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________________________________________________________________________ Institute for Creation Research, PO Box 2667, El Cajon, CA 92021 Voice: (619) 448-0900 FAX: (619) 448-3469 ________________________________________________________________________ ||||||||| |||||||| |||||||||| |||| |||| |||| |||| |||| ||||| |||| |||| |||| |||| |||| ||||| |||| |||| |||| |||| |||| ||||| |||| |||| |||| |||| |||||||||| |||| |||| |||| |||| |||| |||| |||| |||| |||| |||| ||||||||| |||||||| ||||| ________________________________________________________________________ December, January, February Winter 1993 "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 ________________________________________________________________________ "Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him" (Psalm 33:8). Introduction to DAYS OF PRAISE Greetings from your friends here at the Institute for Creation Research. May we take this opportunity to wish you a joyous holiday season and fruitful New Year. Our prayer and desire is that this little devotional booklet will be mightily used by God in your life, and that each of your days will be truly "Days of Praise." Pardon, if you will, just a word about the booklet and its production. As you can notice, nearly all of the daily studies are written by the ICR science and support staff. Each writer loves the Word of God and finds this type of "research" a most enjoyable exercise. Each article is a carefully prepared Bible study of a passage, concept, or doctrine. One series even quotes a grand old hymn, and shows how its verses are supported by Scripture. We trust God will use each reading to bear spiritual fruit in your life each day. Each booklet is sent out free of charge to nearly 200,000 individuals. Prisons, hospitals, and missions have requested and receive them in bulk quantities. Obviously, the booklets cost something to print and mail, and we would gladly accept any help you might offer in this endeavor. ICR is a faith-mission organization, supported primarily by gifts from concerned Christian friends like you. KLB Kathleen L. Bruce, D.Miss. BJC Mrs. Barbara J. Cicognari KBC Kenneth B. Cumming, Ph.D. ADE Arnold D. Ehlert, Th.D. CJH Mrs. Connie J. Horn PGH Paul G. Humber, M.S. HMM Henry M. Morris, Ph.D. JDM John D. Morris, Ph.D. KAS Mrs. Katherine A. Scharfenberg, B.S. NPS Norman P. Spotts, D.D. ________________________________________________________________________ December 1, Tuesday THE IMPERATIVES OF REDEMPTION "From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto His disciples, how that He must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day" (Matthew 16:21). The little word "must" (Greek deon) conveys urgency and necessity, and is frequently used in connection with the redemptive work of the Lord Jesus Christ. When He was just a lad, He told the learned men in the temple: "I must be about my Father's business" (Luke 2:49). But then the first time this key auxiliary verb is found in the New Testament is in the comprehensive prophetic statement of His mission, as given to His disciples in our text. He must go to Jerusalem to suffer and die, and be raised the third day. As He was moving toward that climactic event, "He said unto them, I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also: for therefore am I sent" (Luke 4:43). Furthermore, "I must work the works of Him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work" (John 9:4). He had much preaching and much work to do in that brief three-year interim in world history. But then He must die! And why must He die? Because "the Scriptures must be fulfilled" (Mark 14:49). "These are the words which I spake unto you, . . . that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me" (Luke 24:44). And how must He die? "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up" (John 3:14). But then, of course, "He must rise again from the dead" (John 20:9). To what purpose must He be lifted up on the cross to die, and then be raised again? Why because "there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ December 2, Wednesday SHADOWS "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me" (Psalm 23:4). There are at least eighty references in the Bible to shadows-- an unusual subject, but intended by the Holy Spirit for our edification. Shadows teach us about: (1) The shortness of life: "Our days on the earth are as a shadow, and there in none abiding" (I Chronicles 29:15); "My days are like a shadow that declineth; and I am withered like grass" (Psalm 102:11); "I am gone like the shadow when it declineth" (Psalm 109:23). (2) The certainty of death: There are eighteen references in the Bible to the shadow of death. "Before I go whence I shall not return, even to the land of darkness and the shadow of death" (Job 10:21). We are encouraged to "seek Him that . . . turneth the shadow of death into the morning" (Amos 5:8). (3) The assurance of God's protection: "Hide me under the shadow of thy wings" (Psalm 17:8); "In the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge" (Psalm 57:1); "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most high shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty" (Psalm 91:1); "I sat down under His shadow with great delight, and His fruit was sweet to my taste" (Song of Solomon 2:3). The Lord's presence goes with us as we "walk through the valley of the shadow of death." (4) Places of false protection: "Woe to the rebellious children: . . . that walk to go down into Egypt, and have not asked at my mouth; to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh, and to trust in the shadow of Egypt! Therefore shall the strength of Pharaoh be your shame, and the trust in the shadow of Egypt your confusion" (Isaiah 30:1-3). (5) The immutability of God: God does not change. "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning" (James 1:17). NPS ________________________________________________________________________ December 3, Thursday SILENCING FOOLISH MEN "For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men" (I Peter 2:15). The blasphemous diatribes of modern evolutionary humanists against the Word of God and the testimony of His people are really nothing but arrogant foolishness. "Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools" (Romans 1:22) and "the LORD shall have them in derision" (Psalm 2:4). The Biblical way to "silence the ignorance of foolish men," as our text says, is simply by "well doing." This word (also translated "do well") is used almost exclusively by Peter, but he makes the point quite effectively. Note the following, for example: "If, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God" (I Peter 2:20). "For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing" (I Peter 3:17). "Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to Him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator" (I Peter 4:19). Our example in this, of course, is none other than Christ Himself, "Who, when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not; but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously" (I Peter 2:23). Unbelievers, if they want to badly enough, can reject every argument with some other objection or counter claim, but they have no way to gainsay a godly, righteous, law-abiding, loving life. The unbeliever may ridicule such a life for a time, but he must eventually come to see its sure foundation. "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). The main reason for "well doing," however, is simply that, as our text says, "so is the will of God," and we can safely leave the response and the results to Him. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ December 4, Friday THE WRITING OF GOD "And the tables were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, graven upon the tables" (Exodus 32:16). In this verse is the first occurrence in the Bible of the word "writing" and, appropriately enough, it is speaking of "the writing of God" rather than the writings of men. The reference, of course, is to the two tables of the law, the Ten Commandments, "written with the finger of God" (Exodus 31:18), and rewritten on a second set of stone tables to replace the first, once they were shattered (Exodus 34:1). All Scripture is divinely inspired, but the Ten Commandments were divinely inscribed! This testimony of their unique importance is a sobering condemnation of any who ignore them or distort their meaning (including the one referring to the six-day creation in Exodus 20:11). But there is another writing of God, this one recorded in the New Testament; one of even greater personal significance to the Christian: "Ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ . . . written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart" (II Corinthians 3:3). No longer an external standard, divinely engraved in stone by the finger of God, but an internal conviction, inscribed in the heart by the Spirit of God! "This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them" (Hebrews 10:16). This remarkable writing of God's law in our hearts and minds has been accomplished because Christ came not "to destroy, but to fulfill" the law (Matthew 5:17) and "hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us" (Galatians 3:13). Now, with the law in our hearts, we have become epistles of God, "known and read of all men" (II Corinthians 3:2), and it is vital that the writing read true and clear through our lives. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ December 5, Saturday GIVEN TO US ETERNAL LIFE "And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son" (I John 5:11). Our text for today contains truths which provide great power and comfort for Christians. Let us reflect on some of them: The word "record" needs amplification. In noun form, it means "the evidence given," and in verb form it means "testify," or "witness." The apostle John used it nine times in verses 7 through 11. Study of our text and its context shows that the record mentioned is none other than the great truth that Christ Jesus was God's only Son, and that He died as a perfect and fully sufficient sacrifice to provide us life eternal. In our text, we see that this work of bestowing eternal life is God's work. It is "not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us" (Titus 3:5). This eternal life is our present possession, for He "hath given" it to us, i.e., in the past. This gift is to individuals--to "us"--not to a nation or even the church, but to those who have believed. Furthermore, this "eternal life" is eternal! It will last for eternity, and cannot be taken away. It is inconceivable for an omnipotent God to give "eternal life" temporarily. We are alive in Him, having been born (again) into His family. This is a permanent situation. The tense shifts to the present in the last phrase of the text. Our "life is in His Son." We are "in Him. . .. This is the true God, and eternal life" (v.20). Our life finds its vitality in living union with the Son. His death and resurrection made life possible, and now His present life is ours. His Spirit, resident within us, provides this vitality, and since the Spirit of God is eternal, our life is eternal. "These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God" (v.13). JDM ________________________________________________________________________ December 6, Sunday THE WAY OF MAN "O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps" (Jeremiah 10:23). A 19th-century poet boasted: "I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul." The 20th century Humanist Manifesto proclaims: "No deity will save us; we must save ourselves." A popular song proudly asserts: "I did it my way!" The fact is, however, that humanism has failed. Whether exercised at the level of government paternalism or individual self-sufficiency, the notion that any man or group of men can make decisions and go their own ways with no regard to the will of their Creator is arrogant foolishness. "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death" (Proverbs 14:12). God does have a will for both men and nations. "In times past (He) suffered all nations to walk in their own ways. . . . And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent" (Acts 14:16; 17:30). It would make a tremendous impact for world peace and national happiness, if only our national and world leaders would formulate their policies in accordance with the revealed will of God, through His Word. But this ideal may never be approached until Christ Himself returns. In the meantime, He has promised guidance in each individual life, when that life is truly yielded to His will. No man can really "direct his steps," as our text points out, but "the steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and . . . none of his steps shall slide" (Psalm 37:23,31). God's will is always in accordance with His Word, of course, for He cannot contradict Himself. We can, therefore, confidently act on His promise: "In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths" (Proverbs 3:6). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ December 7, Monday REMEMBER "Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance" (II Peter 1:13). "Remember the Alamo!" was the battle cry which stirred up the Texas patriots in their battle for independence from Mexico. During the Spanish-American War, the cry was "Remember the Maine!" The surprise Japanese attack on the Pacific fleet inspired the World War II slogan: "Remember Pearl Harbor!" To many, Pearl Harbor Day still "stirs up" remembrances, as we recall the many forefathers, friends, and loved ones who sacrificed their lives in defense of liberty during those memorable years. It is good to remember the martyrs and heroes who have gone before, for those who do not learn from history will eventually find themselves repeating history. The Apostle Peter, in his last epistle, was especially concerned that his readers remember all the great evidences of the Christian faith and the great principles of the Christian life: "Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth" (II Peter 1:12). Then, anticipating his coming martyrdom, he stressed: "Moreover I will endeavor that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance" (v.15). Finally: "This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Savior" (3:1,2). It is good to be "stirred up" to patriotic sacrifice by remembrance of those who have provided and preserved our American liberties, but it is still more important to have our minds (not just our emotions!) stirred up by remembrance of the wonderful works of God. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ December 8, Tuesday ONLY THE GOOD SHEPHERD "I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep" (John 10:11). Who is your shepherd? Is it Jesus, the Good Shepherd? Is it the One who knows His sheep by name--the one who would care for His sheep even if it meant dying for them and their needs? Jesus said, "I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep" (vs.14,15). Or is your shepherd someone less loving--someone who might lead you in paths of righteousness for awhile, but desert you when the going gets rough (v.13)? Most of us, at some notable times in our lives--or even at periodic intervals or as a natural life-long habit--get off the path of righteousness. Just as sheep tend to go their own silly ways, we continually err and fall into ruts of sin and ignorance. Perhaps at those times, more than any other, we look around for a shepherd. We feebly bleat until we find a leader we can look to--one who will guide us toward security. But in following anyone other than the Good Shepherd, grave danger lurks. How can we know who that one is? Whom does he follow? How firmly ingrained are his principles of righteousness? Will he never, never fail? Anyone but the Good Shepherd will surely disappoint us and eventually lead us astray. None but the Lord Jesus is meant to be the Shepherd. Everyone else certainly will fail and step off the right path at some point. Only the Good Shepherd--sinless, One with the Father--knows and loves His sheep fully. He alone is worthy to be followed. "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand" (vs.27,28). KLB ________________________________________________________________________ December 9, Wednesday LEAST IN THE KINGDOM "Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:19). The Lord Jesus was evidently speaking here not of the differences between saved and unsaved people, but rather of degrees of reward in His future kingdom. The criterion for achieving "greatness" in the future life is simply to believe, teach, and obey the complete Word of God in this life, not just the major doctrines and general principles. Those who undermine any part of God's Word, either in teaching or practice, will be relegated to "least in the kingdom of heaven." In the words of the apostle Paul, such a person "shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire" (I Corinthians 3:15). Thus no Scripture is unimportant, for "all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable" (II Timothy 3:16). In fact, the verse just previous to our text, providing the basis for the Lord's warning about breaking even the least commandment, is His remarkable assertion about the verbal inerrancy of Scripture: "For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled" (Matthew 5:18). We believe the Bible, but are nevertheless quick to adapt their interpretations of Scripture to the latest speculations of scientists, or to current fads of world living. This is insulting to God, who surely can say what He means! "Yea, let God be true, but every man a liar" (Romans 3:4). If we aspire to greatness in the coming kingdom, then clearly we must believe and teach "all the counsel of God" (Acts 20:27), according to His revealed Word. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ December 10, Thursday THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE MYSTERY "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 3:9). In the third chapter of Ephesians, the apostle Paul is outlining the tremendous message he had been called by God to preach. By special "revelation," God had "made known" to him the essentials of what had previously been a great "mystery" (vs.3,4). Since all--both Jew and Gentile--had the same Creator, and since that Creator had now become the Redeemer, therefore all were to be "partakers of His promise in Christ by the gospel" (v.6). Thus, there was established a wonderful fellowship among all those whom He has created and redeemed. This great mystery, long hidden from the Gentiles and from the Jews (accustomed to viewing themselves as the chosen nation), must now give way to "the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord" (vs.10,11). That great purpose, now revealed, had from the beginning of the world been "hid in God." He had first "created all things by Jesus Christ" (see our text for the day), and "now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ" (Ephesians 2:13). He has reconciled both Jew and Gentile to the Father and to each other "in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby" (v.16). True fellowship between any two groups can only be on this basis. That is, both the creation of all things and the blood-bought redemption of all things have thereby been completed through the Lord Jesus Christ. This former mystery is now fully revealed as the essential foundation of true fellowship with God and man. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ December 11, Friday PRAISING GOD IN THE DANCE "Let them praise His name in the dance: let them sing praises unto Him with the timbrel and harp" (Psalm 149:3). Although conservative Christians have long considered dancing to be a questionable form of amusement and recreation, it is obvious from such references as the above that there is nothing intrinsically wrong with it. Note Psalm 150:4: "Praise Him with the timbrel and dance;" and other Old Testament references to dancing in a favorable sense (Exodus 15:20; Psalm 30:11; etc.). In the New Testament, the parable of the prodigal son also speaks of dancing in a good light, noting that the son's homecoming was joyfully celebrated with "music and dancing" (Luke 15:25). Usually dancing was an expression of either joy or worship. o the contrary, there is another reference in the Old Testament which may be more relevant to modern Christian attitudes toward dancing. When Aaron made the golden calf and the Israelites proceeded to worship this Satanic idol while Moses was on the mount receiving God's ten commandments, they "rose up to play" (Exodus 32:6), and Moses soon found them shouting and singing and dancing (Exodus 32:17-19) and even "saw that the people were naked" (Exodus 32:25). The commentary in the New Testament suggests that this revelry led to widespread fornication (I Corinthians 10:8). The gospels also tell of the sensuous dancing of Herodias' daughter Salome, which so enthralled King Herod that he was willing to behead John the Baptist to please her (Matthew 14:6-11). hus, while dancing can, if properly motivated and Biblically controlled, be an appropriate medium for showing joy and even godly worship, it can also become an outlet for carnal sensuality and even criminality. Unfortunately, most modern dancing seems more closely related to the latter than the former, and Christians must continue to be cautious. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ December 12, Saturday NO HELP FROM THE HILLS "I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help" (Psalm 121:1). This oft-quoted verse seems to contradict many other verses in Scripture: "Truly in vain is salvation hoped for from the hills, and from the multitude of mountains: truly in the LORD our God is the salvation of Israel" (Jeremiah 3:23). In fact, a common error of paganism was to seek salvation and the favor of the "gods" by going to "high places" where, ostensibly, they could commune with spirits in the heavens. Such practices, of course, were vigorously rebuked by God. He commanded the Israelites, as they entered the promised land: "Ye shall utterly destroy all the places, wherein the nations which ye shall possess served their gods, upon the high mountains, and upon the hills, and under every green tree" (Deuteronomy 12:2). Thus, the last half of our text above should best be regarded as a sort of rhetorical question: "From whence cometh my help?" (In the original language, the context determines when a statement is a question.) The wonderful answer then immediately follows: "My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth" (Psalm 121:2). No object or system in the natural world, regardless of how beautiful or magnificent, can provide help in time of spiritual need. But "we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper" (Hebrews 13:6), for "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble" (Psalm 46:1). e alone is the Creator of all things in heaven and earth, whereas the hills and mountains of the present world are merely the remnants of the destructive phenomena of the great Flood (Psalm 104:6-9). All such things are powerless to save, and eventually will "vanish away" (Isaiah 51:6). But "our help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth" (Psalm 124:8). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ December 13, Sunday CONSIDER THE RAVENS "Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls?" (Luke 12:24). Consider, first, "a certain rich man" who had such abundance of food bursting from his barns that he decided to pull them down and build greater barns. He planned to hoard his goods rather than share his abundance (vs.16-18). Consider now the ravens: lacking barns, they depend from day to day totally upon God's provision. "He giveth to the beast his food, and to the young ravens which cry" (Psalm 147:9). Do we cultivate this raven-like attitude, or are we self-sufficient like the rich man? These same ravens, when commanded by God, brought Elijah "bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening" (I Kings 17:6). Unlike the rich man, these ravens shared their goods, and not from their abundance. Do we respond as quickly as ravens and share with the needy that God sends our way? Ravens are unclean birds, according to Leviticus 11:15. They routinely scavenge carcasses for food. Noah used this characteristic to evaluate the state of the earth after the Flood. After forty days, he "opened the window of the ark which he had made: and he sent forth a raven, which went forth to and fro, until the waters were dried up from off the earth" (Genesis 8:6,7). The raven felt no horror at the condition of the world, no hesitation at partaking of its gruesome abundance. The dove which Noah sent forth was more fastidious: "But the dove found no rest for the sole of her foot, and she returned unto him into the ark" (v.9). Two weeks passed before she "returned not again unto him any more" (v.12). Are we hardened and eager ravens, seeking all the world has to offer, or more discerning and scrupulous doves? Consider the ravens: They have many lessons to teach us. BJC ________________________________________________________________________ December 14, Monday GOD'S FOUNDATION "His foundation is in the holy mountains. The LORD loveth the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob. Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God. Selah" (Psalm 87:1-3). The 87th Psalm was dedicated to the praise of Jerusalem as the chosen city of God, the site of His temple, where He dwelt with His people. It is on this location that He focuses His continual attention. None of the great fathers of the chosen people--Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Joshua--were ever citizens of earthly Jerusalem, but they all "looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God" (Hebrews 11:10). The Lord Jesus has gone "to prepare a place" (John 14:2) for us, and God "hath prepared for them a city" (Hebrews 11:16). This is "mount Sion . . . the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem" (Hebrews 12:22), the "Jerusalem which is above" (Galatians 4:26). The day will come when this beautiful city of God will rest on "a great and high mountain . . . descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God" (Revelation 21:10,11). There on the new earth (Revelation 21:1,2) it may indeed rest on foundations extending to the center of the earth, for it will be 1,400 miles high, wide, and long (Revelation 21:16). Inscribed on its beautiful foundations are the names of the twelve apostles, but the sure foundation must be Christ Himself (Ephesians 2:20; I Corinthians 3:11). "Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are His" (II Timothy 2:19). "Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of His holiness. Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is Mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King" (Psalm 48:1,2). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ December 15, Tuesday THE GREAT CONGREGATION "But ye are come unto Mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels. To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect" (Hebrews 12:22,23). There are relatively few large Christian congregations in the world where believers meet for fellowship, study, and prayer in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Most churches, both now and in earlier times, have been insignificant in terms of worldly standards, better fitting Christ's "little flock" designation (Luke 12:32) than do the giant edifices so widely publicized today. The Biblical standard is not size, but motive. The small church at Philadelphia was promised an open door because, said the Lord, "thou hast (but) little strength, and hast kept my Word, and hast not denied my name" (Revelation 3:8). The day is coming, however, when all believers in all churches of all times and places will be in one church. This will be "the general assembly and church of the firstborn," whose members will be "just men made perfect" by the blood of Christ (Hebrews 12:23). Even on the cross, the Lord Jesus anticipated this glorious event. At the very height of His sufferings, He prophesied in His heart: "My praise shall be of Thee in the great congregation" (Psalm 22:25). Already, by His Word and by His Spirit, He has spoken to every future member of that marvelous assembly: "I have preached righteousness in the great congregation: . . . I have not concealed thy lovingkindness and thy truth from the great congregation" (Psalm 40:9,10). This was surely part of "the joy that was set before Him" as He "endured the cross" (Hebrews 12:2). Members of that great congregation have great joy set before them! HMM ________________________________________________________________________ December 16, Wednesday THE DISCERNER "For the Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing 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). The Word of God (both the written word and the living Word, Jesus Christ) is "living and energizing" and is the double-edged sword of the Spirit, piercing into the deepest recesses of body, soul, and spirit, where it "discerns" even the very thoughts and intents of our hearts. This discernment, however, is more than just understanding or insight. The Greek word for "discerner" is kritikos, and is used only this one time in the Bible. Our word "critic" is derived from it, and this is an important dimension of its meaning. Its discernment is a critical, judging discernment--one which convicts and corrects, as well as one which understands. It is paradoxical that men today presume to become critics of the Bible, when it should really be the other way around. There are textual critics, who sort through the various ancient manuscripts of the Bible, trying to arrive at the original text; there are the "higher critics," who critique vocabularies and concepts, trying to show that the traditional authors did not actually write the books attributed to them; and then there are many other purely destructive critics, who criticize the Bible's miracles, morals, and everything else, hoping thereby to justify their rebellion against the Word. But the Bible still stands! It stands in judgment on our lives and our subconscious motives. It will have the final word when "the books (are) opened . . . and the dead (are) judged out of those things which were written in the books" (Revela-tion 20:12). It is far better to heed the constructive criticism of the Word now, than to hear its condemnation later. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ December 17, Thursday LOVE OF THE FATHER FOR THE SON "The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into His hand" (John 3:35). The Gospel of John, in a special sense, emphasizes the love, in the divine Trinity, of the heavenly Father for the Son. The words "love" and "Father" and "Son" occur more in this book than in any other book of the Bible, and there are at least eight references to this love in John's Gospel. The first is in our text above, revealing that the Father has entrusted the care of the whole creation to the Son whom He loves. He has also shown Him everything in creation: "For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth Him all things that Himself doeth" (John 5:20). The Father also loved the Son because of His willingness to die for lost sinners. "Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again" (John 10:17). Then in the upper room, as Christ prayed to His Father, it was revealed that this divine love had existed in eternity, and therefore must be both the root and the measure of all forms of true love ever since. "Father . . . thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world" (John 17:24). Parental love, marital love, filial love, love of country--all types of genuine love--are derived ultimately from this eternal love of the Father for the Son. And it is this love that can also be in us, if we will have it. "As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you. . . . If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in His love" (John 15:9,10). It was thus He prayed (and still prays) for us. ". . . that the world may know that thou . . . hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. . . . And . . . that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them" (John 17:23,26). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ December 18, Friday SALVATION: A GIFT FROM GOD "As thou hast given Him power over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given Him" (John 17:2). If we trust Jesus for salvation, we can take no credit ourselves. Eternal life is a gift from God. The Lord stood before the tomb of Lazarus and called a corpse to life. What followed was no credit to the one who came forward wrapped in grave clothes. Jesus alone imparts life. The fact that God choses to save a people is cause for much celebration, and He alone is to be praised. Dead people do not have the ability to choose life. One problem is that we think of walking and talking people as being alive when in fact they are dead. Jesus spoke the following words to walking-and-talking people: "And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life" (John 5:40). They may have thought they were alive, but life was missing, as far as Jesus was concerned. Millions know down deep that something very important is missing in their existence. The apostle Paul described people prior to conversion as being "dead in trespasses and sins" (Ephesians 2:1). He underscored the implied truth in the prayer recorded in our text when he went on to write: "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God" (v.8). Another aspect of the text which should fill us with praise to Jesus is the part about "all flesh." Jesus, the Creator and Sustainer of all life, has been given authority over "all flesh." He owns us. The Father gave Him "power" (authority) over all. He is the One who keeps us alive. Doctors stitch together cuts, but Jesus heals and made the doctors. t is one thing to give mental assent to these truths; it is something else to live them. May we praise God that salvation is a free gift, and rejoice that Jesus owns and cares for all who have eternal life. PGH ________________________________________________________________________ December 19, Saturday HIS TRUTH "And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of my master Abraham, who hath not left destitute my master of His mercy and His truth: I being in the way, the LORD led me to the house of my master's brethren" (Genesis 24:27). This verse contains the heart-warming prayer of Abraham's servant when he realized God had led him to the home of Isaac's future bride. It also contains the first mention in the Bible of the word "truth." Illustrating the principle of first mention, it is significant that the truth of which it speaks is the truth of God. Scientists and educators today profess to be searching for truth, and many religions and philosophies profess to have the truth, but all true truth is of God! To look for it anywhere else is to be "ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth" (II Timothy 3:7). Similarly, the first mention of "truth" in the New Testament is Matthew 14:33: "Then they that were in the ship came and worshiped Him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God." Truth is found in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit. "When He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth" (John 16:13). The holy Scriptures are made up of truth. "Sanctify them through thy truth," prayed the Lord Jesus, "thy Word is truth" (John 17:17). "Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and thy law is the truth" (Psalm 119:142). On the other hand, everything that is false (that is, contrary to the triune God and/or His inerrant Word) must have its ultimate source in the enemy of truth, Satan, "which deceiveth the whole world" (Revelation 12:9), "for he is a liar, and the father of it" (John 8:44). The Lord's "mercy is everlasting; and His truth endureth to all generations" (Psalm 100:5), but "all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death" (Revelation 21:8). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ December 20, Sunday MANY CALLED, FEW CHOSEN "So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen" (Matthew 20:16). These words of Christ make it clear that being called by God and being chosen by Him are not the same. The two items are similar in the Greek, with the second somewhat like an extension of the first--that is, kletos and eklektos, or "called" and "called-out." The same truth is emphasized again in Matthew 22:14: "For many are called, but few are chosen." Note also that the word for "chosen" (eklektos) is the word from which we get the English word "elect." In fact, it is often rendered "elect" in the Bible. It often seems, however, that the two words are used almost as synonyms. Both apply only to true believers. For example, those who are "called" are set out as distinct from all others. "We preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the [Gentiles] foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and [Gentiles], Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God" (I Corinthians 1:23,24). Yet, as our text says, only a "few" of those that are "called" are also "chosen." All Christians are "the called" of God, but only some of these are "chosen" by Him for some special ministry. For example, Paul was called "a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles" (Acts 9:15). Both the "calling" and "choosing" (or "election") are strictly works of God. In fact, He has "chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world" (Ephesians 1:4). And yet, we are also exhorted to "give diligence" to make both "(our) calling and election sure" (II Peter 1:10). Though the dual nuances may be impossible to comprehend with our minds, they are a blessing to the hearts of all who the "called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28). For all "they that are with Him are called, and chosen, and faithful" (Revelation 17:14). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ December 21, Monday THE OMNISCIENCE OF GOD "O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me" (Psalms 139:1). The marvelous 139th Psalm consists of a prayer by King David to his King, the omniscient, omnipresent, holy, Creator God, the King of kings. In this psalm David reflects on and praises God for His majestic attributes, and by doing so, is driven to introspection. David claims that God knows when we sit down or stand up (v.2). He even knows our thoughts (v.2). Furthermore, He knows our direction and habits (v.3). He knows our words better than we do ourselves (v.4). In everything, God knows and guides (v.5). "Such knowledge is too wonderful for me" (v.6), David claims, and neither he nor we, trapped as we are in finiteness, can comprehend this omniscience. Where can we go to escape His omnipresence? (v.7). Neither to heaven nor hell (v.8). Not to the air or the sea (v.9). Neither darkness nor light (vs.11,12) can shield us from His presence. In all, He leads and guides (v.10). Thinking such lofty thoughts should compel us to praise and thankfulness, as it did David, especially as it relates to our own creation and growth. God knew us in the womb (v.13) and controlled each stage of our embryonic development (vs.14-16). He knew and planned all the events of our lives (v.16). "How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God" (v.17)! They are innumerable (vs.17,18). Reflection on God's holiness makes David painfully aware of his own sinfulness, as it should us. Recognition of God's nature should bring us to a place of submission and a desire for holiness, as well as a yearning to follow fully the omniscient God. "Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting" (vs.23,24). JDM ________________________________________________________________________ December 22, Tuesday WHEN GOD BECAME MAN "Thou madest Him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst Him with glory and honor, and didst set Him over the works of thy hands" (Hebrews 2:7). We cannot comprehend what it meant for the infinite Creator God to become finite man, even coming "in the likeness of sinful flesh" (Romans 8:3). Nevertheless, we can, and must, believe it, for "every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God" (I John 4:3). The Scriptures have given us a glimpse of the "emptying" that His incarnation required--the setting aside of certain outward aspects of His deity. He had been "so much better than the angels" (Hebrews 1:4), but He had to be "made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death" (Hebrews 2:9)--"put to death in the flesh" (I Peter 3:18). The eternal Word "was God" (John 1:1), but it was necessary that "the Word was made flesh" (John 1:14). "The world was made by Him" (John 1:10), but "the princes of this world . . . crucified the Lord of glory" (I Corinthians 2:8). He, "being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God" (Philippians 2:6). That is, He was not fearful of losing His deity and, therefore, did not have to cling to His divine nature and attributes as He became man. Thus, He "made Himself of no reputation" (emptying Himself of the outward form of God), "and took upon Him the form of a servant" (Philippians 2:7). Yet that was only the beginning. "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). He suffered hell for us, that we might enjoy heaven with Him. Because He was willing to be so humiliated, He will one day be crowned with glory and honor. "God also hath highly exalted Him, . . . that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord" (Philippians 2:9,11). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ December 23, Wednesday A SPECIAL SON "The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham" (Matthew 1:1). These opening words of the New Testament identify this "book of the generation (literally `genesis') of Jesus Christ" as telling of the wonderful fulfillment of the promise to both Abraham and David of a very special Son. To Abraham, God had promised: "Because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son; . . . in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice" (Genesis 22:16,18). This prophecy was directed immediately through Isaac, but focused finally on Jesus Christ, Abraham's greater Son. "Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ" (Galatians 3:16). Similarly, a unique promise was made to David concerning his own special Son. "I will set up thy seed after thee, . . . I will be His Father, and He shall be My Son. . . . And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee" (II Samuel 7:12,14,16). Once again, this promise applied precursively to Solomon, but ultimately to the greater Son of David, "made of the seed of David according to the flesh; And declared to be the Son of God with power, . . . by the resurrection from the dead" (Romans 1:3,4). He was greater than Abraham, greater than David, and even "better than the angels. . . . For unto which of the angels said He at any time, . . . I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to me a Son?" (Hebrews 1:4,5). In the fullest sense, this Son was the fulfillment of the primeval promise of the coming seed of the woman (Genesis 3:15). He is the virgin's Son (Isaiah 7:14), the Son given (Isaiah 9:6), "the last Adam. . . . The Lord from heaven" (I Corinthians 15:45,47). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ December 24, Thursday LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS "The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined" (Isaiah 9:2). This beautiful verse is treated in the New Testament as a Messianic prophecy, fulfilled when Christ came into the worldgrowing up in Nazareth and then dwelling in Caper-naumboth cities being located in "Galilee of the Gentiles" (Matthew 4:15). This was in the region once occupied by the ten northern tribes, and then devastated by the invading Assyrians when they carried the Northern Kingdom away into captivity. This region had for centuries thereafter remained in spiritual darkness, even after the return of Judah from captivity in Babylon. But then Christ came and, "From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matthew 4:17). Thus His public ministry actually began in this land of darkness, "and the light shineth in darkness. . . . The true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world" (John 1:5,9). Wherever Christ comes, the light comes, for He is light. He left heaven for Earth, saying: "I come to do thy will, O God" (Hebrews 10:9). This great purpose of God "is now made manifest by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel" (II Timothy 1:10). And yet, tragically, "this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved" (John 3:19,20). Light is of benefit only to those who do not prefer the darkness. Nevertheless, to those who desire light Jesus says: "I am the light of the world: he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life" (John 8:12). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ December 25, Friday WHEN THE ANGELS WORSHIPED CHRIST "And again, when He bringeth in the first begotten into the world, He saith, And let all the angels of God worship Him" (Hebrews 1:6). Jesus Christ is "the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father" (John 1:18), but the day finally came when He had to proceed all the way to Earth, and the eternal 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" (John 1:14). A little later, He would be "declared to be the Son of God . . . by the resurrection from the dead" (Romans 1:4). By eternal generation, by the incarnation, by the virgin birth, and by the resurrection, He is in every sense God's "first begotten"--His only begotten--Son. Our text says that when He first entered the world, born of the virgin, His heavenly Father called on all the innumerable angels in the heavenly host to bow down and worship Him. It is not clear whether this command is a quotation from the Old Testament or not, although it is cited in a passage which also quotes several other Messianic prophecies as applied to Jesus Christ. Psalm 97:7 and Deuteronomy 32:43 have been suggested as possible source verses, but neither of these seems to fit very well in context. Thus it may be that our text refers directly, and solely, to a specific decree of God, proclaimed throughout the universe at the time of the human birth of His Son, and recorded here alone. All the angels of the infinite cosmos bowed in solemn worship, but a special contingent was commissioned to watch directly over the birth, and proclaim the good news to those nearby. "And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men" (Luke 2:13,14). The angels saw and worshiped; the shepherds heard and told. And "all they that heard it wondered" (Luke 2:18). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ December 26, Saturday AMBASSADOR IN BONDS "The salutation by the hand of me Paul. Remember my bonds. Grace be with you. Amen" (Colossians 4:18). Paul wrote six epistles from Rome, where he was imprisoned during the final years of his life. This short but pointed admonition is similar to that of the writer of Hebrews (perhaps Paul himself) when he wrote: "Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them" (Hebrews 13:3). It came as no surprise to Paul that he was placed under arrest. He told the Ephesian elders, "I go bound in the Spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there. Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions await me there" (Acts 20:22,23), and this certainly came to pass. Paul was not only imprisoned, he was at times beaten, scourged, and kept in most inhumane conditions. But when we remember Paul's bonds, we should remember him standing in chains at the palace in Jerusalem, giving his own personal testimony (Acts 22), as he did also before King Agrippa in Caesarea (Acts 26). When we think of his imprisonment, we should remember his attitude was "that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel; so that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places" (Philippians 1:12,13). Paul asked for prayer, "that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, For which I am an ambassador in bonds" (Ephesians 6:19,20). A modern equivalent of this is the imprisonment of Alexander Solzhenitsyn and others who have been imprisoned for their faith. We are to remember them in prayer before the Lord and rejoice that, as he stated in a recent article, "Christianity is not vanquished." He echoes the words of Paul, who wrote: I suffer "as an evildoer, even unto bonds; but the Word of God is not bound" (II Timothy 2:9). CJH ________________________________________________________________________ December 27, Sunday WHAT "THEREFORE" IS THERE FOR "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord" (I Corinthians 15:58). The frequently used adverb "therefore" usually signals a transition in Scripture from doctrinal truth to practical consequence. In our text above, the incentive for faithful service is the great truth of Christ's resurrection, as discussed in verses 1-30 of the chapter, and the corollary truths of our own future resurrection, as in verses 35-57. Note also the familiar exhortation of Romans 12:1: "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God." The basis for this "therefore" is the marvelous plan of God for both Israel and the Gentiles in the age to come, as expounded in Romans 11. Another example is Philippians 4:1: "Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord." This "therefore" stems from the great truth of Christ's second coming, when our present frail bodies will be transformed into bodies like that of His own glorified body. The first three chapters of the book of Ephesians contain many wonderful doctrinal truths, and the last three chapters emphasize the consequent principles of practical Christian living. The transition from doctrine to practice urges us to live in a manner befitting our high calling in Christ. "I therefore, . . . beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called" (Ephesians 4:1). Finally, following his great affirmation of the plenary inspiration of the Bible, Paul says: "I charge thee therefore; . . . Preach the Word" (II Timothy 4:1,2). It is good always to study the Biblical context of every "therefore," to see what God has placed it there for! HMM ________________________________________________________________________ December 28, Monday MEDITATION "Make me to understand the way of thy precepts: so shall I talk of thy wondrous works" (Psalm 119:27). The remarkable 119th psalm, with its 22 eight-verse stanzas, is the unique "song of the Word," containing 176 testimonies or prayers concerning God's Word--one for each verse. Eight times the word "meditate" or "meditation" is used, indicating the importance of this practice in relation to the Scriptures. In our text, this word is translated "talk," but its basic thrust is to exhort us to meditate on the wonderful works of God, once we understand the way of His precepts. The other seven references to meditation in this psalm are as follows: "I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways" (v.15). "Princes also did sit and speak against me: but thy servant did meditate in thy statutes" (v.23). "My hands also will I lift up unto thy commandments, which I have loved; and I will meditate in thy statutes" (v.48). "Let the proud be ashamed; for they dealt perversely with me without a cause: but I will meditate in thy precepts" (v.78). "O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day" (v.97). "I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation" (v.99). "Mine eyes prevent (i.e., anticipate) the night watches, that I might meditate in thy word" (v.148). There is, of course, a counterfeit form of meditation (e.g., the so-called transcendental meditation and other forms of mysticism), not to mention useless day dreaming. These forms of meditation involve clearing one's mind of all subjects, and allowing the mind to wander. In contrast, true meditation involves pondering with awe and thankfulness God's wonderful Word, His ways and His works--in connection with prayer and the study of the holy Scriptures. An exercise of the mind as well as of the spirit, it is an exercise of great blessing, and is most pleasing to God. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ December 29, Tuesday UNDERSTANDING THE TIMES "And of the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do; the heads of them were two hundred; and all their brethren were at their commandment" (I Chronicles 12:32). This chapter lists the numbers of men from each of the tribes of Israel who cast their lot with David in his conflict with King Saul. All these numbers are given except those of Issachar, but of these it was said that all their brethren followed their 200 leaders in turning to David. The reason for their unanimity in this decision was that these leaders "had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do." It was time to "turn the kingdom" to David, "according to the Word of the LORD" (I Chronicles 12:23). God had given them a Benjamite, Saul, as king for a time, but now David had been anointed, and it was the time to give "the sceptre" to Judah, according to the prophecy of their father, Jacob, given over 600 years before (Genesis 49:10). How desperately we need leaders today who are spiritual "sons of Issachar," understanding these times! Christ told the apostles: "It is not for you to know the times or the seasons" (Acts 1:7); it was more urgent that they proceed to witness for Him "unto the uttermost part of the earth" (Acts 1:8). Nevertheless, He would return to the earth in some generation, and that generation should be expected, when they would see all these things, to "know that it is near, even at the doors" (Matthew 24:33). They could understand the signs, and even though they should never attempt to guess the date, they could "look up, . . . for your redemption draweth nigh" (Luke 21:28), when they would see "these things begin to come to pass." The signs are everywhere, yet few of our leadersChristian politicians included--seem to understand the real meaning of these times. Christ is "even at the doors!" HMM ________________________________________________________________________ December 30, Wednesday THE BIBLE STANDS! "Thy Word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever" (Psalm 119:160). Very few books survive very long. Only a few survive the first printing, and science books, especially, get out of date in just a few years. But one book is eternal! The Bible stands! Even its most ancient chapters are still accurate and up to date. Furthermore, despite all the vicious attacks of both ancient pagans and modern humanists, it will continue to endure. Jesus said: "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my Words shall not pass away" (Matthew 24:35; Mark 13:31; Luke 21:33). Even after everything else dies and all the bombastic tirades of skeptics and secularists are long forgotten, the Word endures. "The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the Word of our God shall stand for ever" (Isaiah 40:8). Note the oft-repeated testimony to this same effect in Psalm 119. In addition to the comprehensive promise of today's text, this great "psalm of the Word" also contains these affirmations: "Forever, O LORD, Thy Word is settled in heaven. . . . Thy testimonies have I taken as an heritage forever: for they are the rejoicing of my heart. . . . The righteousness of thy testimonies is everlasting: . . . Concerning thy testimonies, I have known of old that thou hast founded them forever" (Psalm 119:89,111,144,152). Founded forever, inherited forever, settled forever, lasting forever! God is eternal, and His Word was true from the beginning. Men may, in these last days, arrogantly think they can "take away from the words of the book of this prophecy" (Revelation 22:19), but such presumption will only "take away (their) part out of the book of life," and the Bible will still stand. "The Word of the Lord endureth forever. And this is the Word which by the gospel is preached unto you" (I Peter 1:25). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ December 31, Thursday LOADED WITH BLESSING "Blessed be the LORD, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah" (Psalm 68:19). As we come to this year's end, it is salutary for the believer to think back over the days of the year and to meditate upon his blessings. He may, indeed, have experienced defeats and losses, disappointments and injuries in great number. If he is honest with himself, however, the Christian will always have to acknowledge that his blessings far outweigh his burdens. God has "loaded us with benefits," and is even working in and through all the trials and hurtful things together for our good (Romans 8:28). In our text verse, the words "with benefits" have been supplied by the translators. Some might, therefore, conclude that the verse could mean that God is daily loading us with burdens, instead of benefits. The context, however, assures us that the emphasis is really on His blessings. For that matter, even a burden can become a blessing, if we take it as a gift from God for our spiritual benefit. Therefore: "Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits" (Psalm 103:2). "In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you" (I Thessalonians 5:18). "Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice" (Philippians 4:4). He has given us "life, and breath, and all things" (Acts 17:25). Far more importantly, He is "the God of our salvation." Whatever else we have, or don't have, in this life, we have the great gift of eternal life, through faith in Christ and His finished work of redemption. We have it every day of the year and are daily ready to meet the Lord, whenever He calls. Each day we have the indwelling presence of His Spirit, the illuminating guidance of His Word, the daily provision of all real needs, and the assurance of His love. He has surely loaded us with benefits! HMM ________________________________________________________________________ January 1, Friday THE BEGINNING OF MONTHS "This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you" (Exodus 12:2). When the children of Israel came out of Egypt, not only was their manner of life changed, but even the way they kept track of time. A new calendar was established by the Lord beginning around the time of the Exodus, so that each New Year would henceforth automatically make them remember their new beginning when God led them out of bondage in Egypt toward a new land of liberty. This beginning of months, the month Abib, corresponding approximately to our modern April, was to be marked especially by observance of the Passover supper, on the fourteenth day of the month. The lamb was to be selected for each family on the tenth day of the month, and presumably the first nine days were days of preparation. The week following was to be marked by the use of unleavened bread in each home. The leaven represented the sin which had been purged from the home symbolically by the sacrifice of the lamb and their deliverance by God from bondage in Egypt when He saw the shed blood (note Exodus 12:13). Although our annual calendar is different from that of Israel, the spiritual significance of their religious New Year can well be applied in our own lives today. We can remember that "Christ our passover is sacrificed for us" (I Corinthians 5:7), offering special thanks for our great deliverance from sin and death by our "Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). Then, like the redeemed Israelites, we should likewise "purge out therefore the old leaven, . . . the leaven of malice and wickedness," and we should feast, instead, on "the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth" (I Corinthians 5:7,8). If we would make--and keep--such New Year's resolutions as these, this month would, indeed, become "the beginning of months" to us. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ January 2, Saturday BE PATIENT "Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh" (James 5:8). Many of us have been looking for the return of the Lord Jesus for a long time. The writer has kept a simple little plaque on his office wall for over fifty years. It reads: "Perhaps today," and serves as a daily reminder that today might indeed be the day when He comes again. We do long for His appearing, and as things seem to grow worse in the world year by year, it is easy to become impatient, or perhaps even despondent, when He doesn't come. Yet, day by day, "the coming of the Lord draweth nigh!" as our text teaches. "For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. For yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry" (Hebrews 10:36,37). Even the first-century Christians had to learn patience, as they also anxiously were awaiting Christ's return to deliver them out of their tribulationstribulations which were so great they seemed to fit "end-time prophecies." "Occupy till I come" (Luke 19:13) is His admonition to all who await His second coming. "Blessed is that servant, whom his Lord when He cometh shall find so doing" (Luke 12:43). But rather than hoping the Lord will come quickly to free us from our tribulations, we should "count it all joy when (we) fall into divers temptations. Knowing this, that the trying of (our) faith worketh patience" (James 1:2,3). We need patience, and "tribulation worketh patience" (Romans 5:3). For God will render "to them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life" (Romans 2:7). We should "be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises" (Hebrews 6:12). "Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord" (James 5:7). HMM _______________________________________________________________________ January 3, Sunday ADAM AND THE ANIMALS "And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof" (Genesis 2:19). This event occurred on the sixth day of creation week, between the formation of Adam's body and that of Eve (note Genesis 1:26-31; 2:7,22), and there is no reason not to take it literally. Nevertheless, modern theistic evolutionists, including many seminary professors, have found two imaginary problems which they argue prevent taking it literally. The first quibble finds a "contradiction" with Genesis 1:21-25, which says the animals were all made before Adam--not afterward. This supposed problem vanishes when the text verse is translated as follows: "The LORD God had formed every beast of the field." This is a legitimate--in fact, preferabletranslation of the Hebrew original. The other alleged difficulty is the supposed inability of Adam to name all the animals in one day. The fact is, however, that he only had to give names "to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field" (Genesis 2:20)--that is, those nearby birds, cattle, and other mammals that might be seen as potential candidates to be a "help meet" for Adam. No marine animals, reptiles, insects, or "beasts of the earth" (Genesis 1:24) (i.e., living far away from Eden), were brought to him. Furthermore, he did not need to name every species, but only each relevant "kind"--possibly each "family" (i.e., dogs, horses, eagles, etc.). Finally, his divinely created mental abilities were not yet limited by the disease of sin, so that he could appropriately name each kind much more rapidly than we could do. Thus, no sincere Bible student should be tempted to doubt Genesis by any such "difficulties" as these. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ January 4, Monday NO PLACE TO RUN "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" (Hebrews 12:1). In our text verse, "which doth so easily beset" is one Greek word meaning to be thwarted in every direction. This best can be illustrated as one who is surrounded on every side by a high wall that he cannot cross over. God has called us to do His work, but our own flesh and the wiles of the devil "surround" on every side to discourage that calling. "Beset" in the Old Testament has much the same meaning. Psalm 22 is a graphic picture of our Lord on the cross: "Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round" (Psalm 22:12). This word "beset" means to "besiege." When the Lord Jesus Christ was purchasing our salvation, the forces of Satan surrounded that cross in an effort to keep Him from doing the will of the Father. If we read further in Hebrews 12, we find that Jesus Christ is indeed the example of how we must "run with patience the race that is set before us." "For consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds" (v.3). he "laying aside" of every weight and the sin that keeps us from our Father's will is not a gentle nudge. The terrible scene at the stoning of Stephen included the coats of the murderers being thrown at the feet of Saul. The writer used the same Greek word for this act as he did when he compelled us to lay aside every weight and sin that would cause us to lose sight of God's purposes Psalm 139 also speaks of a "besetting," but it is for our good and protection. "Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me" (v.5). The God who calls us to His work will not leave us to mount the battle alone. CJH ________________________________________________________________________ January 5, Tuesday MEN FROM MARS "The heaven, even the heavens, are the LORD's: but the earth hath He given to the children of men" (Psalm 115:16). Science fiction and star-wars movies have conditioned people to believe in extra-terrestrial life, and billions of dollars have been wistfully spent by scientists and politicians dedicated to finding evidence of intelligent life in outer space. All of this is futile, for it is merely arrogant rejection of God's testimony that only planet Earth has been given to man; all else belongs to God. When God created Adam and Eve, He commissioned them to "have dominion . . . over all the earth" (Genesis 1:26). At Babel, rebellious men made their first attempt to intrude into God's heavenly domain, erecting "a tower, whose top (is) unto heaven"--that is, designed for communicating with, and no doubt worshipping the presumed hosts of heaven, and consequently, God proceeded to "scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth" (Genesis 11:4,9). There are, of course, angels in the heavens, but even these (including Lucifer himself, the highest of all) cannot intrude in those realms restricted by God, and a third of the angels were actually cast out of heaven (note Isaiah 14:12-15; Revelation 12:4,9), when they attempted it. "No man hath ascended up to heaven," said Christ (John 3:13). "(God) 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). There is no hint in the Bible of men on Mars or anywhere else in space, and all real scientific evidence likewise is against such notions. The planet Earth, alone, is where God became man, where He died for man's salvation, and where He will establish His universal throne in the ages to come. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ January 6, Wednesday THE FIRST CHRISTIAN "He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light" (John 1:8). Perhaps the least understood and appreciated man in the Bible is the man who was the first Christian soul winner, missionary, martyr, disciple, and pastor, as well as the first to make disciples for Christ, to acknowledge His deity, to baptize converts to Christ, to be imprisoned for his faith, and to teach concerning Christ, as Christ later commanded in His great commission. John the Baptist is often mistakenly called the last Old Testament prophet, but that was Malachi, 400 years earlier. John was actually the first Christian! He leaped in joyous recognition of Christ while still in his mother's womb (Luke 1:44); in fact, he uniquely (apart from Christ) was "filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb" (Luke 1:15). He was such a godly man that he was often mistaken for Christ, and John the Apostle even had to stress that John the Baptist was not really that Light, but that God had sent him to bear witness of the true Light--Jesus Christ. Christ Himself testified that no greater man than John the Baptist (not even Noah, Abraham, Job, Moses, or Daniel!) had ever been born (Matthew 11:9-11). In no sense was the message of John an "Old Testament" message. He preached the deity of Christ, redemption by His sacrificial death, and salvation only through faith in Him (John 1:34,29; 3:36). He "began" the gospel message (Mark 1:1,2), and baptized and taught disciples whom he then directed to Christ. Their baptism was "Christian baptism." In fact, John had baptized Christ Himself! Finally, when he had "(made) ready a people prepared for the Lord" (Luke 1:17), he was imprisoned by Herod and executed because of his faithful witness for Christ. He had given the "knowledge of salvation unto His people" (Luke 1:77). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ January 7, Thursday CHARACTERISTICS OF CO-LABORERS "I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea" (Romans 16:1). In Romans 16, thirty-five men and women are mentioned by name, all faithful co-laborers with the apostle Paul. Five terms are used to describe them. These same attributes should characterize Christian workers today: (1) They were known as servants. "Phebe . . . a servant" (v.1). Greek, diakonon, from which we get our English word, deacon. It literally means, "through the dust," which not only shows the servant's humble position, but, also, that he works so hard he raises dust as he goes! (2) They were known as helpers. "Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus" (v.3); "Salute Urbane, our helper in Christ" (v.9); "She hath been a succourer (helper) of many, and of myself also" (v.2). Being a helper is one position in the body of Christ that can be filled by anyone and everyone. (3) They were known as laborers. "Greet Mary, who bestowed much labor on us" (v.6); "Salute Typhena and Tryphosa, who labor in the Lord" (v.12); "Persis, which labored much in the Lord" (v.12). Greek, agonizomai, or agonize. Our labor for Christ does not always go smoothly. (4) They were well-beloved. "Salute my well-beloved Epaenetus" (v.5); "Greet Amplias my beloved in the Lord" (v.8); "Salute . . . Stachys my beloved" (v.9); "Salute the beloved Persis" (v.12). Greek, agapao. Co-laborers should be treated with loving respect. (5) They were known as having been approved. "Salute Apelles approved in Christ" (v.10); that is, he was tested and found worthy. "Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward" (I Corinthians 3:13,14). NPS ________________________________________________________________________ January 8, Friday THOU SHALT BE SAVED! "And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house" (Acts 16:31). This was Paul's answer to the trembling jailer's question: "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" (Acts 16:30). To our modern sophisticated ears, such terms as being "saved" may sound strange and old-fashioned, but there is no more accurate term than this to describe the miracle that happens when a person becomes a real Christian, and is "born again." Before being saved, he is under God's condemnation because of sin, destined for hell; but when he believes on the Lord Jesus Christ, he is "saved from wrath through Him" (Romans 5:9). Not only is he saved from eternal wrath, he is saved to eternal life. Christ is "able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them" (Hebrews 7:25). This great salvation is not achieved by good works of any kind or number, "for by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast" (Ephesians 2:8,9). "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost" (Titus 3:5). Although being saved is God's gift to man, its cost was infinite to Christ. "If, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life" (Romans 5:10). The price of our salvation was the shed blood of Christ, the only begotten Son of God, and the greatest of all sins--the one for which there is no forgiveness--is that of rejecting Him. "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). He is our great redeeming Savior, and only He can save! HMM ________________________________________________________________________ January 9, Saturday LINE UPON LINE "The Word of the LORD was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little; that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken" (Isaiah 28:13). This familiar passage (repeated mostly from Isaiah 28:10 just before it) is often cited in support of a detailed, verse-by-verse method of Bible study and exposition. However, the context is one of rebuke to the people of Ephraim (that is, the Northern Kingdom of Israel) in the days of the divided kingdom. Isaiah especially castigates the priests and prophets who should have been teaching God's Word to the people, but who had instead become proud and then drunkards, leaving the people in great ignorance and spiritual confusion. Therefore, cried Isaiah: "Whom shall He teach knowledge? and whom shall He make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts" (v.9). Before they can really grow in the knowledge of God, they must be built up carefully, line upon line, for they are yet carnal babes in spiritual matters. A very similar rebuke was administered to the early Christians, and would be even more appropriate today: "For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one 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" (Hebrews 5:12-14). Such an admonition is greatly needed today, when Christian believers subsist almost entirely on spiritual milk--or even worse, on the froth that passes for evangelical literature in most Sunday schools and Christian bookstores today. We need to get back to the strong meat of the Word, lest we "fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken." HMM ________________________________________________________________________ January 10, Sunday PUBLISHING THE WORD The LORD gave the word: great was the company of those that published it" (Psalm 68:11). The 68th Psalm prophesies the ascension of Christ. "Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive: thou hast received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also, that the LORD God might dwell among them" (v.18). This verse is quoted in Ephesians 4:8, applying it not only to Christ's ascension but also to the sending forth of the gifts of the Spirit to redeemed men. Before He ascended, however, He gave the Word--that is, the Great Commission--to His disciples. With that Word began the greatest publishing enterprise of all history. The Commission included not only preaching the gospel of salvation and baptizing believers, but also dissemination and indoctrination of all the Scriptures--"teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you" (Matthew 28:20). The "all things" included many things--verbal inerrancy of the Scriptures, special creation, the worldwide flood, His atoning death and bodily resurrection, the second coming, and, in reality, everything in the Bible! Soon thereafter, beginning at Jerusalem, then in all Judaea and Samaria, and eventually to the uttermost part of the earth (Acts 1:8), the wonderful Word of God began to be published by a great and invincible company of witnesses. The Scriptures have, to date, been published at least in part, in over a thousand languages, and have been read by more people than any other book ever written. The psalmist David, inspired by the Holy Spirit, prophesied 3,000 years ago the amazing worldwide spread of the message of the coming Savior. "Blessed be the LORD, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah" (Psalm 68:19). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ January 11, Monday CAN IT BE? "Christ also suffered for us . . . Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness" (I Peter 2:21,24). Those who love good church music have come to love Charles Wesley's commitment to and knowledge of His Savior and the Scriptures, for he wove into his music and poetry deep insights which challenge and thrill us even today. One of his finest hymns, And Can It Be That I Should Gain? has unfortunately been much abridged in modern hymnals. Let us use its original five verses as an impetus to study the doctrinal themes expressed there: And can it be that I should gain, An interest in the Savior's blood? Died He for me, who caused His pain? For me, who Him, to death pursued? Amazing love! How can it be, that thou, my Lord, should'st die for me? Even the Old Testament saints wondered why God loved man so. "What is man, that thou shouldest magnify him? and that thou shouldest set thine heart upon him?" (Job 7:17). The New Testament contains many similar expressions of wonder. "Behold, what manner of love (literally `what a different kind of love') the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God" (I John 3:1). "God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. . . . And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement" (Romans 5:8,11). The point is, we were desperate sinners, deserving His wrath. "But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love (i.e., `amazing love') wherewith He loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved)" (Ephesians 2:4,5). He has extended His love toward us, undeserving though we are. Amazing love! How can it be, that thou my God should'st die for me? JDM ________________________________________________________________________ January 12, Tuesday THE IMMORTAL DIES "Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen" (I Timothy 1:17). The second verse of And Can It Be That I Should Gain? poses and solves a great mystery: T'is mystery all! the immortal dies! Who can explain this strange design? In vain the first-born seraph tries, To sound the depths of love divine; T'is mercy all! Let earth adore! Let angel minds inquire no more. Our text reminds us that God is immortal. And yet, "Christ died for our sins" (I Corinthians 15:3), in order to bring us salvation. If this astounds us (and it should), we can take solace in that we are not alone. "Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things . . . which things the angels desire to look into" (I Peter 1:10-12). Think of it! The creator, the author of life, has died to offer eternal life to His creation, for "all have sinned" (Romans 3:23), and the "wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23). He died, so that we don't have to die! This grand plan remains beyond our full grasp, as it always was to the prophets and the angels. The motive behind His plan is God's mercy. "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us; . . . which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior" (Titus 3:5,6). "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out" (Romans 11:33). Amazing love! How can it be, that thou my God should'st die for me? JDM ________________________________________________________________________ January 13, Wednesday HIS MERCY FOUND ME "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God" (Ephesians 2:8). The third verse of the hymn which has drawn our attention, And Can It Be That I Should Gain?, sets the stage for the implementation of His majestic plan. He left His father's throne above, So free, so infinite His grace! Emptied Himself of all but love, And bled for Adam's helpless race; T'is mercy all! Immense and free, For, O my God, it found out me! The plan involved the death of God the Son. The Creator dying for the Creation. The righteous Judge taking on Himself the penalty of the condemned. The rejected holy One becoming sin on behalf of the true sinner. The convicted ones, powerless to alter the situation, simply receiving the offered grace through faith (see our text). First, God had to take on Himself the nature of the condemned, live a guiltless life so that He could die as a substitutionary sacrifice. To do so, God the Son had to leave His Father's throne. And, although "being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God (i.e., was willing to give up His kingly status): But made Himself of no reputation (literally, `emptied Himself'), and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: . . . and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross" (Philippians 2:6-8). Adam had rebelled against his Creator's authority, and all of mankind suffered. "By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned" (Romans 5:12), yet Christ's work on the cross changed all that. "For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many" (v.15). Amazing love! How can it be, that thou my God, shouldest die for me!? JDM ________________________________________________________________________ January 14, Thursday MY CHAINS FELL OFF "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvellous light" (I Peter 2:9). The fourth verse of Charles Wesley's great hymn, And Can It Be That I Should Gain?, compares Peter's miraculous deliverance from prison with a sinner's deliverance from bondage to sin. "Peter was sleeping, . . . bound with two chains. . . . And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: . . . And his chains fell off from his hands. And the angel said unto him . . . follow me" (Acts 12:6-8). Long my imprisoned spirit lay, Fast bound in sin and nature's night; Thine eye diffused a quick'ning ray, I woke, the dungeon flamed with light: My chains fell off, my heart was free, I rose, went forth, and followed thee. The Bible teaches that before being delivered, "ye were the servants of sin (i.e., in bondage to sin), but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness" (Romans 6:17,18). We were powerless to gain freedom on our own. But "God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (II Corinthians 4:6), bringing freedom and life. "For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened (i.e., made alive) by the Spirit" (I Peter 3:18). "And you, being dead in your sins . . . hath He quickened together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses" (Colossians 2:13). If He has done all this for us, how can we do less than follow Him? Amazing love! How can it be, that thou my God should'st die for me? JDM ________________________________________________________________________ January 15, Friday ALIVE IN HIM "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me" (Galatians 2:20). The final verse of Wesley's And Can It Be That I Should Gain? provides a fitting climax to all that has gone before: No condemnation now I dread, Jesus, with all in Him, is mine; Alive in Him, my living Head, And clothed in righteousness divine, Bold I approach th'eternal throne, And claim the crown, thru Christ, my own. "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit" (Romans 8:1). "Who is he that condemneth?" Not Christ! "It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us" (v.34). As in our text, we are now alive through Christ's work on the cross. This gives us a standing far beyond our comprehension. "For in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in Him" (Colossians 2:9,10). The song calls Him our "living Head," and so He is. Peter calls Him a "living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious. . . . The same is made the head of the corner" (I Peter 2:4,7). In response to His love, we "put off concerning the former (way of living) of the old man . . . and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness" (Ephesians 4:22,24). Dressed in His righteousness, "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need" (Hebrews 4:16). "Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day" (II Timothy 4:8). Amazing love! How can it be, That thou my God should'st die for me? JDM ________________________________________________________________________ January 16, Saturday LOVERS OF SELF "For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy" (II Timothy 3:2). One of the dangerous teachings of the New Age Movement which has spilled over into modern evangelicalism is the notion of "self-love." Many psychologists--even Christian professional counselors--are attributing society's ills, especially among young people, to the supposed lack of a "positive self-image," or "self-esteem" on the part of those exhibiting anti-social behavior. What they need, we are told, is to learn to love themselves more, to appreciate their own self-worth. The problem with this idea is that it is both unscriptural and unrealistic. People do not hate themselves. The Bible says that "no man ever yet hated his own flesh" (Ephesians 5:29). Instead of learning to esteem ourselves, the Scripture commands us each to "esteem others better than themselves" (Philippians 2:3). Even the apostle Paul, near the end of his life, considered himself so unworthy that he called himself the chief of sinners (I Timothy 1:15). We are told by some Christian leaders that the measure of our great value in the sight of God is the fact that Christ paid such a high price -His own death--to redeem us. The fact is, however, that His death is not the measure of our great value, but of our terrible sinfulness. "Christ died for the ungodly" (Romans 5:6). In fact, as in our text, the rise of this self-love idea is itself a sign of the last days, when men shall be "lovers of their own selves." It is the main characteristic of New Age humanism, which is based squarely upon evolutionary pantheism. Christ died for our sins because He loved us, not because He needed us. We should live for Him in thanksgiving for the "amazing grace, that saved a wretch like me!" HMM ________________________________________________________________________ January 17, Sunday THE WISDOM MINE Whence then cometh wisdom? and where is the place of understanding?" (Job 28:20). In one of his monologues, the patriarch Job compares his search for spiritual understanding to man's explorations for metals and precious stones. "There is a vein for the silver," he says, "and a place for gold. . . . Iron is taken out of the earth, and brass is molten out of the stone" (Job 28:1,2). These all are easier to find than true wisdom. "It cannot be valued with the gold of Ophir, with the precious onyx, or the sapphire. The gold and the crystal cannot equal it: and the exchange of it shall not be for jewels of fine gold. No mention shall be made of coral, or of pearls: for the price of wisdom is above rubies. The topaz of Ethiopia shall not equal it, neither shall it be valued with pure gold" (Job 28:16-19). Neither have animals discovered it. "The fierce lion passed by it. . . . It is hid from the eyes of all living, and kept close from the fowls of the air" (vs.8,21). "The depth saith, It is not in me: and the sea saith, It is not with me" (v.14). "But where shall wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding?" (v.12). Job is driven to ask, "where must one go to find and mine the vein of true wisdom?" This is certainly "not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought" (I Corinthians 2:6). The mine of evolutionary humanism which dominates modern education and scholarship will yield only the fool's gold of "science falsely so called" (I Timothy 6:20). Job found true wisdom only through God, and so must we, for only "God understandeth the way thereof, and He knoweth the place thereof. . . . Unto man He said, Behold, the fear of the LORD, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding" (Job 28:23,28). The Lord Jesus Christ Himself is the ever-productive mine "in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Colossians 2:3). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ January 18, Monday SINS OF THE FATHERS "Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me" (Exodus 20:5). This is the penalty for breaking the first or second of God's ten commandments--worshipping other gods and making images thereof. There is certainly no salvation in any religion other than the true religion centered in our Creator and Savior Jesus Christ, "for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). But does God really condemn even the great grandchildren of those who break this commandment for the same sin? No, of course not. "The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son" (Ezekiel 18:20). "Yet say ye, Why? doth not the son bear the iniquity of the father? When the son hath done that which is lawful and right, . . . he shall surely live" (Ezekiel 18:19). There are many examples in Scripture (e.g., good King Hezekiah, son of wicked King Ahaz--see II Chronicles 28:24,25; 29:1,2). Nevertheless, "the iniquity of the fathers" is indeed often visited on their children through many generations--not the guilt of their iniquity, but rather, through the impact and example of their teachings and practices. This is especially true for this great sin of rejecting the true God in favor of the pantheistic nature-gods of the many false religions of the world, ancient and modern. Each had its beginning in just this way. The original ancestor who started it "did not like to retain God in (his) knowledge" (Romans 1:28) and has thus influenced multitudes of his descendants away from God. It is vitally important that fathers teach their children to know the true God through Christ, "bring(ing) them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ January 19, Tuesday THE UNIQUE SON "These words spake Jesus, and lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee" (John 17:1). These words, spoken by the Lord just prior to His crucifixion and most likely in the Upper Room, seem almost to beckon us, the readers, to look "to heaven" with Christ. Consider the twice-iterated phrase, "thy Son." All true believers are children of God, by adoption, but Jesus was and is God's Son in a very special sense. The first chapter of John describes Him as "the only begotten of the Father" (v.14). Jesus, the unique Son of God, was with the Father in the very beginning (v.2), even "before the world was" (John 17:5). The twenty-six verses of John 17 are sometimes divided into three sections--the first being referred to as Jesus' prayer for Himself (vs.1-5), but this is insufficient. He asked the Father to "glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee." Jesus, in this first section, sought glory for the Father, too! In fact, this seems to be His primary goal. "Man's chief end," according to The Westminster Shorter Catechism, "is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever." The example of Jesus certainly serves as a pattern; we also should have as our primary goal to glorify the Father, but sadly we have failed personally, and in Adam. The cross loomed large for Jesus. Praise God, His prayer was answered! He was able to rescue men from sin and eternal death on that cross; He was able to sustain the indignity of men there. The Father did glorify the Son, and part of this involved His raising His Son bodily from the grave. The Father also gave "Him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow . . . And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Philippians 2:9-11). May we so "bow" and so "confess." PGH ________________________________________________________________________ January 20, Wednesday FAITH "And he believed in the LORD; and He counted it to him for righteousness" (Genesis 15:6). It may come as a surprise to some that both Old and New Testament believers are justified only by faith. In fact, four New Testament epistles base their arguments on justification by faith on two Old Testament passages, each quoted three times, but with each one emphasizing a different aspect. In our text, we see that Abraham was declared righteous because of his faith (i.e., belief, same word). This verse is quoted in Romans 4:3 in the midst of a formal argument on the just nature of God and the fact that we are "justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus" (Romans 3:24). Here the emphasis is on counted. In Galatians 3:6, the word believed is emphasized, couched in the book dedicated to contrasting works and faith. "They which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham" (Galatians 3:9). The book of James was written to encourage believers to good works as evidence of their faith, and our text, quoted in James 2:23 emphasizes righteousness. "Faith without works is dead" (James 2:26). The other Old Testament passage dealing with faith, which is also quoted three times in the New Testament, reads "The just shall live by his faith" (Habakkuk 2:4). When used in Romans 1:17, just prior to the description of the evil lifestyles of the wicked (vs.18-32), the emphasis seems to be on the word just. In Galatians 3:11, as noted above, the word faith is stressed. But in Hebrews 10:38, the author teaches that those who have been declared righteous by God live eternally by faith, and will be able to cope with persecution (vs.34-37). Thus, the Old Testament doctrine that we are saved by faith in the work of God to solve our sin problem applies to every area of our lives and being, including our past sin, our present holy life and work, and our future eternal life. JDM ________________________________________________________________________ January 21, Thursday HEIR OF ALL THINGS "The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage" (Psalm 16:6). Psalm 16 is a Messianic psalm, climaxing in the great prophecy of Christ's resurrection (v.10). It quite possibly reflects the prayer of the Lord in Gethsemane just before His betrayal and arrest. Yet, as He anticipated the awful "cup" He must drink (v.5), He could still look beyond the cross to the great inheritance He would one day receive from His Father. "The LORD is the portion of mine inheritance," He could say (v.5), and then, "I have a goodly heritage"! His Father has promised: "I shall give thee the (nations) for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession" (Psalm 2:8). As the Son of Man, He becomes the heir of all the promises made to the first man, Adam, and therefore must "have dominion . . . over all the earth" (Genesis 1:26). Accordingly, we read, "And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and His name one" (Zechariah 14:9). Therefore, God "hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, whom He hath appointed heir of all things" (Hebrews 1:2). As Son of God, He had created all things, and as Son of Man, He will inherit all things. Then, by His amazing grace, He has promised that we will share in His great inheritance! "Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ" (Galatians 4:7). "The Spirit (Himself) beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God; And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ" (Romans 8:16,17), "begotten . . . again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you" (I Peter 1:3,4). We do indeed, with our Savior, have a goodly heritage. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ January 22, Friday MULTITUDES IN HELL "The strong among the mighty shall speak to him out of the midst of hell with them that help him: they are gone down, they lie uncircumcised, slain by the sword" (Ezekiel 32:21). The subject of hell is largely ignored today, even by evangelical teachers and pastors. This is a tragic mistake, because multitudes are there already, and multitudes living today will soon be there. It is good to preach the love of God, but God also commands us: "Others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire" (Jude 23). The Lord, through Ezekiel, has given us a graphic picture of those in earlier ages who are now in Hades, awaiting the final judgment. The great Pharaoh of Egypt, along with his countrymen, had practiced the Egyptian religion with all its complex concepts and rituals, but religion, in itself, will not keep one from hell. When Pharaoh died and had "gone down" to "hell" (actually, this word in the Old Testament is sheol, equivalent to the Greek Hades, a great pit deep in the core of the earth), he found many there already, from the centuries before him. Some specifically named (see verses 22-30) are Asshur, Elam, Meshech, Tubal, and Zidon, each with their multitudes. Esau, Jacob's brother, was also there (same as Edom). These, significantly, come from all three original branches of Noah's family. All had come from a godly ancestor, but that did not save them. "When they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful; but . . . worshiped and served the creature more than the Creator" (Romans 1:21,25). All of this verifies the warning of Christ: "Wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat" (Matthew 7:13). Only those who worship the true Creator, receiving Christ as personal Savior from sin, will be saved. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ January 23, Saturday SEDUCING SPIRITS "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). These "later days" are surely characterized by the tragic departure from the faith on the part of many. Unfortunately, even many of our churches have followed what should certainly be exposed as "seducing spirits," embracing lies taught under the influence of Satan. A list of such false teachings and practices within the church would surely implicate many. Let us look at the examples Paul gives in the next few verses: First, he identifies the leaders and teachers of these errors as hypocritical liars, who intentionally deceive their prey. They have deadened any possibility of a right attitude by hardening their minds and searing their consciences (v.2). Next, we are given examples of their heresy: "Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving" (v.3). Many cults and Christian off-shoots have fallen into these traps, but both the institution of marriage and the provision of foods were specifically created by God for man's enjoyment and blessing (marriage: see Genesis 1:28; 2:18,24; foods: see Genesis 1:29; 9:3). They are to be "received with thanksgiving" to a loving Creator, "sanctified by the Word of God and prayer" (vs.4,5). Each of these, and all of God's Creation is "very good" (Genesis 1:31), if used properly. But the main point of this passage is that we should guard against the heresy of false teachers, and even from imposing on ourselves or our fellow Christians a kind of false skepticismpractices which may make us feel "holier than thou"but which, in reality, impugn God and His Creation. Rather, let us be among those "which believe and know the truth" (v.3) of God's loving provision for His creation. JDM ________________________________________________________________________ January 24, Sunday THE DECEITFULNESS OF RICHES "And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word, and the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful" (Mark 4:18,19). There is currently a widespread teaching among evangelicals that material prosperity is a right which accrues to the Christian who will do certain things. This "prosperity gospel," however, is merely a false front for the old-fashioned sin of "covetousness, which is idolatry" (Colossians 3:5). The Lord Jesus, in His parable of the sower, warned that this "deceitfulness of riches," along with "the cares of this world" and then "the lusts of other things" could soon choke out whatever place the Word of God might once have had in the believer's life. In no way does the Lord ever promise material wealth to a Christian, but the desire for money and its power has surely crushed the spiritual lives and testimonies of multitudes. "They that will (i.e., desire to) be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts. . . . For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows" (I Timothy 6:9,10). If, by His grace, the Lord does enable a Christian to acquire wealth, it should be regarded as a divine stewardship and opportunity for ministry. The apostle Paul, who died penniless in this world but with great treasures laid up in heaven, expressed it thus: "Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come" (I Timothy 6:17-19). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ January 25, Monday WHERE TO GET COUNSEL "Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory" (Psalm 73:24). One of the marks of these latter days is a great proliferation of counseling needs and services. Not only have the numbers of professional psychologists and psychiatrists multiplied, but also those of investment counselors, guidance counselors, marriage counselors, and others in great variety. No doubt all of us need occasional advice from wise counselors, and some--even born-again Christians--may require professional help for serious psychological problems. Where, then, should one go to get such counsel? Not to a non-Christian counselor! "Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly" (Psalm 1:1). "Woe to the rebellious children, saith the LORD, that take counsel, but not of me" (Isaiah 30:1). The tenets of humanism, especially the supposed animal ancestry of mankind, have infected the secular psychological professions more than almost any other, and counsel based on such a foundation can be devastating. What about Christian counseling? The best Counselor, of course, is Christ Himself, for He is the "Wonderful Counsellor" (Isaiah 9:6), and He "worketh all things after the counsel of His own will" (Ephesians 1:11). Indwelling us is His Holy "Spirit of truth" and Christ has promised that "He will guide (us) into all truth" (John 16:13). Best of all, we have His inspired Word, which is "perfect, converting (that is, restoring) the soul: . . . sure, making wise the simple. . . . Right, rejoicing the heart: . . . pure, enlightening the eyes" (Psalm 19:7,8). The true Christian counselor, therefore, must always provide counseling in accord with Scripture, prayerfully guided by the indwelling Spirit of Truth. In this way, as promised in our text, He will guide us with His counsel throughout our lives, and finally receive us into glory. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ January 26, Tuesday CLEANING UP "And they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves" (Mark 11:15). Housecleaning is a necessary part of housekeeping. It takes effort to preserve a place for its proper service; no one likes to live or work in a place that is dirty, run down, or filled with inappropriate clutter. Jesus was no different when it came to His Father's house. In Mark 11:11, we read that Jesus came "into Jerusalem, and into the temple" to see the condition of things, and returned to Bethany with His twelve disciples to spend the night. The next day, He returned to the temple and, in short, He routed them out! Then He taught them why this should be: "Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves" (v.17), quoting from Jeremiah 7:11. Sacrifices were a part of each Jew's religious practice. But, instead of selecting an acceptable sheep from the flock or acquiring an acceptable bird to offer as a sacrifice as specified in the Mosaic law, it had become convenient to come empty handed and buy a token gift from the profiteering merchants there to offer to God. But God knew what was happening! "Behold, even I have seen it, saith the LORD" (Jeremiah 7:11). "And now, because ye have done all these works, saith the LORD, and I spake unto you, rising up early and speaking, but ye heard not; and I called you, but ye answered not, . . . and I will cast you out of my sight," (vs.13,15). Since we ourselves are the temple today, we need to clean house now and then. Get rid of the attitudes and behaviors that make our temples unfit as a place of prayer and communion with God. We bring all kinds of trash into the sanctity of our meeting place with God and expect to hear from Him, but "He will not hear" (Isaiah 59:2). KBC ________________________________________________________________________ January 27, Wednesday SUFFERINGS "For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow His steps" (I Peter 2:21). Peter's first epistle, written during a time of horrid persecution, deals with the matter of suffering. Peter reminds us that Christ suffered for us and that it is a privilege to suffer for Him. We are "called" to suffering, and should "think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try" us (4:12). Christ's suffering was foretold (1:11), as is ours. We see that He had patience, humility, and submission in His sufferings (2:23) in order to bear "our sins in His own body on the tree" (2:24). He suffered unjustly "the just for the unjust" (3:18), not only in His spirit, but "Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh" (4:1), being witnessed person- ally by Peter (5:1). Since we are likewise "called" to suffer, Peter explains that we will be "suffering wrongfully" (2:19) as well, even "when ye do well" (v.20). We will "suffer for righteousness sake" (3:14) and "for well doing" (v.17). To avoid being taken by surprise, we are to prepare ourselves to suffer "in the flesh" (4:1), if need be. We will "be reproached for the name of Christ" (4:14) and should "not be ashamed" if we "suffer as a Christian" (4:16). It is much better to suffer in such a way than to have done something evil to deserve it (v.15). Suffering while following Christ's example is "acceptable with God" (2:20), and even makes us "happy" (3:14 and 4:14). Through it we can "glorify God on this behalf" (4:16) because it is "according to the will of God" (4:19). There is even a magnificent reward awaiting the sufferer (5:10). In view of all of this, there is little wonder that Peter says, "rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when His glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy" (4:13). JDM ________________________________________________________________________ January 28, Thursday BLOOD ON OUR HANDS "When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand" (Ezekiel 3:18). Ezekiel had been called as a prophet and "watchman" (Ezekiel 3:17; 3:7), to warn the sinning Israelites of impending judgment, because of their persistence in compromising their worship of the true God with the pagan pantheistic evolutionism of the Canaanite nations around them. Soon they had adopted the immoral life styles that almost invariably develop from diluted confidence in God as Creator/Savior. One could easily draw a sharp parallel between ancient Judah and the apostasy and moral degeneration of modern Christendom. The wicked (that is, "the nations that forget God") are surely going to be "turned into hell" (Psalm 9:17), if they do not soon repent, whether or not they hear the warning of any watchman. They have already rejected the evidence of God in creation and conscience, so they are "without excuse" (Romans 1:20). Nevertheless, the Lord does call us who have His Word to do all we can "to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life" (that is, in the present context, to tell them that their Creator and Judge has died for them, to become their Savior). If we fail to do this, then we become, in effect, their executioners with blood on our hands. Even the "righteous" need to be warned, "that the righteous sin not" (Ezekiel 3:21). "Nevertheless, if thou warn the wicked" and he ignores or rejects the warning, "thou hast delivered thy soul" (Ezekiel 33:9). We have a great responsibility, as well as a wonderful privilege, to warn men of impending judgment, and then to tell them of the Savior. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ January 29, Friday THE WASHING OF REGENERATION "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost" (Titus 3:5). The word "washing" (Greek loutron) is used only twice in the New Testament. There is the "washing of regeneration," as in our text, and the washing in the Scriptures: "Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it; that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word" (Ephesians 5:25,26). Since both the Word and Spirit of God are also said to be the effective agents in accomplishing the miracle of regeneration (see I Peter 1:23--"being born again. . . . By the Word of God," and John 3:7,8--"Ye must be born again . . . born of the Spirit"), it is clear that the washing of regeneration is synonymous, symbolically, with the "renewing of the Holy Ghost" and also with "the washing of water by the Word." The true washing of regeneration is not a ceremony or ritual, but an eternal reality, "shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior" (Titus 3:6). It has nothing to do with "works of righteousness" (v.5), but only with "being justified by His grace" (v.7). Now although regeneration by the Word through the Spirit, both symbolized by a cleansing bath in water, is entirely "according to His mercy," there must be thereafter a continual "washing of water by the Word." Jesus said: "Now ye are clean through the Word which I have spoken unto you. . . . If ye abide in me, and my Words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you" (John 15:3,7). The Word will first reveal our sins and then cleanse our sins through its gracious exhortations and promises. "Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy Word" (Psalm 119:9). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ January 30, Saturday UNTO ME "He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker: but he that honoureth Him hath mercy on the poor" (Proverbs 14:31). Jesus said, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me" (Matthew 25:40). The Lord taught that our attitude in helping the needy is to be one of gladly giving or ministering to Him. We have found that even performing unpleasant kindnesses as to the Lord, Himself, makes any act sweet. Another translation of our text says, "Kindness shown to the poor is an act of worship," and we have many opportunities to worship our Lord in this manner. Remember Abraham of old, who took in three wandering strangers? He did not give them a crust of bread at the door; he killed a calf and prepared a feast for them under the tree. Only after Abraham had honored these strangers so, did it become clear to him that two of his guests were angels, and that the other was the Lord (Genesis 18)! The Samaritan woman at the well may have missed a great blessing that day when Jesus said unto her "Give me to drink" (John 4:7). It appears that she didn't grant His request, for no effort to respond on her part is mentioned, but soon she was asking for His "living water" (v.10). Christ, even though thirsty and "wearied" (v.6), reached out to this unbelieving woman, in His grace. How many times have we turned away a needy one without so much as a look of kindness? Could it be that Jesus Christ comes to us periodically, knocking on our door or holding out His hand? How can we recognize Him? Only by faith that what He said was true, "If you do it to them, you do it to me." Lord, remind us at such times to minister lovingly to you and to those you send us. KLB ________________________________________________________________________ January 31, Sunday MEMORY MARKER "Neither carry forth a burden out of your houses on the Sabbath day, neither do ye any work, but hallow ye the Sabbath day, as I commanded your fathers" (Jeremiah 17:22). Jeremiah, the "weeping prophet," was told to stand at the gate of Jerusalem where the king entered and left the city, and thereafter at all the gates of the city to give this message: "Honor the Sabbath!" The people of Israel had been told "to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant" (Exodus 31:16). The Lord knew that a reinstitution of the Sabbath observance as commanded in Exodus 20:8-11, commemorating His mighty work of creation, would bring about a return of the peoples' hearts to Him. "If thou . . . call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honorable; and shalt honor Him: . . . Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it" (Isaiah 58:13,14). The commandment for a weekly observance, when instituted by God in Exodus 20, was prefaced with the word "remember," which means to "mark." As we mark each week with an observance of the very first "rest" day, it should cause us to remember that "in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day" (Exodus 20:11), and the fact that as Creator, He is the sovereign controller of all things. As the children of Israel were drawn into idol worship, they had forgotten to observe one day in seven commemorating their absolute reliance upon and accountability to the Almighty Creator. We, like Jeremiah, should not only remember our Creator, devoting one day in seven exclusively to Him in commemoration of His creation, but also encourage others to do so. CJH ________________________________________________________________________ February 1, Monday AUTHORITY AND OBEDIENCE "Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge" (James 4:11). Some things are entirely under God's authority. Judgment is one of these. We are instructed not to judge one another, for, as our text teaches, when we judge a brother, we are in reality judging the law (in context, God's commands to us). When we do so, we are setting ourselves above the law, i.e., better than the law. In fact, we are setting up our own law in bold rebellion against God and His order. Of course, this is strictly forbidden. There can be only one ultimate law giver (v.12), and He has given us clear teaching and principles on how we should act and what we may or may not do. His laws stem from omniscient knowledge of human character, and are designed not only with our best interests in mind, but also to make us keenly aware of our desperate need for a Savior. God is able "to save and to destroy" (v.12), and it would behoove us to respect Him, His law, and His authority. The fact that He will judge righteously--not with human justice -should bring both comfort and warning, for His is a holy standard. It is a comfort to know that evildoers, especially those who persecute us, will be justly judged. But take warning, our own deeds and attitudes come under the same Holy scrutiny. Rather than usurp God's authority, we ought to love God's authority, because even His laws stem from His love for us and are not excessively burdensome (I John 5:3). Make no mistake. Human government has been granted authority in certain areas to make laws and to punish wrongdoers. (For example, see Romans 13:1-7.) But God's laws must not only be kept distinct from man's laws, but we must likewise not set up our own law. JDM ________________________________________________________________________ February 2, Tuesday COME FORTH AS GOLD "That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ" (I Peter 1:7). These words of Peter are certainly applicable today, but they have always been true. That proper character and testimony are of supreme importance to God was certainly recognized by godly Job in the midst of his heavy trials, for he claimed, "But He knoweth the way that I take: when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold" (Job 23:10). The context for this stirring statement of faith proves instructive. Just as most people do, whether Christian or not, Job appealed to heaven for relief from his troubles (v.3). Job felt he was suffering unjustly, and wanted to state his case before God (v.4), but more importantly, Job desired to know God's will in the matter. "I would (i.e., desire to) know the words which He would answer me, and understand what He would say unto me" (v.5). He knew God well enough to know that God had a purpose in his suffering, and Job asked for knowledge of that purpose. Job knew God's goodness; that He would not punish him for his questions, and felt that greater understanding would give him strength to continue. But without God's revelation, Job knew he was unable to understand or even find God (vs.8,9). God mercifully and lovingly allows trials to discipline, guide, and develop us. Such trials will, in the end, work to our advantage, as impurities are removed, leaving behind only that which is lasting and precious. The goal of our lives should be to bring "praise and honour and glory" unto our Lord, and if tribulation can best accomplish these goals, so be it! As David said, "Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy Word" (Psalm 119:67). God knows what is best for us. He knows what He is doing, and we can rest in that fact. JDM ________________________________________________________________________ February 3, Wednesday THE GREAT PHYSICIAN "But when Jesus heard that, He said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick" (Matthew 9:12). It almost goes without saying that a person who is seriously ill would do anything to regain health. But the sad fact is, few people really pay attention to their health until they are threatened with its loss. On the other hand, testimonies without number have been chronicled which relate an individual's refusal to acknowledge the claims of Christ until he or she had been stricken with personal problems or physical illness. "You've got to be on your back before you can look up," so the saying goes. But what does the Great Physician have to offer the one whose health seems to be strong from an outward perspective? Instead of being well, however, the Bible says that everyone is born into this world with a dreadful disease in our souls called sin. "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23), "and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death" (James 1:15). The sin disease is most tragic when we do not feel it and do not know we have it. "Because thou sayest, I . . . have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked" (Revelation 3:17). Jesus Christ is the only One who can heal us, "neither is there salvation in any other" (Acts 4:12). And just as He never sent anyone away who came to Him on earth for physical healing (Matthew 12:15), so "him that cometh to me (i.e., Christ) I will in no wise cast out" (John 6:37). Certainly one of the most important steps in this process of being healed of our sin sickness is recognizing our desperate need for healing. When we say "Be merciful unto me: heal my soul; for I have sinned against thee" (Psalm 41:4), He will respond with forgiveness, grace, and healing. JDM ________________________________________________________________________ February 4, Thursday EZEKIEL--SON OF MAN "And He said un Thuto me, Son of man, stand upon thy feet, and I will speak unto thee" (Ezekiel 2:1). This is the first of more than 90 times in which the prophet Ezekiel is addressed by God as "Son of man." This seems quite remarkable, as this title also was Christ's favorite title, using it 80 times, always applying it to Himself. In Christ's case, of course, it means "representative man," "perfect man," "heir of man, and all God's promises to man," "man as God intended man to be." As Son of man, Jesus as perfect man could take all the sins of sinful man upon Himself and redeem man. David was the first to use the term, when He asked: "What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the Son of man, that thou visitest Him?" (Psalm 8:4). That this was revealed to him in a Messianic sense becomes clear when it is quoted in the New Testament (Hebrews 2:6-9), and applied strictly to the Lord Jesus. The prophet Daniel also used the title in a Messianic sense when he saw "one like the Son of man," who came to "the Ancient of Days" to receive "everlasting dominion" over all men (Daniel 7:13,14). Evidently the title as given by God to Ezekiel must also have been intended somehow in a Messianic sense, so that Ezekiel is, in effect, a type of the coming Savior. Ezekiel was a godly priest and scribe, but the Lord Jesus Christ is our "great high priest, that is passed into the heavens"--in fact, He is our "high priest for ever" (Hebrews 4:14; 6:20) and is "the Word of God" to the world (John 1:1,14; Revelation 19:13). It is significant that to Ezekiel was revealed more about the primeval fall of Satan (Ezekiel 28:11-19) and the glories of the coming kingdom (Ezekiel 40-48) than to any of the other Old Testament prophets. Truly, God "spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets," but now, He has "spoken unto us by His Son" (Hebrews 1:1,2). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ February 5, Friday CERTAIN HOPE "Who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil" (Hebrews 6:18,19). The noun hope, when used in the New Testament, does not imply a wishful attitude, but rather a joyous and confident expectation in something promised, which will certainly come to pass--in most cases, something good. Note especially the few times it is used with a descriptive adjective. First, in a stirring benediction, Paul tells us that our good hope comes from both "our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and God, even our Father" (II Thessalonians 2:16). Furthermore, such hope is given to us along with "everlasting consolation," or comfort, which shall last forever. The Father and Son have done this "through grace," which brings eternal salvation. Next, we are taught that we should be "Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:13). This blessed hope can be none other than "our Savior, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope" (I Timothy 1:1). He will certainly return, and this return will be glorious. Furthermore, we have a hope which is actively alive. "The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to His abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead" (I Peter 1:3). We have been (past tense) born again from the dead just as surely as Christ has been raised from the dead, for His resurrection accomplished it. Our hope, under grace, is guaranteed by Jesus Christ: "a better hope . . . by the which we draw nigh unto God" (Hebrews 7:19), than that which was possible under law. In fact, it is a glorious hope (II Corinthians 3:11,12) by comparison. This kind of hope can be "an anchor for the soul." JDM ________________________________________________________________________ Febraury 6, Saturday RESULTS OF WITNESSING "Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples" (John 15:8). If any Christian ever becomes discouraged in his witness for Christ, he should remind himself of the many blessings that are promised to those who faithfully bear testimony for His name's sake. First of all, it brings unique joy when he sees the fruit it bears. "They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him" (Psalm 126:5,6). There is also the inestimable worth of even one soul. "Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins" (James 5:20). Faithful witnessing will eventually lead to revival. In the early church, we are told that "daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ" (Acts 5:42), with the result that "the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith" (Acts 6:7). Then, there are special rewards in heaven for faithful witnessing, not least of which is the very presence of those who would not have been there otherwise: "For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?" (I Thessalonians 2:19). "And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever" (Daniel 12:3). Best of all, however, is the simple knowledge that our witnessing shows Christ our love, and brings honor to our heavenly Father. "Herein is my Father glorified." Therefore, "let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not" (Galatians 6:9). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ February 7, Sunday NOW I LAY ME DOWN TO SLEEP "I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety" (Psalm 4:8). "I pray thee, Lord, my soul to keep." Our familiar childhood prayer really has a strong Scriptural foundation. In the midst of great turmoil and danger, the child of God always can lay himself down to peaceful sleep, confident that his God is watching over him. "He that keepeth thee will not slumber. Behold, He that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is thy keeper [literally, `thy preserver' or `thy security']" (Psalm 121:3-5). It is not only the child who can pray thus, of course. This prayer in our text was the prayer of David, in the midst of opposition and danger. "I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the LORD sustained me. I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people, that have set themselves against me round about" (Psalm 3:5,6). God will preserve us even through death itself, when that time comes. "If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take." And indeed He will! "The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil: He shall preserve thy soul. The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore" (Psalm 121:7,8). herefore, it is not good to take our fears, angers, frustrations, and regrets to bed with us. "Be careful (i.e.,`full of care') for nothing (i.e., nothing!); but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6,7). "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden," promises our caring and capable Savior, "and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28). Thus, when the day is over and the work is done, "I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep." HMM ________________________________________________________________________ February 8, Monday SELF ESTEEM "Let nothing be done through strife or vain glory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than themselves" (Philippians 2:3). There is a great emphasis these days, even among Christians, on developing a positive self-image, building up one's self-esteem, and seeking self-fulfillment. The emphasis is on one's own self. But God's Word teaches differently. One famous television pastor has even developed his own un-Biblical definition of sin: "Sin is any act or thought that robs myself or another human being of his or her self- esteem." Then he even presumes to define being born again as being "changed from a negative to a positive self-image." Such concepts are diametrically opposed to Scripture, though often cloaked in pseudo-Biblical garb, and they are leading multitudes away from the true gospel and true Christian life. We do not need a positive self-image, but a realistic self-imageto see ourselves as God sees us. Paul warned: "For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith" (Romans 12:3). Paul served Christ faithfully for thirty years, yet still esteemed himself as "chief of sinners" (I Timothy 1:15), and testified that it was only "by the grace of God I am what I am" (I Corinthians 15:10). Jesus said: "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself" (Luke 9:23). "God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in His presence" (I Corinthians 1:27-29). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ Febraury 9, Tuesday THE SLEEPER "Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light" (Ephesians 5:14). The message in our text provides an attention-getting warning to those who claim to be Christians but indulge in or even allow the evil practices of Ephesians 5:3-7. A Christian does not, and, indeed, cannot live a life of fornication, or uncleanness, or covetousness, or filthiness, or foolish talking, or jesting (vs.3,4), for no such person "hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. . . . For because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience" (vs.5,6). Those who practice such things are "fools" (v.15). While we, as Christians, must always be willing to bring the saving message of God's grace to the sinner, we must not be "partakers with them" (v.7) in their sins, and, indeed, must "have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness" (v.11). Instead, we must "reprove them" (v. 11), pointing out the consequences of their actions and focusing their attention on Christ, who "hath given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour" (v.2), in payment of their penalty. All that must be done is to accept this forgiveness. In doing so, we who are "light in the Lord" (v.8) will shed light in their darkness, for "all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light" (v.13). As children of the light (v.8), our lives must exhibit the "fruit of the Spirit . . . goodness and righteousness and truth" (v.9). We must prove "what is acceptable unto the Lord" (v.10), "walk(ing) circumspectly, . . . wise(ly)" (v.15), "redeeming the time, because the days are evil" (v.16). The sleeper in our text, whether he be an unbeliever or a professing Christian, is "asleep"--locked in moral insensibility. "Awake, Sleeper!" Paul would say, "and accept the God-given remedy for your plight!" JDM ________________________________________________________________________ February 10, Wednesday THE THIRD FIRMAMENT "And the likeness of the firmament upon the heads of the living creature was as the color of the terrible crystal, stretched forth over their heads above" (Ezekiel 1:22). The English word "firmament" in the Bible is a translation of the Hebrew raqia, meaning "expanse." Its meaning is not "firm boundary" as Biblical critics have alleged, but might be paraphrased as "stretched-out thinness" or, simply, "space." Its first occurrence in the Bible relates it to heaven: "And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. . . . And God called the firmament Heaven" (Genesis 1:6,8). This firmament obviously could not be a solid boundary above the sky, but is essentially the atmosphere, the "first heaven," the "space" where the birds were to "fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven" (Genesis 1:20). There is also a second firmament, or second heaven, where God placed the sun, moon, and stars, stretching out into the infinite reaches of space. "And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth" (Genesis 1:17). The firmament in our text, however, is beneath the very throne of God, and above the mighty cherubim (Ezekiel 1:23), who seem always in Scripture to indicate the near presence of God. This glorious firmament, brilliantly crystalline in appearance, must be "the third heaven" to which the apostle Paul was once "caught up" in a special manifestation of God's presence and power, to hear "unspeakable words" from God in "paradise" (II Corinthians 12:2-4). All three heavens "declare the glory of God" and all three firmaments "show His handiwork" (Psalm 19:1). Therefore, we should "praise God in His sanctuary" and also "praise Him in the firmament of His power" (Psalm 150:1). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ February 11, Thursday THE HOLY SPIRIT IN THE OLD TESTAMENT "Then He remembered the days of old, Moses and his people, saying, Where is He that brought them up out of the sea with the shepherd of His flock? where is He that put His Holy Spirit within him?" (Isaiah 63:11). There are several explicit references (and many other implicit references) to this third Person of the Godhead in the ancient Scriptures. One of these is in our text, and in the preceding verses, which also mention the second Person of the Godhead. "For He said, Surely they are my people, children that will not lie: so He was their Savior. 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; and He bare them, and carried them all the days of old. But they rebelled, and vexed His Holy Spirit: therefore He was turned to be their enemy, and He fought against them" (Isaiah 63:8-10). It was possible to "vex the Holy Spirit" then, just as it is possible for a believer to "grieve . . . the Holy Spirit" today (Ephesians 4:30). Today, a Christian may also "quench . . . the Spirit" (I Thessalonians 5:19), an experience similar to that of David when he had deliberately committed a gross sin and finally cried out: "Take not thy Holy Spirit from me" (Psalm 51:11). In addition to these specific references, there are approximately forty references in the Old Testament to "the Spirit of God" or "the Spirit of the LORD"--the first being at the very point of creation when "the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters" (Genesis 1:2). All three persons of the Godhead are seen in action in Isaiah 48:16: "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." God the Holy Spirit was, indeed, "put within" Moses and His people long ago, just as He indwells each believer today. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ February 12, Friday REGENERATION "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit" (John 3:6). Perhaps the greatest purpose of Christianity is to take that which is only flesh and see it reborn as Spirit--to see spiritual life born where before there was only death. But then, even in the most mature of believers, there remain aspects of the old nature mixed in with--even at war with--the new. In frustration, Paul cried, "I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me" (Romans 7:21), but each Christian should, through the power of God, be winning that war. Christ came to develop the spiritual side of man. "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death" (Romans 8:1,2). Far too many Christians still have their spirits buried deeply within the flesh, having "yielded (their) members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity" (Romans 6:19). But Christ came to change all that. "God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit" (Romans 8:3,4). Through faith, "according to His abundant mercy (He) hath begotten us again" (I Peter 1:3). To "beget" means to reproduce a like kind. Since He has "begotten us," we should be becoming like Him, in attitudes and aims. "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 2:5). "And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it" (I Thessalonians 5:23,24). This is the object of Christianity. JDM ________________________________________________________________________ February 13, Saturday CHRISTIAN METAPHORS "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me" (John 10:27). The Christian believer and his characteristics are described in terms of many colorful metaphors in the Bible. In the first place, Christ calls us "my sheep," and has also said: "I am the good shepherd, . . . and I lay down my life for the sheep" (John 10:14,15). If we are truly His sheep, then we will surely follow Him, receiving safety, peace, and nourishment. He has also said: "Ye are the salt of the earth: . . . Ye are the light of the world" (Matthew 5:13,14). We are, therefore, expected to bring the salt of preservation and joy to a bland, tasteless, and otherwise decaying world, and the light of salvation to a dark, sinful world. In another beautiful metaphor, the Lord Jesus has likened us to fruitful branches: "I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in Him, the same bringeth forth much fruit" (John 15:5). The apostle Paul compares us variously to soldiers, to athletes, and to farmers: "Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. . . . if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully. The husbandman that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits" (II Timothy 2:3,5,6). With regard to our Christian life and witness, Christ said we must be "wise as serpents, and harmless as doves" (Matthew 10:16). The apostle Paul compares us to individual members in a great body (I Corinthians 12:27). Peter says we, "as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house," and also are like "a royal priesthood" (I Peter 2:5,9) to offer up spiritual sacrifices. There are many other beautiful and meaningful figures of speech in the New Testament, all of which help us to appreciate the richness and fruitfulness of the Christian life. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ February 14, Sunday MARY'S ALABASTER BOX "Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odor of the ointment" (John 12:3). Mary's anointing of Jesus yields insight into the depth of her spiritual understanding. That Mary was interested in spiritual things we know, for Jesus said as she "sat at Jesus' feet and heard His word," that "Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her" (Luke 10:39,42). Her conduct after the death of Lazarus revealed her faith, for Martha ran to meet the Lord, "but Mary sat still in the house" (John 11:20). However, when she received the summons from Jesus, "she arose quickly, and came to Him" (v.29). Her words expressed her heart-felt belief that "if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died" (v.32). After Jesus raised Lazarus, "many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on Him" (v.45). Something drew them to Mary for spiritual enlightenment. By the time of the anointing mentioned in our text, Mary's spiritual understanding and faith had matured. The ointment, worth the equivalent of a year's wages (Matthew 20:2), had, according to the Lord, been diligently preserved by Mary "against the day of (His) burying" (John 12:7). This brief statement makes us wonder how much Mary understood, as compared with the twelve. We know that they struggled with the idea of His death, and that none of them comprehended the resurrection until it was accomplished. Did she sense that her burial ointment would be of no use if not used that day? Who can say? The fact remains that the only burial-anointing Jesus could and did receive was prior to His death. Would that our spiritual eyes were as open as Mary's and our actions guided by faith such as hers. BJC ________________________________________________________________________ February 15, Monday HONOR TO WHOM HONOR "Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king" (I Peter 2:17). The Bible commands Christians to: "Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor" (Romans 13:7). Peter says to render honor to all men and, in particular, the king--who, in his day, was wicked and immoral, yet still worthy of due honor because of his office. We have no king in our country, of course, but the principle applies to all in authority, especially to our president. It has been traditional to have a special day of honor, including a national holiday for our presidents, called Presidents' Day, and this is probably appropriate, since all of our presidents are entitled to all due honor. Even wicked emperors like Nero were among "the powers that be" which "are ordained of God" (Romans 13:1) and "God's ministers" (Romans 13:6). They must give their own accounting to God, but they must be respected and obeyed by Christians, except when their decrees conflict with God's commands (Acts 5:29). We can be thankful that all of our own presidents have at least been nominal Christians, acknowledging God's sovereignty over our nation and its people, faithfully proclaiming an annual Day of Thanksgiving and at times calling for national prayer. It is all too easy for us as Christians to criticize our national leaders, but "I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty" (I Timothy 2:1,2). As we honor our past presidents, we must also be even more careful to pray for our present and future presidents. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ February 16, Tuesday THE CENTER OF THE EARTH "Thus saith the LORD GOD; This is Jerusalem: I have set it in the midst of the nations and countries that are round about her" (Ezekiel 5:5). It is doubtful that enough was known about geography in Ezekiel's day for him to be able to know that Jerusalem was "in the midst of the nations and countries" of the world. In fact, he also said that the people of Israel in the last days "dwell in the midst of the land" (Ezekiel 38:12). The last phrase could better be rendered "the center of the earth." In any case, Ezekiel was right! It would have been essentially impossible to determine the center of the earth's land masses before the advent of modern computers, but this has now been done. A computer study sponsored by I.C.R. twenty years ago determined that the sum of the distances from a point in the "Bible lands" to all other increments of land areas on Earth would be smaller than from any other point on the earth's surface. Not only is this region (and probably Jerusalem itself, if we had precise information on the exact shape of the continents and their continental shelves) the geographic center of the earth, but it is also the spiritual center. It was there where Christ died and rose again and it is also there where He will come again and reign over the earth (Zechariah 14:4,9). For that matter, the New Jerusalem will, in the ages to come, be the center of the entire universe. We do not know where the center of the universe is now, for one cannot even define the center of infinite space. The best we can do is to assume that the universe is centered around the throne of its Creator, from where it was "stretched out" in the beginning (Psalm 104:2). And, of course, when the New Jerusalem comes down to the new earth, "the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it" (Revelation 21:2; 22:3), and all who know Him now will live there too. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ February 17, Wednesday KISSES AND TEARS "The LORD grant you that ye may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband. Then she kissed them; and they lifted up their voice, and wept" (Ruth 1:9). Naomi, her husband, and their two sons had left Bethlehem and traveled to Moab because of a famine. There, Naomi's husband and the two sons, who had in the meantime married Moabite women, died. When Naomi decided to return to Israel (Ruth 1:1-6), one of the two women decided to return to her own land and to her own household. The parting was occasioned with both kissing and weeping. Kissing was a common part of taking leave in those days, as it is in many cases today. Laban had complained when Jacob and his family and flocks left secretly. "Wherefore didst thou flee away secretly, . . . And hast not suffered me to kiss my sons and my daughters?" (Genesis 31:27,28). Later on, however, he "kissed his sons and his daughters, and blessed them" (v.55). When Paul was departing Ephesus, after his fruitful ministry there, "he kneeled down and prayed with them all. And they all wept sore, and fell on Paul's neck, and kissed him" (Acts 20:36,37). The Greek word used indicates that they kissed "fervently, repeatedly." The same word is used of the woman with the alabaster box of ointment, when, weeping and washing Jesus' feet with her tears, kissed His feet (Luke 7:38), and of the father greeting the prodigal son upon his return home (Luke 15:20). In these cases, the word is the intensive form of the normal word for kiss. On the negative side, such fervent and repeated kissing was blasphemously used by Judas when he betrayed our Lord (Mark 14:45). Even in our culture, these expressions of emotion, love, and concern are still appropriate, especially when the kiss is a "holy kiss" (Romans 16:16) and the tears are tears of love (II Corinthians 2:4). ADE ________________________________________________________________________ February 18, Thursday THE GOD OF ALL COMFORT "Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God" (II Cor- inthians 1:3,4). God is not only a God of holiness and judgment, but of love, and mercy, and comfort. In fact, as these verses say, He is the God of all comfort--every pain of life can find relief and consolation in His presence. The Holy Spirit is often spoken of as our Comforter as well. "And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of Truth; . . . I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you" (John 14:16-18). The Scriptures also bring comfort that we can find in no other place. "For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope" (Romans 15:4). As our text teaches, when we are comforted by God in our trials, we are then prepared to comfort others, "them which are in any trouble." Paul described his experience of God's comfort in this way: "God, that comforteth those that are cast down, comforted us by the coming of Titus; and not by his coming only, but by the consolation wherewith he was comforted in you, when he told us your earnest desire, your mourning, your fervent mind toward me; so that I rejoiced the more" (II Corinthians 7:6,7). Notice the chain reaction: Titus was comforted by the believers at Corinth; Paul was comforted by Titus; and we are encouraged by Paul! Believers acting in right relation to each other can be a comfort to those around them who are hurting. KAS ________________________________________________________________________ February 19, Friday ANOTHER GOSPEL "I marvel that ye are so soon removed from Him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there are some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ" (Galatians 1:6,7). Some have confessed difficulty with these verses, especially with the words "another gospel: Which is not another." This problem finds resolution in an understanding of two distinct Greek words, which, unfortunately, are both here translated as "another" in this passage. In verse 6, Paul uses the Greek word heteros, which implies something of a totally different sort altogether--something diametrically opposed to the one to which it is compared. But in verse 7, he uses the word allos, which implies a comparison of two items of the same sort. The thought might be conveyed as follows: "You are removed from the true gospel of the grace of Christ unto a totally different belief system, which is not simply a similar but legitimate expression of the true gospel. Instead, it is quite opposite the truth." Paul goes on to teach that this "different" gospel is a perversion of the true gospel, and instead of bringing peace, it brings about a troubling of the mind. he primary theme of the entire book of Galatians is salvation by grace through faith in Christ, as opposed to salvation by works and law. "No man is justified by the law in the sight of God: . . . The just shall live by faith" (3:11). This marvelous good news had been denied by many in the Galatian church, but Paul had received the message of grace "by the revelation of Jesus Christ" (1:12). Any mixture of works with grace constituted a perversion of God's plan, and any who would teach such perversion warranted strong condemnation from Paul. "If any man preach any other (from the Greek word para, meaning contrary) gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed" (1:9). JDM ________________________________________________________________________ February 20, Saturday MAKER AND OWNER "I have made the earth, the man and the beast that are upon the ground, by My great power and by my outstretched arm, and have given it unto whom it seemed meet unto me" (Jeremiah 27:5). "The earth, the man and the beast" are the three entities which God is said to have "created" (Hebrew bara--note Genesis 1:1,21,27) in the Genesis account of creation. However, they are also said in Genesis to have been "made" (Hebrew asah--note Genesis 1:25,26; 2:4), and that is the emphasis in our text above. Of course, both aspects were accomplished in the six days of creation week, after which God "rested from all His work which God created and made" (Genesis 2:3). This statement makes it abundantly plain that the present processes of nature do not "create" (call into existence out of nothing) or "make" (build up into more complex forms) anything, as our modern theistic evolutionists and evangelical uniformitarians allege. God has rested from both of these works, except in occasional miraculous intervention in the present laws and processes of "nature." Now, because God did create and make all things, He also "owns" all things. "The earth is the LORD's, and the fulness thereof" (Psalm 24:1). "Every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills" (Psalm 50:10). "The LORD hath made all things for Himself" (Proverbs 16:4). Therefore, all that we possess--as individuals or as nations--has simply been entrusted to us as God's stewards, and "every one of us shall give account of himself to God" (Romans 14:12). Without a doubt this accounting will be of our handling of our goods, our minds, and our opportunities, among others. For "it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful" (I Corinthians 4:2). Let us be thankful--not covetous; and industrious--not slothful; in everything He has entrusted to us. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ February 21, Sunday PREACHING THE WORD "Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the Word" (Acts 8:4). Every believer has been called to preach God's Word, not just pastors of churches. When Christ gave the Great Commission to "preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15), it was clear that this could be accomplished only if every Christian would actually preach the gospel! This was practiced first by the members of the church at Jerusalem. Then, when the believers were "all scattered abroad . . . except the apostles" (Acts 8:1), these "laymen" went everywhere preaching the Word. One of the "deacons" selected to relieve the apostles of the "business" affairs of the church was Philip, and he "went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them" (Acts 8:5), speaking to great crowds and winning many to Christ. Then, shortly afterward, the Lord called him down to Gaza where he met an Ethiopian eunuch, and he "preached unto him Jesus" (Acts 8:35). This teaches plainly that one can preach to a large congregation, but he or she can also preach to one person. It is not the size of the congregation, but the theme of the message, that makes one a preacher of the Word! Furthermore, it is not only by word of mouth that Christ is preached; Paul says that "the gospel . . . was preached to every creature (literally, `in every creation') which is under heaven" (Colossians 1:23). "And how shall they hear without a preacher?. . . But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the end of the world" (Romans 10:14,18). One can preach verbally to a congregation or to an unseen audience through radio or in writing to a reader, and even a godly lifestyle can "preach" effectively (although not specifically) of the saving work of Christ. Even the heavens declare His glory, and every believer must preach the Word! HMM ________________________________________________________________________ February 22, Monday THE BASEST OF MEN "This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever He will, and setteth up over it the basest of men" (Daniel 4:17). If ever a man had reason to boast of his accomplishments, it was King Nebuchadnezzar, who wrote the above words. He had built the world's most beautiful city and developed the greatest empire the world had ever seen. He had even conquered God's chosen nation and destroyed its magnificent temple. "Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honor of my majesty?" he gloated (Daniel 4:30). But God has warned: "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall" (I Corinthians 10:12). Lucifer, the most glorious being in all creation had been lifted up with pride, and soon lost his exalted position (Ezekiel 28:17). If the highest angel and the greatest emperor could not afford to be proud, then who are we? "For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?" (I Corinthians 4:7). Let all kings and presidents, all celebrities and dignitaries, rich men and beautiful women take note. Even pastors and evangelists, Christian speakers and musicians, and others, are in constant danger of falling. Nebuchadnezzar had to suffer seven years of deep humiliation, but then he could say: "Now I . . . honor the King of heaven, . . . those that walk in pride He is able to abase" (Daniel 4:37). It is probably the hardest--yet the most important--of all lessons we need to learn. "God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time" (I Peter 5:5,6). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ February 23, Tuesday ADAM'S FAILURE; CHRIST'S STRENGTH "By the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life" (Romans 5:18). When Adam rebelled against God, he experienced many new things--things which have haunted mankind ever since. All of these things were experienced by Christ in an intense way as He redeemed fallen mankind and the cursed creation. Adam had never seen or experienced death (Genesis 2:17) until he sinned (3:19,22). God had ordained nakedness (2:25), but sin distorts everything (3:7,21). Before sin, they had known only blessing (1:28), but the universal curse followed (3:14-19). They had known joy and fellowship, but now they knew sorrow (3:17), and separation (3:23). They had lived in a garden (2:8), but now the plants would bring forth thorns (3:18). Prior to sin, they had been assigned work to do (2:15), but now they would sweat (3:19) as they toiled. The angel's weapon kept them from returning to the Garden (3:24), and outside, violence reigned (4:8,23; 6:13). Child bearing now was to be accompanied by suffering (1:28; 3:16). Likewise, Christ experienced death on the cross (John 19:30), but by His resurrection He conquered death (I Corinthians 15:54-57). In this death He experienced nakedness (John 19:23; Psalm 22:18), the full thrust of the curse (Galatians 3:13), sorrow (Isaiah 53:3), and separation from God (Matthew 27:46). Cruel thorns were placed on His head (John 19:2), and He sweat great drops of blood (Luke 22:44). The soldier's weapon pierced Him (John 19:34), finally ending a series of violent acts (Luke 22:63; Matthew 27:26, 29,30; Isaiah 52:14, etc.). But through His suffering He overcame the curse and redeemed His fallen creation. As a result, many children have been brought forth (Hebrews 2:9,10), children reborn into a glorious state through His suffering. JDM ________________________________________________________________________ February 24, Wednesday POOR AND NEEDY "But I am poor and needy; yet the LORD thinketh upon me: thou art my help and my deliverer; make no tarrying, O my God" (Psalm 40:17). The church at Laodicea boasted that they were "rich and had need of nothing" (Revelation 3:17), but David humbly confessed that he was spiritually poor and needy. His enemies were attacking from without, "For innumerable evils have compassed me about" (Psalm 40:12). His own sin had taken hold within. "Mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up" (40:12). No wonder he felt poor and needy! In spite of these overwhelming problems, David found the answer in the following three spiritual principles: (1) He was not forgotten by God: "Yet the LORD thinketh upon me." "When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?" (Psalm 8:3,4). The truth of the matter is that God is very mindful of us, and has visited us in the Person of Christ. (2) He was mindful that help and deliverance were available from an ever-present God: "Thou art my help and deliverer." "My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth" (Psalm 121:2). The God of creation is also the God of salvation and preservation. (3) He urged his request: "Make no tarrying, O my God." David put fervency into his prayer. So did Nehemiah: "Think upon me, my God, for good" (5:19). "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man (still) availeth much" (James 5:16). God will not despise the poor and needy; the broken and contrite hearted; the seeking soul. "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden (over-burdened), and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28). NPS ________________________________________________________________________ February 25, Thursday THE BLESSING OF PROPHECY "Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand" (Revelation 1:3). There seems to be an increasing interest in Biblical prophecy in recent years, but the great majority of professing Christians, especially in the so-called mainline denominations, continue to reject or ignore the great portions of the Bible dealing with the prophetic future. This is most unfortunate, because there is genuine blessing in the study of these prophecies. It is significant that only the book of Revelation makes a specific promise to this effect. Not only in its opening verses, as above, but also in its final chapter, is such a blessing promised: "Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth (i.e., `guardeth') the sayings of the prophecy of this book" (Revelation 22:7). Note also the exhortation in Peter's final epistle, just before his martyrdom. "We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts" (II Peter 1:19). For those who ignore these prophecies concerning the second coming, Christ's rebuke to certain disciples who had failed to believe the prophecies concerning His first coming may well come to be appropriate again: "O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken" (Luke 24:25). The book of Revelation ends with an even more serious warning: "If any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy (note, not just the concepts, but the words!), God shall take away his part out of the book of life" (Revelation 22:19). It is clearly very important that Christians read, understand, believe, and obey the divinely inspired prophecies, as well as all the other revelations of the Holy Scriptures. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ February 26, Friday A MARVELOUS THING "The man answered and said unto them, Why herein is a marvelous thing, that ye know not from whence He is, and yet He hath opened mine eyes" (John 9:30). A "marvelous thing," in the Bible, is something that generates awe or wonder. Sometimes it refers to a miracle, but more often to something very unexpected and remarkable. But the most marvelous thing of all is that unbelievers, facing overwhelming evidence of the reality of God, will still persist in their unbelief. In our text passage, the Lord Jesus Christ had just performed one of His most amazing miracles of creation--making perfect eyes for a man with no eyes, blind from birth. As the man testified to the frustrated Pharisees: "Since the world began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind" (John 9:32). Yet these religious intellectuals, so opinionated in their anti-Christian prejudices, refused to believe what they saw and heard. Similarly, "when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things (i.e., `marvelous thing') that He did, . . . they were sore displeased" (Matthew 21:15). There are none so blind as those who refuse to see. One of the saddest verses in the Bible is John 1:10: "He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not." And: "He came unto His own, and His own received Him not" (v.11). Even when He raised Lazarus from the dead, "the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death; because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus" (John 12:10,11). Modern "intellectuals" are still the same, whether religious or materialistic, rejecting the overwhelming testimony of the created complexity in the cosmos to the fact of a personal Creator, in favor of an impossible scenario of chance origin. "Herein is a marvelous thing!" Such people "willingly are ignorant" and "without excuse" (II Peter 3:5; Romans 1:20). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ February 27, Saturday THIS GRACE ALSO "Therefore, as ye abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also" (II Corinthians 8:7). The "grace" of which Paul was writing in our text is the grace of giving! Many Christians may show diligence and love in their Christian life, but are still very reluctant to give sacrificially to the work of the Lord. Many follow what they consider the "law of tithing" (most Christians don't even do that!) and consider this to be meritorious. The fact is, however, that giving for the Christian is not a law to be obeyed, but a grace to be cultivated. The motivation cited by Paul for abounding in this grace was not the Old Testament ordinance, but the New Testament example in the church at Philippi. Consider, he said, "the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; how that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. . . . beyond their power they were willing of themselves." And the real secret of their motivation was that they "first gave their own selves to the Lord" (II Corinthians 8:1,2,3,5). An even greater motive for abounding in this grace is the example of Christ: "For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich" (II Corinthians 8:9). This grace of giving is thus displayed when one gives liberally, even in times of affliction and poverty, out of whole-hearted devotion to the Lord and for the spiritual enrichment of those who are spiritually impoverished. "God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work" (II Corinthians 9:8). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ February 28, Sunday GOD'S KINGDOM "And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever" (Daniel 2:44). In these days (and in earlier times, for that matter) there has been much idealistic talk about a coming "new world order," in which all nations will become as one, and there will be no more war or poverty. Many people thought (some still do) that world communism would bring this about. Others believe that a worldwide Islamic government can accomplish this. Various would-be world emperors (e.g., Hitler, Napoleon) have come and gone. Many pin their hopes on the United Nations. All the various New Age cults and organizations are working toward such an end. And, strangely enough, many Bible-believing Christians still think that the Christian church can bring about such revival and reconstruction of the coming chaos that we can Christianize and then rule the world. They are all wrong. There is a kingdom coming which will bring perfect peace and righteousness, and it will last forever, but men will not accomplish it. "Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon His kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with justice even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts [not that of men!] will perform this" (Isaiah 9:7). In the climactic end of Nebuchadnezzar's prophetic dream image (most of which has already been fulfilled), Daniel has assured all succeeding generations that "the God of heaven [not the United Nations--not even the church!] shall "set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed." "He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth" (Psalm 72:8). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ This "Days of Praise" quarterly was converted to ASCII, for BBS use, from the original formatted desktop articles. Comments regarding typographical errors in the above material are appreciated. Don Barber, ICR Systems Administrator Fax: (619) 448-3469 All ICR staff members adhere to a Statement of Faith in the form of two documents: "Tenets of Scientific Creationism," and "Tenets of Biblical Creationism." (see Impact No. 85) ________________________________________________________________________ Institute for Creation Research A unique complex of evangelistic, missionary, and educational ministries. Trans-denominational in structure; worldwide in outreach. Advancing the cause of true science and education, winning people to Christ, and strengthening the Christian witness, by promoting genuine creationism in science and Scripture. If you would like to receive our free monthly newsletter "Acts & Facts," or our free quarterly devotional Bible-study booklet "Days of Praise," just request them by contacting ICR at (619) 448-0900. ________________________________________________________________________ Typical ICR Ministries Scientific Research Related to Origins ICR Graduate School of Creation Science Books and Audiovisual Materials (all levels) Seminars, Debates, Workshops, Bible Conferences, etc. Weekly Radio Program, "Science, Scripture, and Salvation" Daily Devotional Guide, "Days of Praise" (Free on Request) Guided Tours to Areas of Biblical/Science Significance Monthly Newsletter, "Acts & Facts" (Free on Request) ICR Museum of Creation and Earth History Daily Radio Program, "Back to Genesis ________________________________________________________________________ ICR Ministries ICR is primarily supported by voluntary contributions (IRS tax-exempt) from concerned Christian people and churches. 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