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________________________________________________________________________ Institute for Creation Research, PO Box 2667, El Cajon, CA 92021 Voice: (619) 448-0900 FAX: (619) 448-3469 ________________________________________________________________________ ||||||||| |||||||| |||||||||| |||| |||| |||| |||| |||| ||||| |||| |||| |||| |||| |||| ||||| |||| |||| |||| |||| |||| ||||| |||| |||| |||| |||| |||||||||| |||| |||| |||| |||| |||| |||| |||| |||| |||| |||| ||||||||| |||||||| ||||| ________________________________________________________________________ March, April, May Spring 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 ________________________________________________________________________ "If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me" (Psalm 139:9,10). Introduction to DAYS OF PRAISE Here is your Spring issue of Days of Praise, prepared with loving concern and prayer by your Christian friends here at the Institute for Creation Research. The more we study the Bible--especially in the beautiful poetic prose and uniquely reliable scholarship of the time-tested King James Version--the more amazed we are at its eternal relevance and power. We hope you have all learned to love it as we do. We know there can be occasional differences of interpretation, but don't let such "doubtful disputations," as the Bible calls them, hinder you from enjoying the others. We receive warm letters daily from all kinds of people who have been greatly blessed by these studies--from missionaries, from native pastors, from shut-ins, from prisoners, from ordinary Christians in all denominations, from new converts, from students, and from people in every walk of life. The booklets are always sent free on request, and they go out all over the world. This is obviously an expensive ministry, but God is blessing it, and we are especially grateful to all those of you who make it possible by your gifts (in that connection, we include a return envelope in each booklet for the convenience of those who are willing to help in this way). In any case, we hope that you will use and enjoy this Spring issue of Days of Praise. KLB Kathleen L. Bruce, D.Miss. BJC Mrs. Barbara J. Cicognari KBC Kenneth B. Cumming, Ph.D. PGH Paul G. Humber, M.S. DRM David R. McQueen, M.S. HMM Henry M. Morris, Ph.D. JDM John D. Morris, Ph.D. NPS Norman P. Spotts, D.D. ________________________________________________________________________ March 1, Monday CURSED OR BLESSED "Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD" (Jeremiah 17:5). Jeremiah provides for us a striking contrast between the self-assured humanist and the one who has placed his trust in God. The man who looks to his own abilities or those of others to save him in time of trouble is "cursed." His existence will be one of futility, just as is that of a parched desert plant (v.6). Why? Because his "heart departeth from the LORD" (v.5), the source of strength and salvation. Actually, Jeremiah uses a play on words here. The two words for "man" in our text are different: the first means "warrior," or "strong man," and the second, a "normal man." The warrior who should be strong is cursed because he is trusting in one who is weak; in this case, any other man's wisdom or might, or even his own strength, when over estimated. What sense is there in that? In contrast, "Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD" (v.7). "He shall be as a tree planted by the waters, ... and shall not be careful (i.e., anxious) in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit" (v.8). Why? Because his "hope the LORD is" (v.7). Here again we see the warrior--one who might be considered strong-- trusting solely in the true "Strong Man," the Lord. It is a tragic fact that even many Christians fall into the mind set of the autonomous humanist and attempt to live their lives, even "the Christian life," under their own power. Do we trust in our own feeble power or in the Lord? Both the humanist and the Christian "heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" (v.9). Make no mistake! "I the LORD search the heart" (v.10); He knows our inner motives. Let us recommit ourselves to trust in the Lord and make Him our hope. JDM ________________________________________________________________________ March 2, Tuesday THE FAITHFUL CREATOR "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). This is the only verse in the New Testament describing the Creator as faithful. God had a very specific purpose in creating the universe, and especially man, and He will surely accomplish that great purpose. he Scriptures repeatedly stress God's faithfulness. With respect to the physical universe, "Forever, O LORD, Thy Word is settled in heaven. Thy faithfulness is unto all generations: thou hast established the earth, and it abideth" (Psalm 119:89,90). As far as His promises to His people are concerned, "Know therefore that the LORD thy God, He is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love Himand keep His commandments to a thousand generations" (Deuteronomy 7:9). The faithful Creator is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ, and He rebukes the compromising church of the last days with these majestic words: "These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God" (Revelation 3:14). Although many professing believers will prove unfaithful to Him, "yet He abideth faithful: He cannot deny Himself" (II Timothy 2:13). The triumphant book of Revelation comes directly "from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness" (Revelation 1:5); and when He finally returns to Earth in power and glory, His very name shall be "called Faithful and True" (Revelation 19:11). He is both Alpha and Omega, and thus all His "words are true and faithful" (Revelation 21:5). Our salvation is sure,therefore, because "God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord" (I Corinthians 1:9). "Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it" (I Thessalonians 5:24). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ March 3, Wednesday FOUR FERVENT THINGS "Fervent in spirit; serving the Lord" (Romans 12:11). The word "fervent" or "fervency" is found only eight times in the Word of God, all in the New Testament. It basically means, to boil or be hot, ardent, fervid, or zealous. God's people need to be fervent in four very important areas: 1) A fervent spirit: Our text reminds us to be "fervent in spirit." "Apollos ... was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord" (Acts 18:24,25). His internal fervency produced an external fervency in his service for the Lord. It goes without saying that those who are not on fire on the inside will not do very much for Christ on the outside! (2) A fervent prayer life: "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much" (James 5:16). Even though many years have passed since James wrote it, this promise is just as true today as it was then. Scripturally, Epaphras is a perfect example of this: "Always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God" (Colossians 4:12). 3) A fervent mind: Paul noted that the Corinthians had a "fervent mind toward" him (II Corinthians 7:7). The Greek word is zelos, from which we get our English word zealous. Thus it could be translated, "your zeal for me." In other words, they had an ardent attachment to Paul. The believer today should have a great zeal or fervency to be one with other believers and not cause divisions and contentions. (4) A fervent love: "Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently ... and above all things have fervent charity (love) among yourselves: for charity (love) shall cover the multitude of sins" (I Peter 1:22; 4:8). Fervent love comes from a pure heart and does not generate dissension. NPS ________________________________________________________________________ March 4, Thursday HIS AGE-LONG IMMINENT COMING "And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed" (Romans 13:11). The apostle Paul wrote these words over 1,900 years ago, and yet Christ still has not returned. The early Christians were looking for Christ's return in their own day, and so have many believers in every generation since, yet we still wait. This attitude of age-long watchful expectancy is both Scriptural and salutary, for Jesus said: "Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh" (Matthew 25:13). In fact, it is impossible to correctly predict the date of His coming, for He clearly said: "In such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh" (Matthew 24:44). In his first epistle, Paul reminded the believers how they had "turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; And to wait for His Son from heaven" (I Thessalonians 1:9,10). Years later, he exhorted Timothy to "love His appearing" (II Timothy 4:8). He had written Titus that each Christian should be "looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:13). To the Corinthians, he said: "We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed" when Christ returns (I Corinthians 15:51), indicating he thought it possible that he himself might witness Christ's return. "We which are alive and remain shall be caught up ... to meet the Lord in the air," he had also said (I Thessalonians 4:17). There are many other such references, so it is clear that the early Christians were, indeed, watching for Christ, as He had commanded. We must not set dates, and we must "occupy till (He) comes" (Luke 19:13), but we also must continue to watch, "For yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry" (Hebrews 10:37). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ March 5, 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. When 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 chooses to save 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 went on to write, underscoring the truth of Jesus' prayer, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God" (Ephesians 2:8). 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 breathing and our hearts pumping. It 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 ________________________________________________________________________ March 6, Saturday MATTHEW THE PUBLICAN "And as Jesus passed forth from thence, He saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and He saith unto him, Follow me. And he arose, and followed Him" (Matthew 9:9). Matthew was chosen to be the inspired author of the longest record we have of the life of Christ, yet he says little about himself. Almost everything we know about him--from the Scriptures at least--is found in this one verse. As a publican, or tax collector, he would normally be greatly disliked by other Jews (note Matthew 9:11), yet Jesus chose him as a disciple. Matthew responded immediately to what seemed almost an off-handed invitation from Jesus, and his whole subsequent life was changed. Matthew reports a similar response by Peter and Andrew. When Christ told them to follow Him, "they straightway left their nets, and followed Him." Similarly, when He called James and John, "they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed Him" (Matthew 4:20,22). But there is more to this than meets the eye. John and Andrew had first been disciples of John the Baptist, who had directed them to follow Jesus (John 1:35-37,40). Probably this was true of the rest of the disciples too. When the eleven had to select a man to take the place of Judas, the criterion was that he must be one who had "companied with us all the time ... beginning from the baptism of John" (Acts 1:21,22). Evidently all the disciples had been baptized and prepared by John, who had himself been called "to make ready a people prepared for the Lord" (Luke 1:17). Matthew's remarkable call, like that of the others, must have been preceded by an unrecorded history of his own personal repentance and faith. He must have come to John as one of the "publicans to be baptized" (Luke 3:12), and thereby been gladly ready to go when Christ called him. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ March 7, Sunday SHARING "For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ" (II Corinthians 1:5). Frequently we sense our need of God's help. We find ourselves weak failing, unable to meet our needs. These are the times we gladly appropriate the promise of help from Heaven. But what does this passage also say? That the sufferings of Christ are ours also? From a human perspective, no one would willingly choose sufferings, certainly not the kind and not to the extent that Christ suffered. Every aspect of our beings insists that we avoid any unnecessary unpleasantness. God, however, has a different outlook on the matter of suffering. He chose suffering for Himself. He chose to be separated from a beloved part of Himself. He chose an earthly life of lowliness, and loneliness, and pain, and eventual treachery and execution. God did not shield Himself from unpleasantness and then offer to help us when we go through trials. Every kind of hardship, Christ has endured; the full cup of bitterness, He has drunk. Now, fully equipped to understand us, He offers to share His own consolation and help. We run to His side for comfort! But the first part of the verse is still there--speaking of sharing Jesus' sufferings as well as His comfort. Can we choose to stand beside Jesus, bent and bowed low in the dregs of life? Will we gladly say "Yes" to whatever hardship and pain the world deals to us? Indeed, we must accept suffering as part of the good that God gives us--part of His type of life. Suffering should not fill us with anger and questions about God's love, for it offers an opportunity to share in Christ's very life! In the full "life abundant" for which we yearn, help and suffering are packaged together. "That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death" (Philippians 3:10). KLB ________________________________________________________________________ March 8, Monday JOY IN THE MORNING "For His anger endureth but a moment; in His favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning" (Psalm 30:5). God is necessarily a God of wrath, for He is a holy God and cannot ignore human sin. Nevertheless, He is even more a God of love. His very purpose in creation was that His love could be manifested to men and women created in His image. Because there is sin, there must be suffering and death, but He is "slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy" (Psalm 103:8). He has provided a marvelous means of forgiveness and salvation to all who will accept it, through the substitutionary death of His Son. This was a most cruel death, but even this was ameliorated by God's overshadowing mercy, and there was "joy ... in the morning!" He, "for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God" (Hebrews 12:2). Likewise in each believer's life, there must be pain and weeping, but as measured in the scales of eternity, these will only "endure for a night": and one morning the night will vanish forever. "God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: ... for there shall be no night there" (Revelation 21:4,25). Therefore, as the apostle Paul said: "For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory" (II Corinthians 4:17). We can, like Him, "reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us" (Romans 8:18). We will be forever "in Christ," who could say prophetically while looking toward the cross (as recorded in one of the Messianic psalms): "In Thy presence is fullness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore" (Psalm 16:11). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ March 9, Tuesday DANGEROUS COUNTERFEITS "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good" (I Thessalonians 5:21). Human beings are very gullible, and counterfeiting is a profitable occupation for many deceivers. But spiritual counterfeits are the most dangerous of all, and at times the most difficult to detect. There are many false gods, and this is the subject of the very first of the true God's Ten Commandments: "Thou shalt have no other gods before me" (Exodus 20:3). We are warned also to "beware of false prophets" (Matthew 7:15) and "false Christs" (Matthew 24:24). There are those who preach "another Jesus" (II Corinthians 11:4), and many who come preaching "another gospel" (Galatians 1:6) rather than the true saving gospel of Christ. There are also counterfeit Christians who are "false brethren" (II Corinthians 11:26), as well as "false teachers" (II Peter 2:1,2) and "false apostles" (II Corinthians 11:13). They preach "peace; when there is no peace" (Jeremiah 6:14), and some will even "shew great signs and wonders, insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect" (Matthew 24:24). Satan himself is the greatest counterfeiter, for he "deceiveth the whole world" (Revelation 12:9) in his attempt to become a counterfeit God. Thus we are warned to "try the spirits whether they are of God" (I John 4:1) and to "prove all things"--to test them by God's Word. In this scientific age, it is especially important that we not be deceived by "science falsely so called" (I Timothy 6:20). So-called evolutionary "science" is not supported by any real scientific evidence, and is contrary both to common sense and the Bible. Many professing Christians have "erred concerning the faith" because of evolution (I Timothy 6:21), which has been made the pseudo-scientific rationale for a multitude of false philosophies propounded by false teachers. May God help us to hold fast only to that which is good! HMM ________________________________________________________________________ March 10, Wednesday A WORLD OF BOOKS "And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen" (John 21:25). It is difficult to understand how it could be literally true that a complete biography of Christ's works would be an earth-filling library. However, we must realize that His works did not end with His return to heaven. The events of His thirty-three years on Earth were only what "Jesus began both to do and teach" (Acts 1:1). When He prayed, it was not only for His twelve disciples, "but for them also which shall believe on me through their word" (John 17:20). When He sent the Holy Spirit, it was so that each believer could know that "Christ liveth in me" (Galatians 2:20) and that, by His Spirit, He could fulfill His promise: "Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world" (Matthew 28:20). He also promised to "build my church" (Matthew 16:18), in which each believer becomes a member of "His body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all" (Ephesians 1:23). Thus, the life and work of every believing Christian is, in a very real sense, an extension of the life and work of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself; and an endless series of thrilling biographies could be written about them. In fact, the apostle Paul referred to his Christian converts as living books: "Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshly tables of the heart" (II Corinthians 3:2,3). Each of our own lives, therefore, becomes one of "the books that should be written" about the "things which Jesus did." How important it is that the deeds and words we record in our books are worthy of our divine Biographer! JDM ________________________________________________________________________ March 11, Thursday THOSE WHO RULE OVER YOU "Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the Word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation" (Hebrews 13:7). The very idea that the church has "rulers" is resisted by many modern Christians, especially those in "autonomous" churches, with "congregational" systems of governance. But in the last chapter of Hebrews, there are three commands given to Christian church members in relation to "them which have the rule over you." Christ, the Head of the church, has assured that each true local church will have God-called pastors, elders, or other "rulers" to lead the church in its divinely ordained ministry. Whatever these leaders are called, or however they are appointed, if they have indeed "spoken unto you the Word of God," then the members of the church are commanded to "remember them" and their "faith follow." Secondly, they are commanded to "obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account" (Hebrews 13:17). Thirdly, they are to "salute all them that have the rule over you, and all the saints" (Hebrews 13:24), with the word "salute" meaning literally "embrace," in the sense of glad greetings and fellowship. The position of "ruler" in a church is not that of a dictator. The Greek word for "have the rule over" means more exactly, "lead." God-ordained leaders are not "lords over God's heritage," but "examples to the flock" (I Peter 5:3). They must "give account" (4:5) to God for their faithfulness, and shall receive "greater condemnation" if they misuse their authority (James 3:1). They need--and deserve--to have us remember them in prayer, embrace them in fellowship, submit to their leading, and follow their faith, as long as they truly proclaim and follow the Word of God themselves. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ March 12, Friday DEGREES OF PUNISHMENT "But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment ,than for you" (Matthew 11:22). The subject of eternal hell is so repugnant to the modern ungodly world that people desperately search for some scientific rationale to justify their rejection of God's Word. Charles Darwin was an example. He became an apostate from Christianity, not because of his scientific "discovery" of natural selection, but because of Christ's teachings that unbelievers (including his own father) would end up in hell. Nevertheless "the fearful, and unbelieving, ... and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death" (Revelation 21:8). These are words from God Himself! But is there no difference in the punishment of, say, blaspheming and wicked unbelievers and the mere careless unbeliever? Yes, there is. As Christ said, the idolatrous inhabitants of Tyre would have repented if they had seen His mighty works, but the Galileans of Chorazin and Bethsaida, who had seen His miracles and heard Him preach had not. Consequently, they would suffer more at the judgment than those of Tyre and Sidon. Similarly, He said concerning those who would reject the gospel preaching of His disciples that "it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for that city" (Matthew 10:15). The wicked populace of Sodom, "giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh" will suffer "the vengeance of eternal fire" (Jude 7), but even greater punishment awaits those who willfully reject God's love in Christ. There will, indeed, be degrees of punishment in hell, but they will be determined largely in proportion to degrees of "light" rejected. This is an unwanted--but urgently needed--message in these last days! HMM ________________________________________________________________________ March 13, Saturday THE LORD CHRIST "And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ" (Colossians 3:23,24). This is the only verse in the Bible where our Savior is called "the Lord Christ." Actually, His three primary names ("Lord," "Jesus," and "Christ") are combined in eight different ways in the New Testament. "Jesus" was His human name, speaking especially of His mission as suffering Savior. "Christ," equivalent to the Hebrew "Messiah," meaning "anointed," speaks of His office as God's chosen King. As "Lord," He is sovereign Creator and ruler of the universe; victorious over all enemies, even death itself. "Lord Christ" is the only one of the combination forms of His name which omits the human name. Apparently the reason is that, in this passage, the emphasis is altogether on His exalted position as sovereign Creator and eternal King. Our service is to be rendered not to men--not even to the man Jesus, in His perfect humanity--but to the Lord and the Christ--the Lord Christ,Creator of all things and King of kings. "Your labour is not in vain in the Lord" (I Corinthians 15:58), for He is "heir of all things" (Hebrews 1:2), and thus can dispense "the reward of the inheritance" to His faithful servants, who are "joint-heirs with Christ" (Romans 8:17). The inheritance is ours because of our position in Christ; the reward is given for service or the Lord. Because of whom we serve, whatever we do should be done heartily! This is the Greek word psuches, usually translated "soul," or "life," as well as "heart." If there is anything we cannot in good conscience do with full heart to the Lord, then it should not be done at all. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ March 14, Sunday POINTS OF DECISION "Whether it be good, or whether it be evil, we will obey the voice of the LORD our God, to whom we send thee; that it may be well with us, when we obey the voice of the LORD our God" (Jeremiah 42:6). What a grand pronouncement to make in affirming the guidance God can give to man! The people making this statement beseeched the prophet Jeremiah to ask God for direction in their plans--whether to stay where they were or move to Egypt. Jeremiah listened to their plea and prayed according to their words. He promised them that he would not hold anything back which God might tell him, whether favorable or not. God did speak to Jeremiah after ten days, as follows: "If ye will still abide in this land, then will I build you, and not pull you down, and I will plant you, and not pluck you up: for I repent me of the evil that I have done unto you" (v.10). So far, so good! But, Jeremiah also had some bad news, which the people really didn't want to hear: "If ye wholly set your faces to enter into Egypt, and go to sojourn there; Then it shall come to pass, that the sword, which ye feared, shall overtake you there in the land of Egypt . . ." (vs.15,16). Would they stay or would they go? From our vantage point the decision seems obvious, but the course of history is predicated on just this sort of decision. Situations like these seem to be placed in our paths to mature us in Christ. The two spokesmen for the people, Azariah and Johanan, as well as all the proud men, replied to Jeremiah, "Thou speakest falsely: the LORD our God hath not sent thee to say, Go not into Egypt to sojourn there: ... So they came into the land of Egypt: for they obeyed not the voice of the LORD" (43:2,7). As a result, "Thus sayeth the LORD ... I will send . . .Nebuchadrezzar ... (to) smite the land of Egypt, and deliver such as are for death to death" (vs.10,11). KBC ________________________________________________________________________ March 15, Monday INSPIRED WORDS "Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away" (Luke 21:33). The doctrine of plenary verbal inspiration, wrongly considered antiquated by many modern neo-evangelicals, is actually essential to the Christian faith. "All Scripture (that is, every word written down or inscribed) is given by inspiration (literally `breathed in') of God not man!" (II Timothy 3:16). We acknowledge, of course, that problems of transmission and translation exist, but these are relatively trivial in the entire context. We also acknowledge that the process of inspiration may have varied, but the end result is as if the entire Bible had been dictated and transcribed word by word. This is the way Jesus Christ--the Creator, the Living Word, the Author of Scripture--viewed the Scriptures. "The Scripture cannot be broken," He said (John 10:35). "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). "Then He said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: ... And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself" (Luke 24:25,27). The Bible, therefore, every word of it, is divinely inspired, verbally without error, infallibly true, and of absolute authority in every area of our lives. The words of Christ, who taught these truths, are forever "settled in heaven" (Psalm 119:89) and "shall not pass away." It is mortally dangerous, therefore, "unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this Book" to "add unto these things (as the cultists do)," or to "take away from the words of the Book of this prophecy (as the liberals do)" (Revelation 22:18,19). Would it not be much better to say with the psalmist, "Thy testimonies also are my delight and my counsellors" (Psalm 119:24)? HMM ________________________________________________________________________ March 16, Tuesday THE LORD IS THY KEEPER "The LORD is thy Keeper: the LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand. ... The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore" (Psalm 121:5,8). One of the most precious doctrines in all of Scripture is that of the secure position of the believer in Christ Jesus. Nothing in creation our Lord" (Romans 8:39). The apostle Peter tells us that we who are born again are "kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation" (I Peter 1:5). Nothing we can do can merit salvation; similarly, nothing we do can keep it. This is God's work, not ours, and extends to all realms of our lives. "I pray God our whole spirit and soul and body be preserved (usually translated `kept') blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" (I Thessalonians 5:23). This keeping aspect of God's work for us should not be a surprise, for Christ prayed for just this. With His betrayal, trial, crucifixion, and death imminent, He prayed for all who would eventually believe on Him (John 17:20). "Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me. ... While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest Me I have kept, and none of them is lost. ... I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil (one)" (John 17:11,12,15). We can be certain the prayer is answered, for God, the Father, would surely hear the intercessory prayer of His own beloved Son. "Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen" (Jude 24,25). JDM ________________________________________________________________________ March 17, Wednesday COMING OR GIVEN? "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out" (John 6:37). This promise of the Lord Jesus illustrates the beautiful, yet paradoxical, complementary of the Gospel. The Lord Jesus gladly receives all who voluntarily come to Him. "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" He says (Matthew 11:28). Yet those who come to Him do so because they have been given to Him by the Father. Is this a contradiction? No, because both statements come from Christ. There are many Scriptures which teach that believers have been chosen by God, then drawn to Christ. On the other hand, there are many Scriptures which teach that one may freely accept or reject Christ, and is responsible for his own decision. Yet the Scriptures themselves seem unaware that they pose a problem. For example, Peter preached on Pentecost, saying, "Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain." And again: "The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord ... to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before (i.e., `predestinated') to be done" (Acts 2:23; 4:26-28). In these passages, divine predestination is joined with human decisions, without a hint that these concepts conflict with each other. Like the two sides of a coin, only one of which can be seen at a time, they are complementary truths, harmonious in the mind of God, but incapable of full comprehension by human minds. We can praise the Lord both for free salvation available to all who desire it and also for the comforting assurance that those who come have been "chosen in Him" (Ephesians 1:4) before the world began. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ March 18, Thursday LACK OF KNOWLEDGE "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children" (Hosea 4:6). This grave judgment spoken almost three thousand years ago reflects a timeless principle that is just as applicable today. When people die without being saved, it is not that God did not want them to be saved, for He would "have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth" (I Timothy 2:4). He is "not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (II Peter 3:9). The problem is that, when men lack the knowledge that would bring them to Christ for salvation, it is because they have already rejected knowledge that would have led them to the knowledge they need. Paul writes that, "in the last days," men would be "ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth" (II Timothy 3:1,7). And the next verse tells why. It is because they "resist the truth" (II Timothy 3:8). "They shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables" (II Timothy 4:4). Peter says that those who question God's Word in favor of an assumed naturalistic view of history "willingly are ignorant" (II Peter 3:5), and Paul says that if they refuse to see the evidence of the Creator in His creation, they are "without excuse" (Romans 1:20). Whether or not they have read God's Word, they have an intuitive knowledge of God and His law in their consciences (Romans 2:15), with their thoughts "accusing or else excusing one another." The Lord Jesus promised that "unto you that hear shall more be given"(Mark 4:24). But then He also warned: "He that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath" (Mark 4:25). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ March 19, Friday BIBLICAL SARCASM "And Job answered and said, No doubt but ye are the people, and wisdom shall die with you" (Job 12:1,2). It is remarkable that the Bible, with its great variety of literary forms and numerous personal conversations and discourses, contains very few examples of sarcasm or satire. Nevertheless, the few examples of Biblical irony are well worth noting, with one of the most notable being Job's response, as above, to the self-righteous platitudes of his three philosophizing "friends." In their intellectual and moral arrogance, and with no real understanding of God's purposes, these critics were far out of line and well deserved Job's cutting sarcasm. Examples of such combined spiritual ignorance and intellectual arrogance are not hard to find today and, occasionally perhaps, a satirical commentary may be effective in changing them or preventing their effect. One other well-known case of Biblical sarcasm is Elijah's taunting monologue to the prophets of Baal: "Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked" (I Kings 18:27). Jeremiah also had a word to say about the ineptitude of false gods and the foolishness of those who put their faith in them, and who were "saying to a stock, Thou art my father; and to a stone, Thou hast brought me forth: ... But where are thy gods that thou hast made thee? let them arise, if they can save thee in the time of thy trouble" (Jeremiah 2:27,28). Much more foolish than those who believe that sticks and stones can generate living beings, however, are those modern-day idolaters who worship "Mother Nature," believing that her "natural processes" can evolve hydrogen atoms, over billions of years, into human beings. The examples of Elijah and Jeremiah, as well as Job, may warrant an occasional touch of sarcasm when discussing such notions! HMM ________________________________________________________________________ March 20, Saturday EIGHT REVIVALS "Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee?" (Psalm 85:6). The number "eight" seems commonly to be associated in the Bible with a new beginning, new life, resurrection, or renewal, "seven" being the number of fullness and rest, with the seven-day week used ever since the week of creation. The Lord Jesus Himself was resurrected, never to die again, on the eighth day--that is, the first day--of the week. It is significant, therefore, that eight great spiritual revivals are described in the Old Testament--one each under Moses, Samuel, Elijah, Asa, Hezekiah, Josiah, Ezra, and Nehemiah. It is even more significant, however, that each revival was centered around the Word of God. The first, for example, was based on the giving of the law at Sinai. "And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the LORD hath said will we do, and be obedient" (Exodus 24:7). Then, much later, when "Samuel was established to be a prophet of the LORD, ... and the word of Samuel came to all Israel," eventually, "all the house of Israel lamented after the LORD" (I Samuel 3:20; 4:1; 7:2). Analysis of all of the other revivals will reveal that they also were based on reception and acceptance of God's Word. The last was under Nehemiah. "And they stood up in their place, and read in the Book of the Law of the LORD their God one fourth part of the day; and another fourth part they confessed, and worshipped the LORD their God" (Nehemiah 9:3). There were other ingredients in these revivals, but the Word of God was always the foundation, and there can be no true and lasting revival without it. This is why it is so important in our day, when the need for revival is so desperate, that we first get back to a serious study of the Holy Scriptures, believing and obeying, as best we can, all that is written therein. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ March 12, Sunday HE RIDES UPON THE HEAVEN "There is none like unto the God of Jeshurun, who rideth upon the heaven in thy help, and in His excellency on the sky" (Deuteronomy 33:26). Chapter 33 of Deuteronomy contains the last recorded words of a truly great man, Moses, "whom the LORD knew face to face" (34:10). Many times Moses had addressed the people of Israel with mixed blessing and arning, listing conditions for blessing and the inevitable results of rejecting God's plan. But here, as he prepared for his impending death (32:48-52), Moses spoke only of God's majestic character and the privileges of those who serve Him. The God of Jeshurun (literally "upright," here a symbolic name for Israel) is an active God, Moses tells us, for He rides in His excellency across the heaven to help us, as we see in our text. He strongly acts on our behalf. "The eternal God is (our) refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms" (v.27). We are well supported in the trials of life. He is not like the gods of the heathen, who do nothing. Next, He is a God of grandeur. Here He rides across the sky and the heaven; elsewhere we are told that He "rideth upon the heaven of heavens" (Psalm 68:33). He walks (Psalm 104:3) and flies (Psalm 18:10) "upon the wings of the wind." "The LORD hath His way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of His feet" (Nahum 1:3). The idea is grandeur. "There is none like unto" Him. Finally, God is eternal. The "eternal God," with "everlasting arms" (v.27) assures us of eternal victory. "I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death" (Revelation 1:18). Such was Moses' God, and the God whom we serve today--the One who showers us with incomparable blessings. Indeed, "Who is like unto thee, O people saved by the LORD" (v.29), to have such a One as God? JDM ________________________________________________________________________ March 22, Monday FAITHFUL STEWARDS "Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful" (I Corinthians 4:2). God's Word reminds us that "every one of us shall give account of himself to God" (Romans 14:12), "for we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad" (II Corinthians 5:10). These and similar verses apply specifically to Christians, and relate to rewards for faithful service, not to salvation. At this judgment, "the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is" (I Corinthians 3:13). The test of our works is not one of quantity, but quality. As stewards of Christ, we have been entrusted not only with various material possessions, but also with time, talents, and opportunities, as well as all the blessings of His glorious gospel. We are, in fact, "the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God"(I Corinthians 4:1). "Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season?" asked the Lord. "Blessed is that servant, whom his Lord when He cometh shall find so doing" (Luke 12:42,43). But He also warned: "If ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own?" (Luke 16:12). The Greek word for "faithful" means essentially "believable." Can our Christian profession be trusted? Are we true to our word? This is what will really count, when the Lord comes "to give every man according as his work shall be" (Revelation 22:12). The greatest reward, of course, will be simply to hear Him say: "Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord" (Matthew 25:21).HMM ________________________________________________________________________ March 23, Tuesday JUDAS HAD THE BAG "For some of them thought, because Judas had the bag, that Jesus had said unto him, Buy those things that we have need of against the feast; or, that he should give something to the poor" (John 13:29). The way a man handles money, more than any word he utters, reveals the true attitude of his heart, "for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Luke 12:34). A spiritual man prizes spiritual things more than the riches of earth, for "more to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold" (Psalm 19:10). He recognizes that money will never satisfy spiritual needs. Judas valued earthly things more than the riches of Heaven. When Mary broke open her alabaster box to anoint the Lord, it was accounted a "waste" (Matthew 26:8). Judas claimed to want the income from the ointment for the poor, but "this he said, not because he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein" (John 12:6). After Jesus rebuked his wrong attitude, Judas ontracted with the chief priests to betray the Lord for thirty pieces of silver. Too late, Judas realized what he had done. Returning to the chief priests, he tried to return the silver, saying, "I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood" (Matthew 27:4). Rebuffed by the priests, Judas "cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself" (v.5). Thirty pieces of silver could not quiet a guilty conscience, "for what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Matthew 16:26). Instead, we should do as Christ taught: "Sell that ye have and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth" (Luke 12:33). BJC ________________________________________________________________________ March 24, Wednesday AT EASE IN ZION "Woe to them that are at ease in Zion, and trust in the mountain of Samaria, which are named chief of the nations, to whom the house of Israel came!" (Amos 6:1). Zion, or Jerusalem, was the capital of Judah, the southern kingdom, and Samaria was the capital of the northern kingdom, Israel. Despite the ungodliness rampant in both nations, as well as suffering due to drought and other judgments sent by God, the leaders in Zion and Samaria were still living in decadent luxury, and most of the people were following their example. The rustic prophet, Amos, was thus called by God to pronounce coming judgment on both nations, and especially on their leaders. God's nature and God's principles do not change. "For I am the LORD, I change not" (Malachi 3:6). If God was angry with those of His ancient people who were living in affluent ease while indifferent to the sin in the nation and in their own lives, must this not be true also in modern "Christian" America? Have evangelical Christians today become "lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God" (II Timothy 3:4)? One should at least raise the question when their churches become cathedrals and their homes become show places, when their music stirs their feelings but not their souls, when they spend more time in "rest and recreation" than with the Lord and His Word, and when they begin to allow "the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches (to) choke the word" so that they become "unfruitful" (Matthew 13:22). God was longsuffering with Israel, but judgment finally came to them. Perhaps He has been calling to us in the earthquake and the hurricane, the drought and the flood, the famine and the pestilence, telling us that judgment is coming. Are we at ease in Zion, saying, "Soul, ... take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry" (Luke 12:19)? If so, may God stir us to repentance and rededication! HMM ________________________________________________________________________ March 25, Thursday DIRECT ACCESS "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus" (I Timothy 2:5). This is one of the key verses of Scripture for several reasons. In the first place, in the midst of a pantheistic and polytheistic society, governed by the kings and rulers for whom Paul had just exhorted believers to pray, it was important to reemphasize that there was only one Creator God--the One to whom even kings must give account and the only One to whom we can rightfully pray. Secondly, Christ Jesus, who was Himself "God ... manifest in the flesh," and then "received up into glory" (I Timothy 3:16), was nevertheless still "the man Christ Jesus." He is still a man, even though His human body has been resurrected and glorified. Therefore, He can, indeed, "be touched with the feeling of our infirmities" and we can "come boldly" to His "throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need" (Hebrews 4:15,16). Then, because He is both omnipotent God and perfect Man, "in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin" (v.15). He is uniquely able to serve as the one and only "mediator between God and man." Furthermore, as the only God-Man, fully and eternally both God and man, He is the only one through whom we can reach God's throne in prayer. "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life," He said, "no man cometh unto the Father, but by me" (John 14:6). No one else--man or woman, saint or priest, angel or demon--has direct access to God, for the Son is the one Mediator between God and man. We can come to God, however, for "We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous" (I John 2:1). "Wherefore He 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). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ March 26, Friday THE URGENCY OF SALVATION "For He saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation" (II Corinthians 6:2). Perhaps the most deadly sin of the unbeliever is that of procrastination. Satisfied with his current life, he neglects his spiritual need. Even if he understands the gospel and realizes his need of salvation, he still puts off a decision. But it is always dangerous to count too strongly on tomorrow. "Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away" (James 4:14). The sin of procrastination may easily become the sin of negligence, then of indifference, and finally, the unforgivable sin of irrevocable rejection and unbelief. "My Spirit shall not always strive with man" (Genesis 6:3). This warning was true in the antediluvian world and it is certainly as true today, when we have far more knowledge and evidence of God's truth and His will than people did in the days of Noah. "To day if ye will hear His voice, harden not your heart" (Psalm 95:7,8). This warning of the psalmist was considered so important that the writer of Hebrews quoted it three times (Hebrews 3:7,8; 3:15; 4:7). Such an emphasis suggests there is, indeed, great danger in resisting God's call to salvation. There may be another opportunity, but it is presumptuous and dangerous to impose too long on God's patient mercy. Today is the day of salvation. The accepted time is now! "Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of Grace? ... It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God" (Hebrews 10:29,31). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ March 27, Saturday KEEP ALIVE THY WORK "O LORD, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O LORD, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy" (Habakkuk 3:2). Habakkuk had long been grieved by the apostasy and injustice in Judah. A sensitive man who trusted God completely, he could not understand why God allowed such rampant sin to go unpunished. Knowing God must have a reason for His actions, he asked, in faith, the question, "Why?" (1:3). In love, God honors Habakkuk's sincere question, but the answer caused him even greater concern: "For, lo, I raise up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation, which shall march through the breadth of the land, to possess the dwelling places that are not theirs" (v.6). God could use the vicious Babylonians to punish His chosen people (vs.5-11). This prompted the prophet's second question, "How?" How could God use such an evil people to punish the Jews? (1:12-2:1). God patiently explained that Israel's sins merited captivity, and furthermore, that Babylon's sins would eventually be punished also. Once Habakkuk knew God's plan, he did not dispute it. Rather, his concern turned to his people--soon to be in captivity. He was afraid they would lose all knowledge of God in a heathen culture, and he prayed, "O LORD, revive thy work" (3:2) (literally "keep alive thy work"). This concern was answered by a majestic appearance of the pre-incarnate Christ (vs.3-15), through which Habakkuk understood that God would, indeed, judge His enemies (v.12) and deliver His people (v.13). Habakkuk's final response? Total submission to God's sovereign control over all things. He claims that in spite of these overwhelming problems (3:18), "Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation." JDM ________________________________________________________________________ March 28, Sunday MIND CONTROL "This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the (Ephesians 4:17,18). A question that troubles many Christians is why most highly educated leaders in science and other fields--even theologians--seem to find it to difficult to believe the Bible and the gospel of Christ. The answer is in the words of our text: They are "alienated from the life of God" because of self-induced ignorance. It is not that they can't understand, but that they won't understand! They "walk in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened ... because of the blindness of their heart." They don't want to believe in their hearts, therefore they seek an excuse not to believe in their minds. They are "men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith" (II Timothy 3:8). The sad truth is that Satan, himself, controls their minds. They may be ever so intelligent in secular matters, but the gospel, with all its comprehensive and beautiful simplicity, remains hidden to them. "If our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not" (II Corinthians 4:3,4). Is there a remedy? Yes. "For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ" (II Corinthians 10:4,5). In this verse, the word "thought" is the same as "mind." The weapons of truth, of prayer, of love, of the Spirit, can capture even such minds as these! HMM ________________________________________________________________________ March 29, Monday FRINGE ISSUES "And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient" (II Timothy 2:24). One of the plagues of modern-day Christendom is that many take up side issues and deem them all important--a point of separation between them and other Christians. Health foods, dress codes, and church constitutions are not unimportant, but Christians can hold different opinions and still be walking with God. Note the Scriptural admonitions: "Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace (i.e., primary issues); not with meats (i.e., fringe issues), which have not profited them that have been occupied therein" (Hebrews 13:9); "foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes" (II Timothy 2:23). On the other hand, there are many Scriptural commands to hold "fast the faithful word" (Titus 1:9); to "keep that which is committed to thy trust" (I Timothy 6:20). Many of these points of "sound doctrine" (Titus 1:9) are absolutely essential, such as the Deity of Christ, the authority of Scripture, salvation by grace, the resurrection of Christ, and many others clearly and specifically taught in Scripture. Perhaps the rule might be, if it's an essential doctrine, teach and defend it at all costs; if it's a secondary doctrine, teach it in "meekness" and love (II Timothy 2:25). But if it's a fringe issue, avoid strife over it, allowing brothers the freedom to enjoy their preferences. Is creationism a fringe issue? No! Few doctrines are so clearly taught in Scripture. Is it crucial to salvation? No! But it is essential to adequately understand the great, primary doctrines, for it is foundational to them all. Furthermore, it is the subject of origins which the enemy has identified as a major battleground, vowing to destroy Christianity over this issue. Here we must stand, if we are to guard our faith. JDM ________________________________________________________________________ March 30, Tuesday UNTO HIM THAT IS ABLE "Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy" (Jude 24). There are three wonderful doxologies in three New Testament epistles extolling the transcendent ability of God to accomplish and perfect our eternal salvation. One is our text above, assuring all who are "looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life" (Jude 21) that He is fully able to bring us joyfully into the presence of God in glory. Then, look at Ephesians 3:20: "Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us." Furthermore, His power is able to keep us forever. "Now to Him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began" (Romans 16:25). Little wonder that the apostles exhort us to praise such a wonderful God and Savior! But in addition to the three doxologies, the Word of God contains many other testimonies to the omnipotent ability of the Lord on behalf of His people. "He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day" (II Timothy 1:12). "He 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). "The Lord Jesus Christ: ... shall change our vile body, that it might be fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself" (Philippians 3:20,21). With such a Savior and Heavenly Father, we can join with Jude as he concludes his doxology: "To the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen" (Jude 25). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ March 31, Wednesday TRUE EDUCATION For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which He hath spoken of him" (Genesis 18:19). This is a very important verse, comprising the first direct reference in the Bible to what we today would call education, and it is given in connection with God's approving testimony concerning Abraham. Note that nothing is said concerning degrees or diplomas, the sciences or humanities, school buildings or textbooks. It does tell us that God's highest priority in the training of the young is that they learn to "keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment." Such instruction is the responsibility of the home, especially the father--not of the government or some educational association. It is to be given in the context of God's promises and plans (thus, in the context of divine revelation), and is to be framed in terms of "commands." This is also the teaching of the New Testament: "Fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4). The Bible never refers to "education," but there are many references to teaching, learning, and instruction. There are no references to teaching under the sponsorship of the government, however. As far as Biblical precepts and examples are concerned, teaching the young is strictly a function of the home and the church (this could, no doubt, include several homes and churches cooperating in the provision of advanced or specialized instruction). Most importantly, all instruction, in every subject, should be governed by Biblical criteria, for "all Scripture ... is profitable ... for instruction ... that the man of God may be perfect (i.e., `fully prepared')" (II Timothy 3:16,17) for the work God wants him to do. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ April 1, Thursday A HOLIDAY FOR ATHEISTS "The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity: there is none that doeth good" (Psalm 53:1). There are many religious holidays, and April 1 would be a good holiday for atheists, humanists, pantheists, and others who deny the reality of an omnipotent, personal Creator God. The Word of God has made it plain that such a faith is the faith of a fool (the Hebrew word, nabal, means both "stupid" and "wicked"). It is obvious that no one could ever prove atheism to be true, for it is impossible to prove a universal negative. In fact, there is such overwhelming evidence of designed order and complexity in the universe, especially in the marvelous structures of living organisms, that one must exercise an enormous amount of credulity to make himself believe that it all just happened! This is the New Testament testimony as well: "... they are without excuse: Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools" (Romans 1:20-23). Both ancient pagans and modern evolutionists have "changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature (same as `creation') more than the Creator" (Romans 1:25), and this is inexcusable. The anomaly is that they usually boast of such folly as "intellectual" and "scientific," when it is nothing but "abominable iniquity," as our text calls it. They insist that their viewpoint is alone suitable for the public schools, claiming that since creationism implies a Creator, it is necessarily religious, and therefore not scientific. But they have rejected God purely and simply because "they did not like to retain God in their knowledge" (Romans 1:28). Their knowledge, no matter how copious and complex, is foolishness, without God. "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction" (Proverbs 1:7). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ April 2, Friday HOW TO KEEP FROM FALLING "For thou hast delivered my soul from death: wilt not thou deliver my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of the living?" (Psalm 56:13). Once a person receives Christ as Savior, he must begin, then continue, in the Christian life. There will be many temptations along the way, however, as well as many pressures to recant, many sorrows, many difficulties. How is the "babe" in Christ to keep from stumbling and falling? The answer, of course, is that we are kept by the same grace that saved us in the first place! The Lord Jesus died to save us from eternal death in hell; surely we can "be saved by His life" from falling while living (Romans 5:10). Our beautiful text verse anticipates this great New Testament truth. If the Lord can deliver my soul from death, surely He can keep my feet from falling! Other wonderful verses in the Psalms give the same assurance. For example: "The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with His hand" (Psalm 37:24). It is important, of course, that each person professing faith in Christ be sure that his faith is real, founded on the true Jesus Christ as Creator, Redeemer and Lord, not a sentimental faith in "another Jesus, ... or another gospel" (II Corinthians 11:4). As Peter urges: "Give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall" (II Peter 1:10). And then, in the last words of the New Testament before the book of Revelation, we are directed again to Christ. "Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen" (Jude 24,25). What a blessed assurance is this! HMM ________________________________________________________________________ April 3, Saturday FAINTING "When my soul fainted within me I remembered the LORD" (Jonah 2:7). Faint: to be weary, become weak, be consumed, be feeble! Such are the characteristics of those who faint. Certainly God has something far better for the Christian than fainting. Please note the negative side to fainting: (1) Don't faint in the matter of prayer. "And He spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint" (Luke 18:1). In other words, be persistent. (2) Don't faint when being rebuked by the Lord. "My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of Him" (Hebrews 12:5). Our heavenly Father's rebukes are good for us who are the sons of God. (3) Don't faint when serving. "And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not" (Galatians 6:9). The commendation to the church at Ephesus was, "For my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted" (Revelation 2:3). Next, note the positive side to fainting: (1) Remember God's goodness and mercy. "I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living" (Psalm 27:13). "Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not" (II Corinthians 4:1). (2) Remember God's strength. "But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint" (Isaiah 40:31). (3) Remember that God never faints. "Hast thou not known? Hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? ... He giveth power to the faint" (Isaiah 40:28,29). NPS ________________________________________________________________________ April 4, Sunday HOSANNA "And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest" (Matthew 21:9). This was the shout of the throngs as Jesus entered Jerusalem for His last week of public ministry. Even though the multitudes were shouting His adoration, these were the same throngs that would be calling for His crucifixion just a few days later. Nevertheless, as they welcomed Him into Jerusalem that day, little did they know that they were fulfilling an ancient prophecy: "Save now, I beseech thee, O LORD: ... Blessed be He that cometh in the name of the LORD" (Psalm 118:25,26), they cried. This psalm is one of the Messianic psalms, and the plea, "Save now, I beseech thee, O LORD," is essentially the meaning of "Hosanna." The crowds were acknowledging Jesus as the promised Messiah, the Son of David, and the "chief priests and scribes ... were sore displeased" at this (Matthew 21:15). But this also had been predicted in the psalm: "The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner. This is the Lord's doing; it is marvelous in our eyes" (Psalm 118:22,23). As a result of this repudiation by these leaders of His people, the Lord wept over Jerusalem and was forced to prophesy its coming judgment, quoting once again this ancient prophecy: "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, ... Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord" (Matthew 23:37-39). One day He will, indeed, be made the great "head stone of the corner," and all His people will acknowledge Him. In the meantime, the prayer of the prophecy is appropriate for each unsaved person to pray today: "Save now, O LORD." HMM ________________________________________________________________________ April 5, Monday TO BE OR NOT TO BE 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 verb "to be," in its various forms and tenses, enjoys wide usage throughout Scripture. Verses employing it, as it relates to us, contain many of the greatest and most precious truths. Consider the following sampling: Past Tense: "While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). "When we were enemies, we were reconciled to God" (v.10). "You hath He quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins" (Ephesians 2:1). "You, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath He reconciled" (Colossians 1:21). Present Tense: "Blessed are they whose iniquities are for- given" (Romans 4:7). "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God?" (I Corinthians 3:16). "Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation" (I Peter 1:5). "By the grace of God I am what I am" (I Corinthians 15:10). "Beloved, now are we the sons of God" (I John 3:2). "For in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in Him" (Colossians 2:9,10). Note also our text verse. Future Tense: "It doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is" (I John 3:2). "Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord" (I Thessalonians 4:17). "And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and His servants shall serve Him: And they shall see His face; and His name shall be in their foreheads. ... And they shall reign forever and ever" (Revelation 22:3-5). JDM ________________________________________________________________________ April 6, Tuesday REDEEMED! "Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot" (I Peter 1:18,19). How glibly we use the terms redeemed, redemption, and ransom. But what do they mean, and more importantly, what did Christ's act of redemption mean? Three Greek words and their derivations are used in the New Testament to denote various aspects of this truth. In our text, "redeemed" comes from the Greek word lutroo, which means to set free, to buy back, or to ransom. Christ's innocent blood, sacrificed for us, bought us back. "By His own blood He entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us" (Hebrews 9:12). But redeemed from what or from where? From slavery to sin. Jesus taught, "Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin" (John 8:34). Thankfully, "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law" (Galatians 3:13). The Greek word used here is exagorazo meaning to buy up, to ransom from the market place (i.e., agora), which could be called "the slave market of sin." He ransomed us, He redeemed us, from the horrors of slavery to sin by His death on the cross. The final root word is apolutrosis, which means "to ransom in full." He has paid the full penalty! Nothing more need be paid or done! Indeed, "It is finished" (John 19:30), He said as He died. In Him, and in Him alone "we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace" (Ephesians 1:7). Each of us needs to appropriate His plan, "for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus" (Romans 3:23,24). JDM ________________________________________________________________________ April 7, Wednesday OUR SINS "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all" (Isaiah 53:6). As Christ hung on the cross, the Jewish leaders felt that He was guilty of blasphemy--a mere man, claiming to be God. In short, they felt that He was dying for His own sins. Their tragic misconceptions, however, were predicted centuries before, as recorded in the treasured 53rd chapter of Isaiah. "We hid as it were our faces from Him; He was despised, and we esteemed Him not. ... We did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted" (vs.3,4). But not so! God did not punish Him for His sins, but for ours. "He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities" (v.5). "For the transgression of my people was He stricken" (v.8). The penalty for sin has always been death, and even though "He had done no violence, neither was any deceit in His mouth. Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him" (vs.9,10). He was the perfect "offering for sin" (v.10) and "He bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors" (v.12). Justice has been served! "He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied: by His knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many" (v.11). Furthermore, through His death, even our griefs have been borne and our sorrows carried (v.4). In addition to all this, our peace has been gained through His chastisement and our healing has been accomplished with His stripes (v.5). Such considerations can drive us only to the most complete prostration of wonder and amazement. Necessitated because "all we like sheep have gone astray," God's justice has been satisfied, because Christ, in love, has taken upon Himself "the iniquity of us all." As in the hymn: "Love so amazing, so divine, demands my life, my soul, my all." JDM ________________________________________________________________________ April 8, Thursday UNDER SIN "But the Scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe" (Galatians 3:22). The Scriptural doctrine of total depravity does not mean that an individual can do nothing good or moral (at least from man's perspective). Even an unsaved person can be honest, devoted to his family, working for decency in his community and performing all sorts of humanitarian deeds. But the Bible says that in God's eyes, we are totally "under sin," and there is nothing an individual can do to alter this tragic situation. Perhaps comparing the terms "bad" versus "bad off" helps put it in focus. To be sure, much of what mankind practices is hideously wicked, and even our good deeds "are as filthy rags" (Isaiah 64:6), in God's estimation. Evolutionary humanists may tell us we are getting better, but the Creator tells us we are desperately evil, with no hope outside of His plan. There are several aspects of our sin in God's Word. First, there is personal sin: "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). No one can argue that he does not practice sin. Next, we all desire sin. This internal nature plagued even the godly men of Scripture (Romans 7:25). The fruits of this nature are sin and death, with an apt description of the attendant evils listed in Galatians 5:19-21, and elsewhere. Finally, we have inherited sin through Adam: "Wherefore, as 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). The natural man is spiritually dead, and physically dying, without Christ. "By grace are ye saved through faith" in the substitutionary nature of His payment for sin, "not of works," for we are incapable in our natural state of good works (Ephesians 2:8,9). JDM ________________________________________________________________________ April 9, Friday TWELVE LEGIONS OF ANGELS "Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and He shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?" (Matthew 26:53). In I Chronicles 27:1-15, David assembled twelve "courses" (i.e., legions) of fighting men to protect him at all times. Each of those "legions" would serve him one month out of the year when the nation was at peace, but presumably all would have reported for duty in time of war. Since each contained 24,000 warriors, they combined to form an immense personal army of bodyguards numbering 288,000. By contrast, Christ, David's greater Son, had at His command "more than twelve legions of angels." These were not mere soldiers, as those guarding David; these were angels. Let us consider the power of just one angel in the days of King Hezekiah. "And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the LORD went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses" (II Kings 19:35). Simple multiplication shows that 288,000 such angels could handle 53 billion soldiers! And Christ had access to more angels than that! Humanly speaking, Christ did not have to submit to brutality and death. But Christ was not only human; He was also the offended but loving God who had come to redeem His own. "The Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (Revelation 13:8) had "come to do Thy will, O God. ... By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all" (Hebrews 10:9,10). "He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed" (Isaiah 53:5). "All this was done, that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled" (Matthew 26:56). JDM ________________________________________________________________________ April 10, Saturday THE ALABASTER BOX "And being in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as He sat at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious; and she brake the box, and poured it on His head" (Mark 14:3). This unusual incident is reported also by Matthew and John, who says the woman was Mary of Bethany, sister of Lazarus and Martha. John says that she also "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). This is a remarkable story of devotion and, as Jesus prophesied, "wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her" (Matthew 26:13). At present-day prices, the lovely container and its aromatic contents would be worth at least several hundred dollars. Yet Mary gladly broke her alabaster box (so it could never be used again) and poured its costly perfume over her Lord, from His head to His feet, thus anointing His whole body. Then, as the ointment ran down to His feet, she wiped them clean with her long hair. The disciples were shocked at this seeming waste, but "Jesus said, Let her alone. ... She hath done what she could: she is come aforehand to anoint my body to the burying" (Mark 14:6,8). Little did they know (still less did Mary know!) that in just one week His battered body would be laid in a grave, anointed with myrrh instead of spikenard, and wrapped in burial linens instead of Mary's hair. But Jesus knew, and Mary had "done what she could" to show the reality of her love for her Lord. It had cost her dearly--not only in material possessions, but also in sacrifice of all pride and self-esteem, and the Lord was honored. "She hath wrought a good work upon me," He said (Matthew 26:10), and that's what counts. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ April 11, Sunday HE IS RISEN, AS HE SAID "He is not here: for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay" (Matthew 28:6). Christ frequently predicted His coming death, but never did He predict His death without also predicting that He would rise from the dead (i.e., Matthew 17:22,23). His persecutors even knew of this prediction and attempted to prohibit it by placing guards at the tomb (Matthew 27:63-66). That He died should come as no surprise. Everyone dies, and Christ had been hounded by death. Herod had tried to kill Him as a baby (Matthew 2:16). Satan tried to convince Him to jump from a high place (Matthew 4:6). The people of Nazareth attempted to throw Him over a cliff (Luke 4:29). The Pharisees, for some time, had sought to kill Him. Jesus had come to die, but His death had to be a specific death. He was "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (Revelation 13:8). The will of the Father, which He had come to do, included not only His sacrificial death but His resurrection as well, to gain the victory over hell and death (Revelation 1:18). When the time came He did die, bearing our sins on the cross. And as our text tells us, He arose from the dead just as He said He would. The resurrection cannot be over emphasized. We have no assurance of His deity, nor forgiveness of sins, nor eternal life apart from His resurrection. "If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins" (I Corinthians 15:17). The enemies of the cross know this. They still seek to destroy the young child, denying His incarnation and virgin birth. Priests and politicians still crucify the Lord and set guards over His grave, declaring Him to be dead. But, as we see in our text, "He is risen, as He said." By this fact, we can be assured that it is the skeptics and the detractors who are on trial. They either will come to the cross for salvation or be cast by it into eternal darkness. JDM ________________________________________________________________________ April 12, Monday SCRIPTURAL SOUL-WINNING "Of His own will begat He us with the Word of Truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures" (James 1:18). Scriptural soul-winning is soul-winning based on the Scriptures, and accomplished by using the Scriptures. The "Word of Truth" is the means by which the Lord brings about the miracle of regeneration. This is also the testimony of the apostle Peter: "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever" (I Peter 1:23). "The seed is the Word of God" (Luke 8:11) which, when properly sown and watered in good ground, will bring forth the fruit of salvation. One must "Receive with meekness the engrafted Word, which is able to save your souls" (James 1:21). The Lord Jesus has said: "He that heareth My Word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life" (John 5:24). And, "Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life" (John 5:39). It is only in the written Word that we learn of the living Word, without whom "was not any thing made that was made" (John 1:3), and who "was made flesh, and dwelt among us" (John 1:14). He is "the Word of life," and "these things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God" says the apostle John, "that ye may know that ye have eternal life" (I John 1:1; 5:13). It may be that no two people ever come to faith in exactly the same way, but one thing is always essential: "Of His own will begat He us with the Word of Truth" (text verse). If we would win others to Christ, we must believe and live and use the Holy Scriptures, for only they can make one "wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus" (II Timothy 3:15). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ April 13, Tuesday RENOVATION FOR GOD "Then the men of the city said unto Joash, Bring out thy son, that he may die: because he hath cast down the altar of Baal, and because he hath cut down the grove that was by it" (Judges 6:30). The Lord had given Gideon instruction to throw down the altar of Baal which his father, Joash, had built, and to cut down the sacred grove that stood by the altar (v.25). Further, he was to build an altar unto the true God in Baal's place, sacrifice a bullock, and burn the sacrifice on the altar, using the wood from the grove. Gideon took ten servants and accomplished the task by night, because he feared the men of his father's household and the men of that city. In the morning after the deed was done, it was learned that Gideon led the foray and determined that he should die for what he had done. But his father spoke up and said in effect, "Do you need to plead for Baal? Can't he plead for himself as a god?" This stance offset the pressure of the people and led to a renaming of Gideon to Jerubbaal-- "Let Baal plead against him" (v.32). Frequently there are important changes that need to take place in our lives--ones for our own good. Yet we have altars that stand for former behavior of which we can't seem to let go. It takes a champion of right to see clearly the need for change and get it started. People of God-- exhorters--come our way, and in frank statements or behavior help us make the transition. In Gideon's case, it was the angel of God (v.20). First, the altars have to come down. We must focus on the primary issue that has taken us away from God's presence. Remove it, once and for all! Tear it down! Construct a pattern of behavior in the place of the old, to assure that our course has been reset. We then should look around at what helped us stray far from God, and burn them up as a sacrifice to the permanency of the event. KBC ________________________________________________________________________ April 14, Wednesday ORIGIN OF THE RACES "These are the families of the sons of Noah, after their generations, in their nations: and by these were the nations divided in the earth after the flood" (Genesis 10:32). This is the concluding verse of the tenth chapter of Genesis, known as "The Table of Nations." It tells us that all the original nations of the world were formed from the descendants of Noah. The basis of this worldwide division was their dispersion at Babel (Genesis 11:9), "every one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations" (Genesis 10:5; see also 10:20 and 10:31). Lest anyone think this list of original nations is simply folklore, he should remember that William F. Albright, probably the greatest archaeologist of the 20th century, called it "an astonishingly accurate document." Many ethnologists still speak of Japhetic, Hamitic, and Semitic peoples and languages. But what about the origin of races? One searches the Bible in vain for this information, for neither the word nor the concept of "race" appears in the Bible at all! There is no such thing as a race--except the human race! Skin color and other supposed racial characteristics are mere recombinations of innate genetic factors, originally created in Adam and Eve to permit development of different family characteristics as the human race was commanded to multiply and fill the earth (Genesis 1:28; 9:1). "Race" is strictly an evolutionary concept, used by Darwin, Huxley, Haeckel, and the other 19th-century evolutionists to rationalize their white racism. But from the beginning, it was not so! "God that made the world and all things therein; ... hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth" (Acts 17:24,26). "Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us? why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother?" (Malachi 3:10). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ April 15, Thursday OG, KING OF BASHAN "And Og the king of Bashan: for His mercy endureth for ever" (Psalm 136:20). The Lord Jesus likely meditated on and sang Psalm 136 during His earthly walk. It praises God for great wonders (v.4)--wonders of creation (vs.5-9), and wonders of redemption and deliverance (vs.10-24). Christ, Creator and Redeemer both, certainly could have related to these truths. But how might He have related to Og? This ancient king apparently was huge. His bed was made "of iron ... nine cubits" in length (Deuteronomy 3:11). This is about 13 feet long! It was a great victory for God's people when this enemy was defeated. Jesus knew that He had come to confront an enemy much stronger than Og. He met Satan in the wilderness (Matthew 4:3 ff.) and said of him, "No man can enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man; and then he will spoil his house" (Mark 3:27). Jesus knew that He had entered hostile territory (Satan's house) with the purpose of binding Satan and delivering people "from the power of darkness" to His own kingdom (Colossians 1:13). Jesus, God's "strong hand" and "stretched out arm" (Psalm 136:12), came to confront evil to the core and win. For a time it seemed that Satan was winning. The bed, a "sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid" (John 19:41), was for Jesus--not Satan. But the second part of our text reminds us of God's "mercy" which endures forever. God's wrath against evil fell squarely on Christ, but the Psalm reminds us over and over again that "His mercy endureth for ever." Justice was met at Calvary, but a few days later the Father raised His Son in mercy from death's bed. Together, Father and Son impart mercy "for ever" on the elect, through the agency of the Holy Spirit. PGH ________________________________________________________________________ April 16, Friday SCIENCE--TRUE AND FALSE "And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil" (Genesis 2:9). It is significant that the first reference to "science" in the Bible is in connection with the tree of the "science" of good and evil. The English word "science" comes from the Latin scientia, meaning "knowledge." In both Old and New Testaments, "science" and "knowledge" translate the same Greek and Hebrew words respectively. Science-- properly speaking--is what we know, not naturalistic speculation (as in evolutionary "science"). Adam and Eve knew a great deal about God and His creation, and all of it was "very good" (Genesis 1:31); they did not need to have a knowledge of evil, and God warned them against it (2:17). But they partook of the evil tree anyway, and therewith evil knowledge entered the hearts and minds of mankind. Throughout the long ages since, true science has been of great good in the world and false science has wrought great harm. The apostle Paul has warned us against it: "Keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called" (I Timothy 6:20). In the context of the times, Paul was specifically warning against the evolutionary pantheism of the gnostic philosophers. In contrast, the final, climactic reference in the Bible to knowledge is Peter's exhortation to "grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (II Peter 3:18). "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge" (Proverbs 1:7), and in Jesus Christ "are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Colossians 2:3). Therefore, let us resolve to eschew the knowledge of evil and grow in the knowledge of Christ! HMM ________________________________________________________________________ April 17, Saturday LOVING HIS APPEARING "Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing" (II Timothy 4:8). It is fascinating to learn that the Lord has a special reward for all those who "love His appearing." The word "appearing" (Greek epiphaneia) can refer to either the first or second advent of Christ, depending on the context. Paul urges us to be "looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:13). For "the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ ... hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light" (II Timothy 1:10). Our text for the day obviously refers to His second coming "at that day," exhorting us not only to look for, but to love His appearing! At that great day, "the Lord, the righteous judge" will award to those who have loved His appearing a special crown of righteousness. We have already received the imputed "gift of righteousness" (Romans 5:17) by His grace, and have been "made the righteousness of God in Him" (II Corinthians 5:21), so this crown of righteousness somehow must be (as a wreath encircling the head of a victor in a race) an enveloping glow of divine appreciation for a godly life lived in daily anticipation of the Lord's return. The apostle John beautifully expressed the way in which such a life, loving Christ's coming, produces a growing righteousness now and perfected righteousness then. "And now, little children, abide in Him; that, when He shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before Him at His coming. ... We know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as He is pure" (I John 2:28; 3:2,3). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ April 18, Sunday LIFE IN THE BLOOD "For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul" (Leviticus 17:11). This great verse contains a wealth of scientific and spiritual truth. It was not realized until the discovery of the circulation of the blood by the creationist scientist William Harvey, in about 1620, that biological "life" really is maintained by the blood, which both brings nourishment to all parts of the body and also carries away its wastes. Its spiritual truth is even more significant. The blood, when shed on the altar, would serve as an "atonement" (literally, "covering") for the soul of the guilty sinner making the offering. In fact, the "life" of the flesh is actually its "soul," for "life" and "soul" both translate the same Hebrew word (nephesh) in this text. When the blood was offered, it was thus an offering of life itself, in substitution for the life of the sinner who deserved to die. Human sacrifices, of course, were prohibited. No man could die for another man, for his blood would inevitably be contaminated by his own sin. Therefore, the blood of a "clean animal" was required. Animals do not possess the "image of God" (Genesis 1:27), including the ability to reason about right and wrong, and therefore cannot sin. Even such clean blood could only serve as a temporary covering, and it could not really "take away" sin. For a permanent solution to the sin problem, nothing less was required than that of the sinless "Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). "Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood He entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us" (Hebrews 9:12). Since His life was in His blood, He has "made peace through the blood of His cross" (Colossians 1:20). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ April 19, Monday AN HONEST WITNESS "For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward" (II Corinthians 1:12). Who is the modern man, being torn apart by criticism, that could write, "In good conscience I gladly testify that in all my life and relationship with you, I have acted sincerely, frankly, simply, purely, and in holiness? I have not depended on my own skills or intellect, but on God's power that He gives me by His grace." Yet this is what Paul could say, in all honesty. He left no room for duplicity or bragging about one aspect of his life while hiding another. Certainly the man who penned these words to the people at Corinth lived in a time and place where it was no more socially acceptable to be a Christian than it is for us today. In fact, in his day, and in the Jewish culture in particular, but also among the Romans, one could experience wretched persecution and even death for such activities and testimonies. Yet his example urges us to allow one goal--holiness, to rule our existence--to pervade every relationship. His life shines as a model for us to emulate, even when we are tempted to be embarrassed by our Christian stand. We clearly can hear the call to have a singular mind, without hidden attitudes or complicated explanations. No duplicity! Living such a pure life, simply, openly, and frankly before others, answers Christ's call for holiness. How can we live such a life? Only by the power given to us by God's grace. The same power and grace that the apostle Paul had learned to appropriate will flow from Heaven to us who determine to live, always and everywhere, the frank and sincere life of holiness. KLB ________________________________________________________________________ April 20, Tuesday THE TRINITY IN EPHESIANS "There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all" (Ephesians 4:4-6). Paul's letter to the church at Ephesus is surely one of the most profoundly doctrinal--yet intensely practical--books of the Bible, and it is not surprising that the doctrine of the Triune God breaks into his message so frequently. For example, note Ephesians 2:18: "For through (Christ) we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father." More often, however, it appears not in a succinct formula like this, but rather in inter-connected references to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, always implying that each is deity, but never that they are three different "gods." Paul prayed that "the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him" (Ephesians 1:17). He also prayed "unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, ... that He would grant you, ... to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith" (Ephesians 3:14,16,17). Thus the believer is "filled with all the fulness of God" (v.19). We are exhorted to "grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, ... even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you" (Ephesians 4:30,32). And "be filled with the Spirit; ... Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Ephesians 5:18,20). There are others, but note especially our text, speaking of our unity in Him and His tri-unity in us. "There is ... one Spirit ... ; One Lord, ... One God and Father of all, who is above all [i.e., the Father], and through all [the Son], and in you all [the Spirit]." All this is a magnificent mystery, but a wonderful reality! HMM ________________________________________________________________________ April 21, Wednesday WATCHFUL SOBRIETY "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour" (I Peter 5:8). Several words are used in Scripture to imply spiritual watchfulness, and each has a slightly different meaning. Only as we compare and combine these words do we get the full force of the Scripture exhortations to watchfulness. One such word is the Greek word agrupneo, translated "watch." In Mark 13:33 we read, "Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is." The word literally means to be sleepless, and comes from two Greek words meaning "to chase," and "sleep." It implies a purposeful and active state of awareness. More commonly used is gregoreo. It is a stronger word, meaning to arouse oneself and shake off lethargy, implying activity as on the part of one who is fully awake. "Watch ye, stand fast in the faith" (I Corinthians 16:13), and "Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving" (Colossians 4:2). "Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh" (Mark 13:35). A third word is nepho, which literally means to abstain from drink which would produce stupor, as well as sleep, and therefore conveys the additional idea of sobriety. By combining the teaching of these three words, we are instructed not only to keep awake but to keep active, and to avoid the intoxication of this world's seductive pleasures. In our text, we see that we are not only to be sober (nepho), and vigilant (gregoreo), but we also see the reason why. Our "adversary the devil" is a vicious opponent. He stalks us both day and night with brutal cunning. We dare not underestimate him by figuratively closing our eyes in sleep or dulling our senses with intoxicants. "Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober" (I Peter 1:13). JDM ________________________________________________________________________ April 22, Thursday JOTS AND TITTLES "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness" (II Timothy 3:16). Concerning Scripture, Christ taught that every "jot and tittle" (i.e., even portions of letters, not to mention words and phrases) was inspired and would last forever. In many portions of Scripture, the teaching rests on a seemingly rather insignificant component of a word or phrase. For example, consider the phrase "yet once more" in Hebrews 12:26, quoting Haggai 2:6. We see, in verse 27, that the argument requiring a coming judgment on all of creation hinges on it pointing back to a similar judgment in the past. Similarly, in Galatians 4:9, we see Paul couching his comments to the Galatian believers, who had returned to a legalistic system, in a question which turned on the active voice of a verb, rather than passive. We have not only "known God," but "are known of God." In John 8:58, a clever use of verb tense was made--"before Abraham was, I am," thereby asserting Christ's deity. Note also, in John 10:34-36, how Christ cleverly used the mood of a verb while quoting from Psalm 82:6 in order to defuse the charge of blasphemy leveled against Him. Paul's argument, in Galatians 3:16, based on a quotation from Genesis 22:17,18, shows how even the singular or plural form of a word is equally inspired. Consider Christ's answer to the Sadducees who denied personal resurrection, when He said, "I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. God is not the God of the dead, but of the living" (Matthew 22:32). Christ is their God; not simply was, "and when the multitude heard this, they were astonished at His doctrine" (v.33). "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable." Let us handle Scripture with the same care, and love it with the same fervency as did Christ and the apostles. JDM ________________________________________________________________________ April 23, Friday DIVINE LOGISTICS "And Asa cried unto the LORD his God, and said, LORD, it is nothing with thee to help, whether with many, or with them that have no power: help us, O LORD our God; for we rest on thee, and in thy name we go against this multitude. O LORD, thou art our God; let not man prevail against thee" (II Chronicles 14:11). Asa was one of the better kings of Judah (great-grandson of Solomon), and his prayer is a beautiful model of how a servant of God can pray when all the human odds are against him. Asa's army consisted of 580,000 foot-soldiers, whereas the invading Ethiopians had a million-man army, with 300 chariots. Yet "the LORD smote the Ethiopians before Asa" (II Chronicles 14:8,9,12), and his prayer prevailed. The Bible has many such examples: Abraham (Genesis 14:1-16); Gideon (Judges 7:7; 8:10); King Hezekiah (II Kings 19:14-19,35). Before King Saul gained a great victory over the hordes of the Philistines, it was the courageous testimony of Jonathan, his son, that led the way. "It may be that the LORD will work for us," he had said, "for there is no restraint to the LORD to save by many or by few" (I Samuel 14:6). Later, David won many battles against all odds, including his personal victory over Goliath (I Samuel 17:40-49). The servants of the Lord do not need a majority to prevail in the battle against sin and Satan, for "if God be for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31). That is the key, of course. We must not beseech the Lord to fight on our side. He will be for us, if we are first on His side! This was the message of the prophet Azariah to the godly King Asa: "The LORD is with you, while ye be with Him; and if ye seek Him, He will be found of you; but if ye forsake Him, He will forsake you" (II Chronicles 15:2). Political power, military might, financial resources --all are futile. "Our help is in the name of the LORD" (Psalm 124:8). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ April 24, Saturday THOSE WHO PASS BY "Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, which is done unto me, wherewith the LORD hath afflicted me in the day of His fierce anger" (Lamentations 1:12). This heartbroken lament, uttered by Jeremiah, the "weeping prophet," personifies the devastated city of Jerusalem after the Babylonian invasion. She who had been "beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, ... the city of the great King" (Psalm 48:2), now lay in ruins, and neither the triumphant armies who had ravished her nor the careless peoples living around her cared at all that this was the city of God being chastised for her unfaithfulness. Many Christians have, at times, felt alone and confused, longing for someone who would care, saying with the psalmist: "There was no man that would know me: refuge failed me; no man cared for my soul" (Psalm 142:4). But no one has ever been so alone or has suffered so intensely and so unjustly as the one who was the very "Man of Sorrows" (Isaiah 53:3). He was "smitten of God, and afflicted" in the day of God's fierce anger, for "the LORD hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all" (Isaiah 53:4,6). Just as there were those who passed by suffering Jerusalem, some gloating and others unconcerned, so there were those who passed by and viewed the suffering Savior as He hung on the cross. "And they that passed by reviled Him, wagging their heads" (Matthew 27:39). There are multitudes who still pass Him by today. Some revile Him; many ignore Him, altogether uncaring that He loved them and even died to save them. Soon, however, "every eye shall see Him, ... and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him" (Revelation 1:7). Their indifference will be turned quickly into mourning, in that day. "Is it nothing to you?" the Lord would ask. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ April 25, Sunday KEEPING AND AVOIDING "O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called" (I Timothy 6:20). Note that there are contained here both positive and negative charges. Timothy, Paul's son in the faith, is instructed to keep certain things and avoid others. The word "keep" is a military word which might better be translated "guard." The word "avoid" implies more than merely refraining from contact. It has to do, instead, with actively and deliberately turning away from something. Timothy is to guard that which has been committed into his care--by inference, something quite valuable--the complete gospel of Jesus Christ. "Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost" (II Timothy 1:13,14). Paul knew, however, that in order to guard the truth, Timothy must actively avoid the false, and lists three specific potential pitfalls. The first is profane babbling, i.e., any of those conversations and arguments which are of a worldly, ungodly, unclean nature. Next, he is to avoid vain, empty, hollow arguments. Elsewhere, Paul teaches "shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness" (II Timothy 2:16). Lastly, he is to avoid the opposing arguments of false science, or knowledge. Human wisdom, found to be contrary to the wisdom of God, may be called knowledge by some, but if so, it is "falsely so called." Even "some professing (Christians) have erred concerning the faith" (v.21). Paul closes with the benediction, "grace be with thee." The word "thee" is in the plural form. May we all enjoy God's grace as we attempt to keep the true, avoid the false, and discern the difference. JDM ________________________________________________________________________ April 26, Monday SEVEN THREE SIXTEENS "Unto the woman He said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow shalt thou bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee" (Genesis 3:16). This prophetic divine judgment on "the woman," required because of Eve's disobedience to the Word of God, is the first of the Bible's "three-sixteens." In contrast, note the promised blessing in the last three-sixteen of the Old Testament: "Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon His name" (Malachi 3:16). But look also at some of the three-sixteens of the New Testament. "And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory" (I Timothy 3:16). Then, how about II Timothy 3:16! "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness." From the inspired Word, we are soon led to seek the indwelling Word. "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord" (Colossians 3:16). This truth also implies the indwelling Holy Spirit. "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" (I Corinthians 3:16). But when Christians hear the words "three sixteen," most all of us think immediately of these glorious words: "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ April 27, Tuesday ITALIANS AND ISRAELITES "Salute all them that have the rule over you, and all the saints. They of Italy salute you" (Hebrews 13:24). The unknown author of the book of Hebrews (possibly the apostle Paul) was apparently writing from Italy, and thus could send a brotherly greeting from the Christians there to their fellow believers in Israel. The significant thing about this is that the members of the sending church were probably all Gentiles; in the receiving church they were all Jews. The apostle Paul, once a "Hebrew of the Hebrews" (Philippians 3:5), detesting those outside the nation, had been transformed by the redeeming love of Christ into "the apostle of the Gentiles" (Romans 11:13). It was necessary that the gospel be preached "to the Jew first" (Romans 1:16) and then "unto the uttermost part of the earth" (Acts 1:8). Although the first Christians, including the apostles and those to whom the book of Hebrews was written, were all Jews, it was not long before "they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness," refused to submit "themselves unto the righteousness of God" (Romans 10:3), and returned to their ways of legalism. Thus, "blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in" (Romans 11:25). In the meantime, through Christ, both Jews and Gentiles "have access by one Spirit unto the Father" (Ephesians 2:18), for He "hath made both one" (Ephesians 2:14). Our text gives us a beautiful cameo of this new fellowship. Jewish Christians had gone all the way to Rome with the gospel and had won many of the Gentiles to their Christ. Now "they of Italy," in turn, were saluting their new-found Jewish brethren, and encouraging them, through the apostolic writer who knew them all, to "hold fast the profession of (their) faith without wavering" (Hebrews 10:23). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ April 28, Wednesday OBEDIENCE AND RIGHTEOUSNESS "For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous" (Romans 5:19). Certainly the focal point of all history and the climax of Christ's earthly ministry was His sacrificial death on the cross. Christ knew from ages past what was in store for Him, and yet He was "obedient unto death, even the death of the cross" (Philippians 2:8). However, as we see in our text, Christ's obedience included more than His death, for He was perfectly obedient throughout His entire life. Indeed, it is a good thing, for any act of disobedience would have invalidated His sacrificial death. Animal sacrifices in the Old Testament, which prefigured the final sacrifice of Christ, had to be "without blemish" (Leviticus 22:19). But even a perfect animal was not enough (Hebrews 10:4) to satisfy God's justice and take away sins. "Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things; ... but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot" (I Peter 1:18,19). Christ's obedience, therefore, consisted not only of His obedience in death, but in His entire earthly life--from His incarnation, "I come ... to do thy will, O God" (Hebrews 10:7)--to His childhood, "(Know) ye not that I must be about my Father's business?" (Luke 2:49)--to His healing and teaching ministry among the people, "I must work the works of Him that sent me" (John 9:4)--to His preparation for death, "nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done" (Luke 22:42). Now, in His obedience, Christ calls us to a life of similar obedience. "Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered; And being made perfect, He became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him" (Hebrews 5:8,9). JDM ________________________________________________________________________ April 29, Thursday FULL "Then Abraham gave up the ghost, and died in a good old age, an old man, and full of years: and was gathered to his people" (Genesis 25:8). With the words of our text, Abraham ended a life of faith, having walked in such close fellowship with God that "he was called the Friend of God" (James 2:23). But when he died, 175 years old, his standing in the world, from human perspective, might not seem to have warranted his nomadic life of sacrifice and faith. He had sojourned in the land given to him by covenant, but he had not taken possession of it in any real sense. Although he had gained a measure of worldly possessions (Genesis 13:2), he had evidently given up a stable and satisfying life of luxury among his people to follow God into the land of promise. Once there, his nephew, Lot, had deserted him, taking the fertile land as his own (13:10,11). Abraham had seen war (Chapter 14), famine (12:10), compromise (12:13; 20:2), fighting between his two wives, and had not had children until his old age (Chapters 16 and 21), had lived with poor relations with his neighbors (Chapter 20), and had eventually lost his dear wife, Sarah (23:2). But yet, when Abraham died, Scripture says he died completely satisfied, the literal meaning of the word "full" in our text (the words "of years" improperly added by translators). He had learned to measure time by eternity; to weigh the value of earthly things by the Spirit. "For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God" (Hebrews 11:10). He had "believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness" (Romans 4:3). The fullness of Abraham was that of a wealth which death could not touch. The seeming fullness of those who walk by sight, and not by faith, is emptied in death. Men and women of faith carry their fullness with them. When the time comes, may we all die as Abraham died--full. JDM ________________________________________________________________________ April 20, Friday CONTINUE "But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them" (II Timothy 3:14). This encouraging exhortation by the apostle Paul is in the midst of a most discouraging prophetic warning of things to come. "In the last days," he said, "perilous times shall come" (v.1). We may very well be entering those very times, and, in any case, we do well to be alert for the signs of those times. The doleful description that follows seems to be a very accurate picture of the beliefs and practices of modern secular humanists, including those religionists who have "a form of godliness," but deny "the power thereof" (v.5). Furthermore, there is little prospect that the situation will get better, for "evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived," and "all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution" (vs.13,12). Should we, therefore, tremble and flee, or perhaps compromise, or even surrender to such powerful and persuasive deceivers? No, we should continue! Just keep on believing and obeying God's Word. Even in the dark last days, the "Holy Scriptures" are still able to make a man "wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus" (v.15). Since they are all "given by inspiration of God," they are still just as powerful and just as profitable for every need, "that the man of God may be perfect" (that is, ready for whatever comes) and fully equipped "unto all good works" (vs.16,17). Paul, himself, set an inspiring example of "patient continuance in well doing" (Romans 2:7) under conditions of great trial. Awaiting execution in a Roman dungeon even as he wrote, he still requested his books and parchments (II Timothy 4:13), that he might continue to study and prepare himself. May God enable us, also, to continue, to remain, to abide, to stand, in His truth, in these last days. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ May 1, Saturday TEACHING CHILDREN "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6). This verse does not mean that if parents teach their children the Biblical way they will eventually return to the fold even if they wander away for many years. And certainly it does not encourage the modern pedagogical practice of giving them full freedom to do as they please. Incidentally, modern educators often mis-define the term "education," claiming that it comes from the Latin educere, meaning to "draw out" or "educe." On this basis, they assume that the function of education is to "draw out" the child, letting children express themselves freely in whatever way they wish. The fact is, however, that it comes from another Latin word, educare, which is quite different in meaning. Educare means, literally, "to bring up a child," and this meaning is probably what the King James translators had in mind when they translated the Hebrew of our text. Older dictionaries make this plain. Webster's 1892 Dictionary, just a hundred years ago, defined "educate" as follows: "To bring up (a child); to instruct; to teach; to train; to rear; to discipline." As a matter of fact, however, not even this connotation yields the full meaning of the verse. The Hebrew word for "train up" actually means "consecrate" or "dedicate." The phrase "his way" means the way belonging to him--that is, the way ordained for him by God when He created him. Thus the child's parents should not try to impose their ambitions on the child, but try--through prayer, the Word, and Spirit-led discernment --to help him find and follow God's will for his life. As Hannah did Samuel (I Samuel 1:11,28), they should dedicate him to the Lord, lead him to the Lord, and then help him follow the will of the Lord. In this way is his true happiness and he will follow it all his life. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ May 2, Sunday EVERLASTING LOVE "The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee" (Jeremiah 31:3). Perhaps no doctrine in Scripture is as clearly stated as that expressed in our text and in many other passages. God loves us! His love is an "everlasting love," and compels Him to act strongly and lovingly on our behalf. "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins" (I John 4:10). This theme finds glorious expression in the grand hymn of the last century entitled "I Am His, and He is Mine." Its Scriptural basis forms the outline for our next four daily installments. Loved with everlasting love, Led by grace that love to know Spirit, breathing from above, Thou hast taught me it is so! O this full and perfect peace, O this transport all divine-- In a love which cannot cease, I am His and He is mine. Jesus prayed, "I in them, and thou in me, ... that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am" (John 17:23,24). The Father will never allow us to part from Him or our Savior. These precious facts are taught to us by the "inspired" (literally "God-breathed") Scriptures (II Timothy 3:16), and "the Comforter ... , the Spirit of truth (who) will guide (us) into all truth" (John 16:7,13). He drew us to Himself "in love: having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself" (Ephesians 1:4,5). "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God" (I John 3:1). In His grace, we come to Him, experiencing sweet forgiveness and everlasting love. Cradled in the security of His undying love we have peace. "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee" (Isaiah 26:3). JDM ________________________________________________________________________ May 3, Monday APPRECIATING GOD'S CREATION "And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there He put the man whom He had formed. And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food" (Genesis 2:8,9). Everything in the Garden of Eden was prepared for man's enjoyment. His every conceivable need was filled. In the time between creation and the curse, Adam and Eve no doubt fully enjoyed the vegetation (Genesis 2:5,9,15,16), the animals (vs.19,20), the atmosphere and the weather (vs.5,6), the rivers, and the raw materials (vs.10-14), each other (vs.18,21-25), and fellowship with God (3:8). But soon they rebelled and were driven from the beautiful Garden (3:24), and ever since, mankind's ability to enjoy creation has been shackled somewhat, for creation was distorted by sin, and the eyes of each one of us have become dull. The second verse of the well-loved hymn, "I Am His, and He is Mine," describes a partial reopening of the eyes of a believer upon salvation, as a love gift from our Lord. Heav'n above is softer blue, Earth around is sweeter green; Something lives in ev'ry hue Christless eyes have never seen! Birds with gladder songs o'erflow, Flowers with deeper beauties shine, Since I know, as now I know, I am His and He is mine. In His abundant love for His children, our Lord promises to supply all our needs once again. "Why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of those" (Matthew 6:28,29). Creation's beauty waits to thrill us and instruct us. Our loving Father wills it so. But creation will be fully restored soon, and "the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing" (Isaiah 35:1,2). He beckons us to join Him in His kingdom. JDM ________________________________________________________________________ May 4, Tuesday HIS EVERLASTING ARMS "The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms: and He shall thrust out the enemy from before thee" (Deuteronomy 33:27). The third verse of Wade Robinson's love poem to his Lord, "I Am His, and He is Mine," remembers former times of alarm, fear, and doubt, but testifies of the rest and peace in His love, cradled in the "everlasting arms" of the Savior. Things that once were wild alarms Cannot now disturb my rest; Closed in everlasting arms, Pillowed on the loving breast! O to lie forever here, Doubt and care and self resign, While He whispers in my ear--I am His and He is mine. This verse reminds us of the evening when Jesus and His disciples were in a boat, and a violent storm arose. They awoke Jesus from His sleep and cried, "Master, carest thou not that we perish?" (Mark 4:38). Of course Jesus cared, for He loved them. So "He arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still" (v.39). To His disciples, He said "Why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith?" (v.40). The time would come when they would need that faith and peace. They would learn to rest in His loving care. The song also reminds us of the special loving relationship between Jesus and the disciple John. "Now there was leaning on Jesus' bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved" (John 13:23). A deep intimacy with Him was John's, and can be ours, if we will only pillow our head on Him. No passage expresses that intimacy as well as the Song of Solomon, using the analogy of husband and wife to reflect the self-sacrificing love between our Lord and His children. "I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine" (Song of Solomon 6:3). The affairs of this life interrupt our times of intimacy with Him, but there will be a day when we will "ever be with the Lord" (I Thessalonians 4:17). JDM ________________________________________________________________________ May 5, Wednesday WHILE GOD AND I SHALL BE "For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:38,39). The final verse of the majestic hymn, "I Am His, and He is Mine," focuses on the unending love between the believer and God. As we read in our text, nothing can "separate us from the love of God." His forever, only His--Who the Lord and me shall part? Ah, with what a rest of bliss Christ can fill the loving heart! Heav'n and earth may fade and flee, First-born light in gloom decline, But while God and I shall be, I am His, and He is mine. Resting in such supernatural love, which lasts forever, begets peace and rest even now. Our Savior beckons "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28). Aspects of our present life may be temporary, but His love lasts forever. "The heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment, ... but my salvation shall be forever" (Isaiah 51:6). "And even to your old age I am He; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you" (Isaiah 46:4). Consider the last line in the hymn. "But while God and I shall be, I am His and He is mine." As long as either God or the individual remains, their love will last. "But the LORD shall endure forever" (Psalm 9: 7). "He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee" (Hebrews 13:5). Thus, the Christian "will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever" (Psalm 23:6). "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" (John 10:27,28). JDM ________________________________________________________________________ May 6, Thursday THE PRAYER OF MOSES "O satisfy us early with thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days" (Psalm 90:14). This majestic yet reflective psalm is the oldest of all psalms. The superscript of the psalm identifies it as "a prayer of Moses, the man of God." While we are not directly told to do so, it is helpful to consider this psalm as the dying song of this man of God, as he reflected back on his long life, including the forty years in Egypt, the forty years in Midian, and, most importantly, the recent forty years of wilderness wanderings. As we survey this psalm, think of Moses pondering his life's work shortly before he died. The first stanza of the psalm (vs.1,2), contrasts the unchanging eternity of the Lord, "even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God" (v.2), with the perpetual changes of the recent wilderness wandering in which the people had no "dwelling place" (v.1). The next stanza (vs.3-6) notes the frailty of man, particularly the destruction of a whole generation. But God is the ever-living One; His years do not fail (v.4). God is also a holy God, justly exercising righteous wrath. The open iniquities and secret sins of all mankind, particularly the people of God, merit His judgment (vs.7,8). In verses 9-12, we see the transient, carnal experiences of man contrasted with the permanent, spiritual nature of God. We need to recognize the intensity of His anger (v.11) and govern our lives accordingly. "So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom" (v.12). Perhaps the climax of this psalm is reflected in verses 13-15, where we see the beauty of the Lord our God described as the crowning adornment of human character. The only assurance of the permanent establishment of the work of a man is in its identity with the work of God. Our request of God should be: "Establish Thou the work of our hands upon us" (v.17). JDM ________________________________________________________________________ May 7, Friday WEEP NOT, O RACHEL! "Thus saith the LORD; Refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears: for thy work shall be rewarded, saith the LORD; and they shall come again from the land of the enemy" (Jeremiah 31:16). One of the saddest records of Scripture was that written in Matthew 2:16. King Herod, fearful of the young child sought by the wise men from the east, "slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under" (Matthew 2:16). They died for Jesus, who later would die for them. As a result, "in Ramah was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not" (Matthew 2:18). Rachel was Jacob's beloved wife who had died in Bethlehem (Genesis 35:19). Thus the grieving mothers of Bethlehem's slaughtered children were all personified in her name. She was the mother of Benjamin, whose tribal descendants were still associated with the town. Significantly, this event had been prophesied long before: "Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet" (Matthew 2:17), and then Matthew quoted Jeremiah 31:15, practically verbatim, as cited above in Matthew 2:18. The event must have some special significance. So note His words of comfort, in the very next verse, which is our text above. "Refrain from weeping!" The slain children (too young for conscious sin, and with Christ's blood covering their innate sin) are safe with the Lord and someday "shall come again from the land of the enemy." Surely all the innocent victims of infanticide (before or after birth) or other causes of death in small children can be justly regarded as secure in Christ, awaiting His second coming and their own resurrection! HMM ________________________________________________________________________ May 8, Saturday HE KNOWS "I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first" (Revelation 2:19). Seven times, in the letters to His seven representative churches, in Revelation 2 and 3, the Lord Jesus says: "I know thy works" (Revelation 2:2,9,13,19; 3:1,8,15). Whatever we are doing--or not doing--He knows! Sometimes such knowledge can bring--or at least should bring-- great consternation. He knows, for example, all our hypocrisies: "I know ... that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead" (Revelation 3:1). He also knows when our outward display of religious activity masks a real heart-attitude of compromising self-interest. "I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot" (Revelation 3:15). Yet He also knows when our service is genuine and our testimony is God-glorifying and faithful. "I know ... thy labor, and thy patience. ... I know ... thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith" (Revelation 2:2,13). Of these seven testimonies of His knowledge, the central one is in our text. He knows when we really love Him, for the "charity" mentioned is nothing less than agape, or unselfish love. He knows all about our sincere "service" and true "faith" in His Word, as well as our "patience" of hope. Perhaps the most precious of His assurances, however, is that to the suffering church at Smyrna. "I know thy ... tribulation, and poverty" (Revelation 2:9). When He says that He knows, the sense is that He understands, because He has been through it all Himself. Therefore, "we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. 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 4:15,16). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ May 9, Sunday THE MOTHER OF US ALL "And Adam called his wife's name Eve; because she was the mother of all living" (Genesis 3:20). Sarah, Abraham's wife, was called the mother of all "the children of promise" (Galatians 4:28), and the wife of Noah was the mother of all post-flood mankind, but Mother Eve, alone, was "the mother of all living." "Adam was first formed, then Eve," Paul said in I Timothy 2:13, and so-called "Christian evolutionists" have never yet been able to explain God's unique formation of Eve's body in any kind of an evolutionary context. Eve, as our first mother, experienced all the great joys and great sorrows that all later mothers would know. She evidently had many "sons and daughters" (Genesis 5:4), and probably lived to see many generations of grandchildren. With Adam, she had even known paradise, but sin had entered their lives when they rebelled against God's Word, and God had to say: "In sorrow thou shalt bring forth children" (Genesis 3:16). The greatest sorrow was no doubt when Cain slew Abel, and as with another mother whose Son's innocent blood was shed many years later, it was like a sword piercing her own soul (Luke 2:35). Nevertheless, as near as we can tell, after her first great sin, Eve trusted God's Word henceforth, and received His forgiveness and salvation. Later, as the mother of Seth, she taught him and her grandson, Enos, about the Lord and all His promises. "Then began men to call upon the name of the LORD" (Genesis 4:26). Most Christian believers are looking forward to seeing their own mothers again someday--restating their love and appreciation for all they did in bearing them, and in caring, teaching, and praying for them. But it will be a wonderful experience to meet our first mother, also, as well as Sarah, Hannah, Mary, and all the other godly mothers of old. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ May 10, Monday THOU HAST MADE ME GLAD "For thou, LORD, hast made me glad through thy work: I will triumph in the works of thy hands" (Psalm 92:4). "It is a good thing to give thanks unto the LORD, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High" (Psalm 92:1). So begins this "song for the Sabbath day" (heading), the psalmist extolling the virtues of praising God both day and night (v.2). The true believer, with a proper understanding of God's majesty, can see, in every situation, His lovingkindness and faithfulness. There is no better way to begin and end the day than to rehearse manifestations of His loving control over each event and circumstance, and express confidence in His ability to handle new situations. "O LORD, how great are thy works! and thy thoughts are very deep" (v.5). Vexation over the seeming prosperity of the enemies of God is also proper, but we must rest in the fact that God will act justly at the proper time, when it best suits His purpose. "The wicked ... shall be destroyed for ever: But thou, LORD, art most high for evermore. For, lo, thine enemies, O LORD, ... shall perish; all the workers of iniquity shall be scattered" (vs.7-9). Conversely, the righteous will ultimately flourish. Whether in this lifetime or in the next, God's justice will prevail. "Those that be planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God" (v.13). The claim of ultimate victory must not be considered as vague, insufficient, and improbable, as skeptics have always claimed. The reputation of God, Himself, is on the line. He will not allow His name to be tarnished. He must act "to shew that the LORD is upright: He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him" (v.15). As in our text, we can even now be "glad" and "triumph" in His works, whether we see them in this life or in the life to come. "O LORD, how great are thy works! And thy thoughts are very deep" (v.5). JDM ________________________________________________________________________ May 11, Tuesday THE ETERNAL FLAME "The fire shall ever be burning upon the altar; it shall never go out" (Leviticus 6:13). The so-called "eternal flame" at the tomb of former President John Kennedy will surely eventually be extinguished. The same proved to be true for the continual burnt offering ordained by God in Israel's ancient tabernacle sacrifices. The continual sacrifices for sin were of no more avail, once God's own sacrifice had been slain. "Every priest standeth daily ministering and offering often times the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: But this man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; ... For by one offering He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified" (Hebrews 10:11,12,14). There is one flame, however, which is truly eternal. Jesus spoke of it several times. For example: "It is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched" (Mark 9:43). "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels" (Matthew 25:41). Then, in the last book of the Bible describing the final judgment, "the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever. ... And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire" (Revelation 20:10,15). But there is also another symbolic significance to the continual burnt offering: "Did not our heart burn within us, ... while He opened to us the Scriptures?" (Luke 24:32). "His Word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones" (Jeremiah 20:9). "By Him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually" (Hebrews 13:15). Set on fire by the Word of God and the love of Christ, our hearts should burn with His praises continually. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ May 12, Wednesday THANKSGIVING AND PRAYER "We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers" (I Thessalonians 1:2). Thanksgiving and prayer are inseparably joined together in the Scriptures. Those who truly pray will be thankful, and those who are thankful will express this to God in prayer. The apostle Paul connected these two privileges in many passages besides our text. "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God" (Philippians 4:6). "Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving" (Colossians 4:2). "Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you" (I Thessalonians 5:17,18). "I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men" (I Timothy 2:1). Daniel was another person who practiced this principle. His enemies coerced King Darius to enact a law "that whosoever shall ask a petition of any God or man for thirty days, save of thee, O king, he shall be cast into the den of lions" (Daniel 6:7). This, of course, did not stop Daniel from praying. "Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime" (Daniel 6:10). With the certain prospect of being thrown into the lion's den, he still prayed and gave thanks. We might have left the thanksgiving out! At Lazarus tomb, "Jesus lifted up His eyes, (prayer), and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me" (John 11:41); "and Jesus took the loaves; and when He had given thanks, He distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down" (John 6:11). Our Lord included thanksgiving in His praying, and so should we. NPS ________________________________________________________________________ May 13, Thursday VAIN REPETITIONS "But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking" (Matthew 6:7). This command of Christ is an important part of the instructions on prayer in His sermon on the mount (Matthew 6:5-13). These instructions end with what is commonly known as the "Lord's Prayer." This prayer was not intended for ritualistic repetition, of course, for Christ clearly told His disciples to pray "after this manner" (v.9), not just to repeat the words. It is ironic, however, that it soon did become a rote prayer of vain repetitions, mechanically uttered. It is characteristic of most religions that their prayers consist mainly of incantations and recitations of ancient formulas and phrases. In the current New Age movement, eastern mysticism and pagan pantheism have permeated western civilization and so-called Christendom to an alarming degree, with their mantras and other repetitive prayers. The "Lord's Prayer" indicates, on the other hand, that our prayers should focus on the will of God and then on our personal needs. We are also exhorted by Paul to "in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God" (Philippians 4:6). There are so many prayer needs that we surely ought not to waste time on vain repetitions in our prayers. Perhaps this principle should also be applied to our musical prayers. In recent years, some Christian services have been displacing the great hymns that have blessed many generations of wise and godly Christians with short worship sentiments repeated over and over again, possibly hoping that "they shall be heard for their much (singing)." Whether in prayer or meditation, in singing or in speaking, let us be sure that our offerings to God are substantive and sincere, not mere vain repetitions. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ May 14, Friday FAITHFUL SAYINGS "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief" (I Timothy 1:15). The adjective "faithful" is usually applied either to God or to those godly men and women who remain true to their words and convictions. However, there are eight New Testament references to words (or "sayings") that are faithful. Six of the references to sayings that are faithful are found in Paul's pastoral epistles, as he gave counsel to young pastors Timothy and Titus, the first being our text for the day. Here are Paul's faithful sayings: (1) "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners;" (2) "If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work" (I Timothy 3:1); (3) "Bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things" (I Timothy 4:8); (4) "If we be dead with Him, we shall also live with Him: if we suffer, we shall also reign with Him: if we deny Him, He also will deny us" (II Timothy 2:11,12); (5) "They which have believed in God (should) be careful to maintain good works" (Titus 3:8). The sixth reference is a command that any "bishop" must continue "holding fast the faithful word (same as `saying') as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers" (Titus 1:9). The final two references are in the Bible's last two chapters, stressing that the words of Revelation are indeed true and believable. After stating His glorious promises for the future life, Christ told John: "Write: for these words (i.e., `sayings') are true and faithful" (Revelation 21:5). Then, after the magnificent description of the Holy City, the angel said: "These sayings are faithful and true" (Revelation 22:6). All the Bible's sayings are true, of course, but these that are specifically called "faithful" surely warrant our special attention. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ May 15, Saturday TEACHERS AND SOLDIERS "And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will" (II Timothy 2:26). We are in a great battle for the minds of young people today. The battle field may be the classroom, or the home, or the church, or the family television, or any place else where teaching--good or bad-- takes place. It is significant that one of the greatest verses on teaching, and one of the greatest on soldiering, occur together. "And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ" (II Timothy 2:2,3). Thus it seems clear that a faithful teacher is a good soldier, in the battle of Jesus Christ against the devil, for the minds of those we are trying to teach. The battle is not to be fought with bullets, however, or even with ballots, but with "the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God" (Ephesians 6:17). Furthermore, our battlefield strategy is not to strike down our enemy with a sharpened tongue or to bludgeon him with a superior intellect. "Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man" (Colossians 4:6). Our text for the day gives us reason to continue, for it promises that those whose minds have been ensnared by the devil may yet be recovered. The words just preceding this verse describe our tactics: "The servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth" (II Timothy 2:24,25). Not even Satan can stand before the mighty sword of the Spirit, wielded by an apt soldier-teacher. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ May 16, Sunday A BETTER AND AN ENDURING SUBSTANCE "For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise" (Hebrews 10:36). As Christians, we have certain heavenly possessions, and this knowledge helps us put our earthly possessions and welfare in proper perspective. Evidently, some to whom this was written had been imprisoned, and others impoverished for their faith. "For ye ... took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance" (v.34). Peter called it "an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you" (I Peter 1:4). These possessions are attainable; they are not in question; they are ours, given to us by one whose name is "Truth" (John 14:6), and whose word is trustworthy. We "know" (v.34) this beyond all doubt. Furthermore, these possessions are valuable. We must "cast not away therefore (our) confidence, which hath great recompence of reward" (v.35). With this assurance, we are able to bear up under any suffering or persecution which comes our way (see also Romans 8:18). Knowledge of these possessions is prescriptive, for it helps us cope with longstanding troubles. As our text tells us, we "have need of patience" to get through them, and do "the will of God." "Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh" (James 5:7,8). Lastly, realization of these possessions is imminent. "For yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry" (v.37). "He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus" (Revelation 22:20). JDM ________________________________________________________________________ May 17, Monday SALVATION IN THE SPIRIT "Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God" (John 3:5). Nicodemus was confused that night when Jesus first spoke of the necessity of the new birth, and then equated it with the symbology of baptism. Christ then indicated that the reality in both was the supernatural work of God, the Holy Spirit. "Except a man be born of water--that is, the Spirit (better translation)--he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." The miracle of regeneration is thus a work of the Spirit, and, just as "the wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit" (John 3:8). It is not some soul-winning methodology, but the Holy Spirit who does the work, and He (like the invisible wind) may work in a great variety of different ways. This work of the Holy Spirit in bringing salvation to the unsaved is so great and so complex that it must be described in a variety of figures to convey the whole reality. In the first place, He must bring conviction of sin and the need of salvation. "When He is come, He will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment" (John 16:8). Then, as the sinner repents and believes on Christ, the Spirit baptizes him into Christ. "For by one Spirit are (literally `were') we all baptized into one body" (I Corinthians 12:13). As a member of Christ's body, he thus is made a partaker of His resurrection life. Simultaneously, "after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise" (Ephesians 1:13), and "the Spirit of God dwelleth in you" (I Corinthians 3:16). And all of this becomes the mighty miracle of spiritual birth. "According to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost" (Titus 3:5). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ May 18, Tuesday A MIGHTY MAN "And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him, and said unto him, The LORD is with thee, thou mighty man of valour" (Judges 6:12). Gideon was not a very promising leader, to all outward appearances. He was of the undistinguished and divided tribe of Manasseh, and "My family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house" (Judges 6:15). But that's exactly the kind of man God knows He can use, for "God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty" (I Corinthians 1:27). God, therefore, greeted him thus: "The LORD is with thee, thou mighty man of valour" (Judges 6:12). As a matter of fact, there were other qualities in Gideon which must have commended him to God. He was already busy threshing "wheat by the winepress, to hide it from the Midianites" (Judges 6:11). He was not sitting idly, but was already doing what he could for his people. Furthermore, even though he lived in a time of great apostasy, when even his own father kept an altar for the god, Baal, he still worshipped the true God, and was greatly exercised that "the LORD hath forsaken us, and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites" (Judges 6:13). He was burdened for His people, but all he had been able to do was to try to feed them, hiding his wheat from the invaders. Before the Lord could use him further, however, he had to destroy the family idol and offer his own sacrifice to the true God, even though he knew his family and neighbors might try to kill him (Judges 6:25-32). God, then, did indeed "save Israel from the hand of the Midianites" through Gideon (Judges 6:14). If we would be mighty for God, like Gideon, we must begin like him: poor yet faithful, burdened for the Lord's truth, and doing what we can --putting away every idol of the mind, and acknowledging our Savior's sacrifice for us. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ May 19, Wednesday THE GOLDEN RULE "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets" (Matthew 7:12). This command of Christ is the famous so-called "Golden Rule" of conduct. As He said, it succinctly summarizes and crystallizes all the instructions given in the Old Testament Scriptures dealing with human interrelationships. In fact, somewhat similar guidelines can be found even in certain ancient extra-Biblical writings. It should be stressed, however, that this maxim is not meant to be a prerequisite for salvation. No mere human being ever obeys this rule perfectly, any more than one can keep perfectly the Ten Commandments. It was included by Christ as a part of what is known as "the Sermon on the Mount," which the Bible clearly states was a series of instructions given only to believers--that is, to people already saved through personal faith in Christ. At the very beginning of this "sermon," it says clearly that, "seeing the multitudes, He went up into a mountain: and when He was set, His disciples came unto Him: And He opened His mouth, and taught them, saying" (Matthew 5:1,2). Thus the "Golden Rule" is only for Christian believers. It is a standard by which we should seek to order our personal lives, not to be saved, but because we are saved. "Be ye therefore perfect," said the Lord, "even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect" (Matthew 5:48). Not one of us--except Christ Himself, in His humanity--has ever perfectly kept the Golden Rule or been sinlessly perfect (note I John 1:8,10). Nevertheless, our standard can be nothing less. "Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect," said the apostle Paul: "but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:12). And so should we. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ May 20, Thursday OUR PLACE IN HEAVEN "In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you" (John 14:2). This expression, "a place for you," is an exciting and substantial promise made by our Lord Jesus which is often overlooked by Christians. The Greek word for "place" (topos) carries with it the idea of location, like a contour map where one can find himself in three-dimensional space. In the context of the passage, Christ teaches that as surely as we can find our way to our own house, our heavenly home is equally real and accessible through trust in Him as Savior. "No man cometh unto the Father, but by me" (John 14:6). What a deep comfort for every believer, if he or she would only view heaven as a concrete reality, like salvation itself. This Greek word for "place" means not only a spot or location, but also was used in Jesus' day to mean "an opportunity." Think of it! The Creator God is actively preparing an eternal opportunity designed for each believer. This will be an opportunity of service in a real job: "and His servants shall serve Him" (Revelation 22:3). Just as God created the earth and the Garden of Eden as Adam and Eve's "place" (Genesis 2:8,9), so He is preparing an eternal "place" for every Christian: "And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: ... and I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband" (Revelation 21:1,2). Always, when the eternal abode of the saints is mentioned in the Bible, it is in terms of words showing three- dimensional reality, not the cloudy analogies which many use to depict heaven. It is a real place --ours for eternity. DRM ________________________________________________________________________ May 21, Friday ADAM'S RIB "And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made He a woman, and brought her unto the man" (Genesis 2:21,22). This amazing record of how the first woman came into being has been the object of much ridicule, but it is completely and literally true. However, the "rib" which God used was most likely not a rib at all. Rather, the Hebrew word in most of its occurrences is translated either "side" or "side chamber." This would probably be a better translation here, as well. It may be that Eve's body was formed by God from Adam's side, or from something within the "chamber" of his side. Any such "surgery" must at least have involved the shedding of blood. Since "the life of the flesh is in the blood" (Leviticus 17:11), and since the circulating blood in one's body cleanses and renews both flesh and bones, such a primeval blood transfusion from Adam's body would be uniquely appropriate to bring life to Eve's body. Adam's "deep sleep" thus becomes a prophetic foreshadowing of the deep sleep of death into which one day "the last Adam" (I Corinthians 15:45) would enter, when a spear "pierced His side, and forthwith came there out blood and water" (John 19:34). As Adam's sacrifice gave life to his bride, so did the death of Christ quicken "the church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood" (Acts 20:28). "Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it; ... That He might present it to Himself a glorious church" (Ephesians 5:25,27). As Eve thenceforth shared Adam's very life, so do believers today constitute Christ's beloved Bride, and we are "hid with Christ in God," so that Christ Himself is "our life" (Colossians 3:3,4). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ May 22, Saturday MANY BOOKS "And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh" (Ecclesiastes 12:12). It seems amazing, at first, that we should be reading a complaint from almost 3,000 years ago that too many books were already being published. The greatest book, of course, is the collection of 66 books known as the Bible--that is, the Book (which is the meaning of "Bible"). This Book has been "for ever ... settled in heaven" and "endureth for ever" (Psalm 119:89,160). The first mention of "book" in the Bible is found in Genesis 5:1, "This is the book of the generations of Adam." Similarly, the first mention of "book" in the New Testament is Matthew 1:1, "The book of the generation of Jesus Christ." These "books" are now incorporated into the Book and, in a striking way, emphasize the continuity of Old and New Testaments: the one dealing with the first Adam; the other with the last Adam. The final mentions of "book" also are very important, again dealing not with books that are temporal, but with books that are eternal. In the Old Testament, we have the beautiful promise of Malachi 3:16: "Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon His name." The final mention of "book" in the Bible, on the other hand, is a sober warning not to tamper with the Book. "If any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book" (Revelation 22:19). Let us honor it, guard it, believe it, and follow it. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ May 23, Sunday THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK "And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight" (Acts 20:7). It is appropriate that this important phrase, "the first day of the week," occurs exactly eight times in the Bible. The first six of these (Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:2,9; Luke 24:1; John 20:1,19) all stress the fact that it was on this day that the greatest event in history since the creation had taken place. The creation of the universe had taken place on the first day of the week, and now its Creator had conquered sin and death itself on that day. In the Bible, of course, the number "seven" represents completeness, so "eight" represents a new beginning--a new creation, a resurrection. The last two references tell us just how the early Christians remembered this day. Our text verse tells us this was a day on which the disciples assembled together, had a preaching service, and then "broke bread." This was not a special assembly called just for Paul, for he had already been waiting there six days (see previous verse). This was about 25 years after the resurrection itself and the Jewish believers were evidently still observing the seventh day as a rest day, but then they also observed the first day of the week as the time to commemorate the Lord's death in "breaking of bread," to celebrate His resurrection, and especially to hear the preaching of His Word. The final reference tells us one other vital thing they did: "Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him" (I Corinthians 16:2). The first day of the week should always be a time of remembering Him in these joyful ways, for He is our living Lord and Savior. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ May 24, Monday PROPHECY "I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him" (Deuteronomy 18:18). Two types of prophecy must be distinguished. When a prophet foretells or predicts, he represents the future in light of the present. But frequently the prophetic message consisted of rebuking, reproving, counseling, or admonishing, i.e., forth-telling, rather than fore-telling. As such, he portrays the present in light of the future. It is the predictive type of prophecy which provides such a strong argument for rational faith. Neither human intuition about the future nor limited Satanic control of the future can account for the hundreds of specific Biblical prophecies that have been literally and specifically fulfilled. These could only come by Divine revelation from the One who both knows and controls the future. Actually, predictive prophecy provides a double defense: Not only does it prove the divine origin, inspiration, and authority of Scripture, but since over half of the prophecies converge on the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ, it advocates His deity and Messiahship. One could hardly read Isaiah 52:13-53:12 or Psalm 22 without recognizing that these are prophetic portraits of Christ on the cross. Others, equally specific, deal with other aspects of His life and ministry. Still others predict the coming Kingdom to be set up by Christ, in which we as believers will have a part. Having seen so many prophecies literally fulfilled, we can have complete confidence that these will come to pass as well. "We shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as He is pure" (I John 3:2,3). JDM ________________________________________________________________________ May 25, Tuesday OUR DAILY BREAD "Give us this day our daily bread" (Matthew 6:11). This very short and very familiar verse is the middle verse of the five-verse model prayer taught by Jesus to His disciples. It contains the only occurrence of the word "daily" in the New Testament, and thus emphasizes the fact that we should ask the Lord for our material needs, for just one day at a time--not our weekly wages or our annual salary, but our daily bread! "Therefore take no thought [i.e., no anxious thought], saying, what shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? ... But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matthew 6:31,33). These are words of comfort and assurance by the Lord to believers, but with the condition that we put God and His kingdom first. This is also the emphasis in the Lord's model prayer. The prayer begins neither with personal thanksgiving nor with personal requests. Instead, it acknowledges that the most important things are our Creator's purposes for His creation, rather than for our own material needs. "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven," we are first to pray (Matthew 6:10). Only then should we make our personal requests. In this verse is the first occurrence of the word "will" in the New Testament, and significantly it refers, not to man's will, but to the will of God. We should pray, not for God's blessings on the plans we have made, but that we might know and do His will in making our plans in the first place. And we should, indeed, then pray that He would supply our daily needs, for this He has commanded us to do, and then has promised that He will do this. But our motives must be primarily to please Him, advance His kingdom, do His will--not merely to please ourselves. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ May 26, Wednesday FATHER OF BELIEVERS "And he believed in the LORD; and He counted it to him for righteousness" (Genesis 15:6). The key New Testament doctrine of imputed righteousness, received through saving faith in the Word of God, is foreshadowed beautifully in the life of Abraham. Because of his strong faith, demonstrated again and again in difficult acts of obedience, Abraham has been called "the father of all them that believe" (Romans 4:11). Our text verse is quoted four times in the New Testament (Romans 4:3,22; Galatians 3:6; James 2:23), and is made the basis of the great gospel theme of salvation and righteousness. This is obtained, not by one's good works, but by imputation, and is received through faith in the gracious promises of God through Jesus Christ. "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). "Therefore it is of faith, that it might be of grace; to the end the promise might be sure ... to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all" (Romans 4:16). Just as "Jerusalem which is above ... is the mother of us all" (Galatians 4:26), so faithful Abraham is "the father of us all." Spiritual Jerusalem speaks of salvation by grace, rather than by law, and Abraham testifies of righteousness through faith, rather than by works. And yet, twelve of the forty verses of Hebrews 11, the great "faith chapter," deal with the outward evidences of Abraham's inner faith. There is still another reference to Abraham's spiritual seed: "Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham" (Galatians 3:7). As Abraham's spiritual children, therefore, we also ought to believe God's Word at whatever cost, demonstrating the reality of our faith to the world--as did father Abraham--by obeying God. HMM ________________________________________________________________________ May 27, Thursday THE WONDERFUL ANGEL "And the angel of the LORD said unto him, Why askest thou thus after my name, seeing it is secret?" (Judges 13:18). This intriguing encounter occurred during one of Israel's periods of apostasy and servitude, when the people had been ruled for forty years by the pagan Philistines. There was one godly couple in the tribe of Dan, however, who evidently had long been praying for a son, and God finally answered their prayers. "The angel of the LORD" came to give the good news to Manoah and his wife. The remarkable son who was to come was mighty Samson, who later would free his people. But it is the Angel, Himself, who is most intriguing here. His name was "Secret," meaning "too marvelous even to comprehend." The same word is translated "Wonderful" in Isaiah 9:6, where it is cited as a name of the coming divine Son, whose name would also be "the mighty God" and "everlasting Father." This "angel of the LORD" was thus none other than God the Son in one of His rare pre-incarnate appearances, or theophanies, when the invisible God manifested Himself visibly to man. There are many created angels (Hebrews 12:22), or "messengers," of God, but on certain occasions, this one who is called "the Angel of the LORD" (also "the Angel of His presence," as in Isaiah 63:9, and "the Angel which redeemed me," as in Genesis 48:16), is clearly none other than God Himself. In such cases, it could only have been the pre-incarnate Christ, for the Bible says: "No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him" (John 1:18). God had already revealed Himself in this way to great men of God, and now even to an unknown couple. Eventually this Angel, whose name is Wonderful, "was made flesh, and dwelt among us" (John 1:14), and will one day dwell with His people forever (Revelation 21:3). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ May 28, Friday WHEN LESS IS MORE? "Be strong and courageous, be not afraid nor dismayed for the king of Assyria, nor for all the multitude that is with him: for there be more with us than with him" (II Chronicles 32:7). "The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: He turneth it whithersoever He will. Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts" (Proverbs 21:1,2). King Hezekiah, of Judah, was a godly king, "and in every work that he began in the service of the house of God, and in the law, and in the commandments, to seek his God, he did it with all his heart, and prospered" (II Chronicles 31:21). And so, when Sennacherib, king of Assyria, invaded Judah to capture Jerusalem, he came up against a man in God's favor. Hezekiah prepared for battle as best he could by stopping the outside water flow and reinforcing the walls. He made weapons and stationed his troops, but most of all, he encouraged his people to be strong and courageous, for a test was coming and they needed to buttress their inner emotions to be ready. Unfortunately for Sennacherib, his heart was also in the hand of the Lord, for he boasted of his military victories and despised the gods of all the nations. "Who was there among all the gods of those nations that my fathers utterly destroyed, that could deliver his people out of mine hand, that your God should be able to deliver you out of mine hand?" (32:14). The harangue went on and on against God and his servant Hezekiah until Hezekiah's and Isaiah's prayers were answered by God. "The LORD sent an angel, which cut off all the mighty men of valour ..." (v.21). Sennacherib returned home in shame, and was killed by his own children. Here is a riddle. When is less more? When a man's heart is in accord with the Lord's hand. KBC ________________________________________________________________________ May 29, Saturday THE UNPERFECT SUBSTANCE "Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them" (Psalm 139:16). This is an amazing verse, testifying as it does to the omniscient fore-planning of our Creator for each human being. Each person has been separately planned by God before he or she was ever conceived; His eyes oversaw our "unperfect (not imperfect, but unfinished) substance"-- that is, literally, our embryo--throughout its entire development. Not only all its "members," but also all its "days" (the literal implication of "in continuance") had been "written" in God's book long ago. While modern evolutionists argue that a "fetus" is not yet a real person, and so may be casually aborted if the mother so chooses, both the Bible and science show that a growing child in the womb is a true human being. Instruments called fetoscopes have been able to trace every stage of embryonic development, showing that each is distinctively human, never passing through any non-human evolutionary stages, such as the evolutionists' theory of "recapitulation" would imply. Not much is known about how a baby receives its soul, but the baby is surely an eternal human being from the moment of conception, with all its future days already well known in the mind of God, "when as yet there was none of them," as our text points out. But that is not all. All those who are saved (or, like the innocents who die before birth, "safe" in Christ) and whose names, therefore, are "written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (Revelation 13:8), are also predestined "to be conformed to the image of His Son" in the ages to come (Romans 8:29). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ May 30, Sunday A MARATHON "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). America has set aside this day as a day of memory. Today we remember and appreciate those who have defended America, her ideals, and her freedoms on the field of battle. We remember, and give thanks for them and the victories won. The Bible many times uses figures of speech to communicate important principles regarding the Christian life. Military engagements, and the preparation, armaments, and dedication are frequently used in this way. Our text uses another figure, that of athletic "combat" rather than military, but the implications are the same. The writer addresses readers who are convinced of Christianity, but have less than the complete dedication necessary for victory. The "cloud of witnesses" are those faithful warriors discussed in Chapter 11 who endured great opposition, yet did so in victorious faith (I John 5:4), thus encouraging us on to victory. The competition will not be quickly over. The word "race" (Greek agon) implies agony, as in a marathon. We are to run with "patience" (better translated endurance). In Greek, the verb tense of "run" points to a lifelong habit of running, and "patience" is intensive. This is an endurance race we are in! To win, we must eliminate any "weight," such as false doctrine or legalism or shallow commitment which hampers our efforts. And, we must repent of and confess any sin (any act of disbelief) which negates our faith. In America, where opposition to the Christian message and influence has flourished in recent years, we are called to join an ongoing "battle," not just for the waning freedoms we love, but for the souls of men. JDM ________________________________________________________________________ May 31, Monday WHOSOEVER WILL "And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely" (Revelation 22:17). One could not imagine a more clearcut invitation to receive God's free gift of eternal life than this final climactic invitation of the Bible. Anyone who is thirsting for the water of life may come and drink freely, for Jesus said, "If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink" (John 7:37). Whosoever will may come! "There is no respect of persons with God" (Romans 2:11, plus about seven other references), and the Scriptures abound with "whosoever" assurances. "Whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). "Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Romans 10:13). "Whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die" (John 11:26). "Whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins" (Acts 10:43). "Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God" (I John 4:15). "Jesus Christ the righteous: ... is the propitiation ... for the sins of the whole world" (I John 2:1,2). Therefore, "by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life" (Romans 5:18). Such promises as these, and many more in the Word of God, make it very clear that the substitutionary death of Christ is sufficient to "(take) away the sin of the world" (John 1:29), that salvation and eternal life are offered as a free gift of God's grace to anyone who will accept it, and that anyone who will may come! It is only the voluntary act of our own wills that is required, but there are many of whom Jesus must say: "Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life" (John 5:40). HMM ________________________________________________________________________ This "Days of Praise" quarterly was converted to ASCII, for BBS use, from the original formatted desktop articles. Comments regarding typographical errors in the above material are appreciated. Don Barber, ICR Systems Administrator Fax: (619) 448-3469 All ICR staff members adhere to a Statement of Faith in the form of two documents: "Tenets of Scientific Creationism," and "Tenets of Biblical Creationism." (see Impact No. 85) ________________________________________________________________________ Institute for Creation Research A unique complex of evangelistic, missionary, and educational ministries. Trans-denominational in structure; worldwide in outreach. Advancing the cause of true science and education, winning people to Christ, and strengthening the Christian witness, by promoting genuine creationism in science and Scripture. 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