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________________________________________________________________________ Institute for Creation Research, PO Box 2667, El Cajon, CA 92021 Voice: (619) 448-0900 FAX: (619) 448-3469 ________________________________________________________________________ ||||||||| |||||||| |||||||||| |||| |||| |||| |||| |||| ||||| |||| |||| |||| |||| |||| ||||| |||| |||| |||| |||| |||| ||||| |||| |||| |||| |||| |||||||||| |||| |||| |||| |||| |||| |||| |||| |||| |||| |||| ||||||||| |||||||| ||||| ________________________________________________________________________ September, October, November Fall 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 ________________________________________________________________________ "From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same the LORD's name is to be praised" (Psalm 113:3). Introduction to DAYS OF PRAISE Greetings from all the saints here at the Institute for Creation Research. We trust that the arrival of this little devotional Bible study booklet stimulates or triggers a period of joy and growth in your life, home, church, and/or sphere of influence. We further trust that God will use it mightily, and that it will bear eternal fruit. For our new readers, let us explain the thrust of Days of Praise. It is not, as you can easily see, merely a devotional booklet, although each entry is designed to lead you into praise and worship. Rather, the booklet is primarily a Bible study tool, with each day's reading being a devotional Bible study of some passage, doctrine, or word, etc. True worship comes from and causes a deeper understanding of God and His Word, and that is our goal. We use the King James Bible throughout--the time-tested stalwart of translations. Even though modern translations have their place, none lends itself to study and growth as does the King James. Where individual words or concepts need explanation they are provided, and through it all, we all grow in both wisdom and knowledge. KLB Kathleen L. Bruce, Ph.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. HMM, III Henry M. Morris, III, Ph.D. JDM John D. Morris, Ph.D. NPS Norman P. Spotts, D.D. ________________________________________________________________________ September 1, Tuesday PLEASING GOD "Wherefore we labor, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of Him" (II Corinthians 5:9). Paul's great ambition was to please his Lord and Savior. In our text, the Greek for "accepted" often also is translated "well-pleasing," and this is the real meaning of the word. Since this also is the great desire of every sincere Christian, let us look at a few of those passages where the Lord tells us specifically how we can please Him. Consider, for example: "But to do good and to communicate (i.e., to `share what you have with others') forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased" (Hebrews 13:16). See also Philippians 4:18. There is a special admonition to children: "Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord" (Colossians 3:20). For adults: "Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please (same root word) Him who hath chosen him to be a soldier" (II Timothy 2:3,4). The same word appears in Romans 12:1,2, translated twice as "acceptable." Paul urges us to present our bodies as living sacrifices, "holy, acceptable unto God," being "not conformed to this world," but transformed by a renewed mind, thereby to prove "that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." The common thread in these and other such passages is that, in order to be pleasing to the Lord, we must be good stewards of all our possessions and all our days, serving Him totally. "For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable (i.e., `well-pleasing') to God" (Romans 14:18). This is our reasonable service, and it will be abundantly repaid if we hear Him say in that day: "Well done, thou good and faithful servant" (Matthew 25:21). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ September 2, Wednesday DOUBLE TROUBLE "Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the LORD's hand double for all her sins" (Isaiah 40:2). At first glance, it might appear that God is being unjust by dealing out double punishment for sin. "And first I will recompense their iniquity and their sin double; because they have defiled my land" (Jeremiah 16:18). In Jeremiah 17:18 he prays, "Bring upon them the day of evil, and destroy them with double destruction." Does God ever give twice as much punishment than is deserved to either a nation or an individual? Absolutely not! No one will ever stand before God and say, "My punishment is greater than my sin!" God is a just God who never gives more punishment than deserved. Double refers to a complete or full measure of punishment, not twice as much. Cain is a classic example of a sinner who complains about God's punishment. God said, "When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth. And Cain said unto the LORD, my punishment is greater than I can bear" (Genesis 4:12,13). Cain felt that God was being too hard on him. Mankind's problem has always been that he never views sin as being quite as heinous as God sees it. Many times man will not even recognize sin as such, but rather designate it by a different term altogether: thereby, endeavoring to take the sting out of sin. One thing that each of us should do is to call sin, sin! We should not try to whitewash it, excuse it, or deny it. Christ fully paid for our sin on the cross. "But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound" (Romans 5:20). "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:23). NPS ________________________________________________________________________ September 3, Thursday THE CHRISTIAN'S CLEANSING "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 familiar promise is often quoted as a sort of pat formula for dealing with sin in a believer's life. Simply identify and acknowledge the sin, and all is forgiven. This is gloriously true, so far as it goes, but the last part of the verse is also vitally important. The Lord wants His people to be cleansed from all unrighteousness. "If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, ... the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin" (I John 1:7). In these and other verses, the verb translated "cleanse" is the Greek katharizo, from which we get such English words as "cathartic." It is a strong word, sometimes translated as "purify" and even "purge." The sin not only is to be confessed, it must be purged! The Lord Jesus Christ "by Himself purged our sins" (Hebrews 1:3), so that God can be perfectly "faithful and just to forgive us our sins" on the basis of His cleansing blood and sanctifying Word. But this is far more than an academic formula, for this cleansing, purifying, and purging must become a real experience in one's life, and the Lord will do whatever is necessary to make it so. He "gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify (same word as `cleanse') unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works" (Titus 2:14). We must learn to "walk in the light" and to be "zealous of good works," as He "purgeth us from all unrighteousness" when we "confess our sins." It is necessary that we be constrained to become more "like Him," for "when He shall appear, ... we shall see Him as He is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as He is pure" (I John 3:2,3). Thus, His forgiveness of our sins is inevitably ccompanied by a purging of our lives. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ September 4, Friday OUR MASTER "Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto Him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master" (John 20:16). The Christian calls Jesus Christ his Master, but do we really understand what this word means? The concept of masterhood has very little meaning without someone under oversight; the master must be master of a slave or a servant. The word actually means "bond servant," or "slave," and implies a permanent condition. The one in bondage has lost all personal rights, and lives solely to serve his or her master. "For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ" (Galatians 1:10). The slave in New Testament times didn't even have a right to his own life. There are several reasons why we should willingly place ourselves in bondage to Christ Jesus. First, He created us, and we have no existence apart from His gracious sustenance (Colossians 1:16,17). Secondly, after our refusal to remain in fellowship with and submission to Him had brought us into slavery to sin, He paid an enormously high price to buy us back from that cruel master. Thirdly, His Father offers to adopt, as children, those who willingly accept Christ's masterhood, and promises an inheritance along with that of His beloved Son. There are many guidelines in Scripture to aid us in becoming servants fit "for the Master's use, and prepared unto every good work" (II Timothy 2:21). In fact, our Master willingly became a servant to give us an example: "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus; Who ... made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and ... humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross" (Philippians 2:5-8). "Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet" (John 13:14). JDM ________________________________________________________________________ September 5, Saturday SHADOW OF WINGS "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty" (Psalm 91:1). The first occurrence of the word "shadow" is found in Genesis 19:8. A couple of angels had come to visit Lot in Sodom. While in his house, a wicked mob knocked on the door and demanded that he send the "men" out to them for immoral purposes. Lot replied that they could have his two daughters instead, but "only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof." It was the custom in the Middle East for a guest to be protected from all harm. Here we have the basic meaning of the word "shadow." There is also the shadow of trust: In Psalm 36:7 we read, "How excellent is thy loving kindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings." Could this be a reference to the wings of the cherubim over the mercy seat? The mercy seat represented the atonement, which is the object of our trust. Likewise, there is the shadow of protection: In Psalm 17:8 we read, "Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings." It is not that we keep ourselves under this protection; the prayer is for the Lord to do this. Then there is the shadow of refuge: Psalm 57:1 says it well: "Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast." The heading of the psalm says that it was composed "when he fled from Saul in the cave." But it is the shadow of the Almighty that is depicted in the famous 91st Psalm: "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. ... He shall cover thee with His feathers, and under His wings shalt thou trust" (Psalm 91:1,4). ADE ________________________________________________________________________ September 6, Sunday SIGNS OF THE TIMES "When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red. And in the morning, It will be foul weather today: for the sky is red and lowring. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?" (Matthew 16:2,3). This sharp rebuke by the Lord Jesus was well deserved, for His critics were challenging Him to prove His right to be heard by performing a miracle. But they had already been confronted with a tremendous body of evidence, both in their Scriptures and in the very life and teachings of Jesus, as well as in the miracles already wrought by Him, that He was their Messiah. They paid great attention to weather forecasting and other mundane matters, while ignoring or rejecting the evidence that God Himself, in Christ, was in their midst. Today we are more occupied with daily weather even than they were, with all sorts of forecasting devices in operation. There is also a growing army of doomsday forecasters, loudly concerned about a predicted nuclear winter, over- population, pollution, alien invasions from outer space, and a host of other foreboding secular "signs of the times." Yet they ignore the overwhelming evidences, both in science and Scripture, that our great Creator/Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, is still in control and is coming again soon to fulfill His great purposes in creation and redemption. A mere listing of the many real signs of God's times would take many pages. One such sign, of course, is this very proliferation of science and technology. At "the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased" (Daniel 12:4). Another is the great following achieved by these false teachers, as multitudes "turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables" (II Timothy 4:4). "Hypocrites," Jesus said, are concerned with secular trends, but spiritual discerners can recognize the true signs. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ September 7, Monday LABOR "We beseech you, brethren, that ye increase more and more; And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; that ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing" (I Thessalonians 4:10-12). On Labor Day, we traditionally take time to recognize the great work force here in America. From factories to restaurants, from typing pools to machine shops, from school rooms to gas stations, laborers help make the economy run, and on this day, America honors its work force. The Bible likewise frequently commends those who work. For example: "Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth" (Ephesians 4:28). Several of the words in our text are significant. The verbs "increase ... study ... be ... do ... work ... walk ... lack" are all in the tense implying a habit, or lifestyle. We are thus commended to have a mind set of work, not laziness, or expecting others to do for us what we can do for ourselves. The word "honestly" elsewhere is translated decently, or properly, and is emphasized in the Greek. There is a proper way to walk. Perhaps Paul was referring to his own example: "For ye remember, brethren, our labor and travail: for laboring night and day, because we would not be changeable unto any of you" (I Thessalonians 2:9). Note that an admonition to continue in "brotherly love" (v.9) is the context of our text. For one who refuses to work and becomes a burden to society exhibits a lack of brotherly love, and is a reproach to the community of Christ. Laborers are honored in Scripture, and so is labor. JDM ________________________________________________________________________ September 8, Tuesday THE RAIN AND THE WORD "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, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: 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). In these familiar verses, there is a beautiful anticipation and spiritual application of the so-called "hydrologic cycle" of the science of hydrogeology. The rain and snow fall from the heavens and eventually return there (via the marvelous process of river and ground water run-off to the oceans), then later evaporation by solar radiation and translation inland high in the sky by the world's great wind circuits, finally to fall again as rain and snow on the thirsty land. But they do not return until they first have accomplished their work of watering the earth, providing and renewing the world's water and food supplies to maintain its life. Analogously, God's Word goes forth from heaven via His revealed Scriptures and their distribution and proclamation by His disciples. It does not return void, for it accomplishes God's spiritual work on Earth. But it does return, for it is "forever ... settled in heaven" (Psalm 119:89). The fruitful spreading of God's Word is presented in many other Scriptures. For example: "Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days. ... In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good" (Ecclesiastes 11:1,6). Thus, as we sow and water the seed, which is the Word of God, we have God's divine promise that it will accomplish that which He pleases. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ September 9, Wednesday A STRANGE TEACHER "How much less man, that is a worm? and the son of man, which is a worm?" (Job 25:6). The Bible uses many different kinds of object lessons to teach spiritual truth, but none stranger than the worm. First, the worm teaches us that man is insignificant in comparison to God. In Job 25, Bildad states that creation's glory is nothing in comparison to God's glory. "Upon whom doth not His light arise? Behold even to the moon, and it shineth not; yea, the stars are not pure (bright) in his sight" (vs.3,5). Then he adds, "How much less man, that is a worm?" (v.6). What is man in comparison to God? It is no wonder that Bildad exclaims: "How then can man be justified with God? or how can he be clean that is born of a woman?" (v.4). The worm also teaches us that Christ was willing to become as lowly as we in order to save us. Psalm 22 is David's great prophetic view of the crucifixion. Over and over he lists the events of the cross. But none is more startling than his statement in verse 6, "But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people." What a contrast between the "I AM" and "I am a worm." On the cross, Christ became lower than the lowest man. He took our place; became our substitute and sacrifice. Christ is God's answer to Bildad's question about justification and holiness. The worm also teaches us that Christians will be scorned by the world. Jacob (Israel) has always been considered as a worm to the world. "Fear not, thou worm Jacob, and ye men of Israel; I will help thee, saith the LORD" (Isaiah 41:14). Can we as Christians expect any better treatment from the world? Finally, the worm illustrates great hope to the Christian. "And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God" (Job 19:26)--but it is a sign of great terror to the unsaved, for in hell "their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched" (Mark 9:44,46,48). NPS ________________________________________________________________________ September 10, Thursday THAT YE MIGHT BELIEVE "And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through His name" (John 20:30,31). The Gospel of John is the one book of the Bible specifically written with the purpose of leading men to Jesus Christ and salvation. It is structured around seven specially selected miracles of creation, or "signs" (John 2:11; 4:53,54; 5:9; 6:13,14; 6:19-21; 9:6,7; 11:43-45), each requiring supernatural power as well as knowledge. The book also contains many affirmations of His deity (there are seven great "I am" statements) and many exhortations to believe on Him (e.g., John 3:16), interspersed around the seven signs. Finally, there is the detailed description of the last supper, the crucifixion, and the resurrection, climaxed by the glorious affirmation of faith by doubting Thomas, and then our text stating the purpose of the entire book, as found in our text. If we are to be effective witnesses for Christ, we can do no better than to follow this same procedure. It is most significant that this begins with a strong emphasis on the special creation of all things, with an exposition showing that Christ Himself is the Creator (John 1:1-14). The judicious use of Christian evidences (e.g., the miracles) demonstrating the truth of His many claims of deity, climaxed by the overwhelming proofs of His own bodily resurrection (John 20:1-29), all interwoven with an uncompromising emphasis on the inerrant authority of Scripture (e.g., John 5:39-47; 10:34-36) and a clear exposition of His substitutionary death and the necessity of personal faith in Him for salvation (especially John 3:1-18) all combine to make the most effective way of bringing men to an intelligent, well-grounded decision to receive Christ as Savior and Lord. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ September 11, Friday DEFENDING THE GOSPEL "But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defense of the gospel" (Philippians 1:17). Many Christians today decry the use of apologetics or evidences in Christian witnessing, feeling it is somehow dishonoring to the Lord or to the Scriptures to try to defend them. But as our text indicates, the apostle Paul did not agree with this. The gospel does need defending, and he was set for its defense against the attacks of its adversaries. He also told his disciples that "in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace" (Philippians 1:7). The Greek word translated "defense" is apologia, from which we derive our English word "apologetics." It is a legal term, meaning the case made by a defense attorney on behalf of a defendant under attack by a prosecutor. Thus, the apostle is saying: "I am set to give an apologetic for the gospel--a logical, systematic (scientific if necessary) defense of the gospel against all the attacks of its adversaries." Since we are "partakers" with him in this defense, we also need to be set for its defense. We must "be ready always to give an answer (same word, apologia) to every man that asketh (us) a reason of the hope that is in (us)" (I Peter 3:15). Any Christian who shares his faith with the unsaved has encountered many who cannot believe the simple plan of salvation until his questions are answered. We must be familiar with the "many infallible proofs" (Acts 1:3) of the deity of Christ and His power to save, both as omnipotent Creator and sin-bearing Savior. We must "search the Scriptures daily" and also study the "witness" He has given in the creation (Acts 17:11; 14:17) if we are to do this effectively, bringing forth fruit that will "remain" (John 15:16) instead of fruit that has withered away, "because it had no root" (Mark 4:6). The gospel is under vicious attack today, so may God help us to be among its victorious defenders. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ September 12, Saturday PROFIT AND LOSS "For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Matthew 16:26). In these materialistic days, many people have become abnormally occupied with investments and returns, capital gains and losses, balance sheets and cash flows. This is nothing new, of course. The prevalence of covetousness is so universal, in one form or another, that God had to place a prohibition on it in the Ten Commandments. The Lord Jesus made a heart-searching comparison one day, when He posed a surprising question relative to divine bookkeeping. Not even the riches of all the world could purchase one human soul, yet men often seem willing to sacrifice their souls in pursuit of riches. Is such an exchange really a sound investment? Merely to ask the question is to answer it. Earning wealth is good, if it is acquired honorably and by the will of God, but coveting wealth and hoarding wealth are foolish sins. Here is another of many divine profit-and-loss statements: "There is (he) that maketh himself rich, yet hath nothing: there is (he) that maketh himself poor, yet hath great riches" (Proverbs 13:7). The true measure of profit and loss is the balance sheet kept up in heaven. One must first glean an account there, however, and this means coming to God empty-handed, on the basis of Christ's free gift of His own riches. "Though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich" (II Cor- inthians 8:9). He died for us, that we might live through Him. Then, once our heavenly account is established, here is real investment counseling: "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth ... : But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, ... for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Matthew 6:19-21). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ September 13, Sunday FOR OUR TRANSGRESSIONS "But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed" (Isaiah 53:5). The 53rd chapter of Isaiah (actually the chapter should begin at Isaiah 52:13) contains the clearest and fullest exposition of the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ for our sins to be found in all the Bible. Our text verse is the central verse of this chapter, which, in turn, is the central chapter of Isaiah's second division, Chapters 40-66. Although the chapter-and-verse divisions of the Bible were not part of the original inspired text, it almost seems that some of them-- notably here in Isaiah--were somehow providentially guided. Part I of Isaiah contains 39 chapters and Part II 27 chapters, just as the Old and New Testaments have 39 and 27 books, respectively. Likewise, the major themes of the two Testaments--law and judgment in the Old, grace and salvation in the New--respectively dominate the two divisions of Isaiah. Many other correlations can be discerned--for example the second division begins with the prophecy of John the Baptist and ends with the prophecy of the new heavens and the new earth, just as the New Testament does. Be that as it may, this central verse of the central chapter of Isaiah's salvation division surely displays the very heart of the gospel. Christ was "wounded" (literally "thrust through," as with great spikes) and "bruised" (literally "crushed to death") for our sins. On the other hand, we receive "peace" with God because He was chastised (i.e., "disciplined") in our place, and we are forever "healed" of our lethal sin-sickness because He received the "stripes" (i.e., great welts caused by severe blows) that should have been ours. What wondrous love is this! HMM ________________________________________________________________________ September 14, Monday THE OLD PATHS AND THE GOOD WAY "Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein" (Jeremiah 6:16). Ever since the rise of modern science, and especially since the resurgence of ancient paganism in the guise of modern evolutionary "science," there has developed a sort of social compulsion to follow after whatever seems to be new. There are new philosophies and new religions and "modernized" versions of traditional doctrines--always some new idea. But the eternal God does not change with the times. With Him, there "is no variableness, neither shadow of turning" (James 1:17). "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever" (Hebrews 13:8). No one questions the value of true advances in science and technology. In fact, this is implicit in the primeval dominion mandate to "subdue" the earth (Genesis 1:28). All these "new" trends in morality and religion, however, are really only ancient immoralities and ancient evolutionism refurbished in modern terminology. It is such as these that the prophet deplored. The "old paths" constitute the "good way," and God's people will never find true soul-rest until they "walk therein." "Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set" (Proverbs 22:28). The New Testament similarly rebukes all those idle "philosophers" who "spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing" (Acts 17:18,21). When the true gospel comes, however, it is genuine "good news" to all who are not merely curious to hear "this new doctrine" (Acts 17:19), but who will appropriate it for themselves by faith. This new doctrine, in fact, is not new at all, but is that "hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began" (Titus 1:2). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ September 15, Tuesday WHAT TIME IS IT? "Peter saith unto Him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? Jesus answered ... What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter" (John 13:6,7). Jesus knew He had come from God and was going to God (v.3)--the past and the future. He also understood principles that would successfully govern the present lives of those who would follow Him. When He attempted to model one of His most precious life principles (servanthood), impetuous Peter said, "Never! No way will you ever wash my feet!" (v.8). Peter had several lessons to learn that day. Jesus, ever loving and ever wise, assured him that He had a plan which was for more than just the future--it even spanned the present. Peter obviously didn't understand in the "now," but he would understand "later." Jesus added that growth in perception hinged on one thing-- submission. "If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me" (v.8). To Peter, submission was a humiliating price to pay--but the alternative was unbearable. It's not easy to let the Lord do something strange and seemingly untimely in our lives or in another's. Sometimes He goes against reason --sometimes we think He has lost control. Has He forgotten what time it is? But just as He paused to remind Peter, Jesus might lovingly look up from His work clothes and earthly utensils and say to us, "You do not understand now what I am doing, but you will understand later. Submit to me in this one thing now, so you can continue being my disciple." Our hearts may struggle momentarily, but the yearning to be His disciple cries out a glad "Yes! Yes! I will yield! Even though it doesn't seem right just now; even if I don't understand, you, Lord, haven't forgotten the time. You alone can see from the perspective of past, present, and future, and I will only understand later, as you teach me. Lord, do what you want to do in my life." KLB ________________________________________________________________________ September 16, Wednesday GOOD AFFLICTION "It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I might learn thy statutes" (Psalm 119:71). This seems like a strange testimony. Affliction is often accompanied by complaining or discouragement, but seldom by a statement of satisfaction and thankfulness, such as in our text for today. Nevertheless, in terms of the long-range goal of character development, afflictions are good for us, helping to make us more Christ-like, and preparing us for our ministry of service to Him in the age to come (Revelation 22:3), if only we profit from them and submit to them as we should. "Before I was afflicted I went astray:" testifies the psalmist, "but now have I kept thy Word. ... This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy Word hath quickened me" (Psalm 119:67,50). Such testimonies have been echoed innumerable times throughout the centuries, as godly men and women have drawn closer to the Lord through His comforting Word during times of affliction than they ever were during times of ease. In fact, afflictions often draw even the unsaved to the Lord. They would never come when things are going well, but many do come when, in times of sorrow or rejection, they are forced to the end of their resources. It is then that "godly sorrow (literally, `sorrow from God') worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of" (II Corinthians 7:10). As God's people suffered in ancient times, it was said: "In all their affliction He was afflicted, and the angel of His presence saved them: in His love and in His pity He redeemed them" (Isaiah 63:9). Although no such affliction "for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby" (Hebrews 12:11). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ September 17, Thursday THE TWO WAYS "For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish" (Psalm 1:6). This concluding verse of the first psalm outlines the inescapable truth that there are only two roads and two destinations to which they lead in eternity. The word "way" (Hebrew derek) means "road." There is only one way leading to heaven--the way of the righteous, and one way leading to hell--the way of the ungodly. This is a very common word in Scripture, but it is significant that its first occurrence is in Genesis 3:24, referring to "the way of the tree of life." Once expelled from the Garden of Eden because of their rebellion, Adam and Eve no longer could travel that "way" of life, and began to die. The equivalent Greek word in the New Testament is hodos, also meaning "road," and it, too, occurs quite frequently. Its literal meaning-- that of an actual roadway--lends itself very easily to the figure of a style of life whose practice leads inevitably to a certain destiny. Since there are only two basic ways of looking at life--the God-centered viewpoint and the man-centered viewpoint--there are only two ways of life, the way of the godly and the way of the ungodly. The one leads to life; the other to death. There is no other way. The Lord Jesus taught: "Enter ye in at the strait (i.e., `narrow') gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it" (Matthew 7:13,14). "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death" (Proverbs 14:12; 16:25). But what is the way of the righteous, that leads to life? "I am the Way," said the Lord Jesus: "no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me" (John 14:6). "This is the way, walk ye in it" (Isaiah 30:21). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ September 18, Friday THE SIN OF LAZINESS "As the door turneth upon his hinges, so doth the slothful upon his bed" (Proverbs 26:14). This is one of the more colorful of numerous colorful verses in the book of Proverbs which rebukes the sin of laziness. Note a few of the others: "The way of the slothful man is as a hedge of thorns" (Proverbs 15:19). "A slothful man hideth his hand in his bosom, and will not so much as bring it to his mouth again" (Proverbs 19:24). "The desire of the slothful killeth him, for his hands refuse to labor" (Proverbs 21:25). "The slothful man saith, There is a lion without, I shall be slain in the streets" (Proverbs 22:13). "Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: ... How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? ... Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man" (Proverbs 6:6,9,10,11). "As vinegar to the teeth, and as smoke to the eyes, so is the sluggard to them that send him" (Proverbs 10:26). "The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold; therefore shall he beg in harvest, and have nothing" (Proverbs 20:4). The writer of Proverbs had little sympathy for lazy people and their self-induced problems! It seems he continually devised new figures of speech with which to shame them into action. Indolence is a distressing characteristic in anyone, but it is inexcusable in a Christian. "For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labor of love, which ye have shewed toward His name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister. And we desire ... That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises" (Hebrews 6:10-12). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ September 19, Saturday HANNAH'S PORTION "And when the time was that Elkanah offered, he gave to Peninnah his wife, and to all her sons and her daughters, portions: But unto Hannah he gave a worthy portion; for he loved Hannah: but the LORD had shut up her womb" (I Samuel 1:4,5). Elkanah, a Levite, had two wives, Peninnah and Hannah. Peninnah was blessed with sons and daughters by Elkanah, but Hannah was barren, up to the verses studied here. This barrenness was not for a lack of love on her husband's part, for he loved her more than his other wife, but rather because "the LORD had shut up her womb." Added to that, Peninnah taunted Hannah about her inability to bear children. Hannah took her petition directly to God (v.10). She "poured out (her) soul before the LORD" (v.15). Watching this anguished soul was Eli, the descendant of Aaron, who was a priest and a judge in Israel. She explained her grief and Eli blessed her by asking God to grant her petition. "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much" (James 5:16). Soon Hannah conceived and delivered a son, whom we know now to be Samuel (which means "asked of God"). Her vow at the time of her petition was to give Samuel back to the Lord--which she did, after he was weaned. Consider the outcome of the prayer of this righteous person: a blessing to the nation Israel, God turning the hearts of the people back to Him, and a promise to Hannah to fulfill her motherhood. Her portion from Elkanah was a "worthy portion," but her portion from the Lord was even greater. Expectant prayer to God out of a right heart brings much blessing. Her gift to God, Samuel, follows the Luke 6:38 principle: "Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom." KBC ________________________________________________________________________ September 20, Sunday SONGS IN THE NIGHT "Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me. Yet the LORD will command His loving kindness in the daytime, and in the night His song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life" (Psalm 42:7,8). There are times in the life of a believer when he seems about to sink under great avalanches of trouble and sorrow. But then "I call to remembrance my song in the night" (Psalm 77:6), and God answers once again. In the book of Psalms, the theme of conflict and suffering is prominent, but there is always also the note of hope and ultimate triumph. The very first psalm, for example, notes the conflict of the righteous with the ungodly, but promises that "the way of the ungodly shall perish" (v.6). The second psalm foretells the final rebellion of the heathen against God and His anointed, but assures us that God will "vex them in His sore displeasure" (vs.2,5). In Psalm 3, the believer says: "Many are they that rise up against me." But then he remembers that "salvation belongeth unto the LORD" (vs.1,8). He cries in the 4th psalm: "Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness: thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress; have mercy upon me, and hear my prayer" (v.1). In Psalm 5, immediately after the first imprecation in the psalms ("Cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions"), occurs the first specific mention of singing in the book of psalms: "Let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice; let them ever shout (literally `sing') for joy, because thou defendest them" (vs.10,11). The Lord Jesus and His disciples sang a psalm, even as they went out into the night of His betrayal and condemnation (Mark 14:26). This is His gracious promise: "Ye shall have a song, as in the night. ... And the LORD shall cause His glorious voice to be heard" (Isaiah 30:29,30). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ September 21, Monday MEDITATION "This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success" (Joshua 1:8). This well-known verse contains the first use of the Hebrew verb for "meditate" (hagah) in the Bible and, significantly, it is a command to meditate on the Scriptures. Such meditation is not mere quietness or daydreaming, but is thoughtful- ness with a purpose--to obey "all that is written therein." Meditation for its own sake, without being centered on God's Word, is often useless or even harmful. Witness the Western proliferation of Eastern "meditation cults" (T.M., etc.) in recent years, which lead their devotees into pantheism and occultism. Isaiah 8:19 warns against "wizards that peep, and that mutter [same word as `meditate']." "Why do ... the people imagine [same word] a vain thing?" (Psalm 2:1). The blessed man is the one whose "delight is in the law of the LORD; and in His law doth he meditate day and night" (Psalm 1:2). That is, only if we are continually guided by the Holy Scriptures will we be happy and successful. In the New Testament, the Greek word for "meditate" (melatao) is used only twice. Once, it is translated "imagine" (Acts 4:25) and is in a quotation of Psalm 2:1, as above. The last time it is used, however, its emphasis reverts back to the context of its first usage, as in our text above. Paul commands us: "Give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. ... Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all" (I Timothy 4:13,15). Modern meditationists say that the goal of meditation is to clear our minds of "things," but God wants us to meditate on "these things"--the life-giving, life-directing doctrines of His Word. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ September 22, Tuesday THE REMARKABLE BURIAL OF JESUS "Joseph of Arimathaea, an honorable counselor, which also waited for the kingdom of God, came, and went in boldly unto Pilate, and craved the body of Jesus" (Mark 15:43). The account of the burial of Jesus by two members of the Sanhedrin, Joseph and Nicodemus, is one of the most mysteriously fascinating records in the Bible. Joseph was "a rich man of Arimathaea" (not Jerusalem), so how did he happen to have available "his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock" (Matthew 27:57,60) to receive the body of Jesus? Why would he labor so to prepare his own tomb within sight and sound of Calvary, where the ugly crucifixion of criminals was such a frequent occurrence? He had even planted a garden there! And how could the elderly Nicodemus immediately carry "a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight" (John 19:39) to meet Joseph who had also bought fine linen with which to bury Him? Joseph had gone to Pilate so soon after his death that "Pilate marvelled if he were already dead" (Mark 15:44). It seems the only plausible answer to such questions is to assume that these two secret disciples of the Lord had planned far ahead of time to perform this special ministry. Somehow, they knew He must be crucified, so they prepared the tomb and the burial materials in advance. When He was arrested and condemned, they waited in the tomb until He died, then immediately went into action. Once He died, unbelieving eyes never saw Him again, nor did unbelieving hands ever touch Him. The two friends gave Him an honorable burial, and then are never mentioned again. Somehow they must have known they were ordained by God to fulfill the 700-year-old prophecy of Isaiah 53:9. "And He made His grave with the wicked, and with the rich in His death." They did what they could for their Savior. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ September 23, Wednesday LOOKING OR LOOKED AT? "Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven" (Matthew 6:1). The "hypocrites" of Matthew 6, although they had set themselves up as the religious leaders of the Jews, were motivated solely by a desire to appear religious before others. Jesus repeatedly condemned them in passages such as "all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries ... and love the uppermost rooms at feasts ... and greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi" (Matthew 23:5-7). "They love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men" (Matthew 6:5). John the Baptist called the Pharisees and the Sadducees a "generation of vipers" (Matthew 3:7) and Jesus said they appeared "beautiful outward," but were "within full of dead men's bones" (Matthew 23:27). In their prideful concern to appear righteous, they neglected to look to the Righteous One in their midst whom the God they claimed to represent had provided that they "might be made the righteousness of God in Him" (II Corinthians 5:21). It is far more necessary to look "unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith" (Hebrews 12:2) than to worry about being looked at by others. This is not to say we do not care about others. The Christian's outward, selfless look at the needs of others includes the "look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal" (John 4:35,36). The scribes and Pharisees had their reward, for they were seen of men, but the reward of the laborer in the soul harvest awaits him in eternity, when the One he has looked to says, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant" (Matthew 25:21). CJH ________________________________________________________________________ September 24, Thursday THE GOD WHO PROVIDES "Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost" (Romans 15:13). God's provisions for the believer include far more than physical necessities. These are indicated by seven beautiful titles ascribed to Him in the New Testament: (1) The God of love: First of all, we need love, and "God is love" (I John 4:8). Then "the fruit of the Spirit is love" in our lives (Galatians 5:22) because He Himself is "the God of love and peace" (II Corinthians 13:11). (2) The God of all grace: God saves us by His grace, and then we need to "grow in grace" (II Peter 3:18). This we can do because "the God of all grace ... hath called us unto His eternal glory" (I Peter 5:10). (3) The God of peace: He satisfies the need for peace of soul in the believer's life and He is called "the God of peace" five times in the New Testament (Romans 15:33; 16:20; Philippians 4:9; I Thessalonians 5:23; Hebrews 13:20). (4) The God of all comfort: Our God is called "the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort," because He "comforteth us in all our tribulation," thus enabling us also to provide comfort to others "by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God" (II Corinthians 1:3,4). (5) The God of patience: We do "have need of patience" (Hebrews 10:36), and this need also is supplied by "the God of patience and consolation" (Romans 15:5). (6) The God of glory: It was "the God of glory" who first called Abraham (Acts 7:2), and through the Word, we also "are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord" (II Corinthians 3:18). (7) The God of hope: By His Spirit, He fills us with joy and peace, with power, and abundant hope--blessing us "with all spiritual blessings ... in Christ" (Ephesians 1:3). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ September 25, Friday THE DAY OF VISITATION "Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation" (I Peter 2:12). This unique expression, "in the day of visitation," based on a surprising use of the Greek word episkope, occurs one other time in such a way, when Christ wept over Jerusalem, and pronounced its coming judgment. "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). Now this word, episkope, and its derivatives, are usually translated as "bishop," "office of a bishop," or "bishopric," and it seems strange at first that it could also mean "visitation." However, its basic meaning is "overseer," or "oversight," and the Lord Jesus Christ Himself is really the "Shepherd and Bishop of (our) souls" (I Peter 2:25), as well as that of nations and, indeed, every aspect of every life. As a bishop or pastor ("shepherd") is responsible for the "oversight" of his local church, or flock, so Christ is "that great shepherd of the sheep," the true "bishop of our souls," the overseer of all people in every age and nation. In His great plan of the ages, the Jews, and then the Gentiles, each have been entrusted with a time of "visitation," or "oversight," of God's witness to the world. Sadly, the Jews "knew not the time of (their) visitation" (Luke 19:44) and, as for Judas, the Lord had to say "(their) bishopric let another take" (Acts 1:20). Now, in God's providence, it is the time of Gentile oversight, and it is eternally important that we who know His salvation today glorify God by our good works, with our "conversation (i.e., lifestyle), honest among the Gentiles," in our own "day of visitation." HMM ________________________________________________________________________ September 26, Saturday THE EVERLASTING COVENANT "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" (Hebrews 13:20). This is the only verse in the book of Hebrews that refers specifically to Christ's resurrection from the dead. It occurs at the climactic conclusion of the book, which had previously referred at least 17 times to the atoning death of Christ, and is associated with God's everlasting covenant with His people. The covenant theme is strong in the book of Hebrews. The Greek word (diatheke), which is also frequently translated "testament," occurs more in Hebrews than in all the rest of the New Testament (or "New Covenant") put together. The word basically means a contract, especially one for disposition of an inheritance. A number of God's divine covenants are mentioned in Scripture, but the writer of Hebrews is especially concerned with God's new covenant (or "new testament"). It is surely the most significant of all covenants. This new covenant is also called "a better covenant" (Hebrews 7:22; 8:6). It is best defined in Hebrews 8:10,12, quoting Jeremiah 31:33: "I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: ... and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more." Christ is "the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance" (Hebrews 9:15). The inheritance is eternal because the covenant is everlasting. The blood of the covenant is the infinitely precious blood of Christ, whom God has raised from the dead, and now "He ever liveth to make intercession" for all those who "come unto God by Him" (Hebrews 7:25). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ September 27, Sunday THE DIVINE SEARCH "And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none" (Ezekiel 22:30). The divine search was on, but no one was found to do the Lord's work. How tragic! He sought for a committed servant, but He found none. That was then: But what about today? For what kind of man is God searching? First, God is searching for a man who will really pray. "And He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor" (Isaiah 59:16). "There is none that calleth upon thy name" (Isaiah 64:7). God was amazed that there were no intercessors. Is the Lord just as amazed at us? Secondly, God is searching for a man who longs for a deeper Christian experience. "There is none ... that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee" (Isaiah 64:7). Do we "hunger and thirst after righteousness" (Matthew 5:6), or is God amazed at our lack of spiritual desire? "Woe to them that are at ease in Zion" (Amos 6:1). Thirdly, God is searching for a man who will love the souls of men. David said, "I looked on my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man that would know me ... no man cared for my soul" (Psalm 142:4). Soul winning comes from the very heart of God. Do we share that burden with God? Or are lost souls around us saying, "No man cares for my soul"? In Ezekiel's day, no one could be found to do the Lord's work because all of God's people were serving sin instead of the Lord. "Her prophets ... devoured souls" (v.25), "her priests have violated my law" (v.26), "her ... princes are like wolves ravening" (v.27), and "the people ... have used oppression" (v.29). Sin is the great barrier to service. God still desires servants to "make up the hedge, and stand in the gap." Will He find us, or are we part of the "but I found none" group? NPS ________________________________________________________________________ September 28, Monday PLACES HE HAS BEEN "And Judas also, which betrayed Him, knew the place: for Jesus oft times resorted thither with His disciples" (John 18:2). In the 18th and 19th chapters of John's gospel, there are four "places" where Jesus had to go to accomplish our salvation. The first was the place, as noted in our text: He, "knowing all things that should come upon Him" (John 18:4), nevertheless went directly to that place, knowing that Judas would meet Him there. Then He went to the place of trial: "Pilate ... brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called ... Gabbatha" (John 19:13). But He did not stay there long; the mockery of a trial was soon over, and Pilate delivered Him to be crucified. "And they took Jesus, and led Him away. And He bearing His cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull" (John 19:16,17). And in that place called Golgotha, He died for our sins. He was betrayed in a place called Gethsemane, condemned in a place called Gabbatha, and crucified in a place called Golgotha. But that was not all; He must yet be laid in a tomb. "Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid. There laid they Jesus" (John 19:41,42). And that also was the place from which He arose, and our salvation was secured forever! Now, just before this amazing four-place itinerary of our Lord Jesus, He had promised still another place to which He would be going. "In my Father's house are many mansions. ... I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also" (John 14:2,3). Because He went to a place called Calvary, we shall soon be with Him forever in a place called Heaven! HMM ________________________________________________________________________ September 29, Tuesday THE TRINITY IN THE OLD TESTAMENT "Come ye near unto me, hear ye this: I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; from the time that it was, there am I: and now the LORD God, and His Spirit, hath sent me" (Isaiah 48:16). It is significant that Biblical Christianity is the only trinitarian religion--and therefore the only true religion--in the world. Most religions--Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, etc.--are pantheistic and humanistic, denying the existence of an omnipotent God who created the space/time cosmos. There are two other major religions, however, that are monotheistic, believing in the God of creation and in the creation record in Genesis--Judaism and Islam. However, these two fail to understand that the Creator must also be the Redeemer, and therefore they also become humanistic, believing that man must achieve salvation by his own efforts. Further, they also fail to acknowledge that God's objective work of redemption must be made subjective in each person by the indwelling personal presence of the omnipresent Creator/Redeemer. All this is beautifully revealed in the New Testament in the doctrine of the triune God--Father, Son, and Holy Spirit--one God in three Persons, incomprehensibly human, but very real (see John 15:26; etc.). This wonderful revelation of the Godhead was foreshadowed in the very beginning--the Father creating; the Spirit moving; the Son speaking (Genesis 1:1; 1:2; 1:3). In our text above, again it is the Son (as the living Word of God), prophesying about His coming mission of redemption, saying that "the LORD God, and His Spirit, hath sent me." Then, when He had finished His work and could return to the Father, He promised the coming of "the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name," and that He would "abide with you forever" (John 14:26,16). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ September 30, Wednesday REST "The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; He will save, He will rejoice over thee with joy; He will rest in His love, He will joy over thee with singing" (Zephaniah 3:17). In the midst of our hurried and sometimes harried lives, it is good to pause and reflect on the various types of rest discussed and/or promised in Scripture. In our text, Israel (and by extension the New Testament saint) is promised rest in the coming Kingdom. The first rest was that of God as He finished His "very good" (Genesis 1:31) creation and "rested from all His work which God created and made" (2:3). This perfect state was broken through Adam's rebellion and the resultant curse, which meant that God had to go to work again, this time to redeem His fallen creation. In His marvelous work of redemption, however, sweet rest is available both to us and to Him, for "It is finished" (John 19:30). Nothing remains to be done. To the sinner, Jesus invites, "Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28) in salvation. To the believer, He promises "Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; ... and ye shall find rest unto your souls" (v.29). To the weary disciple, He entreats, "Come ye yourselves apart (with Me) into a desert place, and rest a while" (Mark 6:31). There is also a rest in death. "Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors" (Revelation 14:13). "To you who are troubled rest with us" (II Thessalonians 1:7) in the fact that there is a coming judgment on your persecutors, who "shall have no rest day nor night" (Revelation 14:11). "There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into His rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from His. Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest" (Hebrews 4:9-11). JDM ________________________________________________________________________ October 1, Thursday THE POWERFUL HAND OF GOD "Mine hand also hath laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand hath spanned the heavens: when I call unto them, they stand up together" (Isaiah 48:13). The human hand is an anatomical marvel; nothing remotely comparable exists among the primates or any other animals. It is a marvel of design. But surely the "hand of God"--of which man's hand is only a very dim shadow--is infinitely more powerful and skillful. Note the testimony of Isaiah 45:12: "I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded." God did not have to use intermediate processes or pre-existing materials. Everything was "commanded" into existence and "I, even my hands," made all of it, including man. Creation was direct--a direct product of God's mighty hands. Not only was it direct, it was also immediate, as our text above makes emphatically plain. His hand laid the earth's foundation and spanned the heavens. Then, "When I call unto them," He says, "they stand up together!" Not one by one--first the universe, then the sun, then the earth, and so on. No, "they stand up together." "He spake, and it was done" (Psalm 33:9). It did not take 16 billion years; it took six days--and the only reason it took that long was so that God's work week could serve as a pattern for man (Exodus 20:8-11). God's hand is omnipotent, and "He's got the whole world in His hand." It is wonderful to know His hand is gentle and loving as well as powerful. His hands will bear eternal scars, where they were spiked to the cross, because He loved us, and died for us. "My sheep hear my voice," He says, "and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand" (John 10:27,28). The hand that spanned the heavens can hold on to those who trust Him. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ October 2, Friday CHRIST AND CLOTHING "And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed" (Genesis 2:25). The attitude of our first parents to their nakedness changed after the fall. At first there was no shame in nakedness, but the next chapter of Genesis, reporting their fall into sin, says that "the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked" (v.7). Adam and Eve "hid themselves from the presence of the LORD" (v.8). The Lord in turn made "coats of skins, and clothed them" (v.21). Not only did our Lord make provision for clothing, however, but He Himself suffered the indignity of exposure while hanging on the cross. The soldiers "took His garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part" (John 19:23). They also took His seamless "coat" (khiton in Greek, the part worn next to the skin) and gambled for it (vs.23,24). Not only did this fulfill prophecy concerning the Messiah (Psalm 22:18), but Jesus was even suffering the shame of nakedness so that we might be clothed forever in the robes of His righteousness! Jesus said, "I counsel thee to buy ... white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear . . ." (Revelation 3:18). In Revelation 7:13,14 we read that "one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes?" The answer came, "These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." The Lord Jesus Christ was that Lamb, typified by the animal or animals used to provide covering for Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:21). The Creator, who sacrificed one or more of His creatures to cover our first parents, sacrificed Himself to cover us with His love. He is worthy of our love and devotion. PGH ________________________________________________________________________ October 3, Saturday COMFORT OF THE SCRIPTURES "I remembered thy judgments of old, O LORD; and have comforted myself" (Psalm 119:52). In this present evil world, there is no greater comfort than the word of God. The Word is faithful to record the fact that God indeed takes care of His own. The following are examples of God's care based on II Peter 2:4-9. If God is strong enough to chain up the sinful angels "to be reserved unto judgment" (II Peter 2:4; Revelation 9:14), than "greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world" (I John 4:4). If God ran out of patience with Sodom and Gomorrah (vs.6-8), then we can be assured this present evil world will one day be subject to the One out of whose mouth "goeth a sharp sword, that with it He should smite the nations: and He shall rule them with a rod of iron: and He treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God" (Revelation 19:15). If God still cared about Lot (v.7) who found himself in the worst possible situation, then He will remember us for His "goodness' sake" (Psalm 25:7). If God did not tolerate the sin of the antediluvian world (v.5), but destroyed it with a worldwide flood, then we can believe the record of Peter that destruction is coming again. "But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men" (II Peter 3:7). If God was faithful to Noah throughout his hundred- year-long project, we can believe that "He which hath begun a good work ... will perform it" (Philippians 1:6). If God can preserve Noah's family of eight, it is certain He is able to be "my hiding place," and to "preserve me from trouble," and "compass me about with songs of deliverance" (Psalm 32:7). CJH ________________________________________________________________________ October 4, Sunday THE GIRDLE OF TRUTH "Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand" (Ephesians 6:13). There are many military metaphors in Scripture, but none more famous than this passage on the "armor of God." We are commanded to "put on the whole armor" so we can "stand" (be firm, well established) against "the wiles of the devil" (Ephesians 6:11). Each piece is crucial. "Truth" is first on the list (v.14). This "girdle" (lower body armor) was designed to protect from wounds which, though not fatal, would cause extreme pain and incapacity. Truth is our protection against Satan's lie. "He is a liar" and does not live "in the truth, because there is no truth in him" (John 8:44). Satan's strength is in this untruth which he uses to be "the deceiver of the whole world" (Revelation 12:9). In fact, we are warned by Paul that the devil is able to disguise himself and "his ministers" as "ministers of righteousness" (II Corinthians 11:15). We can be spoiled by philosophy and other false teachings (Colossians 2:8). We can be beguiled by good-sounding words (Colossians 2:4). We can be tossed to and fro by crafty and deceptive men (Ephesians 4:14). We can even depart from the faith after listening to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils (I Timothy 4:1). Our defense against each of these potential disasters is Truth. Truth is the essence of the strength of Jesus who claimed to be Truth personified (John 14:6) as He fulfilled His mission as spokesman for the father (John 12:46-50). That "Truth" is now verified by the Holy Spirit (John 16:13-15) and by the Word of God (John 17:17). We are to be doers of the Word (James 1:22), being willing to walk in the truth (III John 3), and to let our deeds be made manifest by doing truth (John 3:21). HMM, III ________________________________________________________________________ October 5, Monday THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS "Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness" (Ephesians 6:14). The "stand" which the Christian is expected to make against the "principalities and powers" of wickedness (Ephesians 6:12,13) is in large part made possible by the protection provided by the great breastplate of righteousness--the strong, upper-body armor designed to ward off fatal blows of the enemy to our vital organs. Obviously, the strength of this armor can be none other than the spiritual "power of His might" (Ephesians 6:10). "The LORD my strength ... My goodness ... my shield, and He in whom I trust" (Psalm 144:1,2). This is none other than the gift of righteousness by which we reign in life (Romans 5:17), the new man of holiness (Ephesians 4:24), appropriated "through the faith of Christ" (Philippians 3:9), by which we are "made the righteousness of God in Him" (II Corinthians 5:21). "Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift" (II Corinthians 9:15). Yet, we are told we must take up and put on this armor (Ephesians 6:11-13). As soldiers engaged in active warfare, we are to "put on righteousness as a breastplate" (Isaiah 59:17), flee the desires of youth and "follow after righteousness" (I Timothy 6:11), separating ourselves from the unclean thing and the unequal yoke of sin (II Corinthians 6:14-18), yield our bodies as an instruments (weapons) of righteousness unto God" (Romans 6:13-22), and "awake to righteousness, and sin not" (I Corinthians 15:34). This life style of righteousness is the Christian's assurance that the Lord will bless and defend us in our battle "as with a shield" (Psalm 5:11,12). With God's righteousness, we can "go in the strength of the LORD God" (Psalm 71:16) and "in (His) righteousness shall (we) be exalted" (Psalm 89:16). HMM, III ________________________________________________________________________ October 6, Tuesday THE SHOES OF PREPARATION "Having your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace" (Ephesians 6:15). In the armor of God described in Ephesians 6, the shoes seem somewhat mundane when contrasted to the more glamorous pieces. Yet, these shoes play a vital and indispensable part in the effective warfare of a Christian. They are defined as "the preparation of the gospel of peace," with the emphasis on preparation. Much could be said relative to the gospel (I Corinthians 15:1-4), with its focus on the substitutionary death (Isaiah 53:1-9), physical burial (Hebrews 2:14,15), and bodily resurrection (Acts 2:29-36) of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible identifies the creation account as part of the gospel's message (Revelation 14:6,7), as well as the promise of the eternal Kingdom (Revelation 11:15-18). And no gospel message would be clear without a presentation of the nature of sin and its awful consequences for the unbeliever (Romans 3:10-23; II Thessalonians 1:7-9), nor without an understanding of the anointed, incarnate Son of God (Isaiah 9:6; Acts 4:12). The receiving of all of that data requires preparation. Peter says that we must be always ready to "give an answer (apologia) to every man" (I Peter 3:15). Paul noted that he was set "for the defense of the gospel" (Philippians 1:17), and that we were to "know how (we) ought to answer every man" (Colossians 4:6), and to participate with him in the "confirmation of the gospel" (Philippians 1:7). This great work cannot be carried out by the "wisdom of words" (I Corinthians 1:17,18), or in any way be misunderstood as "another gospel" (Galatians 1:6-9) or other way (John 10:1-11). Our feet must be shod with such solid preparation that we will not suffer injury when our feet are dashed against a stone (Psalm 91:12), and so that we can "run, and not be weary; and ... walk, and not faint" (Isaiah 40:31). HMM, III ________________________________________________________________________ October 7, Wednesday THE SHIELD OF FAITH "Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked" (Ephesians 6:16). More than any of the elements of the defensive pieces of God's armor for the Christian, this "shield of faith" is so important that it is said to be "above all." Perhaps this is because it is to be used to "quench all the fiery darts of the wicked." These flaming arrows were designed to create fear in the heart of the soldier and to set fires within the camp, thus driving the soldiers away from their ranks and into the unprotected open. It worked, too, unless the shield was used. Usually, the enemy would fire great volleys or salvos of arrows, thousands at a time, only seconds apart. Both the sights and sounds of the effects were terrifying. The sky was ablaze and the air alive with the hiss and sizzle of these awesome missiles. And, interestingly enough, the most effective defense against this barrage was for all soldiers to form ranks together and raise their individual shields, joining themselves side to side, end to end, to form a "roof" (shield) over themselves and the camp. When the arrows fell (they were shot from a distance and at a high angle), they would clatter harmlessly on the firm "roof." But let one soldier drop his shield, or open a gap between his shield and those next to it until the fire storm was over (they sometimes went on for hours), a "fiery dart" would get through, setting fire to the clothing, equipment, or ground cover under the "roof," which would quickly spread and destroy the "unity of the faith" (Ephesians 4:13), scattering the soldiers and giving an advantage, and perhaps a victory, to the enemy. These "fiery darts" are so effective that they can be disguised as "ministers of righteousness" (II Corinthians 11:15). But Satan flees if we "resist steadfast in the faith" (I Peter 5:9), above all, taking the shield of faith. HMM, III ________________________________________________________________________ October 8, Thursday THE HELMET OF SALVATION "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places" (Ephesians 6:12). In the armor of the Christian soldier, none is as indispensable as the "helmet of salvation" (6:17). Many soldiers have fought on after grievous and ultimately fatal wounds to their bodies. But a blow to the head (the mind) renders one either insensible, unconscious, or dead. King David often described salvation in terms of military protection, as he did in his great song of praise written to commemorate the defeat of Saul (II Samuel 22). It is a horn (mountain peak) from which to gain advantage over the enemy (v.3), and a shield (protective line of troops) behind which we are safe (v.36). It is also a rock (natural fortress) from which one can safely attack (v.47) and a tower, a place so safe that it inspires boasting (v.51). Not only does this "helmet" protect us from the most damaging blows of the enemy, but it inspires us and emboldens us with confidence to take part in the battle. No soldier would ever fight without his helmet. Yet many religious leaders today encourage us to put on a "helmet" of "works of righteousness which we have done" (Titus 3:5), or to protect our minds with philosophy and the "tradition (teaching) of men," or the "rudiments (logical systems) of the world" (Colossians 2:8), rather than to place our faith in the risen Christ by embracing the grace of God's salvation. We become "wise unto salvation" through a study of the Scriptures (II Timothy 3:15) and thereby become able to "work out (our) own salvation" (Philippians 2:12) as the gospel, which is the "power of God unto salvation" (Romans 1:16), makes it possible for God to work in us "both to will and to do of His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13). HMM, III ________________________________________________________________________ October 9, Friday THE SWORD OF THE SPIRIT "And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God" (Ephesians 6:17). In the battle which we are expected to wage against the principalities and the powers of this world as instructed in the famous charge in Ephesians 6, only one attack weapon is given to us. It is here identified as "the Word of God." This great Sword, which is "quick, and powerful" (Hebrews 4:12), is to be that by which we live (Luke 4:4), speak (Acts 4:31), preach (II Timothy 4:2), teach and glorify (Acts 13:48). This weapon of our warfare (II Corinthians 10:4,5) is not carnal (physical), but it is mighty (dunamis: capable, able) even with enough power to demolish the castles of the enemy and his most well-thought-out strategies (imaginations), as well as every high (sophisticated, important, prestigious) person, place, or thing that would (dare) exalt itself "against the knowledge of God." This weapon is so sharp (like a two- edged blade--Revelation 1:16) that it penetrates "even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart" (Hebrews 4:12). In fact, the Word of God is capable of "bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ" (II Corinthians 10:5). Praise God! With such a weapon we can't lose, unless we keep it in the scabbard. It is worth noting that the Greek term used here for "word" is the term "rema," used specifically of the spoken word. In our "warfare," in which we must stand against the forces of evil, our weapon is the spoken Word of God. The great truths of God do no good sheathed between the covers of our Bibles. "Faith," which is the channel through which God operates in the lives of men, "cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word (rema) of God" (Romans 10:17). As Christians, we need to take out our swords, open our mouths, and preach the Word! HMM, III _______________________________________________________________________ October 10, Saturday RESURRECTION IN THE OLD TESTAMENT "Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead" (Isaiah 26:19). Some have argued that the doctrine of a bodily resurrection was unknown to the Israelites of the Old Testament. In fact, this denial was a cardinal doctrine of the sect of the Sadducees at the time of Christ (Matthew 22:23). Our text, however, makes it clear that this promise has always been known to the people of God. Long before Isaiah's time, Job had said: "I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And ... in my flesh shall I see God" (Job 19:25,26). After the time of Isaiah, the promise was still known. "Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt" (Daniel 12:2). Such promises were not referring to some vague "immortality of the soul," as taught in pagan religions, but to resurrection of the body! First, however, the Creator must become man, die for the sins of the world, and defeat death by His own bodily resurrection. In our text, in fact, Christ is saying that Old Testament believers would be raised "together with my dead body." This was literally fulfilled when "the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after His resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many" (Matthew 27:52,53). Then, when Jesus first ascended to heaven (John 20:17), He led those who had been in "captivity" in the grave with Him into heaven (Ephesians 4:8). All who have trusted Christ in the Christian era will likewise be raised from the dead when He comes again. He has defeated death and has promised, "because I live, ye shall live also" (John 14:19). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ October 22, Sunday HE SHALL NEVER BE MOVED "LORD, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill?" (Psalm 15:1). The first verse of the majestic 15th Psalm poses the question, "Who is worthy to be a guest of God?" The following verses provide us with a lofty list of actions and attributes which, if followed to perfection, would make one worthy. First, we see that our personal character must be in harmony with God's character. "He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth" (v.2). Next, our personal lives and relationships to others must be in order. We must not slander or do evil to others (v.3). Furthermore, we must hate evil while honoring and valuing good, and be workers of good. Our promises must be kept, even if it means personal loss (v.4). In financial matters, we must not lend money at high interest, nor take advantage of the poor (v.5). Obviously, no human being can meet these qualifications. But all is not lost. "By grace are ye saved through faith ... not of works" (Ephesians 2:8,9). Salvation does not depend on our keeping the list, for Christ kept the list, and God now sees us as if we had completely kept the list, as well. This doctrine does not imply that the Bible condones sin. We are "created in Christ Jesus unto good works" (Ephesians 2:10). He died to make His character available to us through grace. God is holy, and He demands holiness from His children. Through His grace, He makes us holy and empowers us to live in a holy manner. "Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid" (Romans 6:1,2). These qualities and actions are not natural to man; they can only come from God. But since He has made such a life-style possible and gives us the power to adhere to it, He expects us to obey and keep the list. And then He promises, "He that doeth these things shall never be moved" (Psalm 15:5). JDM ________________________________________________________________________ October 12, Monday THE GOOD SEED "Now the parable is this: The seed is the Word of God" (Luke 8:11). The Word of God is pictured by many beautiful symbols in the Scriptures, and perhaps one of the most meaningful is that of the seed, sown in the field of the world by the great Sower, the Lord Jesus Christ. The first reference to seed sowing in the Bible is in the story of Isaac, who "sowed in that land, and received in the same year an hundredfold: and the LORD blessed him" (Genesis 26:12). Now Isaac himself was the "seed" of God's promise to Abraham, and he was a precursive fulfillment of the ultimate promised "seed, which is Christ" (Galatians 3:16). Isaac's sowing of literal seed in the land of the Philistines is thus a type of Christ's sowing of spiritual seed throughout the world. As Isaac's sowing brought forth a hundredfold, so the beautiful parable of the sower indicates that at least some of the seed "fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold" (Luke 8:8). Although not all seed will come to fruition, it must be sown throughout the world. Some of the seed will bear fruit, for God has said: ". . . that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my Word be ... it shall not return unto me void" (Isaiah 55:10,11). "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth forever ... ." (I Peter 1:23). The first of Christ's parables is this parable of the sower. The second, complementing the first, indicates that the seed is not only God's Word but also God's children--those regenerated through the Word. "He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man: The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom" (Matthew 13:37,38). Thus we also become sowers of the Word, witnessing to the world and bearing good fruit, in His name. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ October 13, Tuesday THE LORD AND KING CYRUS "That saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid" (Isaiah 44:28). This is a remarkable prophecy, one of the main stumbling blocks of liberals, who use it as an excuse for their completely wrong notion of a "second Isaiah." Long before Jerusalem was invaded and its temple destroyed by the armies of Babylon, Isaiah was already prophesying its rebuilding! Furthermore, the great Persian emperor, Cyrus, whose nation would eventually conquer Babylon, was here named by God about 150 years before he was born and 175 years before he would fulfill Isaiah's prophecy by giving Ezra authority to rebuild the temple (Ezra 1:1,2). Since liberal scholars do not want to believe in miracles and fulfilled prophecy, they have decided that this prophecy could not have been written by the original Isaiah, but by some later writer living after Cyrus. The truth is, however, that God controls the future and can reveal it if He chooses, using this very fact as proof that He will keep His other promises. "Thus saith the LORD to His anointed, to Cyrus, ... I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou has not known me" (Isaiah 45:1,4). God had also named King Josiah before he was born (I Kings 13:2; II Kings 23:15,16), with the specific prophecy concerning him waiting to be fulfilled for over 300 years after it was first spoken. It may take a long time, but God will surely do all He has said. "I am God, and there is none like me. Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure" (Isaiah 46:9,10). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ October 14, Wednesday THE LIGHT OF THE WORD "Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path" (Psalm 119:105). As the sun provides physical light for the world, so Jesus Christ is spiritually "the light of the world" (John 8:12). However, we clearly can see His light only through the light holder, the lamp, as it were, of His written Word. The Word, therefore, is a lamp and, since it contains and reveals the light, is also a light in its own right. Without the Holy Scriptures, this world would lie in the deepest darkness, but "the entrance of Thy Words giveth light" (Psalm 119:130). The Lord Jesus Christ is the living Word, and "without Him was not anything made that was made. In Him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not" (John 1:3-5). Although He "was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world" (John 1:9), when He, Himself, came into the world, those who were made by Him refused to receive Him. "Men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil" (John 3:19). Just so, although the written Word has come into the world, the world does not receive it, either. The lamp and the light of the written Word have been in the world, in complete and final form, for 1,900 years, but men still reject and ridicule it, and the world still lies in darkness. Nevertheless, for those who receive it, there is wonderful light. "Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth. While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light" (John 12:35,36). God's Word always brings light. His first spoken Word was: "Let there be light" (Genesis 1:3), and wherever He speaks, God sees the light, and it is good! HMM ________________________________________________________________________ October 15, Thursday A MATTER OF UNITY "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity" (Psalm 133:1). There are only five places in Scripture where we find the word "unity," or "unite." We would all agree that believers must dwell together in unity. What great problems arise when there is disunity in the Body of Christ. (1) The first type of unity found in the Bible is negative unity. Jacob prayed in Genesis 49:6, "O my soul, come not thou into their secret; unto their assembly, mine honour, be not thou united." Godly Jacob did not wish to be united with the sins of Simeon and Levi (vs.5-7). (2) Unity begins in the heart of the individual believer. David prayed in Psalm 86:11, "unite my heart to fear Thy name." This is eternal unity. It is a unity of the believer's heart with the Lord's heart. David prayed that he would be one with the Lord in every goal and purpose, with nothing coming between him and the Lord. (3) Unity continues when the believer, who is one with the Lord, meets together with others in the church whose hearts are also one with the Lord, as in our text. This produces external unity. (4) When God's people are internally and externally united with the Lord and one another, then they will experience mature unity. "Till we all come in the unity of the faith ... unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ ... grow(ing) up into him in all things" (Ephesians 4:13,15). Christians will grow and mature where unity is found. (5) Internal, external, and mature unity will produce peaceful unity. "Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Ephesians 4:3). This is the direct result of the Spirit's working. Endeavor means to exert one's self, to put forth an effort. Believers do not automatically slip into unity. They must make a concentrated effort. NPS ________________________________________________________________________ October 16, Friday O MY SOUL "Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance" (Psalm 42:5). This expression ("O my soul") is not used here by the psalmist as a trite exclamation, but as a plea of heart-searching introspection, concerned over the dark depression that was about to settle over him because of the oppressions of his enemies (Psalm 43:2). The question in our text is asked three times by him in these two short psalms (Psalm 42:5,11; 43:5), and each time he answers himself: "Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise Him." Yet God continued to withhold His answer. His enemies were taunting him about it (Psalm 42:3,10), and the psalmist, in spite of himself, found himself crying out "Why?" no less than ten times. Nevertheless his faith in God never failed, and it thus becomes a great testimony to us today, for he asked his "why" questions in submission to God's will. When we are tempted to "go ... mourning because of the oppression of the enemy" (42:9; 43:2), and still God seems to have "forgotten," then is the very time we must continue to affirm: "I shall yet praise Him!" He is "the God of my life," and "in the night His song shall be with me" (42:8). It may not be God's will to set us free from the "noise of Thy waterspouts" (42:7) or "the deceitful and unjust man" (43:1), but His light and truth will still lead, and we can yet praise Him, despite the circumstances. In our text, the psalmist praises God for "the help of His countenance." In the verses which echo this verse (42:11; 43:5), his testimony is slightly--yet significantly--changed. "I shall yet praise Him, who is the health of my countenance." Even in a dark night of "O my soul," I can see Him by faith, and my countenance is full of joy. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ October 17, Saturday LEARNING BY EXAMPLE "But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them" (II Timothy 3:14). When Paul wrote these words to Timothy, they were in the midst of his foreboding prophecy of coming apostasy and persecution. Furthermore, he knew that he, himself, would soon be executed, and that these might well be his final teachings to his young disciple and to others through him. It is remarkable that in such a setting the Spirit of God impelled him to use the example of his own life as the best and most- fitting climax to his great ministry. "Just keep on believing and doing what I have been teaching you--that which you have seen put into practice in your own life." These teachings and practices had just been recounted in verses 10-11, and what a remarkable summary they provide of a genuine Christian life! (1) Doctrine--my teachings, sound and true to God's Word; (2) Manner of life--my Christ-like behavior and habits; (3) Purpose--my sole aim, to honor God and do His will; (4) Faith--my faithfulness to His Word and its demands; (5) Longsuffering--my patient forbearance; (6) Charity--my showing true Christian love; (7) Patience--my cheerful endurance in hard times; (8) Persecutions--the unjust opposition heaped upon me; (9) Afflictions--sufferings and tortures which I endured. The Apostle Paul had maintained this strong and consistent Christian testimony for over 30 years following his conversion, and could in all good conscience and true humility cite his own example as a true teaching aid for others to study and follow. May Paul's example be ours, and may our lives likewise become true examples of Christianity for any who are watching us today. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ October 18, Sunday THE SWORD "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword" (Matthew 10:34). The Christian life is a life of war, and the Christian soldier must be a skilled swordsman if he is to survive and win. In our text, Jesus taught that a peaceful life would not be the Christian's lot, but a life of swordsmanship instead. The first "sword" mentioned in Scripture was not a sword of metal, but a "flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life" (Genesis 3:24). Likewise, the final sword mentioned is "the sword of Him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of His mouth" (Revelation 19:21), and this is the fiery sword with which the coming "man of sin" (II Thessalonians 2:3) will be defeated "whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming" (v.8). "He shall smite the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips shall He slay the wicked" (Isaiah 11:4). The mighty "Word of the LORD" by which "were the heavens made" (Psalm 33:6) is still a flaming sword, turning every way, for "out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword" (Revelation 1:16), as John saw Him in His present glory. Furthermore, we can wield this same sword by His Spirit, for "the Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword ... a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart" (Hebrews 4:12). The Christian armor, as outlined in Ephesians 6:13-17, is all defensive armor, with the one exception of the prayerful use of "the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God" (v.17). In this wonderful text, the spoken "Word of God" is in view--the sword applied, on either edge, turning every way, probing exactly when and where needed in each encounter of every battle of the Christian warfare. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ October 19, Monday MAGNIFICENT OBSESSION "For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more" (I Corinthians 9:19). In his letter to the Ephesians (4:11-16), Paul had noted that Christ had given specific gifts to the church--apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. Paul himself was all of these, however, and he wanted to win as many people as he could, from all walks of life. He therefore sought to be "made all things to all men, that (he) might by all means save some" (I Corinthians 9:22). This, indeed, was a magnificent obsession, and every Christian should seek to emulate it, as the Lord enables. Paul was not saying, however, that a man should become as a woman to win women to the Lord, or that a woman should become as a man to win men; neither should he become a humanist to win humanists. One should never dilute the doctrines of the faith or Christian standards of conduct in order to win commitments to the church. Paul was not laying down guidelines for witnessing, either for the church as a whole or for individual Christians; he was giving his own personal testimony. Nevertheless, we should seek to be understanding and sympathetic to people of every background. "Give none offense, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God" (I Corinthians 10:32). We should try to "be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth" (II Timothy 2:24,25). Remembering it is "God that giveth the increase" (I Corinthians 3:7), we should never compromise truth in order to gain converts, but "speaking the truth in love" (Ephesians 4:15), beseech others, "be ye reconciled to God" (II Corinthians 5:20). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ October 20, Tuesday COMMITTED TO THY TRUST "O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: Which some professing have erred concerning the faith" (I Timothy 6:20,21). Paul exhorted his disciple, Timothy, and by implication, exhorts us to "keep" (literally, to guard or preserve) that which was placed in his trust. The context implies that the entire teaching of Paul is in mind, as well as Timothy's position of ministry. Not only was he to preserve truth, he actively was to "avoid" error. Systems of thought were available which masqueraded as "science" (literally "knowledge"). These systems were not merely neutral, but were in opposition to the truth. There can be no doubt that godless humanism, particularly as it finds its false scientific justification in evolution and uniformitarianism, has been responsible for the loss of faith in many professing Christians. Much of what is called "science" in universities today could better be described as "profane and vain babblings." But today's students are not alone in their error. Back in the 1800's, when uniformitarianism and later evolution were first being championed by only a small minority of scientists, theologians led the way to their broad acceptance. Rushing to embrace Lyell's principle of uniformity and the concept of an old earth while still holding on to a charade of Biblical authority, theologians proposed the tranquil flood and local flood concepts. Likewise, theologians proposed theistic evolution, the day-age, and gap theories to accommodate evolution, and their theological grandchildren enjoy the majority voice at most evangelical seminaries today. It is time that Christian laity as well as those standing in our pulpits today regain "that which is committed to (their) trust," and avoid "science falsely so called." JDM ________________________________________________________________________ October 21, Wednesday THE FIGHT OF FAITH "Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses" (I Timothy 6:12). Faith which is genuine saving faith in Christ is not characterized simply by a single act of belief, but by a life lived in faith. Scripture uses many vivid figures to describe it. First of all, it is the door by which men and women enter the family of the redeemed. When Paul first preached the gospel to the Gentiles, he reported how God "had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles" (Acts 14:27). Then, it becomes a "household of faith" (Galatians 6:10) to all who have entered the door. Thus we live day by day in a house called faith! "The just shall live by faith" (Galatians 3:11). Faith is also work. "Remembering without ceasing your work of faith" (I Thessalonians 1:3) is vital, because "faith without works is dead" (James 2:20). "By grace are ye saved through faith ... not of works." Nevertheless, we are "created in Christ Jesus unto good works" (Ephesians 2:8-10). Furthermore, there is a fight of faith! "Fight the good fight of faith," commands our text for today. The Christian is constantly under attack by the devil, and it is only through faith that we can stand. In the wonderful words of Ephesians 6:16, our faith becomes an invincible shield, "able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked" one. But we must take it, and actively use it. When we do that, "this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith" (I John 5:4). Let us, therefore, like Abraham, be "strong in faith, giving glory to God" (Romans 4:20). Our faith is well placed, for it centers on Christ, the mighty Creator, living Savior, and coming King. There is a door of faith, then a household of faith, followed by the work of faith and the fight of faith, with the shield of faith, and all of this is in the wonderful "word of faith, which we preach" (Romans 10:8). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ October 22, Thursday ACCEPTABLE SACRIFICES "Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ" (I Peter 2:5). In the Old Testament theocracy of Israel, it was the responsibility of the Levitical priesthood to be "daily ministering and offering often times the same sacrifices" in atonement for the sins of the people, and this continued until Jesus Christ "offered one sacrifice for sins forever" (Hebrews 10:11,12). The old priesthood has now been set aside. Only the sacrifice of Christ and our identification with Him through faith is acceptable for our salvation. Nevertheless, there is a new priesthood--a spiritual priesthood offering spiritual sacrifices--and it is vital that we who are now His priests offer sacrifices that are acceptable and pleasing to God. The first and most basic sacrifice is set forth in one of the Bible's key verses: "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service" (Romans 12:1). Three other acceptable sacrifices are outlined in the concluding chapter of Hebrews. "By Him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name. But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased" (Hebrews 13:15,16). The continual offering of praise to God, in all circumstances acknowledging His wisdom and goodness, is an acceptable sacrifice. Doing good works--not for our salvation but because of our salvation--is acceptable. So is "communicating" (Greek koinonia)--sharing what we have with others. With these sacrifices, God is "well-pleased." It is our high privilege, as His holy priesthood, to offer up these spiritual sacrifices. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ October 23, Friday PLEASANTLY FULL "And it pleased the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell" (Colossians 1:19). Oh that we could know what is in Christ so that we could experience His fullness. Scripture tells us that "in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (John 1:1). "In Him was life; and the life was the light of men" (v.4). "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth. ... And of His fullness have all we received, and grace for grace. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ" (vs.14,16,17). Part of Christ's fullness is the visible expression of our invisible God. Likewise He was responsible for the creation, for "all things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made" (v.3). David, likewise, knew of this handiwork: "The earth is the LORD's, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein" (Psalm 24:1). The response of the creation should be "let the sea roar, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. Let the floods clap their hands: let the hills be joyful together" (Psalm 98:7,8). Beyond Jesus' fullness and that of the creation, there is a fullness of time; the expression of events, in order, according to His timetable. "That in the dispensation of the fullness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in Him" (Ephesians 1:10). No doubt Jesus, as God, looked upon His creation of the world and time and took pleasure in it, calling it "very good" (Genesis 1:31). Likewise, as our text teaches, the Father took pleasure in revealing His character, bodily, in the person of Jesus, in all His fullness. KBC ________________________________________________________________________ October 24, Saturday GOD AND THE NATIONS "Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: behold, He taketh up the isles as a very little thing" (Isaiah 40:15). God has a divine purpose for nations, as shown by the fact that there will even be "nations of them which are saved" (Revelation 21:24) in the new earth, outside the New Jerusalem. Nations were evidently first established after the dispersion at Babel when God forced the original post-Flood families to separate and to establish their own distinctive communities by confusing their languages (Genesis 11:9). It thus has been natural and useful, in God's economy, for each nation to develop a sense of national pride and patriotic loyalty. However, this has often been corrupted into militant expansionism or ethnic idolatry, and God has eventually had to put them down. Nations need to remember that they are really "a very little thing" in God's sight, as a drop in a bucket or the fine dust on a scale. Indeed, He "hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation" (Acts 17:26). Job testified, back in the very early days of the world's nations: "He increaseth the nations, and destroyeth them: He enlargeth the nations, and straiteneth them again" (Job 12:23). No matter how powerful and self-reliant (or how weak and dependent) a nation may seem to be, "the kingdom is the LORD'S: and He is the governor among the nations" (Psalm 22:28). Therefore, if a nation desires that its "time before appointed" be long and fruitful, and "the bounds of its habitation" be the optimum for (its) divine mission, it must be careful to honor and serve the true God of heaven, for "the wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God," while "blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD" (Psalm 9:17; 33:12). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ October 25, Sunday A NAIL IN A SURE PLACE "And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open. And I will fasten him as a nail in a sure place; and he shall be for a glorious throne to his father's house" (Isaiah 22:22,23). This prophecy was originally applied to Eliakim, the keeper of the treasuries in the reign of King Hezekiah. The wearing of the key to the treasuries on his shoulder was symbolic of authority. Isaiah, in fact, had used this same symbol in his great prophecy of the coming Messiah, saying that "unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder" (Isaiah 9:6). Eliakim thus became a type of Christ in his capacity to open and shut doors with his special key. The Lord Jesus quoted from this passage in His promise to the church at Philadelphia: "These things saith ... He that hath the key of David, He that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for those hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name" (Revelation 3:7,8). This strong assurance has been a great bulwark to many who were trying to maintain a true witness during times of opposition and suffering. But Eliakim was also called "a nail in a sure place," and in this also he becomes a wonderful type of Christ. Eliakim was trustworthy in his office, and so is Christ. The nail in a sure place speaks of stability in time of trouble, as Ezra later said: "Now for a little space grace hath been shewed from the LORD our God, ... to give us a nail in His holy place" (Ezra 9:8). Eventually, of course, Eliakim's nail had to be removed (Isaiah 22:25), but never that of Christ, for He is "an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast" (Hebrews 6:19), who will never fail. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ October 26, Monday MIND--HEART--TONGUE "A double minded man is unstable in all his ways" (James 1:8). What enters the mind (seat of our intellect), affects the heart (seat of our emotions), and flows from the tongue. It is necessary, therefore, to guard our minds and hearts, because sooner or later, how we think and feel will find its way to our tongue. The Bible gives ample warning about these three extremely important areas: (1) Don't be double-minded ("two-souled," Greek). This kind of person is completely unstable in his mind (text) and his heart (James 4:8). He has difficulty believing God will answer prayer. "But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord" (James 1:6,7). God means what He says and we should believe it with unwavering faith! (2) Don't be double-hearted. David wrote concerning double-hearted people. "Help, LORD; for the godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men. They speak vanity every one with his neighbor: with flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak" (Psalm 12:1,2). In I Chronicles 12:33 the opposite is seen. "Of Zebulun, such as went forth to battle, expert in war ... which could keep rank: they were not of double heart." Can we be relied upon in the day of battle? (3) Don't be double-tongued. This is a qualification of deacons in I Timothy 3:8. "Likewise must the deacons be grave, not double tongued." "Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor: for we are members one of another" (Ephesians 4:25). Wouldn't it be better to receive double honor (I Timothy 5:17)? NPS ________________________________________________________________________ October 27, Tuesday KING AT THE FLOOD "The LORD sitteth upon the flood; yea, the LORD sitteth King forever. The LORD will give strength unto His people; the LORD will bless His people with peace" (Psalm 29:10,11). There are quite a few different Hebrew words which are translated "flood" in the Old Testament. The word in this passage (Hebrew mabbul), however, is unique in that it is only used elsewhere in the account of the Noahic Flood, thus indicating conclusively that the dramatic scenes described in this psalm occurred at the time of the great Flood. There was never, in all history, such a time as this, when "the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually" (Genesis 6:5). God, therefore, brought about "the end of all flesh" (v.13)--no doubt millions, perhaps billions, of ungodly men and women--by the great mabbul. In spite of the fact that nearly every culture, all around the globe (made up of descendants of the eight survivors of the Flood) remembers this terrible event in the form of "flood legends," the very concept of God's judgment on sin is so offensive to the natural mind that modern scholarship now even denies it as a fact of history. Nevertheless, the epitaph of the antediluvian world is written in stone, in the sedimentary rocks and fossil beds, everywhere one looks, all over the world. The greatest rebellion ever mounted against the world's Creator by His creatures, both men and fallen angels, was put down by God simply by His voice! "The voice of the LORD is upon the waters: the God of glory thundereth: the LORD is upon many waters" (Psalm 29:3). In all the great turmoil of the Flood, Noah and the righteous remnant in the ark were safe through it all. In every age, even in times of stress and danger, "the LORD will bless His people with peace." HMM ________________________________________________________________________ October 28, Wednesday JESUS CHRIST AS CREATOR "For by Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him, and for Him" (Colossians 1:16). Before one can really know Jesus Christ as Savior or Lord, he must acknowledge Him as offended and rejected Creator, because He was our Creator, first of all. This is such an important doctrine of the New Testament that it is remarkable how rarely it is emphasized in modern evangelicalism. Creation by Jesus Christ is the doctrine with which John begins his great gospel of salvation: "In the beginning was the Word, ... All things were made by Him; ... and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not" (John 1:1,3,10). It is the foundational message of the Book of Hebrews: "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 1:1,2). The Apostle Paul said that he had been called specifically to preach "the unsearchable riches of Christ; And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ" (Ephesians 3:8,9). When a person becomes a believer in Christ, receiving His very life by the new birth, he is said to be "renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created Him" (Colossians 3:10). In the final book of the Bible, Jesus Christ is called "the Alpha, ... the beginning ... the Almighty" (Revelation 1:8), as well as "the beginning of the creation of God" (3:14). But of all the Biblical passages identifying Jesus Christ as Creator, the most definitive of all is our text for today. Everything in heaven and earth was created by Him, and for Him! "For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things: to whom be glory forever. Amen" (Romans 11:36). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ October 29, Thursday WITH CHRIST "For in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in Him, which is the head of all principality and power" (Colossians 2:9,10). The book of Colossians begins with a stirring exaltation of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Creator (1:16) and sustainer of all things (v.17). He is the head of the church, and preeminent in all things (v.18). He is fully God (v.19) and yet redeemer (v.20). On the other hand, believers, before they were reconciled, are described as "alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works" (v.21). It comes as somewhat of a surprise, then, in Chapters 2 and 3, to see that we are inexorably linked with Christ. Our lives and destinies are His--our identification with Him is total. We are not just reconciled, we are with Him in all things. Notice, first, that we are "buried with Him in baptism" (2:12). Furthermore, we are "quickened together (i.e., made alive) with Him," no longer "dead in (our) sins" (v.13), and "risen with Him" (v.12). Just as surely as God "raised Him from the dead," we are born again; given new life. Obviously, since we are "risen with Christ, (we should) seek those things which are above" (3:1). Our priorities should be His godly priorities (v.2), for "Christ sitteth on the right hand of God" (v.1), and we are there. Next, we are told that our "life is hid with Christ in God" (v.3). To be hidden in Christ is to be totally immersed, covered, our sins concealed, our identity masked within His, indeed, remade into His. God accepts Christ and us, as well, as we are hidden in Him. The next verse amplifies this identification with the term "Christ ... our life" (v.4). This identification will not be in vain, for when He "shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory" (v.4). As our text teaches, we are "complete in Him," for He is fully God, and we are with Him in all things. JDM ________________________________________________________________________ October 30, Friday THE POWERS OF GOD "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty" (Revelation 1:8). In these days of rampant humanism, blatant materialism, and effete religionism, the very concept of an all-powerful God who created, controls, and judges all things seems anachronistic, but God is still there, and is still the Almighty. Three Greek words are translated "power" in Scripture--exousia ("authority"), dunamis ("ability"), and kratos ("strength"). Each is attributed, in unlimited extent, to God the Creator, as incarnate in Christ, the Redeemer. "All power (`authority') is given unto me in heaven and in earth" (Matthew 28:18). "For thine is the kingdom, and the power (`ability'), and the glory, forever" (Matthew 6:13). "That ye may know ... the exceeding greatness of His power (`ability') to usward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power (`strength'), Which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality, and power (`authority'), and might, and dominion" (Ephesians 1:18-21). He is the "Almighty God" of Abraham (Genesis 17:1), "the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth" (Isaiah 40:28). "Our God is in the heavens: He hath done whatsoever He hath pleased" (Psalm 115:3). God can do whatever He pleases, except anything contrary to His nature. He "cannot lie" (Titus 1:2), for He is "the truth" (John 14:6). His inspired Word is inerrant--"the scripture of truth" (Daniel 10:21). We can be certain that He did not "create" the world by evolution, for that would be contradicted both by His infallible Word and by His omnipotence. Being all-powerful, God would surely not create by such a cruel, inefficient process as evolution. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ October 31, Saturday SEDUCING SPIRITS "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils" (I Timothy 4:1). This very cogent warning by the Holy Spirit, spoken "expressly" (or "with special clarity") for those living in the latter days, predicts an unusual outbreak of seductive demonism--not just in pagan, idol-worshiping or animistic cultures, but in "Christian" nations, where they can lead many to "depart from the faith" which their forefathers once professed. Christians, therefore, should not be taken by surprise at the vast eruption of witchcraft, new-age mysticism, eastern occultism, rock-music demonism, drug-induced fantasies, altered states of consciousness, and even overt Satan- worshipping cults that have suddenly proliferated in our supposedly scientific and naturalistic society. Behind it all are the "seducing spirits" and "the rulers of the darkness of this world" (Ephesians 6:12). It should be obvious that Christians must completely avoid all such beliefs and practices. "I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils" (I Corinthians 10:20). "Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing" (II Corinthians 6:17). Even "innocent" fun (Halloween parties, ouija boards, dungeons-and-dragons games, etc.) and well-intentioned (but many times superficial) exorcism of apparent demon-possession by Christian workers have often led to dangerous demonic influences in the lives of Christian people, as well as in Christians who have sought supernatural experiences or revelations. In anything that even touches on occultism or demonic influence, the advice of Peter is relevant. "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist steadfast in the faith" (I Peter 5:8,9). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ November 1, Sunday HIS MASTER'S CRIB "The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider" (Isaiah 1:3). What an indictment this is--not only against the people of Israel, but against men and women everywhere. All were created and made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26,27), for fellowship with Him, but even His own chosen people rejected Him, and most people everywhere all but ignore Him in their daily lives. "Crib" is the same as "manger," and when God became man, His human parents "laid Him in a manger" (Luke 2:7), as there was no room for Him anywhere else. The animals knew Him, and so did the angels, but His people were unconcerned. "He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not" (John 1:10). When He came into Jerusalem, offering Himself as King of Israel, He rode on an unbroken colt, "whereon yet never man sat," and the little "foal of an ass" (Luke 19:30; Zechariah 9:9) willingly submitted, knowing his divine Master and Maker. But the people of Jerusalem as a whole joined in clamoring for His crucifixion just a few days later. The indictment against Israel could be lodged with even greater justification against America today. "Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: ... I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me" (Isaiah 1:2). The morals of our people seem to have been turned upside down, and God would say to us also: "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness" (Isaiah 5:20). Yet--in modern America, as well as in ancient Israel--"as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name" (John 1:12). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ November 2, Monday FIRE IN THE BONES "Then I said, I will not make mention of Him, nor speak anymore in His name. But 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" (Jeremiah 20:9). When God's Word really becomes a part of one's soul, that one can never be the same again. As dejected Jeremiah said in his imprisonment: "The word of the LORD was made a reproach unto me, and a derision daily" (Jeremiah 20:8), he testified; so he said: "I will not ... speak any more in His name." But he could not quit! God's Word was burning in his bones, and he must let it out. "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 psalmist, David, had a similar testimony. "I was dumb with silence, I held my peace, even from good; and my sorrow was stirred. My heart was hot within me, while I was musing the fire burned: then spake I with my tongue" (Psalm 39:2,3). When the resurrected Christ "expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself," the two disciples from Emmaus later testified: "Did not our heart burn within us, while He talked with us by the way, and while He opened to us the Scriptures?" (Luke 24:27,32). Of all the symbols applied in the Scriptures to God's Word, that of fire is the most awe-inspiring. Fire was not a discovery of some primitive man, as evolutionists imagine, but has always been an instrument of God's judgment, from the flaming sword in Eden (Genesis 3:24) to the lake of fire in hell (Revelation 21:8). In fact, God Himself is said to be "a consuming fire" (Hebrews 12:29). The Word of fire, in the burning heart cannot be contained, but must be proclaimed at any cost. As Paul acknowledged: "Necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!" (I Corinthians 9:16). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ November 3, Tuesday CHOOSE YOU A MAN "And he (Goliath) stood and cried unto the armies of Israel, and said unto them, Why are ye come out to set your battle in array? Am I not a Philistine, and ye servants of Saul? Choose you a man for you, and let him come down to me" (I Samuel 17:8). The story of David and Goliath was once well known. Even those who never went to church or Sunday school knew it. It's story line was frequently used as an analogy for an underdog overcoming a favored opponent in sports, politics, or other contest. Unfortunately, recent polls show that many Americans, especially younger ones, have never heard it. Evidently, the humanistic academic establishment has such a strong-hold on American education, as the cultural elite has on the media, that "stories" like this are systematically censored. Now, more than ever, Americans need to "choose" godly men and women to leadership positions who will lead us into battle against the modern-day Goliaths. And the battle is winnable, for, as David said, "Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?" (v.26). David had seen, as we have seen, many prior deliverances at God's hand (v.37), thus he knew the Lord would "deliver (him) out of the hand of this Philistine." As he charged, David shouted: "I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts. ... This day will the LORD deliver thee into mine hand ... that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. ... For the battle is the LORD's" (vs.45-47). If Christians consistently voted, or ran, or supported candidates committed to godly principles, they would win every political race, school board seat, or local administrative post. The political Goliath, then, would be defeated. Let us not be "dismayed, and greatly afraid" (v.11) as were Saul's armies, or reconciled to defeat as were David's brothers (v.28), but become mighty conquerors, in God's name. JDM ________________________________________________________________________ November 4, Wednesday LOGICAL MILK "As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the Word, that ye may grow thereby" (I Peter 2:2). This exhortation is directed to young Christians who have only recently trusted God's enduring Word, preached to them in the saving gospel of Christ. Because of this miracle of regeneration just experienced, a new Christian must now "lay aside [the verb form here means to `lay aside once and for all'] all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies" (I Peter 2:1) and partake--as babes--of the "milk of sincerity." The word for "sincere" means, literally, "without guile," so he/she must now build all future progress in his/her new life--not on guile, but on guilelessness! The phrase "of the word" is especially noteworthy. This is not the usual word for "word" (Greek logos), but a closely related word (logikos) from which we get our words "logic" and "logical." It is used only one other time in the New Testament, where it is rendered "reasonable," in the classic passage dealing with "your reasonable service" (Romans 12:2). Thus, Peter is talking about partaking of a spiritual milk which is both logical and without guile. This can be nothing else (as seen in the context) then the incorruptible, eternal, regenerating Word of God, and the living Word (Jesus Christ) revealed therein. Now the Lord Jesus is surely logical, for He is "the Truth" (John 14:6). In this same chapter, Peter also notes that Christ was without guile (I Peter 2:22). These attributes must be equally true of His written Word. The Scriptures are not full of secret meanings which only specially-trained interpreters can fathom. They are sincere, meaning precisely what they say! Neither are they naive and unscientific, but fully logical and correct in everything they say. Therefore, they are genuine spiritual nourishment for babes in Christ, and will certainly enable them to "grow thereby." HMM ________________________________________________________________________ November 5, Thursday EXCEEDING GREATNESS "And what is the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power" (Ephesians 1:19). There are a number of Scriptural superlatives that convey something of the tremendous magnitude of our great salvation. These are marked by the adjective "exceeding," which in the Greek implies essentially boundless surpassing dimensions of the attributes it describes. First of all, as our text implies, His power available to us is one of exceeding greatness. Its magnitude is measured by the power required to bring Christ back again from death and Hades. Consider also the measure of His grace, "that in the ages to come He might shew the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 2:7). His grace has saved us when we were dead in sins, but this is only a small token. In the ages to come, we will experience His grace as one of exceeding riches. Then there is the wonderful peace of God. "The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:7). In this verse, the word "passeth" is the same word. Paul is saying that God's peace is one exceeding understanding. Finally, consider His glory. "For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory" (II Corinthians 4:17). The future eternal glory is one of exceeding weight, or abundance. Thus the infinite blessings and resources of our salvation in Christ are described as providing the power of surpassing greatness, the grace of surpassing richness, the peace which surpasses all understanding, and the eternal glory of surpassing abundance! All of this is freely available "to us-ward who believe." HMM ________________________________________________________________________ November 6, Friday LIKE THE MOST HIGH "I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High" (Isaiah 14:14). These are two of the "I will's" of Satan, or Lucifer, as he aspired to usurp the throne of God as ruler of the universe (see Isaiah 14:12-15; Ezekiel 28:11-17). Not content to be "the anointed cherub," the highest of the angelic hierarchy (Ezekiel 28:14), he wanted to be God, and this monstrous pride became "the condemnation of the devil" (I Timothy 3:6), so that he is now "fallen from heaven" and will soon be "brought down to hell" (Isaiah 14:12,15). Lucifer, of course, is not the Creator, for he was "created" (Ezekiel 28:15) himself. It would seem, therefore, that for him to rationalize his ambition to be like the most High, he must somehow persuade himself that he is like the most High--that is, that God is a created being like himself, and thus can be defeated. He only had God's word that he had been created by Him, and he evidently chose not to believe what God said (just as do multitudes of men and women today). He, like they, chose rather to believe that the eternal cosmos had somehow created them all by its own powers. The great cosmos (call it Mother Nature, perhaps) has "created" spirit beings, as well as men and women, and all the worlds in- habited by them. In this scenario, the true Creator God is viewed as only one of many. Therefore, He is vulnerable to defeat--or so Satan evidently believes. Thus Lucifer became the first evolutionist, and this great lie by which he deceived himself became the basis of his later deception of Eve and then of the founders of all the varied pantheistic religions of the world, as well as modern evolu- tionism and New-Age philosophies. Nevertheless, God is still on His throne, and "the Lamb shall overcome them: for He is Lord of lords, and King of kings" (Revelation 17:14). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ November 7, Saturday REST AND WORK "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls" (Matthew 11:28,29). There are many types of burdens which we may try to carry. Consider the burdens of sorrow, pain, grief, fear, worry, and above all, sin, which plagues us. In our text for today, Christ promises hope for the "heavy laden" if we will but come to Him and accept His gracious offer of salvation and cleansing. He will either remove the burden, lighten it, or give us strength to bear it--whichever is best. His offer of rest includes inward peace, even in times of trouble here--and perfect peace hereafter. It may sound paradoxical, but we can actually lighten our load by taking up His "yoke." "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me" (Matthew 16:24). In our text, Christ said we are to "learn of Him," thus emulating His meekness and lowliness in heart as we carry our cross. If we accept His yoke in humility, because of our love for Him, we can endure every hardship and bear every burden with hope and patience. Even though we are children of the King, we still have work to do. It has always been so, for even sinless Adam and Eve were responsible for tending the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:15). God knew that idleness and lack of responsibility was improper. Likewise, in the future, we will have responsibilities given to us according to the handling of our responsibilities in this life (Matthew 25:21). We may be co-regents of the Kingdom (Revelation 20:6), but we will still have our responsibilities. The burdens He gives us now are not oppressive, but with His help, and with the proper attitude, His yoke is easy, and His burden is light. It is a "rest" to work for Him. JDM ________________________________________________________________________ November 8, Sunday THE SCATTERING HAMMER "Is not my Word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?" (Jeremiah 23:29). One of the most picturesque of the figures used to describe the holy Scriptures is that of the hammer striking and shattering a rock. In this text, however, the "rock" is literally a mighty rock mountain. Furthermore, the effect of the hammer is to "break in pieces." This phrase actually is a single Hebrew word, which normally means "disperse," or "scatter abroad." It is frequently used, for example, in describing the worldwide dispersion of the children of Israel. It was used even earlier, in connection with the first dispersion at Babel: "So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth" (Genesis 11:8). Perhaps most significantly of all, it is used in the prophecy of Zechariah 13:7: "Smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered." This verse was quoted by the Lord Jesus just after the last supper, and applied to Himself: "All ye shall be offended because of Me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad" (Matthew 26:31). Combining all these themes, our text really seems to be saying: "Is not My Word like a mighty hammer from heaven that shatters the great mountain and scatters it abroad?" Our text is inserted in the midst of a stinging rebuke by Jeremiah of Israel's false prophets, contrasting their lies with the mighty power of God's true Word. Perhaps it is also a parable of the living Word, who is also the great Rock of ages, as well as the loving Shepherd. When the Rock was shattered, the living stones were ejected from the Rock. The sheep that were thus scattered from the Shepherd became the spreading fire of the written Word, and "they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the Word" (Acts 8:4). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ November 9, Monday NO MEASURE "Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth He any man" (James 1:13). In our text verse, there are two different Greek words used in reference to the "temptation" of man and the fact that God cannot be "tempted" with evil. The word "tempt" in reference to the temptation of man is a Greek word also translated elsewhere in Scripture as "assay," "examine," or "try," in the following examples: "By faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying (trying) to do were drowned" (Hebrews 11:29). Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves . . ." (II Corinthians 13:5). "By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son" (Hebrews 11:17). It is interesting to note that current usage of the English word "assay" most often denotes weighing or measuring. The tempting of man is actually a measuring of the one being tempted. Although the Greek word used for the temptation of man has many uses in Scripture, the word James uses, when he says the Lord "cannot be tempted," is used exclusively in this passage. The direct translation is "not temptable." Our Lord cannot be measured because one has to be in some respect larger or greater or better than that he is measuring! "Oh 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). "Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; and His greatness is unsearchable" (Psalm 145:3). "I would seek unto God, and unto God would I commit my cause: Which doeth great things and unsearchable; marvelous things without number" (Job 5:8,9). CJH _______________________________________________________________________ November 10, Tuesday THE GREAT DIVIDER "Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division" (Luke 12:51). From the very beginning, God has been a great divider. On the first day of creation, "God divided the light from the darkness," and on the second day, He "divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament" (Genesis 1:4,7). When God first created man, they walked together in sweet fellowship, but then sin came in and made a great division between man and God. Nevertheless, "when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son" (Romans 5:10). The price has been paid for full reconciliation with our Creator, but "men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil" (John 3:19), so Christ, Himself, is now the one who divides. "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him" (John 3:36). Jesus Christ divides all history and all chronology. Things either happened "Before Christ" (B.C.) or "in the Year of our Lord" (A.D.). Men are either under the Old Covenant or the New Covenant. Most of all, He divides humanity. "There was a division among the people because of Him" (John 7:43; see also John 9:16; 10:19). These divisions, because of Him, can cut very deep. "The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother" (Luke 12:53). Finally, when He comes to judge all nations, "He shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: ... and these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal" (Matthew 25:32,46). The division is life or death, light or darkness, heaven or hell, Christ or anti-Christ--and the choice is ours! HMM ________________________________________________________________________ November 11, Wednesday TO END ALL WARS "And He shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more" (Isaiah 2:4). It has been almost seventy years since "The War to End All Wars" ended in victory for those who had "fought to make the world safe for democracy." A celebration of thanksgiving followed, and a holiday was established to commemorate that great Armistice Day (now Veteran's Day). However, an even greater war soon followed, only to be repeated by innumerable local wars and revolutions. Instead of a world of liberty and democracy, most of the world's nations are now under the brutal heel of totalitarian dictatorships. With the threat of potential nuclear obliteration hanging over the world, the prophecy of Christ is being literally fulfilled: "Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth" (Luke 21:26). In the twenty-five centuries since our text was first uttered, there has been a war going on somewhere in the world at least eleven out of every twelve years, and it certainly seems unlikely that such a promise will ever be fulfilled. Yet it is God who has promised, and only He can accomplish it. "He shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people." "Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, ... The zeal of the Lord of Hosts will perform this" (Isaiah 9:7). When the Lord Jesus Christ comes again, "He shall speak peace unto the (nations): and His dominion shall be from sea even to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth" (Zechariah 9:10). Finally, world peace will come, and Christ "shall reign forever and ever" (Revelation 11:15). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ November 12, Thursday THE WOLF AND LAMB TOGETHER "The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them" (Isaiah 11:6). This scene seems impossible; could it be merely an allegory? But that isn't all. "The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent's meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the LORD" (Isaiah 65:25). Whether this will all come to pass literally (and there is nothing in the context to cause us to question it), it definitely describes what God considers the ideal state of nature. In fact, in the original creation, all animals were herbivorous. "And God said, Behold, ... to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to everything that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so" (Genesis 1:29,30). With man's fall into sin and God's resulting curse on the earth, this ideal state deteriorated. Teeth and claws, originally designed for digging roots and branches, began to be used for tearing and eating flesh. Even man was authorized by God to eat meat after the Flood (Genesis 9:3). It is still true, however, that both men and animals still can survive on a non-carnivorous diet when necessary, for this was designed initially as the best way, all of which leads to the certain conclusion that God did not allow any such reign of tooth and claw on the earth before man sinned. The contention of those who promote the idea of long geological ages, with billions of animals suffering and dying during those ages, charges our God of wisdom and mercy with gratuitous cruelty. In a world made by a loving God, there could have been no death in the world until man brought sin into the world (Romans 5:12). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ November 13, Friday SPIKING YOUR BEHAVIOR "And the people said unto Joshua, The LORD our God will we serve, and His voice will we obey" (Joshua 24:24). Shortly before his death, Joshua called all the tribes to Shechem, where he challenged them to choose between their God and the gods which their fathers had served in Egypt and Mesopotamia (v.14). It was a scene of great moment, for the era of conquest was closing and the period of settlement was beginning. It was an important time in the history of Israel, when goals and priorities were being set. Joshua knew that he soon would be gone, and he could see problems ahead. Joshua developed the basis for why the people should serve the Lord God. He reminded them of God's provision and faithfulness through the recent exodus and their wilderness experience and conquest, as well as the establishment of their nation, but he also knew that the people were fickle and easily led astray. However, three times they vowed: "God forbid that we should forsake the LORD, to serve other gods" (v.16), and "Nay; but we will serve the LORD" (v.21), and as above in our text. Upon this profession of commitment to the LORD Joshua made a covenant, set them a statute, and made an ordinance. Then he wrote the agreement in the Book of the Law, set up a stone as a witness to the agreement, and rehearsed that to which they had agreed--"lest (they) deny (their) God" (v.27). What a solid way of settling an issue; and we can profit from this model: (1) Make sure you understand why you should serve God on any matter of importance that has been wavering; (2) Write the decision down--date it and sign it; (3) Put up a mark of remembrance somewhere in your daily path (a stake, or spike, or something visible); (4) Rehearse, verbally and frequently, what you agreed to "lest ye deny your God." KBC ________________________________________________________________________ November 14, Saturday TO THE LOOKING GLASS "For if any be a hearer of the Word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed" (James 1:23-25). The Word of God is not a magic mirror, but if we seek real truths concerning ourselves, the Biblical looking glass can bring great blessing. He who reads or hears the Word, but does not believe or obey it, is "a forgetful hearer" (James 1:25) who is deceiving himself. It is these who merely "behold" themselves in the Word. The Greek word used here for "beholding" and "beholdeth" means "looking from a distance"-- standing erect, as it were, while posing before the mirror. The man who "looketh into" the Word, on the other hand, "and continueth therein," being an obedient doer of its work, is the one who receives eternal blessing. The Greek word here for "looketh" conveys the idea of intense scrutiny, requiring the one who is looking actually to stoop down in order to see. In fact, it is often translated "stoop down." As we allow the mirror of God's Word to evaluate and correct our lives, "we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord" (II Corinthians 3:18). Yet this is only a token of what we can experience in the future. "For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known" (I Corinthians 13:12). Now we can see ourselves in the written Word. When we see the living Word, "we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is" (I John 3:2). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ November 15, Sunday RECYCLED DUST "Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation" (John 5:29,30). All who have ever lived, and whose bodies now are in graves, will one day hear the voice of the Son of man and they "shall come forth." Many have visited museums and have seen mummified remains of once living bodies, and can hardly imagine such remains coming to life. Others contemplate cremation, and wonder how burned and dispersed dust particles could ever be resurrected. Jesus, however, is no ordinary person. He spoke before a tomb, and Lazarus came forth (John 11:39-43). He told Peter to let down his nets, and fish gathered into them (Luke 5:4-6). Jesus "laid the foundations of the earth; and the heavens are the works of (His) hands" (Hebrews 1:10). He, the "shepherd" of Isaiah 40:11, is also the one in the next verse who "hath measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance." "The nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance" to him. Recycling human dust, therefore, is easily accomplished by Jesus. The greater work was hanging on a cross for sinners and making reconciliation with God possible. It somehow involved the temporary severing of Trinitarian bonds (Matthew 27:46)--something of cosmic significance, but also a mystery beyond our weak comprehension. We do not have to fully understand it, however, to entrust our beings to the saving care of his shepherding arms (Isaiah 40:11). PGH ________________________________________________________________________ November 16, Monday MILK OR MEAT "For everyone that useth milk is unskillful in the Word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil" (Hebrews 5:13,14). The Scriptures are compared in these verses to our daily food--milk and meat. Milk is the necessary food for babies (I Peter 2:2), but it becomes grotesque when a baby continues year after year as a baby, still incapable of partaking of anything but milk. This was the case with the Corinthian Christians, who were, according to Paul, "babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it" (I Corinthians 3:1,2). It was also true for these Hebrew Christians: "For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again ... the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat" (Hebrews 5:12). Sad to say, this is still the situation with most Christian people today, even in Bible-believing churches. This is indicated not only by the many carnal divisions between them (I Corinthians 3:3), but even more by the frothy nature of the Christian materials they read, almost always centered on introspective personal relationships rather than on the person of Christ, the deeper truths of Scripture, and the great purposes of God. The time spent in personal Bible study is minimal, and even most sermons repeatedly serve up milk for Christian babes rather than strong meat for spiritually healthy Christians "of full age" whose "senses" have already been strengthened by use to recognize the true and the false, the good and the evil. How urgently we need to heed the last words of the Apostle Peter, just before his martyrdom: "But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (II Peter 3:18). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ November 17, Tuesday MORE AND MORE "Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more" (I Thessalonians 4:1). Exhortation to walk with God is a constant reminder of Paul to his disciples. Evidently Adam and Eve had the distinct pleasure of "walking in the garden in the cool of the day" (Genesis 3:8) with God before they rebelled. On this side of the curse our walk with God starts with newness of life, as it says in Romans 6:4: "Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." That walk is sustained by the Spirit. "This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh" (Galatians 5:16). It is ever alert to the pitfalls of life. "See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise" (Ephesians 5:15). Pleasing God is a blessing given us by God. "But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts" (I Thessalonians 2:4). Our focus of service is easily led to please men, whom we see; not God, whom we don't see. The act of pleasing God has had fantastic results in the past, for recall that "by faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God" (Hebrews 11:5). Pleasing God can be as simple as doing good. "But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased" (Hebrews 13:16). "But the path of the just is as a shining light that shineth more and more unto the perfect day" (Proverbs 4:18). KBC ________________________________________________________________________ Nvember 18, Wednesday THE ROD FROM JESSE'S STEM "And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD" (Isaiah 11:1,2). This is one of the great prophecies of the Old Testament, clearly foretelling both the human and divine natures of the coming Messiah. Jesse was the father of David, whose line of kingly heirs would eventually be cut off by virtue of their sins (e.g., Jeremiah 22:28-30; 36:30). Yet God had also promised David that his seed would, indeed, establish his throne forever (II Samuel 7:16; Jeremiah 33:17). Therefore, there must somehow arise a "rod" (literally "shoot") out of the "stem" (literally "dead stump") of Jesse's family tree, emerging as a live "Branch" from the roots of this tree. This would eventually be fulfilled in Christ's virgin birth, with the legal right to David's throne transmitted through Joseph (see the genealogy in Matthew 1:6-16), but the natural birth from Mary, a descendant of Jesse and David via Nathan, another of David's sons (see Luke 3:23-32) who had not been in the kingly line. Thus Christ was fully human from conception on, but the conception itself would have to be miraculous. At the same time, He would still retain His divine nature, for the seven spirits of God (note Revelation 1:4) would be fully present in Him. These seven spirits (actually one Holy Spirit, manifest seven-fold, as the Spirit of the Lord, of wisdom, of understanding, of counsel, of might, of knowledge, and of the fear of the Lord) would be fully and constantly present in Him. Of no other man in all history could all this be said. Jesus Christ alone has fulfilled Isaiah's ancient prophecy. "In that day there shall be a root of Jesse, ... and His rest shall be glorious" (Isaiah 11:10). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ November 19, Thursday DOCTRINES OF DEVILS "Now the spirit speaketh expressly, that in the later times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils" (I Timothy 4:1). In chapter one of his first epistle to Timothy, Paul warned about false teachers and heresies in the church of his day, evidently particularly implicating the agnostics and their false skepticism and low moral standards. In our text for today, and throughout chapter four, he warns of false teachers "in the later times," i.e., in our day and in our churches. Paul had received an explicit (i.e., "expressly") teaching from the Holy Spirit. There was nothing vague about it. They would, among other things, be "forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats" (v.3), with other false teachings implied throughout the chapter. What does this teach us about those who today forbid their leaders, both men and women, to marry? Or those who insist upon certain dietary regimes for spiritual reasons? These "doctrines" will cause some to "depart from the faith." Evidently, some who consider themselves within the body of Christ, yet have incomplete discernment will fall into the trap of "seducing spirits," espousing the "doctrines of devils." The Greek word translated "depart" is apostesontai which means "to fall away" from an original position, in this case, "the faith." The teachers will typically be hypocrites, "speaking lies" and acting as if their "conscience has been seared" (v.2). "If any man preach any other gospel unto you then that ye have received, let him be accursed" (Galatians 1:9). In this time of great apostasy, we desperately need to know the Biblical doctrine concerning devils (or Satan and his demonic henchmen), for their influence has nearly captured American education and culture. But we must be on guard against, and teach others to be on guard against "doctrines of devils." JDM ________________________________________________________________________ November 20, Friday FAITH IS THE VICTORY "For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God" (I John 5:4,5). The favorite hymn from the last century, entitled "Faith is the Victory," contains many allusions to Scriptural concepts and passages. The theme, as is repeated in the chorus, is "Faith is the victory, ... O glorious victory, that overcomes the world." The primary passage used for the source of this hymn is in our text, where we see that it is the Christian--the one "born of God"--the one who "believeth that Jesus is the Son of God" who "overcomes the world." The victory comes through faith. Encamped along the hills of light, Ye Christian soldiers rise, And press the battle ere the night, Shall veil the glowing skies. Against the foe in vales below let all our strength be hurled; Faith is the victory, we know, that overcomes the world. This first verse harks back to several battles in the Old Testament where Israel, through faith in God, conquered many foes greater in number and better equipped than they. But the symbolism goes further. The word for "world" is the Greek work kosmos, implying, in context, the world system of thought arrayed in opposition to God. "We know that we are of God, and the whole world (i.e., kosmos) lieth in wickedness" (I John 5:19). Strangely enough, Scripture here does not say that through faith we will overcome and gain the victory. Rather, it explains that faith itself is the victory. Evidently, with victorious faith, the overcoming is automatic. "Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world" (I John 4:4). JDM ________________________________________________________________________ November 21, Saturday FAITH: OUR SHINING SHIELD "Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked" (Ephesians 6:16). The second verse of the well-known hymn, "Faith is the Victory," reflecting the teaching of I John 5:4, depicts the soldiers of light as they march into battle. Our Commander-in-Chief has erected His identifying banner over the troops and His "banner over (us) is love" (Song of Solomon 2:4). How does love identify us? "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments" (I John 5:3). "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another" (John 13:35). And, as they say, "love conquers all." His banner over us is love, Our sword the Word of God; We tread the road the saints above, With shouts of triumph trod. By faith they like a whirl-wind's breath, Swept on o'er every field; The faith by which they conquered death, Is still our shining shield. The saints of yesteryear (some of whom are enshrined in Hebrews 11) who in faith have battled victoriously, give us great confidence. "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith" (Hebrews 12:1,2). Their armor, and ours, is listed in the classic passage of Ephesians 6:10-18. Our sword, identified as the "Word of God" (v.17), is "quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword" (Hebrews 4:12). Our faith is our shield (as in our text) which protects us from the wicked one. But it's not over until it's over, and "The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. ... Death is swallowed up in victory" (I Corinthians 15:26,54). When it's over, our faith in the work and person of our Lord Jesus Christ will have provided a glorious and everlasting victory. JDM ________________________________________________________________________ November 22, Sunday ONWARD TO THE FRAY! "And it came to pass, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city" (Joshua 6:20). The third verse of the hymn, "Faith is the Victory," portrays the attack-phase of the battle. The foe stands in dread array, also poised for the fight. The prepared troops attack without hesitation, with a well-formulated battle plan. On every hand the foe we find, Drawn up in dread array; Let tents of ease be left behind, And onward to the fray! Salvation's helmet on each head, With truth all girt about: The earth shall tremble 'neath our tread, And echo with our shout. This last line recalls the episode in our text. The entire nation of Israel had marched for six days around the city of Jericho. On the seventh day they marched around the city seven times, and then the priests blew their trumpets and the people shouted. What kind of battle plan was that? But God had specifically instructed them to do it this way. They had seen Him work many stupendous miracles on their behalf and their faith was great. Their unwavering obedience resulted in a glorious victory. Today's warriors of faith have the same Commander-in-Chief, and access to His mighty power. Furthermore, He provides the "whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand" (Ephesians 6:13). "Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth" (v.14). Faith must be faith in the truth. Faith in a lie will not stand. "And take (literally: receive) the helmet of salvation" (v.17). Each warrior, saved "by grace ... through faith" (Ephesians 2:8), immersed in truth and obedient to the commander, is assured of complete and overwhelming victory. JDM ________________________________________________________________________ November 23, Monday IN JESUS' CONQUERING NAME "Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us" (Romans 8:37). The first verse of the well-loved hymn, "Faith is the Victory," describes preparation for the battle between the forces of light and darkness. The second verse tells of marching into battle, and the third, of the actual attack. For the soldier of faith, empowered by love and obedience to the commandments of God, the victory is assumed. The last verse relates the rewards of victory and a commitment to wise governing, once the battle is over. To him that overcomes the foe, White raiment shall be giv'n; Before the angels he shall know, his name confessed in heav'n. Then onward from the hills of light, Our hearts with love aflame; We'll vanquish all the hosts of night, In Jesus' conq'ring name. Jesus, when the Apostle John saw Him in His present glorified, victorious state, made this promise to the churches: "He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the Book of Life, but I will confess his name before my father, and before His angels" (Revelation 3:5). Earlier, He had made a companion promise: "These things have I 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). In this life we will have battles to fight, but the ultimate victory has already been won. As He left this world following His resurrection, He said: "Go ye therefore: ... and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world" (Matthew 28:19,20). No wonder, then, as we see in our text, we are "more than conquerors" in every situation, as we battle in Jesus' conquering name. "Thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ" (II Corinthians 2:14). JDM ________________________________________________________________________ November 24, Tuesday THE COMFORTABLE CHURCH "Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked" (Revelation 3:17). This is the heart of Christ's rebuke of the church at Laodicea, the "lukewarm" church (v.16) of the last days. This is an evangelical church for its candlestick is still in place (note Revelation 1:20; 2:5), but it has become a neutral church, "neither cold nor hot" (v.15). The reason for its tepid witness is because it has become "rich and increased with goods," comfortable in a culture which tends to equate material prosperity with success and God's favor. It may have acquired large and beautiful facilities, developed special programs of many kinds, featured a variety of musicians and other artists, and even gained a measure of political power. Yet, Christ calls it poor and blind and naked! Not all large churches become like this, of course, but it is always a real danger. The desire for large congregations can easily lead to compromising Biblical standards of doctrine and practice. "Woe to them that are at ease in Zion," the prophet warned (Amos 6:1). It is significant that the Lord began His letter to the Laodicean church by identifying Himself as "the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God" (v.14). This strongly suggests that a major reason for the development of such complacency in a large church (or a small church, for that matter) is neglect of these three doctrines--the sufficiency of Christ, the inerrant authority of God's Word, and the special creation of all things by God. The letter to this church ends with the sad picture of Christ standing at its door, seeking admission (Revelation 3:20). "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches" (Revelation 3:22). HMM ______________________________________________________________________ November 25, Wednesday THANKS BE UNTO GOD "But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (I Corinthians 15:57). There are innumerable things for which we could--and should--give thanks to God. But there are three notable gifts mentioned by Paul in his letters to the Corinthians, in which He was led to use this particular exclamation: "Thanks be to God." We shall do well to look at these three great blessings, and then--like Paul--pour out our own thanks to God for them! The first is in our text above, giving thanks for God's gift of victory. And what victory is that? "Death is swallowed up in victory" (I Corinthians 15:54), and death has lost its terrible sting for the believer, for Christ conquered death forever when He died for our sins and rose again. The second is similar, yet goes beyond even the first gift: "Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of His knowledge by us in every place" (II Corinthians 2:14). Not only victory over death, but victory in life! By the indwelling presence of the Spirit of Christ, we are enabled to triumph over circumstances and "show forth the praises of Him who hath called (us) out of darkness into His marvelous light" (I Peter 2:9). But the greatest gift of all is Christ Himself! Therefore, we join with the Apostle Paul as he exclaims, "Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift" (II Corinthians 9:15). "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). The value of this gift is beyond language to describe, "unspeakable and full of glory" (I Peter 1:8). The Lord Jesus Christ is both our Creator and Savior, giving us triumphant peace and joy in life, and eternal victory over death. Thanks be unto God! HMM ________________________________________________________________________ November 26, Thursday THANK GOD FOR DAILY BENEFITS "Blessed be the LORD, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah" (Psalm 68:19). For the Christian, Thanksgiving should be a most special day--a day of reflection concerning all of God's past blessings, of gratitude for all of God's present victories, and of rejoicing for all of God's future promises. And yet every day should be Thanksgiving for the believer, because the Lord daily loads us with benefits. (1) The benefit of salvation: "He that is our God is the God of salvation" (Psalm 68:20 and our text). (2) The benefit of a goodly heritage: "The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage" (Psalm 16:6). David expressed gratitude to God for giving him the best inheritance, so should we, by "giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light" (Colossians 1:12). (3) The benefit of God's goodness: "O give thanks unto the LORD, for He is good: for His mercy endureth for ever" (Psalm 107:1). "O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in Him" (Psalm 34:8). "Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart" (Psalm 73:1). (4) The benefit of an overflowing cup: "My cup runneth over" (Psalm 23:5). To the Christian, no matter what the out- ward circumstances, his inward spiritual cup is filled to overflowing with God's good things. "Thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures ... for with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light" (Psalm 36:8,9). (5) The benefit of a good year: "Thou crownest the year with thy goodness; and thy paths drop fatness" (Psalm 65:11). "Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits" (Psalm 103:2). NPS ________________________________________________________________________ November 27, Friday GREAT AND PRECIOUS PROMISES "Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust" (II Peter 1:4). Scripture is full of promises, more than 2,800 in the Old Testament and more than 1,000 in the New. The first of these exceeding great and precious promises was the Protevangel ("first gospel") of Genesis 3:15. Immediately after the fall of Adam and Eve, through the temptation of Satan, that old serpent, God promised the coming Seed of the Woman, the Savior: "And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; (He) shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise His heel." The first New Testament promise, significantly, is this same primeval promise, now made far more specific: "And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call His name JESUS: for He shall save His people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21). The last promise of the Old Testament speaks of a second coming of "Elijah the prophet," who will "turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers" (Malachi 4:5,6). Then, the final promise of the Bible is the wonderful assurance of Christ concerning His second coming: "Surely I come quickly" (Revelation 22:20). Sandwiched between these great and precious promises are over 3,800 other promises. Some of these are in the form of promised warnings to the sinner, but promises, none the less. Most promises, however, are to the obedient follower of God, and we know that "He is faithful that promised" (Hebrews 10:23). "For all the promises of God in Him are yea, and in Him Amen, unto the glory of God by us" (II Corinthians 1:20). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ Saturday, November 28 PICKING UP STICKS "And while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man that gathered sticks upon the sabbath day" (Numbers 15:32). Many young children play a game called "Pick-up Sticks." In our text, a man was found playing a game of pick-up sticks with God. He was gathering sticks on the Sabbath day, to be used as firewood. He was brought before Moses and Aaron, who prayed about the matter (vs.34,35). The Lord answered that he should be stoned, which they did (vs.35,36). Was the Lord too hard on the man? After all, he was only gathering a few sticks! In order to answer this, we must look at two types of sin mentioned previously in the chapter. The first is called a sin of ignorance. Please note this term where it is found in verses 24-29. Sins of ignorance were sins of omission; they were unintentional sins--sins that they did not know they were committing. When the congregation or an individual realized it, they could bring their offering, and the sin would be forgiven, or atoned for (v.28). The second sin is called a sin of presumption (v.30). This sin can be described as a defiant, open, willful, "I don't care what God says!" type sin. The stick gatherer committed a presumptuous sin. He knew exactly what he was doing, because he knew exactly what God had said about not doing this on the Sabbath day. He also knew the penalty was death (Exodus 35:2,3). Therefore, God would not have been true to His previous, clear Word, if He had allowed him to live. King David, in Psalm 19, understood the difference between these two sins. He said, in verses 12 and 13, "cleanse thou me from secret faults (sins of ignorance). Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: ... and I shall be innocent from the great transgression." That's a good prayer for all of us. Christians who try to play pick-up sticks with God will lose! NPS ________________________________________________________________________ November 29, Sunday THE DEAD ARE RAISED "And you hath He quickened (made alive), who were dead in trespasses and sins" (Ephesians 2:1). The Lord promised Abraham, before Isaac's birth, that his descendants would outnumber the stars in the heaven, and Abraham "believed in the LORD; and He counted it to him for righteousness" (Genesis 15:6). "And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead ... neither yet the deadness of Sarah's womb" (Romans 4:19). After Abraham "offered up his only begotten son (Isaac) ... accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead" (Hebrews 11:17,19), God again told him "I will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore ... because thou hast obeyed my voice" (Genesis 22:17,18). In obeying God's voice, Abraham "staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what He had promised, He was able also to perform" (Romans 4:20,21). His faith therefore was "imputed to him for righteousness" (v.22). Abraham was brought to the point where he knew beyond all doubt that he was incapable of assisting God in the accomplishment of His divine purposes in bringing to life the nation of Israel and, in so doing, his faith became a model for all believers, "that he might be the father of all them that believe ... that righteousness might be imputed unto them also" (Romans 4:11). We who were dead in trespasses and sins have believed that God "hath raised Him (Jesus Christ) from the dead" and have believed "unto righteousness" (Romans 10:9,10). It is through His righteousness that dead sinners are both "quickened" and made righteous. "For He hath made Him to be sin for us who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him" (II Corinthians 5:21). CJH ________________________________________________________________________ November 30, Monday OUR REASONABLE GOD "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool" (Isaiah 1:18). Our God is a reasonable God, and our faith is a reasonable faith, based on sound evidence. It is not a credulous faith, like that of the evolutionist who blindly believes either in the god of chance or in some sort of cosmic consciousness. Furthermore, He has told us to be reasonable in our witness to others. "Be ready always to give an answer [that is, an apologetic, a reasoned defense of our faith] to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear" (I Peter 3:15). But how can it be reasonable that one whose deeds have been crimson with sin could ever be made "white as snow"? That would seem impossible! He or she would have to be "born again." This would require a mighty miracle--a reversal of time--and eradication of all the sins of the past. And that would, indeed, be unreasonable--even impossible, were it not for God. But "the things which are impossible with men are possible with God" (Luke 18:27). What seems incredible to human wisdom is altogether reasonable to the God of creation. He has allowed man the freedom to sin (so that he could also be free to choose righteousness), but He can never fail in His creative purpose. "Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men" (I Corinthians 1:25). This divine Wisdom is centered in the sacrificial death and victorious resurrection of Christ, our Creator and Redeemer, who "loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood" (Revelation 1:5). As a result, now our "reasonable service" to Him is for each of us to offer ourselves to Him as "a living sacrifice" (Romans 12:1). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ This "Days of Praise" quarterly was converted to ASCII, for BBS use, from the original formatted desktop articles. Comments regarding typographical errors in the above material are appreciated. Don Barber, ICR Systems Administrator Fax: (619) 448-3469 All ICR staff members adhere to a Statement of Faith in the form of two documents: "Tenets of Scientific Creationism," and "Tenets of Biblical Creationism." (see Impact No. 85) ________________________________________________________________________ Institute for Creation Research A unique complex of evangelistic, missionary, and educational ministries. Trans-denominational in structure; worldwide in outreach. Advancing the cause of true science and education, winning people to Christ, and strengthening the Christian witness, by promoting genuine creationism in science and Scripture. 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