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

Master Index Current Directory Index Go to SkepticTank Go to Human Rights activist Keith Henson Go to Scientology cult

Skeptic Tank!

________________________________________________________________________ Institute for Creation Research, PO Box 2667, El Cajon, CA 92021 Voice: (619) 448-0900 FAX: (619) 448-3469 ________________________________________________________________________ ||||||||| |||||||| |||||||||| |||| |||| |||| |||| |||| ||||| |||| |||| |||| |||| |||| ||||| |||| |||| |||| |||| |||| ||||| |||| |||| |||| |||| |||||||||| |||| |||| |||| |||| |||| |||| |||| |||| |||| |||| ||||||||| |||||||| ||||| ________________________________________________________________________ June, July, August Summer 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 ________________________________________________________________________ When thro' the woods and forest glades I wander And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees; When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur, And hear the brook, and feel the gentle breeze; Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee; How great Thou art, how great Thou art! Introduction to DAYS OF PRAISE As each day draws us nearer to the day we shall meet the Lord, whether at death or at His second coming, all of our days should increasingly be "days of praise." Even when our days involve sorrow or suffering, we still can "in every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you" (I Thessalonians 5:18). If, like Paul, for Christ, even "have suffered the loss of all things" (Philippians 3:8), we can still, with Paul, rejoice, knowing that "Whether ... the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours: And ye are Christ's: and Christ is God's" (I Corinthians 3:22,23). We trust these daily devotional studies will help you, as they have many others, to make every day a day of praising God for His Word and His gracious gift of eternal life to all who believe on Christ. Please remember also to pray for us here at ICR, in our urgent ministry of creation evangelism and education. If the Lord should also lead you to help financially in the further distribution of "Days of Praise," we would be grateful. You can use the attached envelope for that purpose. And may the Lord grant you a happy and spiritually fruitful summertime! RBB Richard B. Bliss, Ed.D. KBC Kenneth B. Cumming, Ph.D. ADE Arnold D. Ehlert, Th.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. ________________________________________________________________________ June 1, Monday SON OF GOD "(God) hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds" (Hebrews 1:2). The unique divine Sonship of Jesus Christ is emphasized here in Hebrews 1. The above text, for example, introduces the Son as the Creator, then as the revealing Word, and finally, as the appointed heir of all things. This chapter also demonstrates that God's Son was recognized even in the Old Testament. Verse 5 quotes Psalm 2:7: "Thou art my son; this day have I begotten Thee," and I Chronicles 17:13: "I will be His Father, and He shall be my son." That this Son is none other than God Himself is confirmed in verse 8, quoting Psalm 45:6: "Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever." That He is the Creator is asserted in verse 10, referring to Psalm 102:25: "Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth." That He is now at God's own throne is stressed in verse 13, citing Psalm 110:1, "Sit thou at my right hand," and to be worshipped as God, in verse 6, taken from Psalm 97:7: "Let all the angels of God worship Him." Furthermore, Hebrews 1 notes a manifold description of the meaning of the divine Sonship. He is Son of God by eternal generation, as the "brightness (or `out-radiating') of His glory, and the express image of His person" (v.3). He is Son of God by miraculous conception (v.5), above, quoted in Acts 13:33 (note Romans 1:4) as referring to His Sonship by bodily resurrection. Verse 6 refers to the divine proclamation of the Sonship (also Matthew 3:17; 17:5). Verses 8 and 9 stress the testimony of His uniquely holy nature. "Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity." Finally, as the Son, He is promised universal inheritance from His Father (vs.2,13). From eternity to eternity, Jesus Christ is God's only-begotten Son! And yet God "gave His only begotten Son" that we might have everlasting life! (John 3:16). HMM" ________________________________________________________________________ June 2, Tuesday PRAISING THE LORD "Praise ye the LORD. Praise the LORD, O my soul" (Psalm 146:1). Each of the last five psalms (146-150) begins and ends with: "Praise ye the LORD -- i.e., "Hallelujah." They comprise a sort of "Hallelujah Chorus:" a grand epilogue to the five books which make up the complete book of Psalms. Each of these five books also ends in a doxology. Note: "Book I": "Blessed be the LORD God of Israel from everlasting, to everlasting. Amen, and Amen" (Psalm 41:13). "Book II": "And blessed be His glorious name for ever: and let the whole earth be filled with His glory; Amen, and Amen" (Psalm 72:19). "Book III": "Blessed be the LORD for evermore. Amen, and Amen" (Psalm 89:52). "Book IV": "Blessed be the LORD God of Israel from everlasting to everlasting: and let all the people say, Amen. Praise ye the LORD (Psalm 106:48). "Book V": "My mouth shall speak the praise of the LORD: and let all flesh bless His holy name for ever and ever" (Psalm 145:21)." It is interesting, even if coincidental, that these five final praise psalms -- all thanking God for past deliverances and the promise of an eternal future -- contain a total of 153 verses. This is the same as the number of great fishes caught in a strong net by the disciples after Christ's resurrection, symbolizing their going forth to fish for men in all nations, bringing them safe to the eternal shores of glory (John 21:10). Then come the last five songs with their ten cries of "Hallelujah!" In the New Testament, "Hallelujah" (or "Alleluia") occurs only in the setting of the victorious marriage supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19 1,3,4,6). This suggests that these "Hallelujah Psalms" may be sung by the redeemed multitudes as they gather at His throne in heaven. HMM" ________________________________________________________________________ June 3.Wednesday AN EARLY CONFESSION "And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory" (I Timothy 3:16). One of the specific reasons Paul wrote this letter to Timothy is contained in our text. The church is to guard and declare the "mystery of godliness." A "mystery" in Scripture is something which was previously hidden, but which is now revealed. Here the mystery is the blessed truth that God is in the business of producing godliness in the lives of men and women; in this context, through the work of the church (v.15). This ministry of the church in proclaiming this mystery was augmented by a doctrinal confession, or hymn, which was presented in: (1) "God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit." "The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us" (John 1:14), and was "declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness" (Romans 1:4). This couplet relates Christ's human/divine nature. His humanity was evident to all; His divinity was declared through the Spirit. (2) "Seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles" (or nations). Angels observed, and to some degree, participated in Christ's earthly ministry, but the salvation and godliness He offered was only to men, "which things the angels desire to look into" (I Peter 1:12). (3) "Believed on in the world, received up into glory." Other teachers have gained a following, but only Christ ascended directly into heaven following His resurrection. Doctrinal confessions or hymns can be an aid in learning and remembering truth, but the goal of each is godliness -- "this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you" (Colossians 1:27). JDM ________________________________________________________________________ June 4, Thursday A TIME TO SLEEP "And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison" (Acts 12:6). Here is an amazing thing. The Apostle Peter is in prison, bound with chains, heavily guarded, probably awaiting execution (his close friend James already had been put to death by Herod), and "prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him" (Acts 12:5). Yet, here he is, fast asleep! He had been imprisoned at least once before for preaching the gospel, and the Lord had miraculously delivered him then (Acts 5:17-19), so why should he be fearful now? The Lord was still in control, and there was nothing Peter himself could do about the situation, so he simply went to sleep. There are, of course, many situations where a Christian needs to stay alert and watchful. But there are also times when he has done all he can do, and there is nothing to be accomplished by further worrying, so he must leave it in the Lord's hands. In Peter's case, he was sleeping so soundly that when an angel from God came to deliver him from his "impossible" circumstance, the angel had to smite him on the side (v.7) to awaken him! In fact, he was still so sleepy that he did not really "come to himself" (v.11) until the angel left him out on the street alone. Then, of course, Peter rushed back to the house of Mark's mother, where the church was praying for him (v.12), to tell them of the amazing answer to their prayers. As with Peter, there are times when we must simply "stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD (Exodus 14:13), "so that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me" (Hebrews 13:6). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ June 5, Friday GIVEN BY INSPIRATION "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works" (II Timothy 3:16,17). This passage is the most definitive of all passages on the inspiration of the Bible. It explicitly repudiates all the false concepts which men have developed to try to escape this vital doctrine." For example, it repudiates the "humanistic theory of inspiration", which says that the writers were "inspired" with the same quality of exalted feelings that inspired other great writers. But this verse attributes it not to human inspiration, but to the "inspiration "of" God." Then, there is the "partial theory of inspiration", which says that part of the Bible is inspired (the "religious" parts), but that part of it is not (the scientific and historical parts). But our verse says that "all" Scripture is inspired! The "dynamic theory" says the thoughts are inspired, but not the words. However, it is the "Scriptures" that are inspired, not the thoughts of the men who wrote them. The "Scriptures" mean the "writings" -- the actual words written. The "encounter theory" says the Scriptures are not inspired in themselves, but only become inspired when a reader "encounters" God through reading them. This, also, is false. The Scriptures are inspired regardless of how they affect the reader. Actually, the phrase "given by inspiration of God" is one word in the Greek, meaning "God-breathed." Thus, plenary verbal inspiration and complete divine origin and authority of all the Holy Scriptures is the true Biblical doctrine. When one does accept the God-breathed authority of Scripture, however, he has an infinite resource, serving as an inerrant framework for all true wisdom and knowledge, and leading him into full maturity in the Christian life. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ June 6, Saturday FOUNDATIONS OUT OF COURSE "They know not, neither will they understand; they walk on in darkness: all the foundations of the earth are out of course" (Psalm 82:5). Christians sometimes wish they could call down God's judgment on the wicked, especially wicked rulers. In almost every civilization throughout history, men and women have been oppressed by their own despotic rulers or invaders from outside their nation's borders. It seems that the Jewish people and Christian believers have received more than their share of persecution, and it is a comfort to realize that there is Biblical precedent for the grieved saint to call out to God for action and justice. In this psalm, the writer does just that. The judges of the day were evidently quite unjust. The psalmist calls on them to "defend the poor and fatherless" (vs.3,4), but his cries were not heeded. Our text tells us that the rulers were devoid of understanding, and walked in darkness: "all the foundations of the earth are out of course." In our day, those who defend animal rights advocate the killing of unborn children. Many cry: "Protect the guilty" while they ignore the innocent victim. Adherents to academic freedom tell us that only evolution is science, and creation must not be allowed in schools. We must be tolerant of all viewpoints, say liberal professors, except the Biblical world view. Homosexuals seek favored status, calling good evil and evil good. Certainly something is "out of course." Our confidence, however, rests in God, who "standeth in the congregation of the mighty" (v.1). He sees the injustice and will act accordingly, as He sees best. It may be sooner or later than we would like, but He will act at the proper time, in the proper way. In the meantime, it is proper for us to pray as did the psalmist, "Arise, O God, judge the earth" (v.8). Until then, "Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass" (Psalm 37:5). JDM ________________________________________________________________________ June 7, Sunday PERSONAL GREETINGS "Salute Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermas, Patrobas, Hermes, and the brethren which are with them" (Romans 16:14). An interesting phenomenon occurs in the closing chapter of many of Paul's epistles, which may at first seem incongruous with the Biblical doctrine of plenary verbal inspiration. This phenomenon is the recital of various names of individuals -- people in the churches from which, or to which, he was writing. Most of them are people about whom we know nothing whatever except their names, as listed by Paul. There are 11 people mentioned by name in Colossians 4:7-17. In Paul's final epistle to Timothy right after he had written the great passage on the inspiration of the Bible (II Timothy 3:16,17), he mentioned no less than 18 names. In the last chapter of Romans were listed 35 names, five of which are included in the one short verse of our text! The question is why did the Holy Spirit inspire Paul to include so many personal names of people who were of only local interest in epistles which God intended to be used by Christians everywhere? And, of course, these lists of names are dwarfed in comparison to the very extensive lists in the Old Testament (e.g., Numbers 7, 26). Perhaps the main reason for their permanent inscripturation in this fashion is simply to illustrate the great truth that God knows and cares about every one of His children. We do know that each of our names is written in "the book of life of the Lamb" and in God's "book of remembrance . . . for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon His name" (Revelation 13:8; Malachi 3:16). Perhaps, as a small token and assurance of these great lists in heaven, God has listed a few of these names in His Book here on earth. They were ordinary people just like us, and it will be our privilege, as Paul instructs in our text, to "salute Asyncritus" when we can, and all the other believers who have gone before us! HMM ________________________________________________________________________ June 8, Monday THE ETERNAL COSMOS "He hath also stablished them for ever and ever: He hath made a decree which shall not pass" (Psalm 148:6). In this central psalm of the last five psalms comprising the "Hallelujah" epilogue to the book of Psalms, the entire physical creation is exhorted to praise the Lord, as all the universe is restored to its primeval perfection. All the people of the earth, all the angels, even all the animals, will praise the Lord." Furthermore, in some way which can only be understood by faith, the entire inorganic creation -- sun, moon, stars, mountains, winds, everything -- will be able to praise Him. Even the primeval "waters above the heavens" (Genesis 1:7-9) will have been restored, and "they" will praise the Lord (Psalm 148:4,5). And all of this will continue forever and ever! The new heavens and new earth -- that is, the "renewed" heavens and earth, with the curse removed (Revelation 22:3) -- the sun and moon and stars, with the eternal throne of the Lord Jesus established on the earth in the New Jerusalem, in the midst of all the redeemed men and women of all the ages -- all of these will forever be a praise to God. God is not capricious, and He does not fail. He will not "uncreate" what He has created. "Whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever" (Ecclesiastes 3:14). The earth must yet be purged by fire (II Peter 3:10), but it will be renewed in righteousness (v.13), and without any evidences of the former regime of decay and death. And then it will last forever. "And He built His sanctuary like high palaces, like the earth which He hath established for ever" (Psalm 78:69). "(God) laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed for ever" (Psalm 104:5). "And they that turn many to righteous- ness (shall shine) as the stars for ever and ever" (Daniel 12:3). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ June 9, Tuesday INHERIT THE WIND "He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind: and the fool shall be servant to the wise of heart" (Proverbs 11:29). This verse was selected to provide the title for one of the most widely distributed movies ever produced in Hollywood. "Inherit the Wind" was a black-and-white movie produced in 1960, starring Spencer Tracy as the famous atheist lawyer, Clarence Darrow. The theme of the picture was the Scopes evolution trial held in Tennessee in 1925. The picture glorified Darrow and evolutionism, portraying creationists and Bible-believing Christians as fanatical buffoons. Although the movie grossly distorted history, it has continued all these years to be shown over and over. The Scopes trial itself -- in the absence of any real scientific evidence for evolution -- is repeatedly rehashed in print by evolutionists in their zeal to destroy creationism. This is typical of the "profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called" (I Timothy 6:20), to which evolutionists resort in lieu of evidence. As far as the Scripture verse itself is concerned, it should serve rather as a sober warning to those evolutionary humanists who are still troubling our nation's homes and schools and churches with this false and deadly doctrine of evolution. "They" are the ones who will inherit the wind. "The ungodly . . . are like the chaff which the wind driveth away" (Psalm 1:4). They are the ones who, "professing themselves to be wise" have become fools (Romans 1:22), "who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator" (Romans 1:25). It is the one who proclaims "no God," who is "the fool" (Psalm 53:1) of our text. Evolutionists, humanists, atheists, and other anti-Biblicists will inherit nothing but wind, but "The wise shall inherit glory" (Proverbs 3:35). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ June 10, Wednesday QUESTIONS ABOUT CREATION "Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding" (Job 38:4). In Chapters 38-41 of Job is recorded a remarkable series of 77 questions about the creation -- questions which God asked Job and his philosophizing friends, and which they were utterly unable to answer. At the end of the searching examination, Job could only confess: "Therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not" (Job 42:3). Modern evolutionists, despite all their arrogant pretentions, still are not able to answer them either, over 35 centuries later. But there is One who can answer them, and His answers echo back from another ancient document, the marvelous 8th chapter of Proverbs. To God's first question, "Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth?" comes His answer: "When He appointed the foundations of the earth: Then I was by Him" (Proverbs 8:29,30). The speaker here is the divine Wisdom. He is the Word of God, the pre-incarnate Son of God, soon to become the Son of man. In this amazing chapter, He echoes an answer to the most searching of God's inscrutable questions to Job and his friends: "Who shut up the sea with doors, when it brake forth?" (Job 38:8). "He set a compass (literally `sphericity') upon the face of the depth: . . . When He gave to the sea His decree, that the waters should not pass His commandment" (Proverbs 8:27,29). "Hast thou commanded the morning . . . and caused the dayspring to know his place?" (Job 38:12). "When He prepared the heavens, I was there" (Proverbs 8:27). Our Savior was there! "For by Him were all things created" (Colossians 1:16). One more question: "Have the gates of death been opened unto thee?" (Job 38:17). Yes, and they have not prevailed! "For whoso findeth me findeth life, . . . all they that hate me love death" (Proverbs 8:35,36). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ June 11, Thursday JESUS IN MARY'S WOMB "And now, saith the LORD that formed me from the womb to be His servant, to bring Jacob again to Him" (Isaiah 49:5). Seven hundred years before it happened, Jesus was prophetically spoken of as one who would be formed in a "womb." Of course, as Divine Son, He had existed from all eternity (John 1:1), but it was not until an appointed time in history that He started as fully human -- in His mother's womb. The Lord Jesus Christ, the Author of all life, sanctified human life in a mother's womb by inhabiting one Himself for nine months. The angel said to Mary, "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God" (Luke 1:35). Of course, human pre-natal life has been under vicious attack lately. Evolutionists try to justify this by saying that life before birth is tracing out its evolutionary history, but this is a sad delusion. Jesus was never a fish or a frog, and neither were any of us. It is lamentable that false notions are still foisted on children in the name of the unscientific and long-disproved "recapitulation theory." Isaiah 49:1-7, taken as a whole, proclaims exhilarating news. As one of the "servant" passages (such as Isaiah 52:13 through 53:12), it sets forth Jesus (called "Israel," an individual -- v.3), as the Savior of "Israel" (collectively, cf. v.6). It adds that He would also be "a light to the Gentiles" and the one who would bring "salvation unto the end of the earth" (Isaiah 49:6)! He, the Creator, became a baby and lived for awhile in a virgin's womb so that as a man He could go to a cross and reverse Adam's fall. By His perfect obedience to the Father, He also offers human beings eternal life. May we celebrate life now and forever! PGH ________________________________________________________________________ June 12, Friday MY GLORY "O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise, even with my glory" (Psalm 108:1). This seems a somewhat strange expression. A similar statement is found in Psalm 30:12. "To the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent." Also, note Psalm 57:8: "Awake up, my glory; awake, psaltery and harp." The Hebrew word is the normal word for "glory," as in Psalm 19:1, for example: "The heavens declare the glory of God." But what, then, is meant by "my" glory"? The explanation is found in the way the New Testament quotes Psalm 16:9: "Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth." In Acts 2:26, this verse is applied to Christ, and translated: "Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad." It becomes clear, then, that in such passages "my glory" simply means "my tongue." In fact, the word was translated "tongue" in these and other similar passages in the Greek Septuagint translation of the Old Testament. But why, then, did the inspired Hebrew text here use the words "my glory" instead of the usual Hebrew word for tongue? The answer probably is that, when our tongues are used to praise the Lord, they do, indeed, become our glory! It is this very ability, in fact, that primarily distinguishes man from the animals. Animals can bark, roar, grunt, and send out sonar signals, but they cannot speak in intelligible, symbolic, abstract speech. This is an unbridgeable evolutionary gulf that cannot be crossed, because only men and women were created in the image of God. Mankind alone has the ability to speak, for the simple reason that God desires to communicate with us so that we can respond in praise to Him. This is our glory! "I will sing of the mercies of the LORD for ever: with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations" (Psalm 89:1). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ June 13, Saturday CHRIST OUR SUBSTITUTE "So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation" (Hebrews 9:28). There are two specific references in the New Testament to Christ "bearing" our sins as He died on the cross. In addition to our text above, the other is I Peter 2:24: "Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree." However, the same word (Greek "anaphero") is also used with a similar thrust in Hebrews 7:27, where it is translated "offer up": "Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people's: for this He did once, when He offered up Himself." When Christ died, He died as a substitutionary sacrifice, "offering up" our sins for judgment and punishment by a holy God, as He simultaneously "offered up" Himself as the one who would submit to that judgment and bear that punishment. He was "able" to do this because He was both the infinite Creator and the one sinless Man, who needed not to offer a sacrifice for His own sins. He was "willing" to do this because He loved us, and wanted to save us. This doctrine of substitutionary sacrifice is central to the gospel of salvation, and, therefore, precious to the saint. But its central importance likewise means that it is profoundly offensive to the natural man. Many acclaim Him as a great martyr or a great teacher, but deny either His deity or His humanity, and certainly deny the universal efficacy of His shed blood in substitutionary sacrifice for the sin of a lost world. Nevertheless, He did bear the sins of "the many," and He did completely settle our account with God. In both Hebrews 7:27 and 9:28, as cited above, the word "once" means, literally, "once for all." He did have to die once -- but only once -- as our sin-bearing substitute. Thus, when He comes again, it will be "without sin unto salvation." HMM ________________________________________________________________________ June 14, Sunday FEAR NOT LITTLE FLOCK "But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you" (Luke 12:31). In these days of financial worries and rampant materialism, it does us good to reflect on Christ's teaching concerning our priorities. In this passage, He was teaching His disciples not to be troubled over temporal things (v.22), but to rest in the fact that He will supply our needs. "If then God so clothe the grass, which is today in the field, and tomorrow is cast into the oven; how much more will He clothe you, O ye of little faith?" (v.28). We are not to have our mind set on material things (v.29), neither are we to be "of doubtful mind," wavering between hope and fear of the future. We are to be different. We are children of the King and are in His care. The "nations of the world seek after" (v.30) these things. Our Father knows that we have need of certain things, and since He loves us and has our best interests at heart, we have nothing to "fear," and can be assured that "all these things shall be added unto (us)" (v.31). But more is involved. It is not enough simply to avoid improper fixation on the things of the world; we are to seek rather "the Kingdom of God;" we are to be about His business. His priorities should be our priorities. We must strive to know Him and His Word so well that we naturally conform our actions to His desires. If we do so, He not only will take pleasure in supplying our physical needs (v.31), but also "it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom" (v.32). It is our privilege to participate in His work on earth as He enables. Our part may be to give: "Sell (what you) have, and give alms" thereby storing up "a treasure in the heavens that faileth not" (v.33), or to pray, "for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (v.34). If our primary desire is to enhance the work of the Kingdom, then He will give us that desire, and we will see fruit which lasts for eternity. JDM ________________________________________________________________________ June 15, Monday THE LIGHT AND THE SUN "The day is thine, the night also is thine: thou hast prepared the light and the sun" (Psalm 74:16). One of the traditional "discrepancies" attributed by the skeptics to the Genesis account of creation is the fact that there was "light" (Hebrew "or") on the first day of creation week, whereas God did not create the "lights" (Hebrew "ma-or") to rule the day and the night until the fourth day. However, it is interesting that modern evolutionary cosmologists find no problem in having light before the sun. According to their speculative reconstruction of cosmic history, light energy was produced in the imaginary "Big Bang" 15 billion years ago, whereas the sun "evolved" only five billion years ago. Thus, even in their attempts to destroy the divine revelation of Genesis, they inadvertently find it necessary to return to its concepts. Light energy somehow had to be "prepared" before the sun and other stars could ever be set up to serve as future generators of light energy. The fact that light is an entity independent of the sun and other heavenly bodies is one of the remarkable scientific insights of the Bible. As the basic form of energy (even intrinsic in the very nature of matter, as expressed in the famous Einstein equation), it is significant that the first recorded word spoken by the Creator was: "Let there be light" (Genesis 1:3). In this chapter, the psalmist is entreating the Lord of light, the Creator of all things, to deliver His people from those who are seeking to destroy all genuine faith in the true God of heaven. "The tumult of those that rise up against thee increaseth continually" (v.23). Nevertheless, "God is my King of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth" (v.12). The mighty God of creation, who established and controls all the basic energies of the cosmos and their manifestation on the earth, is fully able to defeat His enemies and establish His people. We can be sure of that. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ June 16, Tuesday THREESCORE YEARS AND TEN "The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away" (Psalm 90:10). When Moses wrote these words, near the end of his life, he was 120 years old (Deuteronomy 34:7), but all the rest of the people of Israel (except Caleb and Joshua), who had been over 20 at the beginning of the 40-year wilderness wanderings, had died there (Numbers 14:28-34), and so there were no others over 60 years old. In former days, men had lived much longer. Adam died at 930 and Noah at 950, but then Shem only lived to 600, and Abraham died at 175 years of age. Thus, the normal life span by Moses' time was down to 70 or 80 years, and he prophesied that this would continue. It is remarkable that, with all the increase in medical knowledge, this figure has stayed about the same, and there seems to be little the gerontologists can do to increase it. Furthermore, the latter years are largely "labor and sorrow," just as God told Adam when his sin brought God's curse on the earth (Genesis 3:17-20). No matter how much we try to prolong our lives, we are "soon cut off." But then, we "fly away!" The soul/spirit complex of the Christian believer, released from its weary body, flies away to be with the Lord. Those left behind may sorrow, but "to depart, and to be with Christ . . . is far better." The Christian may confidently say with Paul: "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain" (Philippians 1:23,21). In the meantime, as our time grows shorter, it is more important than ever that we "walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time" (Colossians 4:5). "So teach us to number our days," prayed Moses (and so should we), "that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom" (Psalm 90:12). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ June 17, Wednesday HEADSTONE OF THE CORNER "The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner" (Psalm 118:22). That this enigmatic verse is really a Messianic prophecy is evident from the fact that Christ Himself applied it thus. "Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the Scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner . . . ?" (Matthew 21:42). The Jewish leaders had refused Him as their Messiah, but the day would come when they would have to confess their sad mistake. Later, addressing them concerning "Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead," the apostle Peter said: "This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner" (Acts 4:11,12). This analogy evidently refers back to the building of Solomon's great temple a thousand years earlier. At that time, each of the great stones for its beautiful walls was "made ready before it was brought thither: so that there was neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron heard in the house, while it was in building" (I Kings 6:7). According to tradition, there was one stone which didn't fit with the others, so the builders moved it out of the way. At last, when the temple tower was almost complete, they found they were missing the pinnacle stone which would cap all the rest. Finally they realized that the stone they had rejected had been shaped to be the head stone at the topmost corner of the tower. Peter referred to it again, in his epistle: "Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: . . . Unto you therefore which believe He is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner. And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient" (I Peter 2:6-8). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ June 18, Thursday ELIOENAI "And the sons of Neariah: Elioenai, and Hezekiah, and Azrikam, three" (I Chronicles 3:23). Elioenai's name is in a long list of names in the book of Chronicles. In fact, it is significant that the Bible contains the proper names of more individuals than can be found in all the other books of antiquity put together -- strong evidence of its historical authenticity. These were real names of real people, and each would, no doubt, have a fascinating story to tell if he could. The ancient Israelites were very conscious of their divine calling as God's chosen people; family relationships and genealogical records were highly valued. Godly parents were very conscious that "children are an heritage of the LORD (Psalm 127:3), and commonly gave each of them a name with some special spiritual meaning. Neariah, whose name meant "servant of the LORD," was a distant descendant of David, and his firstborn son was Elioenai. This was a testimony of parental faith, for it means "turning your eyes to the mighty God." Very little else is known about Elioenai (except the names of his two brothers and seven sons), but the lengthy genealogies break off in the generation of his sons, indicating probably that his parents were in the generation taken captive to Babylon. It is fascinating to wonder why they gave Elioenai his name, and to imagine how it may have influenced the life and spiritual growth of Elioenai himself. In any case, it is a beautiful and meaningful name, and we can hope that his character developed accordingly. For, if so, believers will be able to meet him in heaven someday. His name still bears an urgent message to us today: "Turn your eyes upon Jesus; turn to the mighty God, your Creator and Savior!" We should also remember the example of the godly parents in ancient times, in giving our children names that will inspire them and be a testimony to others. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ June 19, Friday TO BE LIKE HIM "But as He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy" (I Peter 1:15,16). Scripture admonishes us as Christians to be like our Lord and Savior in "all manner of conversation," or all manner of life. We are His earthly witnesses, and we must so order our lives that we are an adequate reflection of Him. We are to be like Him in the purity of our lives. As our text points out, "Be ye holy; for I am holy." Every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as He is pure" (I John 3:3). "Follow . . . holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord" (Hebrews 12:14). Our daily walk and lives should be patterned after Him. "He that saith he abideth in Him ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked" (I John 2:6). "If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another" (I John 1:7). Furthermore, we are to be like Him in love. "Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God. . . . For God is love" (I John 4:7,8). We are to be willing to suffer unjustly without revenge, "because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow His steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth" (I Peter 2:21,22). Being like Him involves a life of service, as well. "If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you" (John 13:14,15). Christ has forgiven each of us many times, even though our sins grieve Him deeply. He stands ready to forgive and restore fellowship, and so should we. With His help, we can emulate Him, even when we are wronged. "Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you" (Ephesians 4:32). JDM ________________________________________________________________________ June 20, Saturday ACCORDING TO HIS FOLLY "Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him. Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit" (Proverbs 26:4,5). These two strange commandments appear to contradict each other. This is so obvious that the apparent contradiction must itself be intentional, in order to make a vital point. The words "fool" and "folly" occur frequently in Proverbs, and their primary meanings are defined the first time they appear. "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction" (Proverbs 1:7). "He shall die without instruction; and in the greatness of his folly he shall go astray" (5:23). The fool, therefore, simply refuses to base his "knowledge" on "the fear of the LORD." Relying on his own humanistic philosophy, he will inevitably go astray and finally die, without the instruction he needs for salvation and true wisdom. This is the very height of folly. The Christian is often called on to "give an answer" (I Peter 3:15) to such people, for they are usually very confident and vocal in their opposition to God's Word. Our text verses give invaluable guidance for dealing with them. In the first place, we should "not" answer a man like this in the context of his own rationalistic premises (i.e., "according to his folly"), because that would make us "like unto him." No amount of rational evidence will convince someone who "despises wisdom and instruction." Then, however, "lest he be wise in his own conceit" (i.e., arrogantly satisfied that he has bested the Christian in rational argumentation), he must be "really" answered "according to his folly," showing him that his foolish humanistic premises are themselves irrational and are leading him inexorably toward eternal death. He must, by faith, begin with "the fear of the LORD," before he can even evaluate real evidence. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ June 21, Sunday THE PEACE OF THY CHILDREN "And all thy children shall be taught of the LORD; and great shall be the peace of thy children" (Isaiah 54:13). This prophetic verse has its primary fulfillment still in the future. Nevertheless, it states a basic principle which is always valid, and which is especially relevant on Father's Day. The greatest honor that children can bestow on a father is a solid Christian character of their own, but that must first be his own gift to them. Before sons and daughters can experience real peace of soul, they must first be taught of the Lord themselves, and the heavenly Father has delegated this responsibility first of all to human fathers. The classic example is Abraham, "the father of all them that believe" (Romans 4:11). God's testimony concerning Abraham was this: "For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment" (Genesis 18:19). This is the first reference in Scripture to the training of children and it is significant that it stresses paternal instruction in the things of God. Furthermore, the instruction should be diligent and continual: "When thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up" (Deuteronomy 6:7). The classic New Testament teaching on child training has the same message: "Ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4). Not wrath, but peace, as our text suggests. Great shall be the peace of our children, when they know the Lord and keep His ways. Great, also, is the joy of a godly father when he can see the blessing of the Lord on his children, and then on his grandchildren. "Children's children are the crown of old men; and the glory of children are their fathers" (Proverbs 17:6). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ June 22, Monday WHO SHALL LET IT? "Yea, before the day was I am He; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand: I will work, and who shall let it?" (Isaiah 43:13). This is one of the classic "archaisms" of the King James Version, where the English word "let" does not mean "allow" (as we now use the word), but almost the exact opposite. This particular English word was originally written and pronounced "lat" and was from the same Teutonic root as the word "late." Thus, to our Old English ancestors, it meant essentially "make late," or "hinder." Note its similar use in the King James in Romans 1:13 and II Thessalonians 2:7. However, the Hebrew word ("shub") from which it is translated in the verse of our text is extremely flexible, being rendered no less than 115 different ways in the Old Testament, occurring about 1,150 times altogether, with the context controlling its meaning in any given case. In this context, the great theme is that of God as omnipotent Creator and only Savior. The first occurrence of "shub, however, is at the time of the primeval curse on the creation, implanted in the very dust of the earth because of Adam's sin. To Adam, God had said: "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return" (Genesis 3:19). Here, "shub is twice rendered "return," and this is the way it is most often translated in its later occurrences. God, therefore, challenges every man: "When I work, who can return anything (or anyone) to its (or his) prior condition?" Though none can deliver out of His hand, or "make late" His work, He has promised to be our Savior, "and will not remember thy sins" (Isaiah 43:11,25). When it is time for God to do His work -- whether of creation or judgment or salvation, there is no one in all His creation who can "make it late!" HMM ________________________________________________________________________ June 23, Tuesday THE FLESH AND THE SPIRIT "This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh" (Galatians 5:16). The conflict between flesh and spirit is a frequent theme in Scripture, beginning way back in the antediluvian period: "And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh" (Genesis 6:3). The "flesh," of course, refers to the physical body, with all its feelings and appetites, while man's "spirit" refers especially to his spiritual nature, with its ability to understand and communicate in terms of spiritual and moral values, along with its potential ability to have fellowship with God. Because of sin, however, the natural man is spiritually "dead in trespasses and sins" (Ephesians 2:1), and "they that are in the flesh cannot please God" (Romans 8:8). When the flesh dominates, even the Apostle Paul would have to say, "I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing" (Romans 7:18). This aspect of human nature became so dominant in the antediluvian world that "all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth" (Genesis 6:12), and God had to wash the world clean with the Flood. Now, however, the substitutionary death of Christ brings salvation and spiritual life to all who receive Him by the Holy Spirit. "If Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you" (Romans 8:10,11). By the Lord Jesus Christ, the human spirit is made alive right now, through the indwelling Holy Spirit, and the body's resurrection is promised when Christ returns. "They that are Christ's have crucified the flesh." The daily challenge to the believer is this: "If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit" (Galatians 5:24,25). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ June 24, Wednesday EVIL TIDINGS "He shall not be afraid of evil tidings: his heart is fixed, trusting in the LORD" (Psalm 112:7). Many used to believe that, when anyone received a telegram, it inevitably carried bad news. They never dreamed that good tidings could come from a cabled message. Surely much news that we as believers receive is good news that brings blessing and joy to our hearts, yet, at times, evil tidings do come our way; possibly, even those matters that we feared ahead of time. Job stated it thusly: "For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me" (Job 3:25). The righteous do not have to be afraid of evil tidings. The reasons listed by the psalmist are as follows: (1) "His heart is fixed" -- not on himself, or others, but his trust is "in the LORD." Many times our hearts are fixed on the problem rather than on the problem-solver, the Lord Jesus Christ. David expressed it beautifully: "My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed. I will sing and give praise" (Psalm 57:7). "O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise, even with my glory" (Psalm 108:1). (2) "His heart is established" (v.8), that is, sustained and supported by God. "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear" (Psalm 46:1,2). There is no fear when our hearts are established in the truth that the all-knowing, ever-present, Almighty God is on our side sustaining and supporting us. "Surely he shall not be moved for ever" (v.6). (3) "The righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance" (v.6). God does forget our sins: "Their sins and iniquities will I remember no more" (Hebrews 10:17), but He will never forget us. He will keep us in everlasting remembrance! NPS ________________________________________________________________________ June 25, Thursday HABITATION FOR GOD "Until I find out a place for the LORD, an habitation for the mighty God of Jacob. Lo, we heard of it at Ephrata: we found it in the fields of the wood. We will go into His tabernacles: we will worship at His footstool" (Psalm 132:5-7). These fascinating verses may well have a double meaning: First, a retrospective reference to David's desire to build a temple for God and, second, a prophecy concerning a still future habitation for God. Ephratah was the same as Bethlehem, the birthplace of both David and his greater son, Jesus. The writer of this psalm may have been King Hezekiah, a contemporary of the prophet Micah, who had written: "Thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, . . . out of thee shall He come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting" (Micah 5:2). He was also a contemporary of Isaiah, who had written concerning this same coming Son: "His name shall be called. . . . The mighty God" (Isaiah 9:6). David had desired to build a habitation for the mighty God of Israel; Isaiah had said this "mighty God" would be "a child born" and "a Son given;" and Micah said He would be born in Ephratah. Our psalmist must have been thinking about these truths when he saw, through the future eyes of those "in the fields of the wood," "at Ephratah," this "place for the LORD," who then would go to "worship at His footstool." Some 800 years later, "there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the fields" at Bethlehem Ephratah, when a great host of angels told them the promised Savior had come, directing them to go to His "habitation" to worship Him. And that was where they did, indeed, find Him, "wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger" (Luke 2:8,12), and they were the very first to "worship at His footstool." HMM ________________________________________________________________________ June 26, Friday SHOWERS OF BLESSING "And I will make them and the places round about my hill a blessing; and I will cause the shower to come down in his season; there shall be showers of blessing" (Ezekiel 34:26). This verse provided the inspiration for the old gospel hymn, "Showers of Blessing." While it applies specifically to Israel, it states a divine principle which believers of all times have rightly appropriated to their own lives. The same word ("showers") is also frequently translated "rain," speaking of the rain which followed Elijah's contest with the prophets of Baal at the end of the three-year drought. "And Elijah said unto Ahab, Get thee up, eat and drink; for there is a sound of abundance of rain" (I Kings 18:41). In general, the word is most commonly used to indicate very heavy rains. In fact, its first occurrence is in connection with the great Flood. "The rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights" (Genesis 7:12). This rain had poured forth from the windows (literally, "sluiceways") of heaven, and it provides an impressive picture of the tremendous showers of blessing which God desires to pour down on His people. In the context of our key verse, the promised showers follow the condition of the preceding verses: "And I the LORD will be their God, . . . And I will make with them a covenant of peace" (Ezekiel 34:24,25). The greatest blessings of God, accordingly, must follow the knowledge of God and the peace of God, through the Lord Jesus Christ. No doubt the greatest of all spiritual blessings, at least in this life, is the inspired Word of God, and the same word is so used: "For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud. . . . So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it" (Isaiah 55:10,11). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ June 27, Saturday JESUS, THE MAN OF LETTERS "And the Jews marvelled, saying, How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?" (John 7:15). At the time of the Feast of Tabernacles, Jesus went up to the temple and taught. The Scriptures do not describe the teachings that so amazed the Jews, but Jesus gave the Father the credit for its content: "My doctrine is not mine, but His that sent me" (v.16). Further, He stated that anyone whose will is in accord with that of the Father would be able to discern the truth of His (Jesus') message. Not only that, He said, but if someone speaks authoritatively from knowledge within himself, he is simply seeking to bring recognition to himself. On the other hand, anyone who sincerely seeks to represent the Father and what He has said -- one who desires to bring glory to Him, as Jesus did, would certainly tell the truth (vs.17,18). Possibly the issue, at the time, was over whether it was right to do good on the Sabbath. He rebuked His listeners because they were not really following the law of Moses, as they professed. They did not hesitate to perform the good work of circumcision on the Sabbath (v.22), so what was unlawful about making a person whole on the Sabbath? (v.23). Jesus then summed up the basis for His claim that what He was doing was right. "Ye both know me, and ye know whence I am: and I am not come of myself, but He that sent me is true, whom ye know not. But I know Him: for I am from Him, and He hath sent me" (vs.28,29). Did Jesus have to learn any truth, or did He only have to reflect the message of His Father? Man's learning is only valid as it approaches the absolute knowledge and truth of God, in whom there is no error. It is clear that Jesus already knew the truth, because it was given to Him by the Father. He didn't have to learn it from man, or from His own experience, but from the Father, the source of all wisdom. KBC ________________________________________________________________________ June 28, Sunday THIS IS THE DAY "This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it" (Psalm 118:24). This familiar verse is often quoted, or sung, on the Lord's Day, or perhaps some other special day. In context, however, it refers to the day on which the Lord's people would see Him and cry out in joy: "Blessed be He that cometh in the name of the LORD (Psalm 118:26). And this is exactly what happened on that first "Palm Sunday," when Jesus rode on the colt into Jerusalem, and the multitude began to praise God, saying, "Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord" (Luke 19:38). The Jewish leaders, however, and the city as a whole repudiated this response, and it soon became evident that they would seek to destroy Him. He wept over the city, "saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. . . . Because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation" (Luke 19:42,44). "At least in this thy day. . . . The time of thy visitation." This was the day the Lord had made -- the day prophesied for centuries -- the day when Messiah would enter the Holy City as its King. But they would not have Him, and the Lord Jesus sadly had to pronounce coming judgment on them. "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, . . . how often would I have gathered thy children together, . . . and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. . . . Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord" (Matthew 23:37-39). This will happen when Christ returns. In the meantime, this can be a wonderful experience for each individual who will say from his heart: "Blessed is He who comes to me in the name of the Lord," receiving Him by faith. "That" day, for him, indeed will be "the day that the LORD hath made." HMM ________________________________________________________________________ June 29, Monday PRECIOUSNESS "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light" (I Peter 2:9). The verses leading up to our text explain why we are so special in God's eyes. We find the key in verse 7, which, literally reads, "For you, therefore that believe "is the preciousness"," since the Greek word is a noun, and not an adjective. But what is this preciousness? The word literally means honor or honorableness, and in slightly different forms, is so translated in I Peter 1:7 and 3:7. But whose honor or worthiness is being discussed in this passage? Peter answers both of these questions in the immediate context. Speaking of the Lord, he calls Him "precious" . . . a chief corner stone, elect, "precious" (I Peter 2:4,6). Christ, in God's eyes, is precious. "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (Matthew 3:17). Why is He precious? For His purity, love, desire for God's will, etc. -- all the ways (and more) in which we are "not" precious. If we choose to remain in disobedient unbelief (v.7), the stone is made "a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word" (v.8). Christ, God's beloved Son, and His atoning blood are so precious to God that there is a limit to His patience toward those who reject. God will not allow His Son to be "disallowed" or disobeyed without penalty. Worthlessness is the state of those who reject, and judgment awaits them. If we disbelieve, we have no hope, but "he that believeth on Him shall not be confounded (literally, `shall positively not be disappointed')" (v.6). Our faith is well-founded. If we place our trust in Him, His "preciousness" is transferred to us. When God the Father looks at one who truly believes, He sees not only Christ's sinlessness, He sees His" preciousness". JDM ________________________________________________________________________ June 30, Tuesday THE CIRCLE OF THE EARTH "It is He that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in" (Isaiah 40:22). The discovery that the world is round is considered one of man's greatest scientific achievements, often wrongly attributed to Christopher Columbus. Columbus was, indeed, a great and courageous thinker and explorer, as well as a Bible-believing Christian, but many scholars had long before so concluded, and many people had already migrated to the New World. As far as the sphericity of the earth is concerned, the "flat-earth" myth of the Middle Ages was not the belief of many scholars of antiquity. The Bible, in particular, never hints of a drop-off point at the earth's edge, or any such notion as that. Its few references to "the four corners" of the earth (e.g., Isaiah 11:12) literally mean "the four "quarters" of the earth" -- that is, the four quadrants of the compass. In our text for the day, the word for "circle" is translated "compass" in Proverbs 8:27: "(God) set a compass upon the face of the depth" (same as `deep,' referring to the ocean). Other occurrences are in Job 26:10: "He hath compassed the waters with bounds, until the day and night come to an end," and Job 22:14: "(God) walketh in the circuit of heaven." All of these passages are best understood in terms of a spherical earth, with its basic shape at sea level determined by its ocean surface as controlled by gravity. The Hebrew word itself ("khug") basically means a circle. Any vertical cross section through the earth's center is a "great circle," of course, with any "straight" line on the ocean surface actually representing an arc of such a circle. This is only one of many "pre-scientific" insights of the Bible written by divine inspiration long before the rise of modern science. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ July 1, Wednesday THE CHRISTIAN'S CALLING "I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called" (Ephesians 4:1). The Christian's calling in Christ is a high calling. Since we are encouraged to walk in a manner worthy of this calling, it behooves us to make careful study of it, lest our life-style bring reproach to the One who has called us. Consider the following sampling of the uses of this important word: First, the calling is "of God" and irrevocable (Romans 11:29). We are called "by His grace" (Galatians 1:15) and "into the grace of Christ" (Galatians 1:6). We are called "out of darkness" and "into His marvellous light" (I Peter 2:9). Furthermore, we are "called to be saints" (Romans 1:7). He has "called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace" (II Timothy 1:9). We are "partakers of the heavenly calling" (Hebrews 3:1), and in response, we should "press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:14). The New Testament writers, as well, mention many things "to" which we are called. We are "called unto the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord" (I Corinthians 1:9). We are "called unto liberty" (Galations 5:13) and are now free to "serve one another" even though it means accepting the call to suffering. "For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow His steps" (I Peter 2:21). The "eternal life, whereunto thou art also called" may not come easily, for it involves the "good fight of faith" (I Timothy 6:12). We are called "to glory and virtue" (II Peter 1:3), even "His eternal glory by Christ Jesus" (I Peter 5:10), for we are "called the Sons of God" (I John 3:1). "Give diligence to make your calling and election sure" (II Peter 1:10). JDM ________________________________________________________________________ July 2, Thursday WONDROUS THINGS IN THE WORD "Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law" (Psalm 119:18). The word "law" (Hebrew "torah"), as used in the psalms, actually refers to all the revealed Scriptures. We may well understand it today to mean the entire Bible. And we can, indeed, behold wondrous things in the Word, if we have eyes to see and hearts to believe, by the grace of God. The adjective "wondrous" is often used to describe God's mighty miracles in Egypt, and elsewhere (e.g., Psalm 106:22 -- "wondrous works in the land of Ham"). This would indicate that there are many evidences of divine origin that can be gleaned from the Scriptures, if our spiritual eyes are open to discern them as we search the Scriptures. This 119th Psalm itself illustrates this truth. It has 22 stanzas (keyed to the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet), each with eight verses (the number eight representing new life, since eight suggests a new beginning after the "completeness" represented by the number seven). In each stanza, each verse begins with the same Hebrew letter -- "aleph" in the first stanza, "beth" in the second stanza, etc. -- and the 176 verses (i.e., 8 times 22) of the psalm (the longest chapter in the Bible) have 176 references to the Holy Scriptures. The great theme of the psalm is, therefore, the wonder and power of the life-giving, written Word of God. As the Lord Jesus was raised from the dead on the "eighth day," and as there are eight other instances of the dead being restored to life in the Bible, there are eight different Hebrew words used for the Scriptures in the psalm. Life through the Word! This is also the testimony of the Gospel of Christ, revealed in "the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus" (II Timothy 3:15). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ July 3, Friday UNDESERVED SUFFERING "Why standest thou afar off, O LORD? Why hidest thou thyself in times of trouble?" (Psalm 10:1). This cry of the psalmist has been echoed times without number, by those persecuted for their faith. "Yea, for thy sake are we killed all the day long; we are counted as sheep for the slaughter. Awake, why sleepest thou, O LORD? arise, cast us not off for ever. Wherefore hidest thou thy face, and forgettest our affliction and our oppression?" (Psalm 44:22-24). Consequently, one of the great mysteries of life is the suffering of the righteous. How can a God of love and power allow such undeserved suffering in His creation? The fact is, however, that there is no such thing as undeserved suffering, "for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). The reason there is suffering in the world is that there is sin in the world. Even though one's particular experience of suffering may or may not be directly related to his particular sin, all of us are sinners before God, and therefore deserving of nothing "but" suffering and judgment in the sight of a holy God. It is not suffering which is undeserved, but God's grace and mercy! "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us" (Titus 3:5). There has only been one person in all history whose suffering was undeserved, and He suffered for us, "the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God" (I Peter 3:18). "Our" sufferings are not undeserved, but neither are they uncontrolled, for God "worketh all things after the counsel of His own will" (Ephesians 1:11). There are many good reasons why God permits a faithful Christian to suffer, but even if one cannot discern the particular reason at the time, he can at least "rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when His glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy" (I Peter 4:13). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ July 4, Saturday GOD AND THE GOVERNMENT "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God" (Romans 13:1). Many difficult questions arise regarding a Christian and his government, but certain principles are very clear. First of all, government is a gift of God, and any form of government is better than anarchism, where "every man did that which was right in his own eyes" (Judges 21:25). As Paul was writing the words of our text, the monstrous Emperor Nero, who would eventually have Paul executed, was at the height of his power, yet Paul said that whosoever "resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God" (Romans 13:2). With this in mind, there are two clear Christian duties: Peter, who later was also executed by Nero wrote, "Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: . . . that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men" (I Peter 2:13-15). Again from Paul: "I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty" (I Timothy 2:1,2). A Christian can accomplish far more to influence his government and fellow citizens for good by prayer and law-abiding behavior than by complaining, criticizing, and covert disobedience. On the other hand, he is also subject to God's higher law, and he must always remember that "our conversation (or `citizenship') is in heaven" (Philippians 3:20), and "we ought to obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29) whenever there is a conflict between the ordinances of men and the laws of God. To understand and apply these principles in particular situations may be difficult, and may require much further study and prayer, but these are always the basic premises from which to begin. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ July 5, Sunday AFRAID TO UNDERSTAND "For He taught His disciples, and said unto them, The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill Him; and after that He is killed, He shall rise the third day. But they understood not that saying, and were afraid to ask Him" (Mark 9:31,32). When the Lord Jesus told His disciples about His coming death and resurrection, He could hardly have spoken more plainly, yet they "understood not." Not willing to believe that He meant what He said (with all its uncomfortable implications for their own futures), they were "afraid to ask Him" what He meant, lest He confirm that His words should be taken literally. This was not the only time. Again and again, He told them that He would be crucified and then rise again, but they could not (or would not) understand. On one such occasion, Peter even rebuked Him, and said: "Lord: this shall not be unto thee," but the Lord answered, "Get thee behind me, Satan" (Matthew 16:22,23). A refusal to take God's Word literally, at least in this case, was said by Christ to be inspired by Satan! Modern evangelical Christians no longer doubt the reality of His sacrificial death and bodily resurrection, for the evidence has become overwhelming, and these truths have become the glory and power of the Gospel. Nevertheless, fearful reluctance to take God's Word literally is still a great problem among some "Bible-believers." Whenever such a stand might become costly, many Christians eagerly accept non-literal ways of "interpreting" Scripture to fit their own preferences. This approach, of course, is especially widespread in modern accommodations of the creation/ Flood record of Genesis to the philosophies of modern evolutionary humanism. We should remember always that, just as in Christ's predictions of His death and resurrection, God always means exactly what He says in His Word. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ July 6, Monday THE PILLAR AND GROUND OF THE TRUTH "These things write I unto thee, hoping to come into thee shortly: But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth" (I Timothy 3:14,15). The church has been ordained by God to be the primary instrument through which His work on earth is to be accomplished. Here Paul uses three phrases to describe three aspects of the church: (1) The house of God: The Christian family, with husband, wife, and children performing their God-given roles, provides a beautiful picture of the relationship of the church (the "bride" of Christ) to the Lord. The household of God consist of a family of believers where love controls and where He is honored. "Ye also, as lively stones, built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ" (I Peter 2:5). (2) "The church of the Living God": The "ekklesia", or "called-out ones," serve the "living" God. "The blood of Christ (shall) . . . purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God" (Hebrews 9:14). (3) "The pillar and ground of the truth": A "pillar of a building is not used for support, but rather for display, by elevating or calling attention to something else. The "ground provides the support. The church should function to support and display the whole truth in such a way that all men can see and believe it. It should be a family of believers exhibiting brotherly love, individually and corporately serving the living God out of a pure conscience, defending the truth, and displaying it to the lost. May each of us as church members enjoy and support such a church. JDM ________________________________________________________________________ July 7, Tuesday HEART-FELT PRAYER "Let us lift up our heart with our hands unto God in the heavens" (Lamentations 3:41). It is so easy to let our prayers become routine and repetitious, and we need to remember that God listens more closely to our hearts than the phrases from our lips. The Lord Jesus cautioned us about this: "But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask Him" (Matthew 6:7,8). Many people will lift their hands to pray or prostrate themselves on the ground. Some will stand; some will kneel. Some shout, some pray silently, some even leap and dance. Some will write out their prayers and then read them to an audience; others will pray eloquently and at great length. But the thing that counts far more than posture or eloquence is our attitude of heart. We must lift up our "hearts" to the Lord, not just our hands or our voices. "Then" He will hear in heaven! We need to feel as the psalmist felt: "As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God" (Psalm 42:1). Our hearts need first to be right, of course -- pure and true in His sight. "Call on the Lord out of a pure heart" (II Timothy 2:22). "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the LORD will not hear me" (Psalm 66:18). "Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith" (Hebrews 10:22). Our prayers must also come from a believing heart. "Let him ask in faith, nothing wavering." Otherwise, "let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord" (James 1:6,7). With these conditions met, the Christian is ready to pray, but then he must pray from deep within his pure, true, believing heart, and God will answer. "The effectual fervent (one word in the Greek, "energeo") prayer of a righteous man availeth much" (James 5:16). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ July 8, Wednesday ASCENDING VAPORS "He causeth the vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth; He maketh lightnings for the rain; He bringeth the wind out of His treasuries" (Psalm 135:7). This striking verse is practically identical with Jeremiah 10:13 and Jeremiah 51:16, suggesting the possibility that the prophet Jeremiah may have written the otherwise- anonymous Psalm 135. The two Jeremiah passages do preface this statement with the note that there is "a multitude of waters in the heavens" in connection with the processes described in the verse. In any case, this thrice-mentioned mechanism beautifully summarized what we now call the hydrologic cycle, and it did so over 2,000 years before the cycle began to be understood by modern scientists. In order to provide rain to water the earth, there must be vapors ascending all over the earth (that is, evaporation from the world's great oceans), winds then blowing from God's unseen treasury (actually the global atmospheric circulation), and, finally, lightnings for (or "with") the rain (electrical discharges associated with the condensation and coalescence of the particles of water vapor in the atmosphere). All of this repeatedly transports purified waters from the ocean back over the lands to fall as rain and snow, there finally to run off back to the oceans after performing their life-sustaining ministries on the lands. "Unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again" (Ecclesiastes 1:7). Not only does this hydrologic cycle sustain physical life on Earth, but it also is a type of the spreading of God's Word, giving spiritual life. "For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, . . . So shall my Word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please" (Isaiah 55:10,11). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ July 9, Thursday THE TONGUE OF THE LEARNED "The LORD God hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: He wakeneth morning by morning, He wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned" (Isaiah 50:4). The prophetic words of our text were spoken by the Lord Jesus in the context of His suffering: "I gave my back to the smiters . . . I hid not my face from shame and spitting" (v.6) -- and His attentiveness to the will of His Father despite the suffering -- "The LORD God hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back" (v.5). The amazing love of Christ is seen in the fact that, in the midst of His intense personal pain, He could still continue, even on the cross, "to speak a word in season to him that is weary," as He comforted His mother, spoke salvation to the dying thief, and even sought forgiveness for His executioners. In all this, He was "leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps" (I Peter 2:21). How easy and natural it is to complain and rebel when we are suffering. We seek comfort and counsel from others, when we (like our Exemplar) should be comforting others with "the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God" (II Corinthians 1:4). Though we cannot comprehend it fully, we must simply believe the mystery of the incarnation. God became man, in Jesus Christ, and the omnipotent one "learned . . . obedience" (Hebrews 5:8). He was omniscient, yet somehow, He "increased in wisdom" (Luke 2:52), as well as stature, and as He studied God's Word, wakening "morning by morning," He "learned" (!) to hear the voice of the Father, thus receiving "the tongue of the learned," that "gracious words" might proceed out of His mouth (Luke 4:22). May the Lord grant each of His younger sons and daughters this gracious "tongue of the learned," as we, like His Firstborn, awaken each morning to hear His voice. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ July 10, Friday FOR OR AGAINST "And Joshua went unto Him, and said unto Him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries? And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the LORD am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my LORD unto his servant?" (Joshua 5:13,14). The Israelites had come to a place of testing. Behind them the Jordan was at flood stage, preventing any retreat. In front of them was the walled city of Jericho with its imposing defensive systems which prevented any advance. Joshua's task was to get the nation of Israel ready, and to wait. They were delayed in order to be obedient to the commands which had been forgotten during the forty years in the wilderness (vs.5-12). God will not fight His battles with unclean vessels. God prepares His soldiers not only outwardly and physically, but also inwardly and spiritually (Colossians 2:11,12). Paul tells us that we must be circumcised in the heart, not by hands, but by the Spirit (Romans 2:28,29). Obedience is one's preparation for any service to God. After their preparation, Joshua, the commander-in-chief, saw a man dressed for battle. He saw only two possibilities, and confronted the man with a question: "Whose side are you on, ours or theirs?" Notice the answer: "Neither; I am here to take over." The warrior, as we see in Joshua 6:2, is the Lord Himself. He essentially says to Joshua, "I am not on your side; I am here to take you on my side." In response, Joshua surrendered his position of authority. "And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship." Next, Joshua sought His instructions: "what saith my LORD unto His servant?" Lastly, Joshua submitted to His orders (5:15). There is no neutrality in the spiritual battle led by Jesus, commander of the Lord's host. "He that is not with me is against me" (Matthew 12:30). We can be sure God is on our side only when we have made sure that we are on His side. RBB ________________________________________________________________________ July 11, Saturday THE DREAMERS "It shall even be as when an hungry man dreameth, and, behold, he eateth; but he awaketh, and his soul is empty: or as when a thirsty man dreameth, and, behold, he drinketh; but he awaketh, and, behold, he is faint, and his soul hath appetite: so shall the multitude of all the nations be, that fight against Mount Zion" (Isaiah 29:8). The dreamers of this world are not only the utopian idealists and the contemplative meditationists. The really impractical dreamers are those who most pride themselves on being pragmatic materialists and scientific naturalists, dreaming that by their own efforts they can bring about perfection on earth. The fact is that "this" world is not the "real" world, but only a temporary world which, like a dream, will soon fade away in the light of God's eternal day, when we awake in His presence to experience the world as God intended it. In our text, it is significant that the sleeping men are dreaming only about eating and drinking. In the same manner, those whose interests and desires are centered in this world only, will find all their objectives have turned to nothingness. "For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever"(I John 2:16,17). In that great day when the real world arrives which will last for eternity, all the "multitudes" in "all the nations" of the world -- those who have ignored the will of God and who have thus, in effect, been "fighting against Mount Zion" -- will finally awaken, but it will be too late. How urgent it is that men "now" awake to God's Word and God's will. "Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light" (Ephesians 5:14). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ July 12, Sunday OUR SINS IN HIS BODY "Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed" (I Peter 2:24). When Christ suffered on the cross for our sins, His entire body suffered. A vicious crown of thorns was pressed into his brow and then "they smote Him on the head" and "spit upon Him" (Mark 15:17,19). He already was weak and battered from Pilate's dreaded scourging with the infamous Roman cat-o-nine-tails (John19:1). Cruel spikes were driven into His hands and nails into His feet, suspending His pain-racked body from the cross (Psalm 22:16). The word "stripes" in our text actually appears in the singular. Christ on the cross was one big stripe, or wound. Finally, "one of the soldiers with a spear pierced His side, and forthwith came there out blood and water" (John 19:34), and then He died. Indeed, He "was bearing our sins" in every last part of His body on the tree! This provides a partial measure of the enormity of our sins, in the sight of a holy God. "The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrefying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment" (Isaiah 1:5,6). "Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: . . . Their feet are swift to shed blood: . . . There is no fear of God before their eyes" (Romans 3:13,15,18). But He bore all the sins of "our" body, and therefore we, in God's sight, are dead to sins and alive to righteousness."O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!" (Romans 11:33). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ July 13, Monday THE VICTOR'S CROWN "And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible" (I Corinthians 9:25). Ancient athletes who "strove for the mastery" devoted their whole lives to training, and were "temperate in all things," hoping thereby to receive the victor's crown some day. There are 21 references to the victor's crown in the New Testament, in either the verb or noun form. In most of these, the crown is used as a symbol of the Christian's "incorruptible" reward at the end of his spiritual race. In I Thessalonians 2:19, it is called a "crown of rejoicing," speaking of the joy awaiting the faithful witness when he meets again with those he has influenced for Christ in this present life. Paul spoke of our "crown of righteousness" (II Timothy 4:8), when we shall be "like Him" (I John 3:2), with our old sinful weaknesses and desires gone forever. Peter said it would be a "crown of glory that fadeth not away" (I Peter 5:4). James and John both said it is a wonderful "crown of life" (James 1:12; Revelation 2:10), that is, "eternal" life, in contrast to this present life of faithful submission to trials and persecution and possible death, for Christ's sake. The first four references to this victor's crown, however, refer to the crown worn by Christ Himself. "Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man!" (John 19:5). Marvelous irony this, that a crown intended as an instrument of ridicule and pain would be transformed into a kingly crown of triumph! "But we see Jesus . . . crowned with glory and honor; that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man" (Hebrews 2:9). In the very suffering of death, He defeated death and sin and Satan himself, and His crown of thorns became a crown of eternal glory and universal honor. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ July 14, Tuesday IMPRECATIONS IN THE PSALMS "O daughter of Babylon, who art to be destroyed; happy shall he be, that rewardeth thee as thou hast served us. Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones" (Psalm 137:8,9). This is one of the "imprecatory psalms" as they are called (note also Psalms 5, 109, etc.). They have always been difficult to deal with in terms of Biblical inspiration. The fact remains, however, whether or not we can understand all of God's eternal purposes, "the Word of the LORD is right; and all His works are done in truth" (Psalm 33:4). We can at least make certain suggestions as to why God has included such imprecations in His Word. For one thing, they reveal, truthfully, the feelings of those who have been wronged by the enemies of God, without necessarily indicating God's approval of those feelings. The Scriptures make a distinction between those who injure us for personal reasons and those whose motivation is enmity against God. Even for the latter, however, God reminds us that "vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord" (Romans 12:19). With respect to the slaying of infants, as in our text, there is another factor to consider. Infant Babylonians, if brought up in the vile and cruel culture of the Babylonians of that age, who had tortured and slain God's people and desecrated and burned His temple, would almost certainly grow to be as evil as their parents. In that sense, it could well be more merciful -- even to them -- to take them out of the world in infancy than for them to face God's eternal wrath for their later crimes as adults. This would not lessen the guilt of those (in this case, the conquering Persians) who would later execute this judgment on Babylon. In any case, we must never allow difficulties for which we do not "yet" have answers cause us to question the integrity of God and His Word. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ July 15, Wednesday THE MIGHTY WORD "Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?" (Jeremiah 23:29). The power resident in the Word of God -- both His spoken Word and His written Word, the Holy Scriptures -- is so great that the Biblical writers almost exhaust their resources of language in trying to describe it, using many and varied figures of speech to illustrate its wonders. It is the Word which produces and maintains life. "Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart" (Jeremiah 15:16). It is both "milk" for the babe and "strong meat" for the mature in Christ (Hebrews 5:12), and our daily bread. "Man shall not live by bread alone," said the Lord Jesus, "but by every word of God" (Luke 4:4). "How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!" (Psalm 119:103). The Word of God is also our daily light. "We have also a more sure word of prophecy; . . . a light that shineth in a dark place" (II Peter 1:19). "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path" (Psalm 119:105). We also are admonished to take "the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (Ephesians 6:17), for "the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword" (Hebrews 4:12). In our text, it is like a "hammer" that can break any resistance to God's will. There are many other wonderful metaphors of the Word, for it so consumed Biblical writers that they could not help but write of its praises and powers. It was also Jeremiah who testified, after having decided no longer to preach the Word to those who disbelieved, "His word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay (literally refrain)" (Jeremiah 20:9). The Word of God will not be silent. Let us pray for such a burning fire in our own souls. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ July 16, Thursday IN HIS PLEASURE "But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased Him, and to every seed his own body" (I Corinthians 15:38). In this verse is a remarkable confirmation of one of the fundamental concepts of biology -- the cell theory. Each "seed" (essentially a fertilized egg) has the potential to become a unique body. Jesus said that if "a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die," it would bring forth "much fruit" (John 12:24). This is both a spiritual and a scientific truth. A new body only comes from the death of the old body. The cell line, or hope for the future, is surrounded by supporting cells from the old body in the kernel of corn or grain of wheat. These supporting cells "give their lives" to ensure the continuance of the type of organism, or "kind of flesh" (v.39) being propagated. Note that the growing of seeds is an object lesson about the resurrection. Just as Christ died for our sins, He also rose again on the third day (vs.3,4). But, there were some (and there are some today) who said there is no resurrection from the dead. Yet Christ is "risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept" (v.20)." Some might ask how a man could be raised from the dead and in what form (v.35). The dead are sown in a body destined to die, but the essence of that life is raised in a spiritual body which will never die again (vs.42-44). When the true seed (fertilized egg) starts out, it has all the potential of the growth and developmental stages within this one cell. What follows in development is merely an expression of the full knowledge inherent in that single cell. No cell, after that stage, can have more potential, and most lose some of what has been passed on. Most important, however, is the lesson that when we as Christians die, we will be quickened into a spiritual life by Christ, who prepared the way (v.45). This was done because it "pleased Him." KBC ________________________________________________________________________ July 17, Friday THE GOOD PASTOR "I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine" (John 10:14). The Greek word used here for "shepherd" is the same as for "pastor." The Lord Jesus, therefore, was saying, in effect: "I am the good pastor: the good pastor giveth His life for the sheep (that is, `for His flock')." A good pastor is, thus, one who leads his flock into good pasture, who knows his flock, and who is known by his flock. A good pastor would even give his life for his flock (vs.1-16). However, this is not merely a term for the leader of a church congregation. The term and the concept are sufficiently broad to include all who have leadership responsibilities -- teachers, military officers, even parents. In all such cases, our guide and example is our good shepherd, our good pastor, our good leader -- the Lord Jesus Christ. With this in mind, consider some of the other Biblical references to our good shepherd: "Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away" (I Peter 5:2-5). Note also Hebrews 13:20,21: "Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, Make you perfect in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever." Most every Christian, at least on occasion, must assume the function of a spiritual shepherd, and "every" Christian, always, is spiritually, a sheep. The Lord Jesus is our good shepherd, and we do well to follow Him in all things. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ July 18, Saturday A NEW CREATION "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" (II Corinthians 5:17). There is more to the creationists' message than science, for we can also talk about and encourage modern acts of creation. Our text tells us that as a sinner turns to Christ, the Creator, for forgiveness, he becomes "a new creation," (better translation than "creature"). Rebirth "is" creation, the calling into existence of something entirely new and different from what was there before -- life -- where, before, was only death. This act of creation is accompanied by complete reconciliation. "All things are of God, who hath reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ" (v.18), breaking down the former barrier to fellowship. Sin had broken the original created relationship between God and man, and man was totally unable to mend the severed ties. God has accomplished this reconciliation through Christ by "not imputing their (our) trespasses unto (us)" (v.19), but placing them, instead, on Christ, having "made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin" (v.21). Even though He alone can create, He now graciously allows us a part in His work of modern-day creation, for He "hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation" (v.18), and "hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation" (v.19). His love for us "constraineth us" (v.14), in so controlling and motivating us that we "should not henceforth live unto (ourselves), but unto Him which died for (us), and rose again" (v.15). We are so motivated by this truth that our desire is to carry out the ministry He has entrusted to us, enabling us to be effective representatives of Him in His bodily absence. "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" (v.20). JDM ________________________________________________________________________ July 19, Sunday THE CRUCIAL POINT "But 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). Whenever people speak of "the crucial point of the issue" or "the crux of the matter," they are inadvertently acknowledging the centrality of the cross of Christ, for these words are derived from the Latin "crux", meaning "a cross." The cross of our Lord Jesus Christ is right at the very heart of Christianity, and also at the very heart of the opposition to Christianity. "For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God" (I Corinthians 1:18). It was at the cross, and on the cross, that Christ defeated Satan. "Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, He made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it" (Colossians 2:14,15). And it is at the cross that we also must be crucified, spiritually, if Satan is to be defeated in our own lives. "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me" (Galatians 2:20). "And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts" (Galatians 5:24). "Our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin" (Romans 6:6). Crucifixion, of course, is exceedingly painful, and therefore there is a very real "offence of the cross" (Galatians 5:11). Many Christians resist the demands on the life and the mind and the body that are entailed in such total identification with Christ. They would rather glory in earthly things. But how much better it is to glory, as Paul did, only in the cross, crucified unto the world. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ July 20, Monday LEANNESS OF SOUL "And He gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul" (Psalm 106:15). This sad and disturbing verse, recalling a tragic event in the history of Israel, provides a sober reminder that we need to be unselfish in our prayers. When the Lord taught His disciples how they should pray, He told them to pray each day for their daily bread (Matthew 6:11), but that was the only material item that was mentioned in the prayer. The Lord had, indeed, wonderfully provided daily bread for the children of Israel there in the wilderness every day, in fact, for forty years. It was marvelous "bread from heaven" (John 6:31), but they were not satisfied. They demanded that someone provide meat for them (Numbers 11:4), and God gave them their request. He caused a strong wind to blow a literal rain of quail upon their camp. But He sent leanness into their soul! They gorged themselves on meat, but it caused a great plague, and many died. The word for "leanness" refers to physical emaciation, but the spiritual leanness was far more devastating. God may -- or may not -- be pleased to bless a believer with material prosperity, but this should never be the theme of our prayers. Paul says: "Having food and raiment, let us be therewith content." They who desire to be rich, he says, "fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts" (I Timothy 6:8,9). The church at Laodicea, typical of many evangelical churches, is an example of this danger. This church could boast: "I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing;" unaware that she was lean of soul, "wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked" (Revelation 3:17). We should pray for our daily bread, but the main burden of our prayers should be: "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven" (Matthew 6:10). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ July 21, Tuesday PEACE LIKE A RIVER "And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:7). The beloved hymn, "It Is Well With My Soul," has been a source of much comfort to many. We shall consider its four verses for the next four days. The hymn was written in memory of the author's four precious daughters who had just perished in a shipwreck and his wife barely rescued. Through it all, the couple maintained faith in their Sovereign God and could say through their tears: When peace like a river, attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, It is well, it is well, with my soul. Our Lord has not promised us a life of ease, free from heartache and tragedy, but He "has" promised to be with us. "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me" (Psalm 23:4). God's promise of provision to Israel applies, in principle, to us. "Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour" (Isaiah 43:1-3). We can be content, whatever comes, knowing He is with us. The prerequisite for the "peace of God, which passeth all understanding" promised in our text is that we be anxious "for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God" (Philippians 4:6). "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee" (Isaiah 26:3). JDM ________________________________________________________________________ July 22, Wednesday THO SATAN SHOULD BUFFET "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). The second verse of "It Is Well With My Soul" puts persecution and troubles in perspective. Tho Satan should buffet, tho trials should come, Let this blest assurance control, That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate And hath shed His own blood for my soul. Paul was given "a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet" him (II Corinthians 12:7). Almost every saint of every age could echo Paul's concerns, for trials come to each child of God. "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you" (I Peter 4:12). God had a purpose in Paul's life, and He has one in ours, although Paul couldn't clearly see the purpose, and, at times, we can't either. We can, however, "glory," as Paul did; or "rejoice," as Peter advises, in response to the knowledge of God's loving oversight. The persecution may never stop, and may, in fact, result in serious loss -- even death. But through it all, we can have the controlling assurance that He has made our destiny certain, "For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly" (Romans 5:6). "We see Jesus . . . for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man. . . . (thereby) bringing many sons unto glory" (Hebrews 2:9,10). As our text reminds us, "in the world ye shall have tribulation." God may neither stop nor explain it, but He has "overcome" it, by shedding His own blood for our souls. "He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?" (Romans 8:32). Truly, "It "is" well with my soul." JDM ________________________________________________________________________ July 23, Thursday NAILED TO THE CROSS "Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities" (Psalm 103:2,3). When Christ was nailed to the cross as our atoning sacrifice, our sins -- "all" of them -- were nailed there, as well. His death paid the entire penalty, "having forgiven you "all" trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross" (Colossians 2:13,14). This is the theme of the thrilling third verse of "It Is Well With My Soul." My Sin -- O the bliss of this glorious thought -- My sin, not in part, but the whole, Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more: Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord, O my soul! "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (I John 1:9). On what basis? "The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin" (v.7). "Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness" (I Peter 2:24). The fact that our sins are gone -- "as far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us" (Psalm 103:12), and we bear them no more, gives us the courage, strength, and stamina to bear up, with His help, under the trials of this age -- the theme of the song's first two verses. If ever the circumstances of this present life threaten to overwhelm us, we can "Consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds" (Hebrews 12:3). The certainty of our future overrides any uncertainty in this life. "It is well, It is well with my soul." JDM ________________________________________________________________________ July 24, Friday FAITH TURNED TO SIGHT "That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love" (I Peter 1:7,8). As the resurrected Christ ascended into heaven, He promised to return and end this present age, with all its trials and troubles. "Surely I come quickly" (Revelation 22:20), He said. The saints will eternally thereafter enjoy the presence of their Lord. Since "we walk by faith, not by sight" (II Corinthians 5:7) in this life, with much we don't yet understand, the prayer of each faithful saint has mirrored John's response to the Lord's promise, "Even so, come, Lord Jesus" (Revelation 22:20). The fourth and climactic verse of "It Is Well With My Soul" focuses on this coming event. And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight, The clouds be rolled back as a scroll: The trump shall resound and the Lord shall descend, Even so -- it is well with my soul. For centuries, faithful men and women have gazed upward, desiring to see "the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together" (Revelation 6:14) at His return. Many have died in faith, and they now have fuller understanding, but they await the final resurrection. As the great day draws nearer, we should be all the more expectant. This hope of the Christian provides great comfort while we wait. But on that day, "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. Wherefore comfort one another with these words" (I Thessalonians 4:16-18). Until then, "It is well with my soul." JDM ________________________________________________________________________ July 25, Saturday HOW TO BE VULNERABLE "Then said these men, We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his God" (Daniel 6:5). When David committed his great sin of adultery with Bathsheba and sent her husband Uriah to death in battle, the prophet, Nathan, severely rebuked him with these words: "By this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme" (II Samuel 12:14). It was not so with Daniel. He was a consistently righteous man (Ezekiel 14:14,20), loving God and believing His Word, and obeying His commandments in every area of his life. Therefore the enemies of God had no "occasion" to attack his deeds or character. He was vulnerable only because of his obedience to the law of his God, and it was only on this basis that they could entrap him and throw him to the lions. Nor was it true with Paul, who could only be executed because he refused to acknowledge the Roman emperor as God -- not because of any sin in his practice or any crime against society. Christ, Himself, who never sinned, was crucified for claiming to be the Son of God. This is our standard. If we must be vulnerable, let it be because of our love for the Lord and obedience to His Word -- not because of careless living as professing Christians. "Let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men's matters. Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf" (I Peter 4:15,16). Let the ungodly object that we love the Lord too much, or believe His Word too literally, or take His commandments too seriously, but never let them find an occasion against our Lord because of our unethical behavior or careless talk or complaining attitude, or any other such Christian inconsistency. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ July 26, Sunday WAXING OLD LIKE A GARMENT "Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of thy hands. They shall perish, but thou shalt endure: yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed" (Psalm 102:25,26). One of the most important of all scientific principles is called the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Although decay and death have always been common to human experience, it was not realized until modern times that this was a universal law of science. This fact was revealed in the Bible, however, at least 3,000 years ago. As indicated in our text, the universe is growing old, destined finally to perish. There are other references to the same effect: "For the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment, and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner" (Isaiah 51:6). "For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now" (Romans 8:22). The reason for this depressing law cannot be discerned by science. The reason is theological, not scientific. "Unto Adam He said, . . . Cursed is the ground for thy sake" (Genesis 3:17). Decay and death pervade the world because sin pervades the world. There are important exceptions, however. Although the heavens perish, God endures. The One who imposed the law is Himself above the law, for "in Him is no sin" (I John 3:5). "Heaven and earth shall pass away," said the Lord Jesus, "but my words shall not pass away" (Matthew 24:35). One day, "there shall be no more curse" (Revelation 22:3). When Christ "make(s) all things new" in that great day (Revelation 21:5), the groaning creation "shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God" (Romans 8:21). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ July 27, Monday LOVE AND JEALOUSY "Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it: if a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be contemned" (Song of Solomon 8:7). The love spoken of in our text is intimate marital love. Such love is not a plaything -- as many in the media seem to suggest. How many lives have been ruined because another did not abide within the proper parameters of love? Our Lord taught, "And they twain (two) shall be one flesh" (Matthew 19:5) -- not three or four. The design from the beginning was for a man (husband) and a woman (bride) to be joined in holy matrimony. Proverbs 6:32-35 pictures the emotion of a man enraged because another has committed adultery with his wife: "For jealousy is the rage of a man: therefore he will not spare in the day of vengeance." The notion that marital love is a training ground for our relationship with the Lord is encouraged in Scripture. God, over and over again, complained that Israel was unfaithful to Him and went lusting after other gods. Ezekiel 16 speaks of the Lord's "covenant" with Jerusalem ("thou becamest mine," v.8) and of Jerusalem's unfaithfulness in return ("But thou didst trust in thine beauty, and playedst the harlot because of thy renown, and pouredst out thy fornications on every one that passed by" -- v.15). Paul tells us that the church is the bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:32). As our Creator and Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ certainly deserves our faithfulness and undivided affection. His love for us was stronger even than death, for He went to a cross to experience death so that the church might experience the blessings of His love. May we never give Him cause for jealousy, and may we love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, body, and strength. He is worthy. PGH _______________________________________________________________________ July 28, Tuesday THE OLD NEW AGE "Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us" (Ecclesiastes 1:10). People today are often like the first-century Athenian philosophers. "For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing" (Acts 17:21). But nothing is "really" new. "The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun" (Ecclesiastes 1:9). Every new philosophy and new religion and new "immorality" are merely recycled and updated versions of old pagan idolatries and ancient sins. In recent years, many people have been taken in by a remarkable complex of systems mis-called the "New Age Movement." This combination of ancient pantheism and modern pseudo-science, a melange of eastern mysticism, astrology, holistic health, and environmental movements, modern systems theory, one-worldism, prosperity cults, and even so-called anthropic cosmology, consists of a veneer of scientific intellectualism with socialistic and Marxist political theory, and even occult communications with the "soul of the cosmos," achieved through mystical meditation, seances, or hallucinogenic drugs. Every aspect of this "New Age Movement" is based on evolutionism, and the movement, as a whole, is pure pantheism. Despite the intellectualistic pretensions of its promoters, evolution is "not" modern science and pantheism is not a new faith. Both have characterized unbelief since the dawn of history, and history is now repeating itself with a vengeance, as the coming of Christ draws near. "That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past" (Ecclesiastes 3:15). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ July 29, Wednesday THE LIVING GOD "For who is there of all flesh, that hath heard the voice of the living God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as we have, and lived?" (Deuteronomy 5:26). This is the first time this wonderful description of God is used in the Bible. He is the "living" God! He is not the far-off god of the deist or theistic evolutionist, nor is He the impersonal force of the pantheist, but He is the God who lives and cares. It is noteworthy that God is called "the living God" exactly 15 times in the Old Testament and 15 in the New. The two central occurrences -- the last occurrence in the Old Testament and the first in the New -- both speak of those who are "sons of the living God." In the first case, it is concerning those among God's chosen people who will receive His life as they turn to Christ when He comes again: "It shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God" (Hosea 1:10). In the second, it is Peter's testimony concerning Christ, Himself: "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matthew 16:16). The first occurrence of this great title, as recorded in our text for the day, refers to "the "voice" of the living God," speaking to His servants out of the awful fires on the holy mountain. The last occurrence, in Revelation 7:2, speaks of "the "seal" of the living God," protecting His servants through the awful persecutions of the great tribulation. "The LORD is the true God, He is the living God, and an everlasting king: at His wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide His indignation" (Jeremiah 10:10). For the unbeliever, "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God" (Hebrews 10:31), but for the Christian, it is a wonder and a comfort, when "we trust in the living God" (I Timothy 4:10) as our Savior and Lord. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ July 30, Thursday IMPUTED SIN "Therefore as by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life" (Romans 5:18). This powerful verse comes within an important doctrinal passage, contrasting the work and the effect of the first man, Adam, with those of the last Adam, Christ Jesus. In some way known fully only to God, each of us participated in Adam's first sin, and bear the marks of the resultant curse. Likewise, we who have believed share in Christ's sinlessness and have received His righteousness. The contrasts between Adam and Christ are many, in this passage. For some reason, many evangelicals who have adopted "theistic evolution" (or in some cases, "progressive creation") overlook the obvious teaching of Romans 5 that Adam was a real man and that his real actions had real effects. The carefully worded argument in this passage is worthless, if Adam was not a real person. That God overruled the sin of Adam and His own curse through the work of Christ was "the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ" (v.15). But it was more than grace, it was abundance of grace. "For if by one man's offence 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" (v.17). And, "Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound" (v.20). Trapped under the imputed effects of Adam's sin, unable to fulfill the law which made our sin clearly seen, and unable to bridle our insatiable appetite for sin, we were doomed. But, "as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord" (v.21). Our plight under Adam was desperate, indeed, but God's grace was even greater. JDM ________________________________________________________________________ July 31, Friday WHO IS A CHRISTIAN? "Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf" (I Peter 4:16). The term "Christian" has become so nebulous today as to mean almost anyone except a Jew, or Moslem, or atheist. When it was "first" used, however, its meaning was quite specific: "The disciples were called Christians first in Antioch" (Acts 11:26). Thus, a Christian was a disciple (i.e., a "learner" or "follower") of Christ. The term is transliterated directly from the Greek, "Christ" being "Christos" in the Greek, and "Christian" being "Christianos". It was probably used in mild derision by the unbelievers of early New Testament time. This name is used only two other times in the New Testament. When Paul gave his testimony to King Agrippa, the king retorted: "Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian" (Acts 26:28), the sense of the reply (according to Greek scholars) being something like: "With this little bit of persuasion, are you trying to turn me into a Christian?" What was perhaps mild sarcasm, on the part of the citizens of Antioch and King Agrippa, soon turned into open persecution, and it became quite dangerous, in many places, to be called a Christian. A term of ridicule became a term of scorn and condemnation. The Christians to whom Peter wrote his first epistle were being "reproached for the name of Christ" (I Peter 4:14), and this persecution would soon become a "fiery trial" (v.12). Therefore, Peter sought to encourage them, by reminding them that they would thereby be fellowshipping in "Christ's sufferings" (v.13). Then, in the final use of the word in the Bible, he reminds us, even today, that suffering "as a Christian" (v.16) is not a cause for compromise or complaint, but for rejoicing and praising God! We can even "glorify God on this behalf." HMM ________________________________________________________________________ August 1, Saturday AS FAR AS EAST FROM WEST "For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward them that fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us" (Psalm 103:11,12). Critics of the Bible often claim that it pictures a four-cornered, flat earth, with a solid "firmament" high above, on which the stars traverse regular pathways, along with the sun and moon. But nothing could be further from the truth, as evident from our text. The heavens extend as high above the earth as the infinite mercy of God, which provides free salvation for lost sinners. This surely fits the modern scientific belief in an infinite universe. "Behold the height of the stars, how high they are!" (Job 22:12). The same concept is implied in Isaiah 55:9: "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." Consider also the implication of the second verse in our text. Our transgressions have been removed from us as far as the east is from the west. And how far is that? One can start traveling east and continue forever without coming to the end of "east." The same is true if he tries to find the end of "west." The only way this could be true is for the earth to be round. The Bible no more teaches a flat earth than a finite universe. "It is (God) that sitteth upon the circle (or `roundness') of the earth" (Isaiah 40:22). But such great scientific truths, revealed in Scripture long before their confirmation in modern science, are given primarily to illustrate the character of our loving Creator and Savior. His mercy is as infinite as the universe, and His forgiveness never ends. We can never judge His infinite thoughts or analyze His inscrutable ways with our finite understanding. But we can always rejoice in His mercy and praise Him for our great and eternal salvation. HMM _______________________________________________________________________ August 2, Sunday ALL THE PEOPLE OF THE EARTH "That all the people of the earth may know that the LORD is God, and that there is none else" (I Kings 8:60). This is the final, and climactic, petition in Solomon's great prayer at the dedication of the beautiful temple of God in Jerusalem (I Kings 8:22-61). The temple was not merely a place of worship for the people of Israel, but a testimony to all the people of the earth. "The LORD is God!" That is, "Jehovah" is "Elohim", the God who created the heaven and the earth in the beginning (Genesis 1:1). For this one time in history, the most magnificent building on earth had been erected by the greatest king of the earth as a testimony to all the people of the earth that "Jehovah", the covenant God of Israel, was really the one God who had created all the earth. The testimony was thrilling while it lasted, but soon the great king fell into deep sin, the magnificent temple was eventually destroyed, and the chosen people were scattered through all the earth. Still, "there is none else," for Israel's Lord is, indeed, the God of creation, whether or not He is accepted by either Jew or Gentile. It is still His purpose, as expressed by divine inspiration in this concluding petition of the prayer, "that all the people of the earth" may acknowledge Him as God and Creator (Revelation 4:11), and then as personal Redeemer (Revelation 5:9,12). Since there can be only one Creator, it is only He who can be the Savior, and it "does" make a difference -- an "eternal" difference -- whether one accepts Him or not. "If ye believe not that I am" said Jesus (the "He" of the King James is not in the original), "ye shall die in your sins" (John 8:24). There is no other Creator and there is no other Savior than the Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Word made flesh, who "tabernacled" among us (John 1:14), the One who was modeled in the great temple, and whom all people on the earth need to know. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ August 3, Monday SECRETS "Shall not God search this out? for He knoweth the secrets of the heart" (Psalm 44:21). Secrets are held by both God and man. God has secret things that belong only to Him. "The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us" (Deuteronomy 29:29). Man can hold secrets from other men, but never from God. "Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the LORD (Jeremiah 23:24). Note the following secret things: (1) "The sinful secrets of the unsaved will be made manifest by the light": "It is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light" (Ephesians 5:11-13). All secret things will one day be judged by Christ, "in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ" (Romans 2:16). "Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance" (Psalm 90:8). (2) "The sinful secrets of the saved need immediate cleansing": "Cleanse thou me from secret faults. Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins" (Psalm 19:12,13). Trying to hide sin from God is futile! Confess and forsake it! (3) "The saved enjoy special secret places with God". "These are for our daily protection": "Thou shalt hide them in the secret of thy presence from the pride of man: thou shalt keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues" (Psalm 31:20). "For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion: in the secret of His tabernacle shall He hide me" (Psalm 27:5). "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the almighty" (Psalm 91:1). (4) "The saved are in God's secret service": "That thine alms may be in secret . . . Pray to thy Father which is in secret; . . . Appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret" (Matthew 6:4,6,18). NPS ________________________________________________________________________ August 4, Tuesday A MORE EXCELLENT SACRIFICE "By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of His gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh" (Hebrews 11:4). Adam's second son, Abel, offered an appropriate sacrifice to God. Our text tells us that it was by faith that he understood what would please God. Three aspects of Abel's proper offering should be studied: First, "he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof" (Genesis 4:4). Cain sacrificed first, but it was of the "fruit of the ground" (v.3). From the beginning of sacrifice for sin (Genesis 3:21), the example was an animal killed to provide a covering. Abel somehow knew that it would take the shedding of blood to cover or atone for sin. Thus, from the flock came the suitable sacrifice. Second, Abel also wisely gave God of the best -- from the firstlings of the flock. Primacy and dedication seem to be associated with the first born. More than that, the first product of one's labor is most precious to the laborer. It is, indeed, hard to give up that first evidence of personal merit, humanly speaking. But Abel knew that his gain was due to God, not himself. Under these circumstances, just as with Abraham's sacrifice of Isaac, it is not as difficult to give up the first fruits. God will provide. The last in this array pertains to "the fat thereof." The deposits of pure fat covering the intestines and overlying the kidneys are implied. Why should the fat be singled out as important to God? The Hebrew word for fat means the richest, or best. Pure fat, as a meal, is virtually indigestible to us, and flavorless, but to God, it represents purity. Thus, every aspect of the sacrifice -- the blood, the firstborn, and the purity -- foreshadowed the perfect Sacrifice, Jesus Christ. KBC ________________________________________________________________________ August 5, Wednesday TERRORISM AND JOURNEYING MERCIES "The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore" (Psalm 121:8). This promise can be a great comfort and blessing to the one who must travel frequently. If his travels are "in the Lord," and his journeying mission and behavior honor the Lord, then he may surely pray in faith for God's "journeying mercies," confident that God will, indeed, "preserve (his) going out and (his) coming (home)." In recent years, the fear of international terrorism has become a real concern. The "terrorists" have, indeed, generated "terror" among travelers everywhere. The Christian believer, however, still has God's wonderful promises to recite, as he prays to the Lord for protection in his travels: "I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in Him will I trust. . . . Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; . . . For He shall give His angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways" (Psalm 91:2,5,11). Peter also says: "Be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled" (I Peter 3:14). Long ago, God promised His people: "Fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, He it is that doth go with thee; He will not fail thee, nor forsake thee" (Deuteronomy 31:6). The psalmist also expressed his confidence: "The LORD is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?" (Psalm 118:6). Jesus said: "Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul" (Matthew 10:28). Even for the obedient Christian, of course, there must come a time (the Lord's time, not man's) when he must "go out" from this present world, and "come in" to God's eternal home, prepared for him by the Lord Himself. Our text will then be realized in its greatest fullness. "The LORD shall preserve . . . thy coming in . . . even for evermore." HMM ________________________________________________________________________ August 6, Thursday GREAT PROMISES TO THOSE WHO PRAY "Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not" (Jeremiah 33:3). The Bible contains many wonderful promises of answered prayer, and our text is one of the most thrilling. The preceding verse identifies the One who can make such a promise: ". . . the LORD the maker thereof, the LORD that formed it, to establish it; the LORD is His name" (v.2). Since God created all things, He controls all things, and can certainly keep all His promises. Here are some of the greatest of these, quoted without comment: "Before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear" (Isaiah 65:24). "My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:19). "If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you" (John 15:7). "(He) is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us" (Ephesians 3:20). "And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He heareth us: And if we know that He hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him" (I John 5:14,15). "And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive" (Matthew 21:22). "Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full" (John 16:24). With such tremendous resources available to us, as believers, we are without excuse when we become discouraged. God can still accomplish great and mighty things on our behalf today, as we meet His conditions, believe His promises, and call unto Him. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ August 7, Friday PRECIOUS TO THE LORD "Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints" (Psalm 116:15). Ever since Eden, death has been mankind's greatest enemy -- an enemy that has never been conquered. We do all we can to prevent it, or at least to put it off, spending billions of dollars annually on health care and research. And yet the normal life span continues to be 70-80 years, just as it was in the days of Moses, 3,500 years ago (Psalm 90:10). The reason for the universal experience of death, of course, is the universal experience of sin, "Sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death" (James 1:15). However, Christ died for our sins, "that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage" (Hebrews 2:14,15). Therefore, although death is still the great enemy, those who have been redeemed and forgiven, through faith in Christ, no longer need to fear its "sting," for "the sting of death is sin," and "while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (I Corinthians 15:56; Romans 5:8). Furthermore, those of us who are left behind at the death of a loved one no longer need to be overwhelmed with grief, for we "sorrow not, even as others which have no hope" (I Thessalonians 4:13). We know that "to depart, and to be with Christ . . . is far better" (Philippians 1:23), and that them "which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him" when He comes again (I Thessalonians 4:14). In the meantime, we can rejoice that, when a true Christian dies, it is the Lord, Himself, who has called him home, and that the death of one of His saints is "precious" in the sight of the Lord, like recovering a lost gem. "And they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels" (Malachi 3:17). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ August 8, Saturday "I WILL" VERSUS "I WILL" "How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!" (Isaiah14:12). "Lucifer" means light-bearer. The name occurs here, only, but there is no doubt as to who is in view. "And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world" (Revelation 12:9). Why was he cast out? "For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the Most High" (Isaiah 14:13,14). The ability to say "I will" or "I will not" is one of the prerogatives that God has instilled into His creatures. Obviously, Lucifer's "I will" is in direct opposition to God's will. Consider Ezekiel 38:23: "Thus will I magnify myself, and sanctify myself; and I will be known in the eyes of many nations, and they shall know that I am the LORD." The first time God said "I will" in the Bible was when He promised Adam a help meet for him: "I will make him an help meet for him" (Genesis 2:18). The second time He used the phrase, He spoke directly to the serpent: "I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel" (Genesis 3:15). The two "I wills" are joined in conflict, and have been, until this day. There is another exercise of the will, however, that involves the destiny of the individual when he responds to the invitation to salvation and says, "I will". The awful alternative is for him to say, "I will not". Even though "Christ died for the ungodly" (Romans 5:6), the sinner would then have nothing to look forward to but "the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men" (II Peter 3:7). ADE ________________________________________________________________________ August 9, Sunday THINGS NEW AND OLD "Then said He unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old" (Matthew13:52). In New Testament times, the scribe was responsible for the careful recopying of the Holy Scriptures. He was recognized as an expert interpreter of Scripture, and was also called a lawyer, in the sense that he applied the "laws of Moses" to the lives of the people. Unfortunately, most of the scribes in Jesus' day had become proud and self-righteous, claiming for their own interpretations and traditions a status equal to that of the Scriptures themselves, and the Lord frequently had to rebuke them (e.g., Matthew 15:1-3; 23:1-28). Nevertheless, they "were" students of Scripture, and at least some of them loved and used God's Word reverently and accurately. It was "these" scribes whom the Lord commended in Matthew 13:3-50, comparing them to the head of a great house, with treasures in the house, who could bring them out from time to time for the instruction and delight of all. "Things new and old!" In the treasury of God's Word, one who is "instructed" in the old truths can always find new truths in its inexhaustible stores. "Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law," cried the psalmist. Yet he also acknowledged: "For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven" (Psalm 119:18,89). No exciting "new" truth in Scripture is ever really new, for it was there all along, even before the world began. Nor can a new truth ever contradict an old truth, for "I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right" (Psalm 119:128). Both the old, well-known and loved doctrines of Scripture, and stirring new insights which further illuminate and apply them are there waiting in the Word. If we love the Lord, we will love His Word, and find endless delight in its study. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ August 20, Monday HOW TO SAVE YOUR LIFE "Remember Lot's wife" (Luke 17:32). In this short verse, Jesus is commanding us to remember someone whose name we never knew! Nothing she ever said or did (with one exception) is recorded in Scripture, and yet the Lord wants us to remember her. When God tried to save Lot and his family from the fiery destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, "his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt" (Genesis 19:26). This strange miracle -- whether it was an instantaneous chemical transmutation, or a sudden burial by erupting bodies of salt, or a gradual petrifaction process as her body was buried and later transformed in a fall of volcanic ash -- really happened, and the Lord Jesus thus confirmed it, as He did the destruction of Sodom, itself (Luke 17:28,29)! The reason why He commands us to remember it and profit by its lesson is given in the next verse: "Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it" (Luke 17:33). Therefore, one should "remember Lot's wife"," whenever he or she is tempted to hang on to a comfortable life style in a wicked world. Lot, himself, was a rather worldly-minded believer, but when he consented to flee the doomed city, his wife lagged "behind him," and kept "looking back," perhaps grieving over the imminent loss of her material comforts and high social position among her ungodly neighbors. Finally, the Lord's longsuffering patience was ended, and her carnal desire to save her old life caused her to lose her whole life. "For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul (same Greek word as `life')?" (Matthew 16:26). The instruction for us is clear and pointed: "They which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them, and rose again" (II Corinthians 5:15). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ August 11, Tuesday IN THE MIDST "And it came to pass, that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions" (Luke 2:46). There is a fascinating progression to be observed in the mention of those groups of people "in the midst" of whom Jesus was found at different times of His ministry. First of all, as a young boy He was found "in the midst" of the Jewish intellectuals and scholars of the day already possessing great wisdom. It was not long before these same Jews became His bitter enemies, even seeking to slay Him, but He passed "through the midst" of them safely in Nazareth (Luke 4:30) and also in the temple (John 8:59), since His time had not yet come. But then, His hour "did" finally come, and He was condemned and executed as a criminal on Golgotha, "where they crucified Him," and two others, with Jesus "in the midst" (John 19:18). After His crucifixion and resurrection, however, He was never again in the midst of the ungodly. Conversely, three times, He is said to have appeared to His assembled disciples, suddenly standing "in the midst of them" (Luke 24:36; see also John 20:19,26). Still later, He is seen prophetically and spiritually "in the midst of the church" (Hebrews 2:12), where He is leading in its praise to God. In fact, He had promised His disciples of the coming time when He would be with them through His Holy Spirit. "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them" (Matthew 18:20). Finally, He is seen prophetically in glory! "And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man" (Revelation 1:13). He is symbolized also by the Tree of Life, which, in Eden, was "in the midst of the garden" (Genesis 2:9), and in the New Jerusalem is "in the midst of the street of it" (Revelation 22:2). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ August 12, Wednesday FORM-FITTING "Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. . . . Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me" (Psalm 51:6,10). "Garbage in, garbage out" used to be an admonishment to computer operators when the data processing field was just getting started. In like manner, the new or even not-so-new Christian comes to learn that what he takes into his sensory system is what comes out, eventually. The way he thinks and behaves is modified by the experience he has gained. The psalmist recognized this dilemma, and reminds us that our Father desires truth inside our frame, in our minds. We know, however, that much error enters our minds and affects our activities. It does not lead to wisdom, and is the basis for an unclean heart (mind), eventually manifesting itself in improper action -- sin. The solution is to ask the Father to place a right spirit within us (v.10), replacing the spirit of rebellion and error, so that we can be "whiter than snow" (v.7). Remembering that this psalm was written by David "when Nathan the prophet came to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba" (superscript), notice that the steps which must be taken are recognition that a change must take place, asking for the transformation to be made, and lastly, allowing the right spirit to flow into our minds. Having decided to make a change, we can be certain of the outcome. Our heavenly Father promises that "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (I John 1:9). This is serious business, involving our entire beings. "Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God" (Romans 12:2). KBC ________________________________________________________________________ August 13, Thursday THE WORD FOREVER "So shall I keep thy law continually for ever and ever" (Psalm 119:44). In Psalm 119, the great "Song of the Word," with 176 references to the written Word of God in its 176 verses, there are seven testimonies to the fact that the Word is forever! The first, completing the first one-fourth of the psalm, is our text. God's law will be there forever, and in our glorified bodies, in the new earth, we shall keep it forever. The second such reference opens the second half of this great psalm. "For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven" (Psalm 119:89). Never will it be changed; it was there, waiting to be revealed in God's time, before the creation of the world. It was there, and will be there, forever. Note also the other references: (3) "Thy testimonies have I taken as an heritage for ever: for they are the rejoicing of my heart" (v.111). (4) "I have inclined my heart to perform thy statutes alway, even unto the end" (v.112). (5) "The righteousness of thy testimonies is everlasting: give me understanding, and I shall live" (v.144). (6) "Concerning thy testimonies, I have known of old that thou hast founded them for ever" (v.152). (7) "Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever" (v.160). There are similar assurances in the New Testament: "Heaven and earth shall pass away," said Jesus, "but my words shall not pass away" (Matthew 24:35). The Apostle Peter wrote, quoting Isaiah 40:8, that "the word of the Lord endureth for ever" (I Peter 1:25). How foolish it is, then, for anyone to build his life and entrust his soul to anything other than the one thing in this present world that will last forever -- the written Word of God and its revelation of God in Christ. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ August 14, Friday THE BUSINESS OF THE FATHER "And He said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?" (Luke 2:49). These are the first recorded words of the Lord Jesus Christ in His human incarnation. His mother had just gently rebuked Him, speaking of how she and "thy father" (meaning Joseph) had been searching for Him. He, in turn, gently rebuked her, reminding her of what she should have remembered from the angel's message before His conception, that He had come into the world on the business of His Father in heaven, to "save His people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21), and He needed to be about that business. Finally, all the preparations for the accomplishment of the Father's great business assignment had been completed, and Jesus willingly proceeded to the cross, on which the transaction price was to be paid. Nailed to the tree, bearing our sins, shedding His blood, He died in our place, paying the wages of sin, and thereby saving us from eternal death and judgment at the hands of a holy God. When He had drained God's cup of wrath, and every prophecy had been fulfilled, the business was done, and He could shout the great victory cry: "It is finished!" (John 19:30). Then, in His last recorded words, as in His first recorded words, He called on His Father in heaven. "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit" (Luke 23:46). The Father's business on earth had been accomplished, all that He had been sent to do had been done, and He could return home. Well, not quite! After His resurrection, and a quick visit when he ascended to "my Father and your Father" (John 20:17), He returned for forty days to prepare His disciples for their assignment from the Father. "As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you," He said (John 20:21). And now, we, also, must be about our Father's business. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ August 15, Saturday BLESSED PERSECUTION "Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:10). The eighth of Christ's "beatitudes" is perhaps the most difficult of all to understand and accept. How can persecution possibly be a blessing? "Rejoice," He said, "for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you" (Matthew 5:12). The first prophet was Abel, and he was murdered by Cain. Moses was reviled, David was hounded by Saul, Elijah was pursued by Ahab and Jezebel, Jeremiah was imprisoned, Daniel was thrown in a den of lions, and Nehemiah was opposed and defamed. John the Baptist was beheaded, and, later, all the apostles were bitterly persecuted, with all except John dying as martyrs. The Lord did not promise a blessing to "all" those suffering persecution, of course, but specifically to those persecuted for "righteousness'" sake. "For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ," Paul said, "not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake" (Philippians 1:29). Persecution of true Christians has continued through all the years since. It is more severe in some times and places than others, but it is always there to some degree. As Jesus said: "Because ye are not of the world, . . . therefore the world hateth you" (John 15:19). Furthermore, persecution will be more intense than ever in the last days. "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived" (II Timothy 3:12,13). There is a divine purpose in all this, however, and this turns the suffering into a blessing. When His life truly becomes our life, He promises that we shall, indeed, possess the kingdom of heaven. "It is a faithful saying: For 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). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ August 16, Sunday THE ENTROPY OF UNCONCERN "Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame" (I Corinthians 15:34). In this verse, the Greek word translated "shame" is the fascinating word "entropy", meaning, literally, "turning-in." It is used only one other time, in I Corinthians 6:5: "I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren?" The scientist, Clausius, in 1865, selected this word ("entropy" in English) to describe the dissipation of energy, or state of disorder, in any functioning system. The famous Second Law of Thermodynamics, which he helped demonstrate to be a universal law of science, states that the entropy (i.e., the disorganization) of any system always "tends" to increase. That is, any system which "turns inward" to derive the energy or information to keep working, will eventually run down and cease to function. It is this law which indicates that the very concept of evolution is essentially impossible. "Evolution" means "rolling outward," and implies increasing complexity, whereas "entropy" means "turning inward," and implies decreasing complexity. In the context of our text, the unconcern of the Corinthian Christians that some in their number were "agnostic," or ignorant, about the very existence and nature of God, their Creator, was a measure of their state of "entropy," or "in- turning" -- that is, their self-centeredness -- and this was a "shameful" state! There is no excuse for a Christian to be an "entropic" Christian -- a self-centered, self-sufficient, self-righteous hindrance to the cause of Christ, indifferent to the unbelief and compromise all around him, concerned only with his own personal affairs and comfort. The urgent command to such a one is "Wake up!" HMM ________________________________________________________________________ August 17, Monday THE RODDERY "And it shall come to pass, that the man's rod, whom I shall choose, shall blossom: and I will make to cease from me the murmurings of the children of Israel, whereby they murmur against you" (Numbers 17:5). It could be said that "the natives were getting restless," in the 16th chapter of Numbers, when the people grew weary of the leadership of Moses and Aaron. They didn't like what had happened to Korah and his wicked companions when God made the earth open and swallow them, so they challenged God's chosen leader, Moses, and, in so doing, issued a challenge to God. Enough was enough, and God sent a plague to consume the people. Moses and Aaron hurried to take a censor from the altar and offer incense among the people so as to assuage God's anger. This was accomplished, but not before 14,700 people died in the plague (Numbers 16:49). As a result, God decided to settle this issue of priestly authority once and for all, and proposed a test. God commanded that each tribe submit a rod with the tribe's name on it, along with Aaron's rod for the tribe of Levi. Then he laid them in the tabernacle, where God would meet with Moses to work a miracle -- make a dead rod blossom. Whichever tribe's rod blossomed would be the next set of leaders. This happened, and more, on the next day. Aaron's rod was the one chosen, but it not only budded, it brought forth blossoms, and yielded almonds. That budded rod became a testimony against the rebels from then on. Thus we read about a roddery, not a lottery, of twelve possible outcomes. In the lottery, chance is the overriding factor, but in this roddery, God's will and perfect knowledge were the directing forces. In real life, there is no error or alternative -- only certainty. "God is the judge: He putteth down one, and setteth up another" (Psalm 75:7). KBC ________________________________________________________________________ August 18, Tuesday ADAM AND MRS.ADAM "Male and female created He them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created" (Genesis 5:2). In these days of sensitivity concerning sexism, it is important to focus on God's own evaluation of the two sexes, and their respective roles in the divine plan. As Creator of both, He alone can speak authoritatively about this matter. Both man and woman were created in God's image (Genesis 1:27), and thus, in the categories of salvation, rewards and eternal fellowship with their Creator, both are surely equal. "For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. . . . There is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:26,28). At the same time, when God created them, He named them "both" "Adam," as our text notes. This is actually the same word as "man," as in Genesis 2:7 ("the LORD God formed man"), etc. Thus it is Biblical to use the word "man" generically, when referring to the human race in general. When the woman was formed out of Adam's side, Adam said, "She shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man" (Genesis 2:23). Here a different Hebrew word is used for "man" ("ish"), and "woman" is "isha". Adam also gave his new bride a personal name. "Adam called his wife's name Eve (`life-giver'); because she was the mother of all living" (Genesis 3:20). There is, therefore, nothing demeaning in using "man" as a generic term for both men and women, for this usage is sanctioned by God, Himself. Nevertheless, each individual has his or her own distinctive personal name, and God deals with each of us, individually, on that basis. Our obedience and faithfulness to the divinely ordained role each of us is called by Him to fill, is God's criterion, by which He measures us for eternity. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ August 29, Wednesday THE THOUGHTS OF GOD "How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them" (Psalm 139:17). The motivating inspiration for the greatest scientists of the past (Newton, Kepler, Maxwell, etc.) was often expressed by them as seeking to "think God's thoughts after Him." The great achievements of these God-fearing men of science have enabled us to understand just a little portion of God's infinitely great and complex creation, but never can any group of men ever manage to think "all" His thoughts after Him. "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD (Isaiah 55:8). "How great is the sum of them," our text says. "Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it" (Psalm 139:6). Yet it is surely right to try, for God has commanded man to "have dominion" over the earth (Genesis 1:26), and this implies understanding its processes and systems. We are to seek also to incorporate His thought patterns into ours, for He said to "let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 2:5). In fact, our whole mission, in one sense, as summed up in II Corinthians 10:5, is to be "casting down imaginations (or `reasonings'), and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ." We should, indeed, strive to think God's thoughts after Him, not only in our scientific research, but in every area of our lives. There is one thing certain, of course. God's thoughts will never contradict His revealed Word, so this is the place to start. God surely "understandest my thought afar off" (Psalm 139:2), and He desires our thoughts to conform to His. For if we are truly Christians, "we have the mind of Christ" (I Corinthians 2:16). HMM _______________________________________________________________________ August 20, Thursday QUESTIONING THE RESURRECTION "Now if Christ be preached that He rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?" (I Corinthians 15:12). Our text comes from one of the mountain-peak chapters of Scripture, expounding the great theme of the resurrection -- first the past resurrection of Christ, then the future resurrection of those who "are fallen asleep in Christ" (v.18). In verses 12 through 19 of this chapter appear seven skeptical suppositions, each beginning with the small but potent word "if." The first of these is in our text above. The others are enumerated below: "If there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen" (v.13). "If Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain" (v.14). "If so be that the dead rise not (we are found false witnesses of God)" (v.15). "If the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised" (v.16). "If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain: ye are yet in your sins" (v.17). "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable" (v.19). Then, in a single, glorious answer to all these doubts and questions, the Apostle Paul dispels the "ifs" with a "but!" "But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept" (v.20). And, indeed, all these issues are settled by the great victory won over sin and death and the grave by our Lord Jesus Christ! Our faith is not vain, but sound and sure; our preaching is not vain, but positive and powerful. Because Christ is risen, there "will" "be" a future resurrection of the dead, and our witness of God is true. Our sins are forever forgiven, and our hope in Christ makes this life one of peace and joy, not misery. The bodily resurrection of Christ is the most certain fact of history, and the resurrection of those whose faith is in Christ is the most certain hope of the future. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ August 21, Friday READ THE BIBLE "And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them" (Deuteronomy 17:19). This was the divine prescription for one called to be a leader of God's people. He must have God's Word "with him" and he must "read therein all the days of his life," if he truly desired to live effectively before God and the people. The Bible, there on the shelf, is the most important thing in our lives! We believe in God, in Christ, in heaven, in angels, in salvation, in eternal life, and a host of other things we have never seen or heard or touched. It is the Bible that tells us about them; otherwise, we would never have known. It is our one link, in "this world, with "that world. It is, therefore, inestimably important to our well-being in eternity. We must hear it often, for "faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God" (Romans 10:17). "Give attendance to reading," Paul said (I Timothy 4:13). Hearing and reading are necessary, but not sufficient. "Study to show thyself approved unto God, . . . rightly dividing the Word of truth" (II Timothy 2:15). The Berean Christians received a timeless commendation, for they "searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so" (Acts 17:11). It is also important to memorize Scripture. "Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of thine eye. Bind them upon thy fingers, write them upon the table of thine heart" (Proverbs 7:2,3). Finally, we must meditate on God's Word. "O how love I thy law!" We should feel with the psalmist, "it is my meditation all the day. . . . I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation" (Psalm 119:97,99). Therefore, read, study, memorize, obey, and proclaim the written Word of God! the Bible! HMM ________________________________________________________________________ August 22, Saturday FORGIVENESS "And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses" (Mark 11:25). In Matthew 18:21, Peter asks the Lord, "How oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?" Jesus answers (v.22): "I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven." Jesus then goes on to tell the story of the king who forgave the large debt of one of his servants, only to later find that the same servant refused to forgive a much smaller debt owed him by another. As a result, the unforgiving servant was cast into prison and held accountable for the debt. Jesus, turning to Peter, then says: "So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses" (v.35). The first mention of the word "forgive" in Scripture is found in the story of godly Joseph, whose life foreshadowed Christ's, in many ways. After their father Jacob's burial, Joseph's brothers sent a messenger to him saying that Jacob had made the following request of him: "Forgive, I pray thee now, the trespass of thy brethren, and their sin; for they did unto thee evil" (Genesis 50:17). Joseph's reply (after he had wept) is the key to being able to forgive others: "Fear not: for am I in the place of God? . . . Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them" (Genesis 50:19,21). Of Jesus Christ, it is said, "when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to Him that judgeth righteously" (I Peter 2:23). The same just but forgiving Lord who commands us to do likewise unto others will enable us to do so to the extent to which we are willing to commit our lives to "Him that judgeth righteously." CJH ________________________________________________________________________ August 23, Sunday WORD AND DEED "The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach" (Acts 1:1). The contrast between our words and deeds is often quite notorious, with many excusing their refusal to consider Christianity or church attendance, with the claim that many Christians are hypocrites. This all-too-true charge has likewise been the theme of many cynical cliches. "Why don't you practice what you preach?" "He talks a good game." "Do as I say -- not as I do." Whatever truth there may be in these cliches, they certainly did not apply to the Lord Jesus Christ. As Luke began to write the book of Acts, he recalled that his gospel had recorded what "Jesus began both to do and teach." In the last chapter of his gospel, he had recorded the common recognition of the disciples that "Jesus of Nazareth . . . was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people" (Luke 24:19). As far as His words are concerned, "He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes" (Matthew 7:29). "And they were astonished at His doctrine: for His word was with power" (Luke 4:32). Even His enemies said: "Never man spake like this man" (John 7:46). But His actions spoke even louder than His words! He "went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with Him" (Acts 10:38). Those who observed His deeds "were beyond measure astonished, saying, He hath done all things well" (Mark 7:37). In all these attributes of His human life, He was, of course, "leaving us an example, that ye should follow His steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth" (I Peter 2:21,22). May we, indeed, "continue" what He "began" both to do and teach." "And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by Him" (Colossians 3:17). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ August 24, Monday THE GIFT OF SUFFERING "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). According to the Bible, God both possesses infinite power and manifests infinite love. Undeserved suffering in the world, however, has long been one of the chief arguments of atheists. They maintain that if God exists, He is either powerless to prevent such suffering or is too unloving to care. In reality, there is no such thing as unmerited suffering, "for all have sinned," and "the wages of sin is death" (Romans 3:23; 6:23). One person may, indeed, suffer because of the sin of someone else, but even "that" person has undoubtedly brought suffering to others on other occasions. Neither is there such a thing as purposeless suffering, for God makes even man's wrath to praise Him (Psalm 76:10). When Adam sinned, God cursed the ground for man's sake (Genesis 3:17) and multitudes of lost sinners have come to Christ for salvation, as a result of the sufferings they have experienced in a world under God's curse. As far as believing Christians are concerned, they are given the privilege of being "partakers of Christ's sufferings" (I Peter 4:13). Jesus Christ is the only one who ever lived who never really "deserved" to suffer, since He, alone, was sinless, but "Christ also suffered for us. . . . The just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God" (I Peter 2:21; 3:18). Thus, our text assures us that the experience of suffering "in the behalf of Christ" is a gift of God's grace (the word "given" is, literally, "graced"). One day it will all be over (Revelation 21:4), but until then, "though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory" (II Corinthians 4:16,17). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ August 25, Tuesday CURIOUSLY WROUGHT "My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them" (Psalm 139:15,16). This marvelous picture of an embryonic child growing in its mother's womb not only is scientifically accurate, but also shows clearly that God is concerned with the developing infant from the very moment of conception. Verse 13 introduces this pen-picture, saying: "Thou hast covered me (literally `shielded me' -- a striking reference to the protection of the embryo as it grows) in my mother's womb." Verse 14 says the child is "wonderfully (that is, `differently') made." Each baby is designed to be like all human beings in over-all aspect, but uniquely different in detail. Then, our text says that God was secretly making "my substance" -- that is, the skeletal frame -- and also "embroidering it (the meaning of `curiously wrought') in the lowest parts of the earth." This seems to be a remarkable anticipation of the double-helical DNA molecular program, which organizes the beautiful structure of the whole child. God first made the "lowest parts," or elements, of Earth matter, then formed Adam's body from this "dust of the ground (earth)" (Genesis 2:7). The "substance, yet being unperfect" is one word in the Hebrew, meaning "embryo." All of its members were written in God's book before they existed -- probably from the foundation of the world. Then He "fashioned" it (same word as when He "formed" Adam's body), and watched over it continually thenceforth. What a tremendous revelation this is, of God's providential care of each new human being who comes into the world! HMM ________________________________________________________________________ August 26, Wednesday CREATED; FORMED; MADE "Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him" (Isaiah 43:7). There are three main verbs used to describe God's work of creation in Genesis. These are "create" (Hebrew "bara"), "make" ("asah"), and "form" ("yatsar"). The three words are similar in meaning, but each with a slightly different emphasis. None of them, of course, can mean anything at all like "evolve," or "change," on their own accord. All three are used in Genesis with reference to man. "And God said, Let us make man in our image. . . . So God created man in His own image. . . . And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground" (Genesis 1:26,27; 2:7). Although the subject of creation is commonly associated with Genesis, it is mentioned even more frequently by the great prophet Isaiah. The words "bara" and "yatsar" are used twice as often in Isaiah as in any other Old Testament book, and are applied uniquely to works of God. All three verbs are used together in Isaiah 45:18 in order to describe, adequately, God's purposeful work in preparing the earth for man: "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." God created, formed, made, and established the earth, that it might be the home of men and women. But what was God's purpose for the people who would inhabit it? Our text answers this most fundamental of questions, and, once again, all three key verbs are used: "I have created him . . . I have formed him, . . . I have made him . . . for my glory." This Biblical perspective alone provides the greatest of all possible incentives to live a godly and useful life. The reason we were created is to glorify God! HMM ________________________________________________________________________ August 27, Thursday WALKING THROUGH EPHESIANS "And you hath He quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world" (Ephesians 2:1,2). Seven times the Apostle Paul speaks of the believer's walk, in the book of Ephesians. This walk refers to how the Christian is to conduct himself before a holy God and a Godless world. It speaks of a course of life that one is following; a manner of living; a lifetime experience. How one walks (behaves himself) reflects on his entire Christian testimony. (1) "Our previous walk": "Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air" (v.2). Our old walk is finished. (2) "Our present walk": "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). Our manner of living should be filled with good works. (3) "Our privileged walk": "I . . . beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called" (4:1). (4) "Our humble walk": "Walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened" (4:17,18). (5) "Our Christ-like walk": "And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour" (5:2). The essence of love is self-sacrifice. (6) "Our changed walk": "For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light" (5:8). (7) "Our wise walk": "See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise" (Ephesians 5:15). NPS ________________________________________________________________________ August 28, Friday USELESS PRAYERS "He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination" (Proverbs 28:9). There are some prayers that God hates, strange as that may seem. In fact, our very prayers can even "become sin" (Psalm 109:7). When one who has deliberately "turned away his ear" from the Word of God, preferring his own way to God's revealed will as found in His Word, attempts to ask God for blessing or direction, his prayer becomes presumption. God hates such prayers, and those who pray them should not be surprised when He does not give them their request. "Behold, the LORD's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither His ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear" (Isaiah 59:1,2). No Christian is sinless, of course. "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves" (I John 1:8). The obvious remedy is to ask the Lord, through His Word, to "see if there be any wicked way in me" (Psalm 139:24), and then to confess and forsake any sin so revealed and known. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (I John 1:9). Then, having been cleansed from our unrighteousness, we are again made righteous, not only through Christ's imputed righteousness, but also in righteous, daily living. Then the gracious promises of answered prayer can again become wholly effective, for "the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much" (James 5:16). How vital it is to know and obey the Word of God, and how dangerous it is to turn our ears away from it. God will not be mocked for long! "For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and His ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil" (I Peter 3:12). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ August 29, Saturday PEACE OR NO PEACE "The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart: and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come. He shall enter into peace: they shall rest in their beds each one walking in his uprightness" (Isaiah 57:1,2). Isaiah 57 consists of a contrast between the righteous, as described in our text, and the ungodly, verses 3-13a. "Against whom do ye sport yourselves? against whom make ye a wide mouth, and draw out the tongue, are ye not children of transgression, a seed of falsehood?" (v.4). Compare this verse with the diatribes of evolutionists and professors at our state universities, who continually rail against Christians and make sport of ridiculing Christianity and the Lord God. "I will declare thy righteousness, and thy works; for they shall not profit thee" (v.12). But even when Christians are persecuted, even when the enemy attempts to deny our rights and negate our influence, the Lord says: "He that putteth his trust in me shall possess the land, and shall inherit my holy mountain; . . . For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive . . . the heart of the contrite ones" (Isaiah 57:13,15). Even when the righteous perish, as discussed in the text, we have His Word that, "I have seen his ways, and will heal him: I will lead him also, and restore comforts unto him and to his mourners" (v.18). The contrast between the righteous and ungodly even is extended into eternity, for we see that He declares "Peace, peace to him that is far off, and to him that is near, saith the LORD; and I will heal him" (v.19). "But, "there is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked" (v.21). JDM ________________________________________________________________________ August 30, Sunday THE INDISPENSABLES "All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made" (John 1:3). There are not many people or things in life that are truly indispensable. Some "are" indispensable, however, and anyone who ignores these is infinitely foolish and shortsighted. God is indispensable. Many people deny Him, and many more ignore Him, but those who are "without God in the world" (Ephesians 2:12) are without everything. Holiness before this God is also indispensable, for He demands perfect "holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord" (Hebrews 12:14). Since we are unholy, this necessary holiness can only be imputed by God on the basis of a perfect substitutionary sacrifice. Consequently, "without shedding of blood is no remission" (Hebrews 9:22), and only the blood of the holy Son of God can bring forgiveness and salvation. Only "His" blood is capable of paying the penalty for our sins, for only He "was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin" (Hebrews 4:15). The sinlessness of Christ is indispensable, and the substitutionary shedding of His holy blood is indispensable, if one is to be saved. Faith in God, His holiness, and the efficacy of the shed blood of Christ is also indispensable, for "without faith it is" impossible to please Him" (Hebrews 11:6). This must be genuine faith, demonstrated by the good works which will inevitably result from such faith. Thus, works also are indispensable, for "faith without works is dead" (James 2:20). Finally, we will never learn these wonderful truths if no one tells us, nor will others learn them if we don't tell "them". "How shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent?" (Romans 10:14,15). Thus, the missionary, the witness, the teacher, the preacher of the saving Gospel of our Creator and Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ, are also indispensable in His great plan. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ August 31, Monday PRAYERS ANSWERED "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the LORD will not hear me" (Psalm 66:18). There are many wonderful assurances in Scripture that our God is a prayer-answering God, as well as innumerable testimonies throughout history, by multitudes of praying believers, that He has answered prayer, often in amazing ways. On the other hand, there are many, many prayers that have not been answered, and the question is: "Why?" In some cases, of course, it is just that the prayer has not been answered yet, in which case the believer needs merely to continue in prayer, for "men ought always to pray, and not to faint" (Luke 18:1). In some cases, it may be that the request was not in God's perfect will, for, "if we ask any thing according to His will, He heareth us" (I John 5:14). We should always pray as did Christ Himself: "Not my will, but thine, be done" (Luke 22:42), for His will is always best. There are times, however, when God would desire to answer our prayers, but is hindered by our own actions and attitudes, since He will only act in consistency with His own holy nature and loving wisdom. Some are listed below: "Sin in the heart": "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the LORD will not hear me" (Psalm 66:18). "Unforgiving attitude": "When ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any" (Mark 11:25). "Carnal motive": "Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts" (James 4:3). "Selfish family relations": "Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered" (I Peter 3:7). "Unbelief": "But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. . . . For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord" (James 1:6,7). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ This "Days of Praise" quarterly was converted to ASCII for BBS use, from the original formatted desktop articles. Comments regarding typographical errors in the above material are appreciated. Don Barber, ICR Systems Administrator Fax: (619) 448-0900 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," justrequest them by contacting ICR at (619) 448-0900. ________________________________________________________________________ Typical ICR Ministries ICR Graduate School of Creation Science Books and Audiovisual Materials (all levels) Seminars, Debates, Workshops, Bible Conferences, etc. Daily Radio Program, "Back to Genesis Weekly Radio Program, "Science, Scripture, and Salvation" Monthly Newsletter, "Acts & Facts" (Free on Request) Daily Devotional Guide, "Days of Praise" (Free on Request) Scientific Research Related to Origins ICR Museum of Creation and Earth History Guided Tours to Areas of Biblical/Science Significance ________________________________________________________________________ ICR Ministries ICR is primarily supported by voluntary contributions (IRS tax-exempt) from concerned Christian people and churches. Member, Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability --- *** ---


E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank