ" (Ephesians 4:15). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ March 29, Thursday THE ANGEL OF REDEMPTION "The Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth" (Genesis 48:16). In this verse is the first use in the Bible of the beautiful word "redeem" (Hebrew goel). Its basic meaning is "buy back" -- that is, to avenge and restore one who has been wronged, or to set free one who has been enslaved. The right and duty of redemption, in Biblical times, was commonly understood to belong to the next of kin, and the word is the usual Hebrew word for "kinsman." In this use of this word, Jacob noted that his redeemer had been the mighty Angel of the Lord -- the one who had been his only kinsman (after all, his parents were powerless to help him and his brother and uncle were his enemies). Jacob had learned that the God of His fathers was the only one able and willing to deliver him from all evil, and therefore he could also call on Him to deliver and bless his seed. Job also could speak of Him: "I know that my redeemer liveth" (Job 19:25). So could David: "O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer" (Psalm 19:14). Isaiah wrote frequently of Him. For example: "Thou, O LORD, art our father, our redeemer: thy name is from everlasting" (Isaiah 63:16). Jacob's "Angel" of redemption was none other than the second Person of the Godhead, before He became incarnate as Son of Man, in the person of Jesus Christ. He is now, indeed, our brother, our kinsman, for He was "made like unto His brethren" (Hebrews 2:17) and then paid the awful price to deliver us from sin's bondage, thereby obtaining "eternal redemption for us" (Hebrews 9:12). "Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold,...but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot" (I Peter 1:18,19). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ March 20, Friday CHOSEN VESSELS "But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel" (Acts 9:15). The Lord here was speaking to Ananias concerning the Apostle Paul, calling him a "vessel," that was to be filled with spiritual treasures for the nations. We may not be chosen for such a great work as that of Paul, but each of us is a chosen vessel to carry the message to someone. First, however, we have to be prepared as vessels by the great Potter, "that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had afore prepared unto glory" (Romans 9:23). This verse speaks of God's mercy, for He must also endure "with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction" (Romans 9:22). We are only earthen vessels, at least to begin with, but God does entrust a portion of His heavenly treasures to us, especially "the light of the glorious gospel of Christ" shining in our hearts. "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us" (II Corinthians 4:4,7). If we are faithful in the small things, He may one day entrust us with greater treasures. "In a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honor, and some to dishonor. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work" (II Timothy 2:20,21). Each one is a vessel in the Master's hand. Some are vessels of wrath, suited only for destruction; some vessels in His house are of wood and dirt, vessels of dishonor. May God help us, however, to be beautiful vessels of great value, sanctified to the Master's use, and to every good work. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ March 21, Saturday SAVING FAITH "What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him?" (James 2:14). The well-known apparent "conflict" between James and Paul focuses especially on this verse. The Apostle Paul says emphatically: "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast" (Ephesians 2:8,9). Yet James, also an apostle, insists: "But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?" (James 2:20). But no real conflict exists. In our text, there is a definite article before the word "faith." James' question is, literally, "Can that faith save him?" This is obviously intended as a rhetorical question, with a negative answer. In the context, James teaches that a "profession of faith" is not enough to produce salvation, if that faith "have not works." Since that kind of faith does not save, then what kind of faith does save? The answer is given by Paul, in the very verses quoted above. "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that -- i.e., that faith (which is the inference in the original) -- is not of yourselves: it is the gift of God." In other words, true saving faith is not a man-generated faith of some kind, it is a supernatural gift of God! And that faith does save, because it is part of the new nature implanted by the Holy Spirit when a new believer is born again. Furthermore, this faith does inevitably produce good works, for the verse following says that "we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10). Faith must be faith in something, and true saving faith must be centered in the saving gospel of Jesus Christ as revealed in His inerrant Word. Such faith will inevitably result in a changed life and good works. That is the faith that saves. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ March 22, Sunday GOD OUR HABITATION "LORD, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations" (Psalm 90:1). These are the tremendous opening words of the oldest psalm in the book of Psalms, called, in its superscript, the "prayer of Moses the man of God." Moses must have written it shortly before his death, as he looked out over the promised land and realized that he, himself, would never live there (Deuteronomy 34:4,5). It did not really matter, though, for he had lived in many places, and none of them were really his home. As a baby, he had lived for a brief while in a basket on the river, then in a queen's palace, then forty years in Midian, and forty more years wandering in the wilderness. Furthermore, he had been meditating on the men of God of previous generations (after all, he had compiled all their ancient records in the book of Genesis) and had found that they, too, like the Apostle Paul 1500 years later, had "no certain dwelling place" (I Corinthians 4:11). Adam had been expelled from his Garden; Noah lived for a year in an Ark on a worldwide sea, then the rest of his life in a devastated earth; Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob lived in tents in Canaan, and their descendants lived as slaves in Egypt. Yet wherever they were, the Lord was with them. He had been their dwelling place, and this was Moses' first thought as he composed his great prayer. He also had written down "the blessing, wherewith Moses the man of God blessed the children of Israel before his death" (Deuteronomy 33:1). Its climax was this great assurance: "The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms" (v.27). The "refuge" of this promise is the same Hebrew word as "dwelling place" in our text. We, like they, are "strangers and pilgrims on the earth" (Hebrews 11:13), but "underneath are the everlasting arms." Where the Lord is -- there home is! HMM ________________________________________________________________________ March 23, Monday THE OMNIPOTENT GOD "Then Job answered the LORD, and said, I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee" (Job 42:1,2). This was Job's testimony at the end of His sufferings, as God revealed Himself to him, and Job acknowledged both the omnipotence and omniscience of his Maker. The omnipotence of God is a basic doctrine of Christianity, as well as of monotheism in general, yet multitudes of people who give mental assent to this doctrine live out their lives as though God either has died, or has become impotent, or has wandered away, leaving man alone as the captain of his fate. Therefore it is well for us occasionally to remember again some of the great Biblical affirmations of His omnipotence. His very name is "God Almighty" (Genesis 35:11). "Ah LORD God! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee" (Jeremiah 32:17). Furthermore, God required neither time nor process to create, make, and complete the infinite cosmos in all its complexity: "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). "He is strong in power; not one faileth" (Isaiah 40:26). In light of this truth, all the schemes of man are trivial. "Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance" (Isaiah 40:15). Evolutionary humanism, which seeks to exalt time and chance as the cause of the universe, and man and his systems as its goal and guide, is thus the utmost foolishness! Because He is omnipotent, His Word is trustworthy, and neither "height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:39). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ March 29, Tuesday FILLING THE EARTH "And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth" (Genesis 9:1). This was the first command given by God to mankind in the new world after the Flood. Actually, it simply renewed the first command given to Adam and Eve in the primeval world. "And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth..." (Genesis 1:28). The Old English word "replenish" means simply "fill," and the same is true of the Hebrew word (mala), from which it is translated. In fact, of its 220 occurrences, the King James translators rendered it "replenish" only seven times. Almost always, they translated it by "fill," or the equivalent. Thus, God's first command to men and women was to multiply until the earth was filled. Despite our latter-day concerns about exploding populations, this goal is far from accomplishment today. "Filling," of course, would imply filling only to the optimum capacity for productive human stewardship of the earth under God. The pre-Flood earth was filled in only 1656 years, but it was "filled with violence through them," and God finally had to "destroy them with the earth" (Genesis 6:13) In spite of man's failures, the Lord has given a gracious promise: "And the LORD said, truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD" (Numbers 14:20,21). This will not be man's doing, however. When Christ returns in power and great glory as the destroying Stone, then "the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth" (Daniel 2:35). The New Earth will finally be filled with an innumerable multitude of the redeemed (Revelation 7:9), and "the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea" (Habakkuk 2:14). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ March 25, Wednesday A MATTER OF THE WILL "I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD" (Psalm 116:13). Notice the "I wills" of this great psalm: 1. "I will take the cup of salvation" (v.13). In the garden of Gethsemane, our Lord prayed, "O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt" (Matthew 26:39). On the cross, Christ drank fully of the cup of suffering and death for sin, that we might one day drink of the cup of salvation. 2. "I will call upon the name of the LORD" (Psalm 116:13,17), "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Romans 10:13). Calling on the Lord begins at salvation, and continues throughout the Christian life. "Because He hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon Him as long as I live" (Psalm 116:2). 3. "I will walk before the LORD in the land of the living" (v.9). Not only should the believer exhibit a good testimony in his walk before the world, he also should consider if his walk before the Lord is well-pleasing. 4. "I will pay my vows unto the LORD in the presence of all His people" (v.18). The Lord expects us to keep our word. Vows, like those in marriage, extend in two directions: upward, "unto the LORD," and outward, "in the presence of all His people." Vows should never be taken lightly. Both God and man have a right to expect them to be kept. 5. "I will offer to thee the sacrifice of praise" (v.17). Praising God is a definite act of the will. The writer of Hebrews encourages us to do just that. " 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). The sacrifice of praise truly is a sweet-smelling savor to God. "Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me" (Psalm 50:23). NPS ________________________________________________________________________ March 26, Thursday THE PROPHET'S CHAMBER "And she said unto her husband, Behold now, I perceive that this is an holy man of God, which passeth by us continually. Let us make a little chamber, I pray thee, on the wall; and let us set for him there a bed, and a table, and a stool, and a candlestick: and it shall be, when he cometh to us, that he shall turn in thither" (II Kings 4:9,10). This sparsely furnished little room, built by a kindly woman and her elderly husband, was the prototype of all the so-called "prophet's chambers" that have been built for traveling teachers and evangelists ever since. Little did this simple farm couple anticipate what fruit their kindness would bear one day, in this very room. "Be not forgetful to entertain strangers:" the Bible says, "for thereby some have entertained angels unawares" (Hebrews 13:2). In the first place, to show his appreciation, Elisha prayed that the Lord would give them a son, and God miraculously answered (II Kings 4:16,17). Then, tragically, the boy died quite suddenly several years later, while Elisha was at Mount Carmel, some 15 miles away. The Shunammite woman laid her son on Elisha's bed in the prophet's chamber, then saddled her donkey, and rode hastily to find Elisha and bring him to the boy. The round trip must have taken her two days or more, and the boy's dead body lay on the prophet's bed in the little room all that time. But then Elisha prayed once again, and the most amazing event took place there (II Kings 4:33-35). For the very first time in history, a dead person was restored to life. The Shunammite woman and her son are never heard from again. But for 3000 years, the testimony of a little chamber, and the love and faith of the godly woman who prepared it as a simple service for her Lord and His prophet, has been an inspiration and example to multitudes. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ March 27, Friday WHOM TO PRAY FOR "I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men" (I Timothy 2:1). Let no one ever say that he has nothing to pray about, or that he doesn't know how to pray in God's will, for it is always in the will of God to pray for other people! This is a great gift that any Christian can give, even if he is penniless or bedridden. There are none so poor as to be unable to afford such a gift, nor can even the wealthiest give a finer gift. Note just a few of the relevant commandments to believers: First, we are to pray for all fellow Christians: "Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints" (Ephesians 6:18). We should also pray for the lost. Jesus commanded: "The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He would send forth laborers into His harvest" (Luke 10:2). There is a special command to pray for sick disciples. "Pray one for another, that ye may be healed" (James 5:16). We are even told to pray for our enemies. "Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you" (Luke 6:28). We are told to pray for Christian brethren who "sin a sin which is not unto death" (I John 5:16) though, if the sin has already led to physical death (as in I Corinthians 11:30), there is no warrant for further prayer in that case. Finally, we are especially admonished to pray "for kings, and for all that are in authority" (I Timothy 2:2), and for the ministries of those who proclaim the gospel (Colossians 4:2-4). In short, in the words of our text, we should offer up supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving for all men everywhere, "for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you" (I Thessalonians 5:18). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ March 28, Saturday PAUL'S PRAYER LIFE "For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers" (Romans 1:9). The Apostle Paul was a great man of prayer. He prayed "without ceasing" for the Roman Christians. To the Corinthian church he wrote: "I thank my God always on your behalf" (I Corinthians 1:4). Similarly, to the Ephesians: "(I) cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers" (Ephesians 1:16). The same assurance was written to Philippi: "Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy" (Philippians 1:4). And to the Colossians: "For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you" (Colossians 1:9). "We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers" (I Thessalonians 1:2). Apparently every church except those in Galatia received this assurance from the Apostle. He also prayed constantly for his personal disciples, Timothy and Philemon. "Without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day" (II Timothy 1:3). "I thank my God, making mention of thee always in my prayers" (Philemon 4). Paul also preached what he practiced. "Pray without ceasing," he commanded, in his first-written epistle; "in every thing give thanks" (I Thessalonians 5:17,18). "Continuing instant in prayer" (Romans 12:12). "Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving" (Colossians 4:2). "Giving thanks always for all things" (Ephesians 5:20). In addition to regular times of concentrated prayer, we should seek to be sensitive, moment by moment, to needs and opportunities for intimate, personal, conversational prayer with our ever-present Lord. Never was there a busier Christian than Paul, yet he somehow had time to pray. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ March 29, Sunday SURVIVAL OF THE UNFIT "Ye were...redeemed...with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot" (I Peter 1:18,19). Darwin's theory contemplates survival of the fittest and death to the unfit. God's truth proclaims the opposite! Jesus, the fittest of all ("without blemish and without spot") and sustainer of the entire universe (Colossians 1:17b), died so that the unfit might survive! See Him on the pages of Scripture reaching out to the blind, lame, and dumb; see the compassion of One who cared for those blemished with leprous spots; see Him stop a funeral procession and raise the dead! May we bow our hearts in praise of such a Savior! He offered His "precious blood" to redeem unfit people like us. He took death upon Himself so that blemished sinners might survive and experience eternal life. Even death was unable to hold this One in its grip. Jesus proved His fitness over death itself! "The LORD liveth; and blessed be my rock; and let the God of my salvation be exalted" (Psalm 18:46). Some have tried to further evolution along the supposed path to evolutionary advancement, but the redeemed follow a different path. May we who were once unfit -- blemished with sinful spots but now washed in His precious blood, follow the lead of the Fittest-of-All by extending our hearts and hands to those who are not surviving very well. May we go to hospitals, love and adopt deformed children, care for the poor, and feed the starving. May we share the best news of all -- that the Fittest came into this world so that the unfit might survive for an eternity with Him in heaven. Jesus said, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light" (Matthew 11:28-30). PGH ________________________________________________________________________ March 30, Monday WHERE IS WISDOM? "But where shall wisdom be found? and where is the place of understanding?" (Job 28:12). Men have been searching for this most valuable of all treasures since time began. Eve first fell into sin as she was led by Satan to believe that the forbidden fruit would make her wise. Even before Abram left Ur of the Chaldees, the patriarch Job was asking this ancient question of his three critical friends, but they could not answer. In this chapter, Job notes that while valuable metals can be dug from the rocks of the earth (Job 28:1,2), wisdom cannot be mined by hard searching and labor. Neither can it be purchased like some commodity (vs.13-19). In terms of modern categories, wisdom is not acquired through college degrees or philosophical meditation, or any variety of human experience or study. It can only be found in God, Himself, for "God understandeth the way thereof, and He knoweth the place thereof" (Job 28:23). "The fear of the LORD, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding" (Job 28:28). True wisdom is to be found in the Lord Jesus, "who of God is made unto us wisdom" (I Corinthians 1:30). In Him alone "are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Colossians 2:3). Then, of course, since the Holy Scriptures constitute His written Word, we find wisdom there. "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom" (Colossians 3:16). If one desires wisdom -- real wisdom -- he must find it in the fear of the Lord, a departure from all evil, receiving Jesus Christ as Savior and sovereign Lord, and in diligence to learn and obey His Word. "For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of His mouth cometh knowledge and understanding. He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous: He is a buckler to them that walk uprightly" (Proverbs 2:6,7). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ March 31, Tuesday CREATION EVANGELISM "But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through His name" (John 20:31). John's Gospel is perhaps the best tool with which to lead people to saving faith in Christ, for this was John's very purpose in writing. He presents the claims of Christ and evidences for the deity of Christ, along with His substitutionary death and resurrection, in a uniquely effective way. It is very important to note, however, that John begins with an affirmation of the truth of special creation. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God....All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made" (John 1:1,3). This creative Word was Jesus Christ, for "the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us" (v.14). John also points out the world's rejection of its Creator. "He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not" (v.10). The world, on the whole, then rejected -- and still rejects -- its Creator, who was "the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world" (v.9). But not all rejected, for "as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name" (v.12). nd what is His name? In context, His name is given as "the Word," "God!" "the true Light," (vs.1,9). Only after this is He revealed as the Lamb of God; the Son of God; the Messiah (vs.29,34,41), names which imply His functions and attributes. If we would be more effective evangelists, we would do well to follow the approach used by John. Christ must first be accepted as the omnipotent (but offended and rejected) Creator, before He really can be understood and received as incarnate, dying, sin-purging, glorified Savior. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ April 1, Wednesday THE FOOLISHNESS OF HUMAN WISDOM "Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools" (Romans 1:22). The Lord Jesus, in Matthew 5:22, warned His disciples against calling anyone, "Thou fool," since we can only judge by outward acts. Yet the Scriptures, in general, and Christ, in particular (who could discern the inward character), do not hesitate to describe certain types of people as fools. For example: "The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God" (Psalm 14:1). Anyone who tries to explain away all the innumerable evidences of God is a fool, the Bible says. So is anyone who rejects the teachings of Christ: "And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand" (Matthew 7:26). In particular, one who lays up riches for himself is in this category. "But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be" (Luke 12:20). Christ rebuked the Pharisees as "fools and blind" (Matthew 23:17,19) because of their hypocrisy. But perhaps the most foolish of all are those who proclaim themselves to be wise and then seek to rationalize their rejection of the Word of God. The Apostle Paul gravely warns against all such man-centered wisdom: "For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God" (I Corinthians 3:19). Such "wisdom" led to ancient paganism, and is now centered in evolutionary humanism. They "became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And...worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator" (Romans 1:21,22,25, as in the context of Romans 1:18-32). Such humanistic philosophy commonly masquerades as "science," but God has warned: "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise" (I Corinthians 1:19). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ April 2, Thursday HAVE YOU GOT YOUR EARS ON? "A wise son heareth his father's instruction: but a scorner heareth not rebuke" (Proverbs 13:1). In this couplet resides the summary of everyday experience; the person who listens to counsel benefits, while the resistant one spurns potential blessing. In the first half of the verse, the route of communication is a conversation between a father and son in proper relation. The father obviously has dealt well up to this point with his son, because the chain of command is intact; respect for authority and openness is evident. As a result, the father speaks easily, and the son listens attentively. The father's wisdom becomes the son's, and the exchange is spoken of as "instruction" -- that powerful tool which passes on careful thoughts and insightful behavior. But in the latter part of the verse, no natural relationship is mentioned. There are words spoken, but no communicating. It is a verbal battle scene in which one party is admonishing a second for poor performance. The second has shielded himself from the attacks by screening out the rebuke. Oneness has turned into conflict and irreconciliation. Many is the father whose advice is rejected by his son -- whose rebuke is scorned. Likewise, our Heavenly Father all too often finds His instruction and rebuke unheeded: "To whom shall I speak, and give warning, that they may hear? behold, their ear is uncircumcised, and they cannot hearken: behold, the word of the LORD is unto them a reproach; they have no delight in it" (Jeremiah 6:10). Create in me, O Lord, an open ear! "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction. My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother" (Proverbs 1:7,8). May God help us to have ears open to His instruction! KBC ________________________________________________________________________ April 3, Friday SHAKING THE EARTH TERRIBLY "And they shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of His majesty, when He ariseth to shake terribly the earth" (Isaiah 2:19). Ever since the convulsions of the Flood, the earth's crust has been in a state of instability, causing earthquakes from time to time all around the world. But there are earthquakes yet to come which will exceed anything ever yet experienced. The earthquake prophesied in our text was also predicted in Revelation. "And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake;...and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. And...(they) hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from...the wrath of the Lamb" (Revelation 6:12-16). But, when these judgments of God are in the earth, those who have rejected the love of the sin-bearing Lamb of God still will remain unrepentant and will merely seek to flee His anger. God is long-suffering, but "the great day of His wrath" will surely come (Revelation 6:17). "For thus saith the LORD of hosts;...I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; And I will shake all nations" (Haggai 2:6,7). "The earth is utterly broken down, the earth is clean dissolved, the earth is moved exceedingly" (Isaiah 24:19). Finally will come "a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great....And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found" (Revelation 16:18,20). Those who belong to Christ, however, will be delivered from the wrath to come: "This word...signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken,...that those things which cannot be shaken may remain" (Hebrews 12:27). HMM _______________________________________________________________________ April 4, Saturday FINDING GRACE "But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD"<%-2> (Genesis 6:8). This is the very first reference in the Bible to the great concept of the grace of God. In the midst of the most violent and wicked society that history has ever seen, there was one man who was "a just man and perfect in his generations" (Genesis 6:9), and the reason why he was different was that he "found grace in the eyes of the LORD." Appropriately, in this first mention of such a vital doctrine, it is stressed that the grace of God is not something which is either earned or learned. It cannot be gained by good works or by much study. Grace is found! It is God's free "gift" (Ephesians 2:8) to any who will receive it. "For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew Himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward Him" (II Chronicles 16:9). The eyes of the Lord surely had to search diligently in an earth "filled with violence" (Genesis 6:13) to find a man whose heart was open toward God but, when He did find such a man, "Noah found grace!" In a beautiful pattern of divine inspiration, it is significant that the first mention of grace in the New Testament stresses the same great truth. It appears in the words of the angel Gabriel to the virgin Mary: "Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor (literally "grace") with God" (Luke 1:30). Thus Mary, like Noah, "found grace with God." Noah was chosen by the Lord to save a believing remnant through the Flood by the building of the Ark of safety, and Mary was chosen by the Lord to bring into the world the One who would take away its sin, the eternal Ark of Salvation. It is the same today. Although "the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men" (Titus 2:11), only "few there be that find it" (Matthew 7:14). God's grace is available to all if they will but believe and accept it, but it takes a seeing heart and a hearing soul to find it. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ April 5, Sunday THE OMNISCIENCE OF GOD "Great is our LORD, and of great power: His understanding is infinite" (Psalm 147:5). Consider the great rhetorical question asked by the Apostle Paul: "For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been His counsellor?" (Romans 11:34). The most learned scholars of every age are mere infants in knowledge compared to Him. "There is no searching of His understanding" (Isaiah 40:28). Everyone who believes in God acknowledges that God, by definition, is omniscient. He created all things and upholds all things, and thus understands all things. He even knows all the future, for He is "the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity" (Isaiah 57:15), and He created time itself. Now, while every believer acknowledges this, few really live as if they believe it. Most of the time, we live and speak and choose just as though God neither knows nor cares what we do. But He does know! "Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising,...and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether" (Psalm 139:2-4). Furthermore, as our text reminds us, He is not only omniscient, but omnipotent. He is "of great power." He has created all things, and because "He is strong in power; not one faileth" (Isaiah 40:26). Because He is omniscient, He knew how all things should be made, and because He is omnipotent, He made them that way. There would, obviously, be no thought whatever of a trial-and-error, random-mutation, survival-of-the-fittest, extinction-and- redevelopment sort of creative process with such a God. Just as He made His creation "very good" (Genesis 1:31), so we, also, as believers saved by His grace, are "His workmanship" (Ephesians 2:10). He does know, and does care, and does work, in all our ways. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ April 6, Monday MAN OF SORROWS "He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from Him; He was despised, and we esteemed Him not" (Isaiah 53:3). The marvelous hymn of the last century, "Hallelujah, What A Savior!," provides in pithy but powerful form, an insight into the work of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, on the cross. For the next few days, let us use its familiar verses to "think on these things" (Philippians 4:8). Man of Sorrows!" What a name, For the Son of God who came. Ruined sinners to reclaim! Hallelujah, what a Savor! The creation should have brought great joy to the Creator, "for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created" (Revelation 4:11). But ever since the beginning, the "very good" creation has defied Him, bringing great grief. In the days of Noah, "it repented the LORD that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him at His heart" (Genesis 6:6). But even in the face of such sinful defiance, the rejected Creator, the very Son of God came to "deliver them who...were all their lifetime subject to bondage....To make reconciliation for the sins of the people" (Hebrews 2:15,17). Yet when He came, instead of receiving a liberator's welcome, He was again "despised and rejected," as in our text for today. He was ridiculed and slandered, hounded and hunted; His body was beaten and broken and hung on a cross. But through it all "He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows....Was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities,...was oppressed and afflicted" (vs.4-7), reclaiming ruined sinners. Hallelujah, what a Savior! JDM ________________________________________________________________________ April 7, Tuesday CONDEMNED IN MY PLACE "Likewise also the chief priests mocking Him, with the scribes and elders, said, He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He be the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him. He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now, if He will have Him: for He said, I am the Son of God" (Matthew 27:41-43). Bearing shame and scoffing rude, In my place condemned He stood -- Sealed my pardon with His blood: Hallelujah, what a Savior! Through the sham of a trial, they mocked Him and shamed Him. "They spit in His face, and buffeted Him" (Matthew 26:67). They "platted a crown of thorns, (and) put it upon His head" along with a kingly robe and "they bowed the knee before Him, and mocked Him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews" (27:29). Then they "scourged Jesus, (and) delivered Him to be crucified" (27:26). Finally, they stripped Him of His garments, hung Him naked on the cross, "And sitting down they watched Him there" (27:36). "They that passed by reviled Him, wagging their heads" (27:39). Surely such treatment would be reserved for only the worst sinners, but Pilate called Him "this just person" (v.24), not deserving of imprisonment or execution. Yet "they all condemned Him to be guilty of death" (Mark 14:64). He wasn't guilty, but I am, as are all of us. "For all have sinned" and "the wages of sin is death" (Romans 3:23; 6:23). He choose to stand condemned where we belong, for God "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 5:21). We have thus been granted full pardon, "sealed unto the day of redemption" (Ephesians 4:30). Hallelujah, what a Savior! JDM ________________________________________________________________________ April 8, Wednesday THE SPOTLESS LAMB OF GOD "Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold,...But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot" (I Peter 1:18,19). Guilty, vile and helpless we, Spotless Lamb of God was He; Full atonement, can it be? Hallelujah, what a Savior! Before God each individual stands as an absolutely guilty sinner. "There is none righteous, no, not one" (Romans 3:10). Being more "good" than "bad" doesn't help, "for whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all" (James 2:10). "We are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags (literally: used menstrual cloths)" (Isaiah 64:6). We are altogether vile and worthless. Furthermore, we are powerless to change our situation. Our sins demand the death penalty, "and without shedding of blood is no remission" (Hebrews 9:22). Either the guilty party must die to pay sin's penalty, or a guiltless party must substitute and pay the penalty instead. And so, "when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly....God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:6,8). This transaction removes our sin from us. We now stand before a Holy God just as if we had never sinned, and just as if we had always done right, "justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus" (Romans 3:24). "And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement" (Romans 5:11). Hallelujah, what a Savior! JDM ________________________________________________________________________ April 9, Thursday IT IS FINISHED! "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life" (John 3:14,15). Lifted up was He to die, "It is finished" was His cry; Now in heav'n exalted high: Hallelujah, what a Savior! The people of Israel many times rejected God's plan and ways. Once their complaining brought deadly serpents into the camp as a judgment of God (Numbers 21:5-7). In response to Moses' intercessory prayer, God said: "Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and...every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live" (v.8). This episode provides a clear illustration of our sinfulness and God's remedy. As in our text, those who look upon the cross of Christ with the eyes of faith, believing that His death provides a glorious remedy for our sin-wracked souls, will not only "live," but will have "eternal life." While on that "pole," Almighty God died as "the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world" (I John 2:2). This infinitely difficult work had been initiated at the time when sin first entered into and thereby spoiled creation (Genesis 3). And as He completed His sacrifice, He cried out "in a loud voice" (Luke 23:46) the awesome victory cry: "It is finished: and He bowed His head, and gave up the ghost" (John 19:30). But death does not end the story, for the grave could not hold the Creator of life. He rose in victory over death and the grave, thereby conquering sin, its power and penalty, for ever, for "when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high" (Hebrews 1:3). Hallelujah, what a Savior! JDM _______________________________________________________________________ April 10, Friday WHEN HE COMES "For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord" (I Thessalonians 4:16,17). When He comes our glorious King, All His ransomed home to bring, Then anew this song we'll sing; Hallelujah, what a Savior! The sacrificed, risen, and exalted Christ will one day return in glorious victory to the earth. The King of creation will restore His creation to its original created intent, and reign over it in majesty, "The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign for ever and ever" (Revelation 11:15). Furthermore, as we see in the text above, we shall be with Him, whether alive or dead, when He returns and reigns -- a cause of much rejoicing and singing throughout eternity. "And they sang a new song, saying, Thou art worthy:..for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth" (Revelation 5:9,10). Through His mighty work of redemption, we have been ransomed out of slavery to sin. Our sins have been washed away, we have been clothed in His righteousness, and made fit to live forever with Him as His bride. "Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to Him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife hath made herself ready" (Revelation 19:6,7). Hallelujah, what a Savior! JDM ________________________________________________________________________ April 11, Saturday THE TWO GREATEST WEEKS "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: He is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass; and upon a colt the foal of an ass" (Zechariah 9:9). The two greatest events in all history are the creation and the redemption of the world. Each of these events involved a great divine Week of work and a Day of rest. Day by day throughout the coming week, culminating on Easter Sunday, we will, in these pages, briefly compare the events of the seven days of Creation Week and Redemption Week. The First Day of Creation Week involved the very creation of the universe itself (Genesis 1:1). An entire cosmos responded to the creative fiat of the Maker of heaven and earth. Initially, this space-mass-time (i.e., heaven, earth, beginning) continuum was created in the form of basic elements only, with no structure and no occupant (v.2) -- a static suspension in a pervasive, watery matrix (II Peter 3:5). When God's Spirit began to move, however, the gravitational and electromagnetic force systems for the cosmos were energized. The waters and their suspensions coalesced into a great spherical planet, and at His Word, visible light was generated (v.3). In a beautiful analogy, on the first day of Redemption Week, the Creator King of the universe entered His chosen capital city (Matthew 21:1-9) to begin His work of redemption, as He had entered His universe to begin His work of creation. All the basic components of creation were there to acknowledge their Creator. The stones would have cried out to Him (Luke 19:39,40), the branches of the palm trees provided a carpet for Him (John 12:13; Mark 11:8), the ass's colt became His chariot (see our text, Zechariah 9:9), and the common people sang His praises (Matthew 21:9). "Behold, thy King cometh unto thee!" HMM ________________________________________________________________________ April 12, Sunday PREPARATION OF THE FATHER'S HOUSE "And He taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves" (Mark 11:17). As we continue to compare the corresponding days of Creation Week and Redemption Week, we must note that the chronology of the latter has been the subject of much disagreement among authorities. Details are uncertain, but we can at least consider this possible additional dimension to the understanding and harmony of the two weeks. Having created and activated the earth on the First Day, God next provided for it a marvelous atmosphere and hydrosphere in which, later, would live the birds and fishes. No other planet is equipped with air and water in such abundance; the earth was uniquely planned for life! The hydrosphere, on the Second Day, was further divided into waters below and waters above "the firmament," equipped to maintain a perfect climate worldwide. Paralleling the primeval provision of life-sustaining air and water, on Day Two of Redemption Week, the Lord entered again into the city and into the temple, which He had called His Father's house (John 2:16). As He approached the city, He cursed the barren fig tree (Mark 11:12-14) and then, in the temple, overthrew the tables of the money-changers (Mark 11:15). Both actions -- the cursing of the fig tree and the cleansing of the temple -- symbolize the purging of that which is barren or corrupt in the Creator's kingdom. He had created a world prepared for life, but mankind had made it unfruitful and impure. As physical life must first have a world of pure air and water, so the preparations for a world of true spiritual life require the purifying breath of the Spirit and the cleansing water of the Word, preparing for the true fruit of the Spirit and the true temple of God's presence, in the age to come. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ April 13, Monday THE SEA AND THE MOUNTAINS "Whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith" (Mark 11:23). On the Third Day of Redemption Week, the sight of the withered fig tree led to an instructive lesson on faith in God, the Lord Jesus assuring the disciples that real faith could even move mountains into the sea. In parallel, on the Third Day of Creation Week, He had literally called the mountains up out of the sea (Genesis 1:9,10)! It was also on this day that the Lord rebuked the Jewish leaders with two parables about a vineyard (Matthew 21:28-43). They had been placed in charge of God's vineyard on the earth, and had failed. Like the fig tree, there was no fruit for God from their service, and they must be removed. Likewise, on Day Three of Creation, the entire earth had supported an abundance of fruit to nourish every living creature (Genesis 1:11,12). It had been placed in man's care (1:28-30; 2:15), but he had failed. Before the earth can become a beautiful garden again (Revelation 22:2), it must be purged, and the faithless keepers of the vineyard banished. This Third Day of Passion Week was climaxed with His great discourse on the Mount of Olives, in which the Lord promised He would come again some day in power and great glory (Matthew 24). He then spent the night with His disciples there on the mountain, no doubt remembering the first mountains. Also, the little Garden of Gethsemane -- on its slopes -- would bring to mind the beautiful Garden of Eden and the verdant world He had planted everywhere that same day. Now, because of what He was about to do in Jerusalem, the ground would some day be cleansed of its Curse and the world made new again. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ April 14, Tuesday THE LIGHTS OF THE WORLD "And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: He made the stars also" (Genesis 1:16). On the Fourth Day of Creation Week, the Lord Jesus had formed the sun and the moon and all the stars of heaven. There had been "light" on the first three days, but now there were actual lights! Not only would the earth and its verdure be a source of beauty and sustenance to man, but even the very heavens would bring joy and inspiration to him. Furthermore, they would guide his way, and keep his time. But instead of the stars of heaven turning man's thoughts and affections toward his Creator, they had been corrupted and identified with a host of false gods and goddesses. Furthermore, instead of creating a sense of awe and reverence for His majesty, they had bolstered the humanistic belief that the earth is insignificant and meaningless in a vast, evolving cosmos. Perhaps thoughts such as these troubled the mind of the Lord that night as He lay on the mountain gazing at the lights He had long ago made for the darkness. When morning came and Day Four of Redemption Week began, He returned to Jerusalem, where many were waiting to hear Him. He taught in the temple (Luke 21:37,38), but the synoptic gospels do not record His teachings. This lack is probably supplied in the apparently parenthetical record of His temple teaching as given only in John's Gospel (12:20-50), because there He twice compared Himself to the lights He had made. "I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness." "Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you" (John 12:46,35). He who was the True Light must become darkness, in order that, in the new world, there would never be night again (Revelation 22:5). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ April 15, Wednesday THE LAMB OF GOD "Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us" (I Corinthians 5:7). The Fifth Day of Redemption Week was the annual day for the Passover Supper. We know nothing of His words during that day, but perhaps this Scriptural silence is for the purpose of emphasizing the greater importance of these preparations for the Passover. Multitudes of sacrificial lambs and other animals had been slain and their blood spilled through the centuries, but this would be the last such acceptable sacrifice. On the morrow, the Lamb of God would take away the sin of the world (John 1:29). He would offer one sacrifice for sins forever (Hebrews 10:12). With the blood of His cross, He would become the great Peace Maker, reconciling all things unto the Maker of those things (Colossians 1:16,20). As the Lord thought about the shedding of the blood of that last Passover Lamb on that Fifth Day of Holy Week, He must also have thought of the Fifth Day of Creation Week, when He had first created animal life (Genesis 1:21). This had been His second great act of creation -- this creation of the entity of conscious animal life (the first act of ex nihilo creation had been the creation in Genesis 1:1 of the physical elements). In these living animals, the "life" of the flesh was in their blood, and it was the blood which would later be accepted as an atonement for sin (Leviticus 17:11). Note that the words "creature," "soul," and "life" are all translations of the same Hebrew word nephesh. Surely the shedding of the innocent blood of the lamb that day would recall the far-off day when the "life" in that blood had first been created. And because He, the Lamb of God, was about to become our Passover (note our text for the day), death itself would soon be swallowed up in victory and life (I Corinthians 15:54). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ April 16, Thursday THE GROANING CREATION "For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now" (Romans 8:22). On the Sixth Day, man had been created in God's image and likeness -- the very climax and goal of creation (Genesis 1:26,27). But on this Sixth Day, God, made in the likeness of man, finished the even greater work of redemption. Under the great Curse, the whole creation had long been groaning and travailing in pain. But now, the Creator, Himself, had been made the Curse (Galatians 3:13; Isaiah 52:14), and it seemed as though the Creation also must die. Though He had made heaven and earth on the First Day, now He had been lifted up from the earth (John 3:14) and the heavens were silent (Matthew 27:46). Though He had made the waters on the Second Day, He who was the very Water of Life (John 4:14), was dying of thirst (John 19:28). On the Third Day, He had made the dry land, but now the "earth did quake, and the rocks rent" (Matthew 27:51). He had also covered the earth with trees and vines on that Third Day, but now the True Vine (John 15:1) had been plucked up and the Green Tree (Luke 23:31) cut down. He had made the sun on the Fourth Day, but now the sun was darkened (Luke 23:45) and the Light of the World (John 8:12) was burning out. On the Fifth Day, He had created life, and He, Himself, was life (John 11:25; 14:6), but now the life of His flesh, the precious blood, was being poured out, and He had been brought "into the dust of death" (Psalm 22:15). On the Sixth Day, He had created man and given him life, but now man had rejected Him and was putting Him to death. The creation has been groaning and travailing in pain ever since Adam's sin, but its Creator has paid the price for its redemption, and therefore, it will someday "be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God" (Romans 8:21). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ April 17, 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). "On the Seventh Day God ended His work which He had made" (Genesis 2:2). Furthermore, "everything that He had made...was very good" (Genesis 1:31). And so is His work of salvation! "Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled...said, It is finished" (John 19:28,30). The emphasized words ("accomplished," "fulfilled," "finished") are all the same in the Greek original. When all the relevant Scriptures had been fulfilled and the price of reconciliation ("the blood of His cross," Colossians 1:20) fully paid, He could finally shout the great victory cry (Matthew 27:50), "It is finished!" As the finished creation was "very good," so is our finished salvation. The salvation which Christ our Creator thus provided on the cross is "so great" (Hebrews 2:3) and "eternal" (Hebrews 5:9), that the hope thereof is "good" (II Thessalonians 2:16). Then, finally, having finished the work of redemption, Christ rested once again, on the Seventh Day. As He had rested on that first Seventh Day, now He could rest again, His body sleeping in Joseph's tomb. He had died quickly, and the preparations for burial had been hurried (Luke 23:54-56), so that He could be buried before the Sabbath. On the third day (that is, the first day of the new week), He would rise again, as He had said (Matthew 16:21, et al). His body rested in the tomb all the Sabbath Day, plus part of the previous and following days, according to Hebrew idiomatic usage, "three days and three nights" (Matthew 12:40) -- but death could hold Him no longer. He arose from the dead, and is now "alive forevermore" (Revelation 1:18). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ April 18, Saturday RESURRECTION AND CREATION "And He is before all things, and by Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things He might have the preeminence" (Colossians 1:17,18). The two greatest miracles in all history were the Creation of the World and the Resurrection of its Creator. In the devotional studies for the past week, we have noted the remarkable parallels between the Week of Creation and the Week of Redemption, with both these incomparable work weeks completed with a day of divine rest. But then, that One who was "before all things" became also "the firstborn from the dead." Only the Creator could redeem His lost creation, cursed and dying because of sin, by Himself taking the Curse and dying for sin. God, however, cannot die (in the sense of ceasing to exist), for He is Life itself. His mortal body could sleep in the grave, and His holy Spirit suffer the anguish of hell, but it was inevitable that He must conquer sin and death. The omnipotent Creator cannot possibly fail in His purpose in creation. In all things, He must have the preeminence, for it is only by Him that things exist at all! Therefore, as Creation is the foundation of all true science, so the Resurrection is the centrality of all true history. All real facts of science support the primeval Creation, and the best-proved fact of history is the Resurrection. As the great Apostle preached long ago in the very center of all human wisdom and culture, in Athens, "God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that He is Lord of heaven and earth...hath appointed a day, in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom He hath ordained; whereof He hath given assurance unto all men, in that He hath raised Him from the dead" (Acts 17:24,31). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ April 19, Sunday ALIVE WITH CHRIST "Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over Him" (Romans 6:8,9). The bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead both guarantees the future bodily resurrection of the believer and associates us positionally with Him now. Since He died for our sins, we, in effect, were "dead with Christ." Therefore, when He defeated death and hell, and revived His own dead body in immortal power, He broke any dominion of death over Him or over those who were, positionally, with Him. This is one of the grandest Scriptural themes of the Christian life. We were dead with Christ, but now God "hath quickened us together with Christ" (Ephesians 2:5). Not only have we been "made alive" (I Corinthians 15:22) with Him, but we have also been "raised" with Him up from the grave and then into heaven where we are "seated" with Him on His throne! "(God) hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 2:6). This means also that we have been glorified with Him and are actually reigning with Him. "The Spirit (Himself) beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:...that we may be also glorified together" (Romans 8:16,17). But if all this is only true in position, what meaning does His resurrection life have on our daily lives now? Simply this -- that, knowing these truths gives us the incentive and power to live them. "If (or, literally, "Since") ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ, in God" (Colossians 3:1-3). "For we also are weak in Him, but we shall live with Him by the power of God toward you" (II Corinthians 13:4). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ April 20, Monday THE OFFENSE OF THE CROSS "And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offense of the cross ceased" (Galatians 5:11). The cross is profoundly offensive to the natural man, for it brands him as a hell-deserving sinner. It makes his only hope of salvation a humbling acknowledgment of Christ, the rejected Creator, as his personal Savior, who died for his sins. It is especially sad when Christians seek to escape this offense of the cross by accommodating their preaching of the cross to the opinions of those who reject it. In the case of the Galatians, legalistic Christians were insisting that Christian converts from paganism be circumcized, in order to avoid offending the Jews. When Paul, instead, preached salvation by grace alone, he was persecuted for it. This particular compromise has long been forgotten, but a multitude of others have arisen during the ensuing centuries to take its place. Whenever some new philosophy or practice becomes popular in the world, a Christian party will soon be found advocating its adoption in the church, ostensibly to promote easier acceptance of the gospel, but in reality seeking to mitigate the offense of the cross. Whenever the pagan world follows after a new dress trend or a new music form, a new philosophy or a new life style, many Christians are sure to follow. Witness the widespread compromise with pantheistic evolution and its so-called geologic "ages" by Christian accommodationists, for example. Or, consider the current acceptance of Eastern or Freudian thinking by Biblical counsellors, or the common sanction of divorce for trivial reasons. Instead of fleeing from the offense of the cross, we need to say with Paul, "God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world" (Galatians 6:14). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ April 21, Tuesday THE FOUNDATION OF THE MINISTRY "Yea, so that I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man's foundation: But as it is written, To whom he was not spoken of, they shall see: and they that have not heard shall understand" (Romans 15:20,21). In our text, Paul rightly alludes to the fact that the gospel is the foundational belief of the Christian. Throughout the New Testament, the preaching of the gospel, as it relates to personal salvation, has three great emphases: First, it deals with the historical truth of Jesus' life, death, burial, and resurrection (I Corinthians 15:1-8); second, it explains the nature of Jesus Christ as Lord and King; third, it exhorts man to turn from sin and accept forgiveness through the work of Christ (Acts 13:38,39). This foundational message was no different in the Old Testament. In fact, the last portion of our text is quoted from Isaiah 52:15, in the beginning of the majestic description of the suffering and eventual triumph of our Lord on the cross. "Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He hath put Him to grief: when thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin....He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied: by His knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many: for He shall bear their iniquities" (Isaiah 53:10,11). These eternal truths of the gospel are still as true today as in ancient days. If anyone who reads these lines has not heard it before, it could become foundational to his salvation. For a Christian, it must become foundational in his ministry to others. "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). "For the wages of sin is death; but the <%-2>gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:23). "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved" (Romans 10:9). ________________________________________________________________________ April 22, Wednesday LESSONS FOR ANGELS "Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into" (I Peter 1:12). This is an amazing revelation. Many Christians speak of what they call the "simple gospel," and yet its scope is so great that angels, whose wisdom and power are far greater than those of human beings, are continually learning about its riches as they watch from heaven. Angels, like humans, are created beings. They are not omniscient, and they evidently are learning more and more about Him as they observe the outworkings of His great plan of creation and redemption through the lives of redeemed men and women on Earth. In fact, "the principalities and powers in heavenly places" are somehow being instructed "by the church the manifold wisdom of God, According to the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Ephesians 3:10,11). Satan and the angels who are following Him in his long war against God are also learning. They learned long ago that they could not destroy Job's faith in God, nor Peter's testimony for Christ, though they surely tried! And they will soon start learning, in the "everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels" (Matthew 25:41), that God alone is Creator and eternal King. Now if angels are still learning about God and His ways, though they have already been in God's presence for thousands of years, we can also learn from them, that our future translation to heaven will not immediately enable us to understand all things. We, like they, shall continue learning forever, "the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!" (Romans 11:33). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ April 23, Thursday PAUL'S METHOD FOR SUCCESS "Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:13,14). Success has become a Twentieth Century fetish, it seems, -- from self-help seminars, to multi-level marketing schemes, to the yuppie mentality. A motivational and success-oriented mindset has even spilled over into the church. Instead of employing such worldly methods, however, we should emulate the lives and methods of successful Biblical examples, such as the Apostle Paul. In this passage, Paul explains his secrets. First, he kept his attention on important things. Earthly things were of no value (vs.7,8), while the knowledge of Christ and His sufferings was of great value (vs.8,10). Paul's desire was to acquire the "righteousness...which is through the faith of Christ" (v.9), and to attain eternal life (v.11). Second, he had a proper view of himself. He knew he was imperfect (v.12) and incomplete (v.13), having worth only through the work of Christ. Third, he didn't dwell on past mistakes. Once forgiven through repentance and faith in Christ, he knew that he need no longer bear the guilt for his mistakes, and must not let them hinder his present ministry. Fourth, Paul looked forward to the future, stretching himself to reach his goals (vs.13,14). And his goals were high -- "the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus" (v.14). What is the prize which awaits those who are successful in this high calling? "Our [citizenship] is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body" (vs.20,21). JDM _______________________________________________________________________ April 24, Friday THE GOD OF THE GOURD "And the LORD God prepared a gourd, and made it to come up over Jonah, that it might be a shadow over his head, to deliver him from his grief. So Jonah was exceeding glad of the gourd" (Jonah 4:6). In the brief story of Jonah, the Lord has given us a striking insight into His providential ways with His people. He "prepared" four special instruments for revealing His will and His great concern for the people God wanted to help. Each involved a very ordinary thing, functioning in an extraordinary way (providential miracles, as it were). First, "the LORD had prepared a great fish" (Jonah 1:17), both to save Jonah from drowning and to enable God to convince him of the urgent necessity of fulfilling the ministry to which He had called him. Then, after he had preached in Nineveh and God had spared the city, Jonah became angry and wanted to die, so "the LORD God prepared a gourd...that it might be a shadow over his head" (4:6). Jonah was thankful for this providential shade from the heat, but he was still not thankful for the sparing of Nineveh. Therefore, "God prepared a worm" and by the next day, "it smote the gourd that it withered" (4:7). Furthermore, "God prepared a vehement east wind" (4:8), and the blasting heat angered Jonah more than ever, so that he again wanted to die. Finally Jonah was able to hear what God was really saying to him in all these circumstances, and he realized the tremendous scope of God's mercy and compassion for the lost. As with Jonah, God speaks to us through ordinary things in providential circumstances. Whether by a marvelous deliverance or a comforting provision, a sudden loss or a mighty storm, God leads us into His will and transforms our lives and hearts to conform to His love. "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 ________________________________________________________________________ April 25, Saturday WHY THE RIGHTEOUS SUFFER "I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear; but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes" (Job 42:5,6). God had said that Job was "a perfect and an upright man" and that there was "none like him in the earth" (Job 1:8). Yet Job suffered as few men have ever suffered. After a fruitful life of great prosperity and highest esteem in the community, he suddenly lost all his possessions, all his children, his health, the love of his wife, and the respect of his closest friends. His friends, presuming to defend God's character, insisted Job must have been guilty of some terrible secret sin. But Job, in all good conscience, while still trusting God, felt he had to defend his own integrity against these false charges. Nevertheless, despite Job's spotless record of moral righteousness, when he encountered God Himself, he could only despise his own proud self-righteousness and prostrate himself in dust and ashes. Similarly, the beloved disciple, John, after a long life of faithful service, fell like a dead man at the feet of Christ when he saw Him in His glory (Revelation 1:17). Daniel also saw Him in this fashion, and even after his long, exemplary life, all of his apparent goodness and work suddenly appeared like corruption (Daniel 10:5-9). In the presence of God, even the most holy among men appear vile, and the sins of pride and self-righteousness and self-sufficiency -- which almost inevitably are still present in their hearts -- must somehow be purged before they are fully like Jesus. This is why Job and Daniel and Paul and all other godly men and women must suffer in some degree as training for heavenly service. "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). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ April 26, Sunday WAITING FOR JESUS "Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; He also is become my salvation" (Isaiah 12:2). It is fascinating to note all the occurrences of the word "salvation" in the Old Testament. Most are translations of the Hebrew yeshua, which corresonds to the name "Jesus" in English. For example, the verse above could just as well read "Behold, God is my Jesus;...the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and song; He also is become my Jesus." Hebrew parents usually gave their children names which had significance. Thus, when Gabriel instructed Joseph to name Mary's son "Jesus," they would recognize immediately that they were, in effect, to name Him "Salvation," because, "He shall save His people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21). We can easily imagine that Mary and Joseph spent many hours together pouring over their Bibles and reading again all the great prophecies of the coming Savior -- especially those in which His very Name, yeshua, had been anticipated. The first of these was in the dying words of their ancestor, Jacob, after whom Joseph's own father had been named (Matthew 1:16). In almost his last words, the dying patriarch had exclaimed: "I have waited for thy salvation, O LORD" (Genesis 49:18). We can at least wonder whether they wondered if Jacob, in his prophetic vision, had actually seen Jesus, and cried out, enraptured, "I have waited for thy Jesus, O LORD!" Then, in Habakkuk 3:13, they could even have found both His name and His title ("anointed"=Messiah= Christ). Thus: "Thou wentest forth for the salvation of thy people, even for salvation with thine anointed (i.e. Jesus thy Christ); thou woundest the head out of the house of the wicked" (i.e., Satan -- note Genesis 3:15). In any case, we can be sure that Joseph and Mary "marvelled at those things which were spoken of Him" (Luke 2:33). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ April 27, Monday ENDURING FOREVER "O give thanks unto the God of heaven: for His mercy endureth for ever" (Psalm 136:26). This is the final verse in the unique 136th psalm, in which all 26 verses end with the thrilling testimony: "His mercy endureth for ever!" This same affirmation occurs 15 more times in the Old Testament. How important it must be for us to remember forever that God's "lovingkindness" (same word as "mercy") endures forever! But it is not only His mercy which is everlasting. He is eternally kind and loving, but He is also eternally just and righteous. "Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments (endureth) for ever" (Psalm 119:160). His word of truth existed in the beginning, and will also exist through all the ages to come. "For His merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the LORD (endureth) for ever" (Psalm 117:2). In this verse, the word "great" actually means "victorious." Nothing can ever defeat God's loving mercy and His truthful Word, for they endure from eternity to eternity. Likewise, His "kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and (His) dominion endureth throughout all generations" (Psalm 145:13), "and the goodness of God endureth continually" (Psalm 52:1). Finally, there is this all-encompassing testimony: "Thy name, O LORD, endureth for ever" (Psalm 135:13). All the divine attributes and all the divine purposes are embraced in His holy Name, and thus none can ever fail. Now, note that in all the verses cited, the verb "endureth" was not in the original. The divinely inspired writers thus recognized that no verb was really necessary. The very concepts of the Name, the truth, the righteousness, and the mercy of God must be everlasting, for He is the God of heaven! HMM ________________________________________________________________________ April 28, Tuesday UNOFFENSIVELY OFFENSIVE "Woe unto the world because of offenses! for it must needs be that offenses come; but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh!" (Matthew 18:7). The word here translated "offend" is the Greek skandalizo and "offense" is skandalar, from which we derive our English words "scandal" and "scandalize." The basic meaning of these words is "to cause to sin" or "to ensnare." It is bad enough to commit an act of sin, but even more scandalous in God's sight is the act of causing someone to sin. It is especially dangerous to lead children into sin. "And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea" (Mark 9:42). What a solemn judgment awaits those teachers and counselors who lead their pupils to doubt or disobey the Word of God! Yet, despite these and many similar warnings against "offenses," we are also told that Christ, Himself, is "a stumblingstone and rock of offense" (Romans 9:33). There is a very real "offense of the cross" (Galatians 5:11), and the Apostle Paul says: "We preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock (same word as `offense')" (I Corinthians 1:23). There is no contradiction, of course. The preaching of Christ and the cross is profoundly offensive to sinners and they will often react angrily, and sometimes violently, against it, thus compounding their sin. When we bear witness of Christ, our message is necessarily offensive, for it must condemn and convict before it can save. Nevertheless, it is profoundly important that, in any other respect than this, we never cause others to sin by bringing an offense. Our message may offend, but the context of life and word in which it is given should be without offense, if we would be faithful and effective in our service for Christ. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ April 29, Wednesday TRUTH AND LOVE "But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into Him in all things, which is the head, even Christ" (Ephesians 4:15). There are many Christians who are sticklers for what they consider sound doctrine, but who are abrasive and unloving in their attitude toward those who hold other doctrines. There are far more Christians, on the other hand, who talk much about Christian love but who consider doctrinal integrity of secondary -- or even negative -- significance. Both groups of professing Christians, however, are only babes in Christ, at best. As our text makes clear, the mature Christian (one who has "grown up into Christ in all things") speaks the truth in love. That is, he is not a babe, "tossed to and fro...with every wind of doctrine" (v.14), but he understands, believes, and teaches the truth of God as revealed in His Word. At the same time, he does so in love, making "increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love" (v.16). One cannot really do the truth or teach the truth without manifesting true love, nor can one manifest true love except in a context of genuine truth. "The fruit of the Spirit is love" (Galatians 5:22), but that Spirit who produces such fruit is "the Spirit of truth" (John 15:26). Truth and love are not in conflict, as many Christians seem to think (or at least practice), for they represent two different -- not competing -- categories. "Truth" is not even included in the nine-fold "fruit of the Spirit" (Galatians 5:22,23), because Truth is, itself, the tree on which the fruit must grow. It is especially important not to be led away from sound Biblical truth by popular preachers and teachers who downgrade doctrine in favor of what they may call "love." "My little children," says the Apostle John, "let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth" (I John 3:18). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ April 30, Thursday SEEING AND BELIEVING "Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed" (John 20:29). Jesus was willing to give doubting Thomas the visible evidence he wanted before he would believe. However, He did give His disciple a mild rebuke. There is an important principle here. Thomas was willing to believe, but only when the visible evidence was too strong to question. Neither the promise of Christ that He would rise from the dead nor the testimony of His chosen apostles that the promise had been fulfilled was sufficient to convince him, and the Lord was disappointed. When God has spoken plainly in His Word, that ought to be sufficient for those who really believe Him. Yet, again and again, Christians allow their faith to be shaken by some new cosmic theory, or age estimate, or something else. No matter how strong the Biblical case for the worldwide Flood may be, for example, many Christians will not believe it until all the geological questions can be resolved. Even though the Bible unequivocally teaches that all things were created in six literal days (see Exodus 20:11), many Christians won't accept this until they can see overwhelming scientific evidence of a young earth. In fact, some will never believe in either recent creation or a worldwide flood until all the secular scientists accept them first. God has allowed many visible evidences of the truth of His Word to be revealed. There is a strong scientific case for Biblical creation, and we are justified in believing God's Word, even where we don't yet see any visible evidence. As Peter said, concerning those who believe implicitly in Christ and His Word: "Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory" (I Peter 1:8). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ May 1, Friday HOW TO TAKE CRITICISM "Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning" (Proverbs 9:9). One of the most difficult lessons for Christians to learn is how to take criticism. The natural reaction is one either of resentment and desire to lash back, or else of discouragement and quitting. Neither is honoring to the Lord. Remembering that "all things work together for good" (Romans 8:28) to the sincere Christian believer, we should first of all consider the criticism as potential "instruction" from God as well as from the critic. We should seek to test the criticism as objectively as possible, in light of our actions and the Scriptures, the most probing critic of all. "For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword...and is a discerner (literally `criticizer') of the thoughts and intents of the heart" (Hebrews 4:12). If it turns out that the criticism is even partly valid, then the obvious course is to take the appropriate remedial action, and to do it as prayerfully and graciously as possible. On the other hand, if an honest evaluation of the criticism reveals it to be unwarranted, or perhaps even deliberately false and hurtful, then our example becomes Christ, Himself. He never did or said anything to merit criticism (as we do, far too often), but He received it in great abundance. What was His response? "When He was reviled, (He) reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not; but committeth Himself to Him that judgeth righteously" (I Peter 2:23). Remember that "a soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger" (Proverbs 15:1). By all means, we must not become discouraged into retreating or quitting, "For consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds" (Hebrews 12:3). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ May 2, Saturday FLEE "Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body" (I Corinthians 6:18). Four times in the New Testament we are warned to "flee" sinful actions and temptations. The Greek word pheugo, from which we get our word "fugitive," means simply "to run away." Evidently there are certain things which must be avoided at all costs. Our text mentions fornication, and brings to mind godly Joseph's reaction to Potiphar's wife's advances (Genesis 39:12). Even though his decision cost him dearly in the short run, it was the right thing to do, and God honored him. Likewise, if we are to do the right thing, we must "flee from idolatry" (I Corinthians 10:14), such as participation in the pagan feasts of Paul's day, as well as the modern-day counterparts which might bring us under demonic influence or in contact with worship of the devil. "But thou, O man of God, flee these things" (I Timothy 6:11), says Paul, after listing "envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, perverse disputings" (vs.4,5) and "love of money" (v.10). Paul knew, however, that merely fleeing these evils was not enough. He wisely instructed Timothy to substitute positive actions in the place of the negative ones he was to avoid, and to "follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness" (v.11). Elsewhere, he admonished Timothy to "flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace" (II Timothy 2:22) with the aid and mutual encouragement of "them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart." God does not expect us to live the Christian life entirely on our own. We who have "fled for refuge" (Hebrews 6:18) to God have another bit of encouragement. This time, it is not the believer who must flee, but we are told that as we "resist the devil... he will flee" from us (James 4:7). JDM ________________________________________________________________________ May 3, Sunday THE TENDER PLANT "For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him" (Isaiah 53:2). The New Testament writers say nothing at all concerning the physical appearance of the Lord when He became a man. Human tradition would picture Him as a strong athlete or handsome star, but the Scriptures indicate otherwise. Our text is from the greatest of the Messianic prophecies. It tells us that, as a child, He would "grow up as a tender plant," like a "root out of a dry ground." Humanly speaking, He was unimpressive. He had "no form nor comeliness" and "no beauty." He was a very ordinary appearing man. In fact, when Christ became man, He "took upon Him the form of a servant (literally `slave')" (Philippians 2:7). Matthew, referring to Isaiah 53:4, says that He even "took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses" (Matthew 8:17). What all this means may not be clear, but it does seem to tell us that Jesus was a very ordinary sort of man, physically. Furthermore, humanly speaking, he was quite poor, having been raised in the despised town of Nazareth, in the impoverished province of Galilee. "Though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor," we are told (II Corinthians 8:9). Yet, this ordinary person was none other than the incarnate Creator, the Son of God! He had come, as the "Son of man" -- representing all people, most of whom are also just average men and women -- "to seek and to save that which was lost" (Luke 19:10). Then, even His tender body was beaten beyond recognition and His meager possessions taken away, when He was "made...sin for us, who knew no sin" (II Corinthians 5:21), and died in our place, to save us ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny in the world to come! HMM ________________________________________________________________________ May 4, Monday MY "The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower" (Psalm 18:2). David, in writing this psalm, used the word my eight times in verse two to show what God was to him personally, and how God had given him great deliverance from his enemies. He knew that God was personally interested in him, and that He was not a God who was so far away He was untouchable and non-communicative. David called God: 1. My rock: Paul said that the Rock that followed Moses in the wilderness was Christ (I Corinthians 10:4). Christ is the Rock of our salvation. We are eternally secure in Him. 2. My fortress: We are kept secure in God's garrison by His mighty power (I Peter 1:5). He is our impregnable fortress. 3. My deliverer: He has delivered us from sin, from the wrath to come, and one day even from death (I Thessalonians 1:10). 4. My God: All that God is, in His person and power, is available to every Christian. We can say with authority: I am His and He is mine! (Isaiah 43:1). 5. My strength: God gives strength to those who recognize and admit that they are weak. "My strength is made perfect in weakness" (II Corinthians 12:9). 6. My buckler: God is our shield of protection. "His truth shall be thy shield and buckler" (Psalm 91:4). "Taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked" (Ephesians 6:16). 7. My horn of salvation: As a horned beast drives into his enemy, even so Christ powerfully confronts our enemies and brings us salvation (II Samuel 22:3). 8. My high tower: In our high tower, we are out of the reach of our enemies and completely safe. "The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe" (Proverbs 18:10). NPS ________________________________________________________________________ May 5, Tuesday FORMED TO BE INHABITED "For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God Himself that formed the earth and made it; He hath established it, He created it not in vain, He formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else" (Isaiah 45:18). This verse is the key proof-text for the "gap theory," which attempts to accommodate the evolutionary "ages" of geology by placing them in a hypothetical gap between the first two verses of Genesis. Genesis 1:2 states: "The earth was without form" (Hebrew tohu), but Isaiah says, "He created it not in vain" (same word, tohu). Thus it is argued that the earth became "tohu" long after the primeval creation, as a result of Satan's rebellion in heaven supposedly allowing the geological ages to be inserted between these two events. Actually, the meaning of tohu is very flexible; it occurs 20 times and is translated 10 different ways, depending on context. In our text above, Isaiah was not writing about the initial state of the creation, but the purpose of the creation, that purpose being to provide a beautiful and appropriate home for mankind. The translation "in vain" was required by Isaiah's context, just as "without form" best fits the context in Genesis 1:2. There is no conflict, since the two passages are dealing with two different subjects, and Isaiah's message simply extols God's ultimate and certain goal for His creation. When God first created the space/time universe, only the basic elements of the earth (Genesis 1:1) were created, with neither structure nor inhabitant, but that was not its full purpose. God had merely "created" the heavens according to this verse. But then, with great care, He formed the earth, made the earth and established the earth, and all this was done to make it ready to be inhabited by men and women who would share His image and know His love. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ May 6, Wednesday ANOTHER JESUS "For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him" (II Corinthians 11:4). The 11th chapter of II Corinthians contains an enlightening warning about false teachers. One should not carelessly follow a personable religious leader merely because he "preaches Jesus" or urges audiences to "receive the Spirit." "Jesus" is quite popular among worldly people today, but not the true Jesus. The popular Jesus may be the baby Jesus in the manger at Christmastime, or the buddy Jesus of Nashville "gospel" music, or the success-counseling Jesus of the positive thinkers. He may be the romantic Jesus of the Christian crooners, the rhythmic Jesus of Christian rock, or the reforming Jesus of the liberals, but none of these are the Jesus preached by the Apostle Paul, and therefore not the real Jesus who saves men and women from their sins. Jesus, in reality, is the Lord Jesus Christ, the offended Creator of the universe (Colossians 1:16), who had to die as man on the cross to redeem us through His shed blood (Colossians 1:14,20), and who then rose from the dead to be set "far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named" (Ephesians 1:21). Finally, it is this Jesus "who shall judge the quick and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom" (II Timothy 4:1). The Lord Jesus, as He really is, is not the popular Jesus of T-shirts and bumper stickers, politicians and entertainers. He was "despised and rejected of men" (Isaiah 53:3), so they "crucified the Lord of glory" (I Corinthians 2:8). He is the mighty God, the perfect Man, the only Savior, the eternal King, and Lord of Lords. God-called teachers will not preach an imaginary Jesus who appeals to the flesh, but rather, the true Christ of creation and salvation. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ May 7, Thursday APOSTASY AND PROSPERITY "And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work" (II Corinthians 9:8). One of the most tragic movements in Christendom today teaches that God promises to make each Christian prosper in material wealth. Suffice it to say, the Bible teaches no such thing, as seen in our text and elsewhere, but this false teaching is not new, and is associated with apostasy. Consider Chapters 17 and 18 of the Book of Judges, which describes a period of rampant apostasy and confusion. The chapters provide character sketches of an itinerant Levite, the tribe of Dan, and a man named Micah. First we see that Micah steals 1100 shekels of silver from his mother, who then places a curse on the unknown thief. Micah, fearing the curse, confesses the crime. His mother tries to lessen the curse by dedicating all the money to the Lord, and converts 200 shekels into an idol. Micah places the idol with his others, and consecrates his son as priest, even though they are of the tribe of Ephraim. Later, he hires the Levite to be his priest and exclaims, "Now know I that the LORD will do me good, seeing I have a Levite to my priest" (Judges 17:13). In the next chapter, spies of the Danites go to the priest for God's blessing on their efforts to find land that they can conquer. When the marauders return, they recruit the Levite to a more prosperous position. He joins them, having stolen Micah's idols, and establishes the tribal priesthood. Each one in this story was confident that God would bless them materially because they had the trappings of religion. The common denominator was greed. Their desire for personal prosperity led them to a prostitution of the true worship of God. But whenever religion is "used" to justify the "love of money," it suffers degradation. "Ye cannot serve God and mammon" (Matthew 6:24). JDM ________________________________________________________________________ May 8, Friday GOD MY PERSONAL SAVIOR "And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior" (Luke 1:47). One of the most wonderful titles of the Lord Jesus Christ is that of Savior. This word (Greek, soter, from which is derived our theological term "soteriology," the study of salvation) occurs 24 times in the New Testament, and is applied only to Christ, "for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). It occurs first of all on the lips of the Virgin Mary, in our text above, when she realized that she had been chosen to be the mother of the Savior. It is significant that this first use of soter recognizes that our Savior can be none other than God Himself -- "God my Savior" -- and also that this fact should cause our spirits to rejoice, as Mary's did. He becomes our personal Savior when we believe on Him, as did Mary. He is also "the Savior of the world" (John 4:42; I John 4:14), and the "Savior of all men" in the sense that His work on the cross is sufficient to save all who will receive Him. There are eight other verses in the New Testament in which "Savior" is taken as synonymous with "God." The final occurrence of "Savior" is one of these, and it is in one of the greatest doxologies of the Bible. "To the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen" (Jude 25). There are many today who see the man Jesus as a great teacher and example, but who reject His deity. There are many others who believe in a cosmic deity of some kind, but are unwilling to believe that He could become uniquely incarnate in a perfect Man. How urgent it is that we believe and teach that our Creator must also become our Savior if we are ever to be saved. We must "trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, specially of those that believe" (I Timothy 4:10). Then we can rejoice, with Mary, in "God my Savior." HMM ________________________________________________________________________ May 9, Saturday ACELDAMA "And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood" (Acts 1:19). Never was a tract of land more fittingly named than Aceldama, an Aramaic word meaning "field of blood," for it had been purchased with blood money, "the price of blood" (Matthew 27:6). The purchaser had been Judas (through the "executors" of his estate, as it were, following his suicide), but the blood he sold, to acquire the price of the field, he had deemed "innocent blood." The miserable thirty shekels of silver which consummated this transaction was the price of a slave in ancient Israel (Exodus 21:32), but this slave was none other than God incarnate, so the thirty pieces of silver -- the price set by the religious leaders of Israel -- was the price for the sale of God. The prophet Zechariah, more than 500 years before, had acted out a prohecy of these strange events: "So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver....A goodly price that I was prised at of them" (Zechariah 11:12,13). Next, according to both prophecy and fulfillment, this blood money was cast down in the temple and then used to buy the potter's field (Zechariah 11:13; Matthew 27:5,7,8). These and many other such details in these accounts constitute a remarkable type and fulfillment of prophecy, and thus a testimony of both divine inspiration and divine foreordination. But, more than that, it is a striking picture of the price of our salvation, for the "field of blood" typifies that great field of the world (Matthew 13:38) and Christ is the Man who, searching for "treasure hid in a field...selleth all that He hath, and buyeth that field" (Matthew 13:44). All that He had -- the very blood of His life -- was willingly shed that we, dead in sins and hidden in the world, might be "purchased with His own blood" (Acts 20:28). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ May 10, Sunday THE FAITH OF OUR MOTHERS "When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also" (II Timothy 1:5). The "dearly beloved son" (v.2) of the Apostle Paul, was a young disciple whose strong and sincere Christian faith was due, more than anything else, to the lives and teachings of a godly mother and grandmother. As Paul wrote to Timothy, in his last letter, "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 3:15). Timothy's mother was a Christian Jew (Acts 16:1), but his father was a Greek who evidently was not a believer. In the ideal Christian home, the father is to assume spiritual leadership (Ephesians 5:22,25; 6:4), but countless fathers, for some reason, are either unable or unwilling to do this. Many have been the homes where a mother or grandmother, usually by default, has had to assume this all-important responsibility, and the Christian world owes these godly women a great debt of gratitude. The writer himself was raised in such a home, and much of his own concern for the Word of God is due to the concerned dedication of a Christian mother and two Christian grandmothers. It is significant that the fifth of God's Ten Commandments requires children to honor their parents, and it is the only one of the ten which carries a special promise: "Honor thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth" (Ephesians 6:2,3). Every godly parent is worthy of real honor, every day -- not just once each year. And when a Christian mother, like Timothy's mother, must assume all the responsibility for leading her children in the ways of God, she deserves very special praise. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ May 11, Monday THE BEGINNING OF THE CREATION "But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female" (Mark 10:6). These words of the Lord Jesus Christ ought to settle once and for all, for those who take His words seriously, the controversial question of the age of the earth. The earth was created essentially at the same time, He said, as the creation of Adam and Eve. Christ was quoting from Genesis 1:27: "...male and female created He them." This greatest of God's creative works was "from the beginning of the creation," not 18 billion years after the beginning of the creation, as modern old-earth advocates allege. One can understand why atheists believe in evolution and an almost infinitely old universe, for they really have no other alternative. One who believes in a personal God, on the other hand, only dishonors God if he believes such humanistic speculations rather than God's Word. God is omniscient and omnipotent, as well as loving and merciful, and He would never do anything like this. The great ages assumed by evolutionary geologists supposedly involved billions of years of suffering and dying by billions of animals before man ever evolved. Surely this would have been the most inefficient, wasteful, and cruel method that ever could have been devised for "creating" human beings. Since man's creation was God's main purpose, there is no conceivable reason why He would waste billions of years in such a meaningless charade as this before getting to the point. In fact, the only reason He took six days was to serve as a pattern for man's work week (Exodus 20:8-11). In fact, the Lord Jesus Christ was not only a creationist, but was, Himself, the Creator of all things (John 1:3; Colossians 1:16; etc.). Therefore, He is the best possible witness as to when He created man and woman, and He said it was "from the beginning of the creation!" HMM ________________________________________________________________________ May 12, Tuesday THE UNJUST STEWARD "And the Lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light" (Luke 16:8). This parable of the unjust steward has perplexed many Christians, for it seems to indicate that the Lord approved of dishonesty. "Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness" (v.9), also seems to contradict verse 13, when He said, "Ye cannot serve God and mammon." The apparent contradiction vanishes, however, when we realize Christ was not commending the dishonesty of the steward, but his accute business sense and concern for the future. Neither does the Lord approve of greed or covetousness, but He does exhort believers to be as prudent in investing their money for the eternal future as shrewd worldlings are in feathering their earthly nests. Sad to say, it is common experience that, by this measure, "the children of this world" do conduct their affairs "in this generation" far more shrewdly than "the children of light." Even more sadly, the latter often even try to follow the example of the ungodly in "laying up for themselves treasures upon earth," rather than "treasures in heaven" (see Matthew 6:19,20). The Lord would exhort us, on the other hand, to use our money ("the mammon of unrighteousness") to make true friends, "that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations" (v.9). The "unjust steward" was trying to insure his own earthly future, hoping to make temporal friends by bribing them with money that was not even his own. How much wiser it is for us to use whatever money the Lord has entrusted to us to make true friends, helping to bring them to Christ and building them up in the faith. Then, when we "fail" from this life, we shall enjoy their fellowship and gratitude in the "everlasting habitations" of eternity. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ May 13, Wednesday IN A MOMENT OF TIME "And the devil, taking Him up into an high mountain, shewed unto Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time" (Luke 4:5). It is interesting that there are just three "moments" mentioned in the New Testament, and that there are three different Greek words so translated, each used one time only in the Bible. Furthermore, each of these three "moments" is used in a context which is anticipatory of the future. First of all, Satan tempted Jesus by flashing before His eyes a vision of the whole world, offering it to Him immediately, without His having to endure the cross, if He would rule it for the devil. Here the Greek word for "moment" is stigme, meaning a "point," like a period after a sentence. In an infinite "time line," it would be just a dot on the line, a "point" in time. Satan's apparent dominion over this world, though it lasts six thousand years or so, is only a moment compared to eternity, and Jesus knew this was a poor bargain. One day, in fact, He will return to reclaim the world from Satan. At that great day, "we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye" (I Corinthians 15:51,52). In this passage, the unique word is atomos, meaning an indivisible particle. That is, in an "atom of time," too instantaneous to measure, we shall be changed to be like Him in "His glorious body" (Philippians 3:21). Right now, however, our bodies are weak and easily beset with pain and sickness. Nevertheless, we are assured that "our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory" (II Corinthians 4:17). The word here is parautika, referring specifically to the present moment. What we must endure "here and now" is so brief compared to the eternity "then and there" that it is not even "worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us" (Romans 8:18). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ May 14, Thursday HEAVEN OPENED "And He saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man" (John 1:51). In Jacob's dream (Genesis 28:12), angels were ascending and descending on a great ladder between earth and heaven. Christ promised a future reality, in which He, Himself, would be the ladder to the opened heaven. But that was to be "hereafter." Until Christ came to die and rise again, heaven was closed, for nothing unclean could enter there, and death had "passed upon all men, for that all have sinned" (Romans 5:12). Even those who died in faith could only be "comforted" in "Abraham's bosom" deep "in the heart of the earth" (Luke 16:22,25; Matthew 12:40), because "it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins" (Hebrews 10:4). Then Christ died and rose again "to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself" (Hebrews 9:26). In His spirit, "He also descended first into the lower parts of the earth" and "when He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive" (Ephesians 4:8,9), leading all pre-Calvary saints with Him into heaven. Then was fulfilled the wonderful scene predicted in Psalm 24:7, "Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in." Since that wonderful day, when Christ ascended back to heaven, "to be absent from the body" is "to be present with the Lord" (II Corinthians 5:8). Heaven someday will even receive our resurrected bodies. John prophesied it this way: "I looked, and behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice...said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter" (Revelation 4:1). Heaven thenceforth will be open eternally to all the redeemed. "The gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there" (Revelation 21:25). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ May 15, Friday THE POETRY OF GOD "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10). The word "poem" is derived from the Greek poiema. Used only twice in the New Testament, it refers to great works of God, Himself. Thus, God is the divine poet who has created two great masterpieces -- artistic creations of marvelous intricacy and surpassing beauty. The first is the entire physical universe: "For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse" (Romans 1:20). In this key verse, poiema is translated "things that are made." Everything in the universe, animate and inanimate, constitutes a marvelous product of God's creative forethought and inventive skill. If a beautiful poem requires a poet to create it, so much the more does the complex cosmic Poem of the universe demand a great Poet of consummate wisdom and infinite power. The rejection of the Poet and the message of the Poem not only leaves one "without excuse" (v.20), but facing "the wrath of God" (v.18). Yet an even more amazing poem is the work of transforming redemption accomplished in a lost soul saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8). For then it is we, ourselves, who become His poem! This also is a great creative masterpiece, for "we are His workmanship (same word, Greek poiema), created in Christ Jesus unto good works." A life once dead in sin, now born again and walking in good works -- this is God's greatest poetic masterpiece of all! Both the mighty universe and the soul made new in Christ are special creations of God, and both manifest His greatness and His love. "Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift" (II Corinthians 9:15) of grace. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ May 16, Saturday IN TIME OF TROUBLE "For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion: in the secret of His tabernacle shall He hide me; He shall set me up upon a rock" (Psalm 27:5). In this psalm of praise, David expresses his confidence in the Lord, even though "the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh" (v.2). In spite of the danger, he looks to God for safety. "The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid" (v.1). Why did God preserve David? The answer is at least twofold: First, David had a heart for God. "One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in His temple" (v.4). "Thy face, LORD, will I seek" (v.8). "Teach me thy way, O LORD" (v.11). The second reason is the nature of God, Himself. God, by His very nature, hates evil and extends grace toward His own. He is pictured here as a warrior conquering the evil enemies of David. His laws forbid their actions; His gospel robbed these evildoers of their grip; His final kingdom will be rid of them. Until God's justice, His gospel and His purpose all fail, we can be sure that He will act. In our text, David is hidden in the Lord's "pavilion." The word, which literally means a protective covering, was used for the tent of the commander-in-chief. Here, with the commander-in-chief, is the most fortified, guarded, and safe area of the battleground. If the pavilion falls, the battle is lost, and God has failed. Hidden in His pavilion, we are as safe as He. He sees to it that we are not frightened (v.13) amid the din of battle, and we shall share in the ultimate victory. In this world, we have tumultuous war; in the next, unbroken peace. Assured of the outcome, we can "wait on the LORD: (and) be of good courage" (v.14). JDM ________________________________________________________________________ May 17, Sunday THE INDWELLING TRINITY "To know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God" (Ephesians 3:19). One of the great doctrines of Christianity is the doctrine of the indwelling Holy Spirit of God, who lives in the heart of each believer who trusts in Christ for salvation. "Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God?" (I Corinthians 6:19). At the same time, God is one God, so all three persons of the Godhead must, through the Spirit, likewise indwell the believer. Note Paul's prayer for the believers in the Ephesian church (Ephesians 3:14-19). (1) "That He would grant be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man" (Ephesians 3:16). This request acknowledges the indwelling Spirit. Christ also prayed for this: "And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter...the Spirit of truth...for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you" (John 14:16,17). (2) "That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith" (Ephesians 3:17), that we might "know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge" (v.19). Here is the indwelling Son. This is also revealed in Galatians 2:20 ("Christ liveth in me") and Colossians 1:27 ("Christ in you, the hope of glory"). (3) "That ye might be filled with all the fulness of God" (Ephesians 3:19). This can only refer to the indwelling Father, as well as the entire tri-unity of the Godhead. Can this indwelling be ours? Note also that the entire prayer was addressed in the first place to "the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Ephesians 3:14). This, likewise, is a reflection of Christ's promise: "If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him" (John 14:23). "Filled with all the fulness of God!" What a wonderful privilege -- and responsibility -- is ours. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ May 18, Monday EASY BELIEVISM AND TRUE FAITH "And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things" (Luke 24:47,48). The above commandment is a part of Christ's Great Commission, and it is important to note that "repentance" was to be preached along with "remission of sins," both of them "in His name." The fact that " His name" is essentially synonymous with "believing in Him," is evident from Peter's message to the Gentiles in Cornelius' home: "Through His name whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins" (Acts 10:43). Repentance and faith are like two sides of the same coin; one cannot exist without the other. True repentance (the transformation of one's mind in its entire attitude toward God, submitting to His sovereign holiness and hatred of sin) is essentially synonymous with true faith (full commitment to, and trust in, the person and work of God's Son as one's Creator, Redeemer, and personal Savior). The problem is that what has become known as "easy believism" is widespread among Christian "soul winners," and multitudes have become "professing Christians," simply on the basis of a mental and verbal, least-common denominator "statement of faith," and/or some kind of "conversion experience," all of which are meaningless without genuine repentance. Repeating a prayer at the end of a gospel tract does not save, if it consists merely of words. Repentance is not merely sorrow for past sins, but a complete change of mind, and this can only be proved real (even to the believer himself) by a changed life. Both Jews and Gentiles "should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance" (Acts 26:20), and this should be paramount in our witnessing as well. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ May 19, Tuesday BUILDING-VINE-BODY "For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God" (Colossians 3:3). There are three wonderful figures in the New Testament which depict the relationship of the individual believer to all other believers and to Christ Himself. Christians are like little branches in the great Vine, which is Christ. They are stones in a great Building of which He is the foundation and corner stone. They are all members of the great Body of which He is the head. In each case, they have been placed "in Christ," and they derive all life and meaning from Him. As a stone lying alone on the ground is useless and ugly, so would be a professing Christian who is not truly in Christ. But we, "as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house" (I Peter 2:5) as "the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit" (Ephesians 2:19-22). Similarly, a branch without its vine and roots is lifeless. Jesus said: "I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing" (John 15:5). The members of a body are functionless without the head to direct them. "But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased Him" (I Corinthians 12:18), and it is intended that we "may grow up into Him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together...maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love" (Ephesians 4:15,16). Outside of Christ, we are useless and lifeless and directionless. In Him, we become a beautiful temple, a fruitful vine, and a strong body. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ May 20, Wednesday THE MINISTRY AND THE WORD "Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God" (II Corinthians 5:20). We, as emissaries of God, must be about the business of imploring people to "be reconciled to God," for God "hath reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ" (v.18) and has a desire to see many others likewise reconciled. Paul tells us that God "hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation" (v.18) and "committed unto us the word of reconciliation" (v.19). What is the difference? In the first case, the word ministry is translated from the Greek word which means service. The right to serve is given to us by God, just as a gift is given. Prior to this passage, we are taught the "ministry" (4:1) which we have is in reality a "treasure in earthen vessels" (4:7). We always should remember that God does not need us to do His will, but that in His grace, He has chosen to use us in various ways. In the second case, the teaching is quite different, for it is the magnificent word (Greek logos) being dealt with. Christ is referred to as "the Word" (John 1:1). The "Word of God is quick (alive)" (Hebrews 4:12), and through it we are "born again" (I Peter 1:23). A study of this grand theme demands that the logos is no less than the eternal Word of God -- that aspect of the triune Godhead which communicates directly to man, whether written or incarnate. Here it is the "Word of reconciliation" (II Corinthians 4:19) which is committed to us. The verb "commit" literally means "to place," and implies a deep and important trust, a whole-hearted commitment. "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down (same verb) his life for his friends" (John 15:13). The Word has been carefully placed in our trust, to guard, believe, and to apply. The privilege of sharing it with others is a rich and gracious gift. JDM _______________________________________________________________________ May 21, Thursday THE DEEP SLEEP "And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof" (Genesis 2:21). This is the first of seven occurrences of the unusual term "deep sleep" (Hebrew tardema) in the Old Testament. In each case, it seems to refer to a special state induced by the Lord Himself, in order to convey an important revelation to, or through, the person experiencing it. In Adam's case, God made a bride for him during his deep sleep, from whose seed would be born all the nations of the earth. "And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made He a woman, and brought her unto the man" (v.22). The covenant God made with Adam and Eve delegated dominion over the earth to their descendants. The second deep sleep was that which "fell upon Abram" (Genesis 15:12), when God passed between the sacrificial animals and established His great covenant with him, promising that from his seed would be born the chosen nation. "And I will make of thee a great nation" (12:2). The Abrahamic covenant also delegated the central land of the earth to Isaac's descendants (15:18-21) and promised that "in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed" (12:3). But Adam was a type of Christ and Abraham was a type of Christ, and their deep sleeps pre-figured His own deep sleep of death on the cross. There He became the last Adam and the promised Seed, dying to give life to His great Bride and living again to establish a holy nation of the redeemed, fulfilling all of God's ancient covenants, and instituting the eternal New Covenant in His own blood. When Adam fell into a deep sleep, a bride was born; when Abraham fell into his deep sleep, a nation was born. But when Christ slept deeply in death, on the cross and in the tomb, death and hell were judged, and a new world was born. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ May 22, Friday THE SUN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS "But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in His wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall" (Malachi 4:2). This is the very last of the numerous Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament. After this, there were four centuries of silence from heaven, as far as inspired Scriptures were concerned. Thus this prophecy must have special significance. The Messiah ("Christ") is called "the Sun of righteousness," in contrast to "all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly" that "shall burn as an oven" when "the day cometh" (v.1) -- that "great and dreadful day of the LORD" (v.5), and it "shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts" (v.1). The Sun of righteousness clearly refers to the coming Savior, for He will come "with healing in His wings." The sun does not have wings, of course, so many commentators think this word refers to the rays of the sun, with their life-sustaining energy. However, the Hebrew word means "wings," and nothing else. It is as though the sun is rising rapidly on great wings, dispelling the world's darkness with its light, dispensing healing to its sin-sick soul. The Sun of righteousness, of course, can be none other than God, Himself, for "the LORD God is a sun and shield" who "will give grace and glory" to "them that walk uprightly" (Psalm 84:11). It is the Lord Jesus Christ, the "light of the world" (John 8:12), coming "from heaven with His mighty angels (His `wings'?). In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God" (II Thessalonians 1:7,8). But "you that fear my name" in that day "shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts,...when I make up my jewels" (Malachi 3:17). In the last prophecy of the Old Testament, Christ is the rising Sun; in the last prophecy of the New Testament (Revelation 22:16), He is "the bright and morning Star." HMM ________________________________________________________________________ May 23, Saturday BABES IN CHRIST "Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men" (I Corinthians 14:20). The Christian life is entered by the new birth, so that everyone who is genuinely born again must begin as a spiritual babe. "Except ye be converted, and become as little children," said the Lord Jesus, "ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 18:3). Furthermore, they should continue to be as innocent children insofar as "malice" (Greek kakia, literally meaning "wickedness" or "evil") is concerned. This is an attribute which should diminish, not grow, in a believer. The sad truth, however, is that many born-again Christians remain spiritual babes in attributes which should characterize strong men and women of God. Paul equated the term "babes in Christ" with carnality, characterized by "envying, and strife, and divisions" (I Corinthians 3:1,3). Paul also speaks of those Christians as "children" who are "tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine" (Ephesians 4:14). He urges each one to be "speaking the truth in love," so that we "may grow up into Him (Christ) in all things" (Ephesians 4:15). Spiritual growth, of course, can come only through spiritual food and spiritual exercise. "As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby" (I Peter 2:2). "But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil" (Hebrews 5:14). Christians should become mature, both in understanding and in behavior. The last reference to growth in the Bible applies to each Christian: "But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (II Peter 3:18). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ May 24, Sunday THE DUTY OF REJOICING "But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee" (Psalm 5:11). It may seem strange to think of rejoicing as a Christian duty, but the Scriptures do contain many commands to rejoice, and many of these are given in circumstances of grief or danger, as is the case of our beautiful text verse. "Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice" (Philippians 4:4), Paul wrote from a Roman dungeon. In the upper room, the night before He was to die on a cross, the Lord Jesus said to His disciples: "These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full" (John 15:11). And then He said: "They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service" (John 16:2). But then He said again: "Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full" (John 16:24). If David could rejoice while fleeing from murderous enemies, if Paul could rejoice while chained unjustly in a Roman prison, if the disciples could experience fulness of joy while facing martyrdom, and if the Lord Himself, "for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame" (Hebrews 12:2), then our Christian duty of rejoicing in all circumstances may not be such an unseemly command after all. We can rejoice, as our text reminds us, "because thou defendest them." Furthermore, He, Himself, provides the joy, for "the fruit of the Spirit" (Galatians 5:22). It is not that the Christian will never know sorrow, for Christ Himself was "a man of sorrows" (Isaiah 53:3). But He also was a man of joy and, in Him, we can be like Him -- "as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing" (II Corinthians 6:10). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ May 25, Monday CHRISTIAN FREEDOM "For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another" (Galatians 5:13). Liberty has always been a cherished concept to Americans, ever since the patriotic call of Patrick Henry for liberty or death. It was also a burning issue with the Jews at the time of Christ, chafing under Roman rule as they were. Many early Christians were actually slaves, or even in prison for their faith. All those in bondage have longed to be free, and wars and revolutions have been fought to gain their freedoms. But the worst bondage of all is slavery to sin. No army can free a man from sin, and if he dies in sin, he will continue in bondage forever. Among the last words of the Bible are these: "He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still" (Revelation 22:11). It is only Christ who can set a sinner free. Christ died for our sins, and through faith in Him we receive full pardon and liberty. "Our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin....Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness" (Romans 6:6,7,18). There is no greater or truer freedom than freedom in Christ. "If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed" (John 8:36). Because of Christ, the very creation itself, now groaning and travailing in pain under the curse of sin, one day soon "shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God" (Romans 8:21). In Christ we now have freedom to live unto righteousness. "Being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life" (Romans 6:22). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ May 26, Tuesday PARADOXES OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE "Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise" (I Corinthians 3:18). The true Christian life is so uniquely different from the life of the natural man that its characteristics must often be expressed in terms of paradoxical contrasts. For example, as our text emphasizes, that which passes for "the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God" (I Corinthians 3:19). This profound truth has many implications for us as Christians. "My strength is made perfect in weakness," says the Lord. "Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me" (II Corinthians 12:9). Thus, to be strong, we must be weak, and to be lifted high, we must stoop low, for "he that shall humble himself shall be exalted" (Matthew 23:12). Not only so, but "whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant" (Matthew 20:27). Note especially II Corinthians 6:8-10: " deceivers, and yet true; As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things." All such ascriptions apply, first of all and most of all, to Christ Himself, our perfect example: "For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich" (II Corinthians 8:9). Thus, "if we be dead with Him, we shall also live with Him: If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him" (II Timothy 2:11,12). "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me" (Galatians 2:20). All such descriptions may seem paradoxical, but they are real and true. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ May 27, Wednesday THE STARS ALSO "And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: He made the stars also" (Genesis 1:16). On the fourth day of Creation Week, God made the two lights for day and night, and then -- almost like an afterthought -- "He made the stars also." Nothing, of course, is an afterthought with God, but this emphasizes the relative importance of these parts of His creation. Whether or not the earth is the geographical center of the universe, Earth is the center of God's interest in the universe. This is where He created man and woman in His own image, and where He will reign over His creation in the ages to come. The primary purpose of the stars, as well as the sun and moon, was "to divide the day from the night; be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: give light upon the earth" (Genesis 1:14,15). They could not fulfill these functions, of course, if their light could not be seen on the earth, so we can be sure that these heavenly bodies and their light rays were created -- like Adam and Eve -- "full-grown," in a state of functioning maturity. All that can be known scientifically about the stars must be determined from their light intensity and spectra. (Their distances can be measured geometrically only to about 300 light-years.) Any other information -- any greater distances, size, temperature, etc. -- must be derived by inference, based on some theory of stellar evolution. Although the stars all look alike (even through a telescope, they all appear as mere points of light), these calculations have shown that each one is unique, as revealed long ago in Scripture: "One star differeth from another star in glory" (I Corinthians 15:41). Those who believe can learn more about them in the ages to come, for "they that be wise shall the stars for ever and ever" (Daniel 12:3). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ May 28, Thursday THE FIRST STONE "For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not" (Ecclesiastes 7:20). When the self-righteous men in the crowd surrounding the woman caught in the act of adultery were about to stone the woman (apparently indifferent to the man with whom she had been caught!), the Lord Jesus turned them all away with His suggestion that the privilege of casting the first stone should go to one who was without sin of his own (John 8:7). They realized that He knew the condition of their sinful hearts, and "being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one" (v.9). This incident is a perpetual reminder that "the Father...hath committed all judgment unto the Son" (John 5:22), not to any one of us. We are not qualified to judge others, since we ourselves are also sinners -- saved sinners, perhaps, but sinners. One of the most certain doctrines of Scripture is the universality of sin in human experience. "There is none that doeth good, no, not one," the Scripture says (Romans 3:12). "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). "Death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned" (Romans 5:12). "The Scripture hath concluded all under sin" (Galatians 3:22). "Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin" (James 4:17). "For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all" (James 2:10). These and many other Scriptures tell us clearly that, while we urgently need to judge sin in ourselves, we are not qualified to condemn others, at least not on a personal level. Only the Lord Jesus Christ, being Himself sinless (I Peter 2:22) can judge a sinner. Thus it is only He who could be made sin for us (II Corinthians 5:21) and thereby forgive sins and bring salvation. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ May 29, Friday PROSPERITY VERSUS CONTENTMENT "But godliness with contentment is great gain" (I Timothy 6:6). In this day of Madison-Avenue sales pressures and an ever-increasing array of technological gadgets and creature comforts, the Christian virtue of contentment is a rare commodity. There is even a widespread error among born-again Christians that material prosperity is a token of spirituality and divine approval on an affluent life style. Instead of a blessing, however, such affluence (if it comes) should be regarded as a testing, for Jesus said: "unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required" (Luke 12:48). Paul was perhaps the most faithful and fruitful Christian who ever lived, yet he died penniless, in a Roman dungeon. His own testimony concerning material possessions and standards of living was this: "I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need" (Philippians 4:11,12). In the context of our key verse above, the Apostle Paul has actually been warning young Pastor Timothy against the influence of those who suppose, among other things, "that gain is godliness," and who think that their material prosperity is proof of their spiritual prosperity. "From such" says Paul, "withdraw thyself" (I Timothy 6:5). Material gain in no way either produces or denotes godliness; rather, godliness itself is the gain, if accompanied by contentment in Christ (otherwise, of course, it is not true godliness)! Even the most impoverished believer can acquire riches in heaven, where it really counts. In the meantime: "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" (Hebrews 13:5). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ May 30, Saturday A CALL TO REMEMBRANCE "I have considered the days of old, the years of ancient times. I call to remembrance my song in the night: I commune with mine own heart: and my spirit made diligent search" (Psalm 77:5,6). It is so easy to forget. The burdens and pressures of these present times easily drown out the voices of the past. God, however, remembers. It is good also for us to consider the olden days, not simply in sad nostalgia, but for our guidance in the present. With reference, particularly to those instances which the Lord selected to be recorded in Scripture, "they are written for our admonition" (I Corinthians 10:11). Not only were they written as warnings, but also for comfort. "For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope" (Romans 15:4). To the Christian, an annual Memorial Day should have still an additional special meaning. Not only do we desire to honor those who died for their country (and many of us do, indeed, recall with deep love and respect close friends and family members in this honored company), but also to remember those who lived for the Lord, and whose lives and ministries have helped guide us to the light for our own difficult pathways today. Parents and teachers, authors and preachers, counselors and friends -- many of whom have already gone to be with the Lord -- deserve to be remembered and honored, for it will make that great future Homecoming Day all the more blessed when we are all together, with the Lord, when He returns (I Thessalonians 4:17). Most importantly of all, of course, we must remember the Lord, not annually, but always. "I will remember the works of the LORD: surely I will remember thy wonders of old. I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings" (Psalm 77:11,12). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ May 31, Sunday OWNERSHIP CLAUSE "The earth is the LORD's, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein" (Psalm 24:1). "Earth" means the habitable part of our world as we know it today. It is the "dry land" that God called "earth" in Chapter 1 of Genesis. Other verses in Scripture reiterate Psalm 24's "ownership clause": "For all the earth is mine" (Exodus 19:5); "know how that the earth is the LORD's" (Exodus 9:29). "The fulness thereof" further defines what the Lord means by "earth." If there is any doubt in one's mind as to the truth of who owns the earth, God doubles the emphasis by adding a word that elsewhere in the Bible is translated "all that is therein." In essence, Psalm 24:1 says, "The whole earth is the LORD's and all the parts that make up the whole!" Upon what is Psalm 24's ownership clause based? God gives us the foundation of His claim in verse 2. "For He hath founded it...." He claims ownership, and then tells us that is His right, because He has "founded" the earth. Founded means "to settle," or "establish." Elsewhere, this word is translated "ordain," or "foundation." "The earth...He hath established for ever" (Psalm 78:69). He has "laid the foundation of the earth" (Psalm 102:25). The concept of creation is also used with the word "founded" in Psalm 89:11: "The heavens are thine, the earth also is thine: as for the world and the fulness thereof, thou hast founded them." Psalm 24 continues, "Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in His holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully" (vs.3,4). What gives God the right to make the rules about who shall stand in His presence? In His wisdom, He lays the foundation of ownership before He establishes any rules. God's position, as Creator and Owner of all, gives Him the right to make the rules! CJH ________________________________________________________________________ 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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