PB Daily Devotions by Elder Zack Guess

01/01

``He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ.''. {Joh 1:41}

Here Andrew had been blessed to become acquainted with Jesus. He immediately found his brother Peter and shared this greatest of blessings with him. As a result they served God together. What a wonderful combination this was--brothers in the flesh and brothers in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Have you been blessed to become acquainted with the Lord Jesus? Do you have family members who have not received this blessing? Have you told them what Jesus means to you? Have you sought them out even as Andrew sought for Peter? How much time have you spent in prayer for them? Have you let the Lord know that you are interested in their souls' welfare? Would it not be a tremendous blessing to serve God with those who are both our natural and spiritual kin?

Let us pray much for our loved ones and let us set good examples before them. By our words and actions let us prove to them that, like Andrew, ``We have found the Messias.''

01/02

``Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul....''. {Ac 11:25}

Many wonderful lessons are taught in this short verse. Barnabas had been sent from the church at Jerusalem to inspect the spiritual work at Antioch. When he got there, he found a tremendous work going on. Many people were being added to the assembly at Antioch.

Barnabas was a man of humility. He knew that he couldn't lead this work by himself and that he needed help. He went to Tarsus to seek for Saul, who had previously been converted to Christ.

Saul came and helped Barnabas in the work. They cooperated and used their talents pulling together in the work of the Lord. There was no jealousy between them. Antioch was established as a great center for the evangelization of the Mediterranean world.

Are you as humble as Barnabas was? Do you know how to recognize and encourage talent in others in the work of the Lord? Do you have enough humility to recognize your own limitations? Can you work as a team member with others in the work of the Lord?

01/03

``Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the LORD, till he come and rain righteousness upon you.''. {Ho 10:12}

God is speaking through His word today these same words which He spoke to Israel through Hosea. We are in a back-slidden condition. There is no power in our lives to begin to compare with the power exercised by the early Christians.

Let us ``sow in righteousness.'' Ask God to purge you from your sins--your secret sins, your ``pet'' sins, your ``little'' sins. Ask God to take away laziness, indifference, jealousy, a complaining attitude, etc. Strive for righteousness both internal and external. The promise is that we shall ``reap in mercy.''

What areas of our lives have been ``fallow ground''--ground that has lain unused? Has it been prayer, reading the word, neglecting the needy? Break these areas up and cultivate them. This will take some hard, continuous work.

``It is time to seek the Lord.'' How long must we seek Him? ``Till he come and rain righteousness upon you.''

01/04

``Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning....''. {Joe 2:12}

The pronouncement of terrible judgment had come to the people of God. Their sinfulness had provoked the wrath of God. Their only hope lay in complete and thorough repentance.

The same is so true today. God's judgment hangs over our churches, over our nations, and over many of our individual lives like a great sword hanging on a thread. Let us awake from our sleep and turn unto the Lord.

And, oh, what a turning this must be! It cannot be partial or half-hearted. We can't hold on to the Lord with one hand and on to a cherished idol with the other. We must turn to the Lord ``with all your heart.'' What is there in your life that prevents you from doing this? What favorite sin stands between you and God?

Turn from it! If we could only realize the wrath of God against sin it would be no problem to ``fast, weep, and mourn.'' Let us flee in repentance to the Savior and ask for mercy.

01/05

``Lament like a virgin girded with sackcloth for the husband of her youth.''. {Joe 1:8}

We need to learn to really mourn for the sinfulness of the world in general and for the lukewarm condition of the churches and of Christians in particular. Are we losing any sleep over these conditions? Do we lament over them, or have we become so insensitive and complacent that we think that things are really not so bad after all?

May God open our eyes and call us to acute lamentation and prayer! May broken hearts cry out to God for revival. Our land is filled with the murder of unborn babies. Homosexuality, which God detests, is becoming socially acceptable. Corruption abounds on all levels of government. Evolutionary teaching, which in effect calls God a liar, is universally taught in public schools. The God-given roles of male and female are being challenged and ridiculed. But who is weeping? Who is agonizing in prayer?

May God bless us to lament with anguish of soul like a young virgin who mourns at the death of her espoused husband.

01/06

``And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpillar, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you.''. {Joe 2:25}

When a person has wasted a portion of his life away from God or in a back-slidden condition, he is apt to view all as lost when God shows him his condition.

Satan tells him that all is lost, that since he has wasted so much of his life he may as well waste the rest of it. ``What good'' the Devil asks, ``will a few years serving God do, seeing you have wasted such a great portion of your life?'' The awakened sinner is tempted to give it all up in despair.

But, wait! See the glorious promise of God to Israel! ``I will restore to you the years.'' Blessed promise this is. It is also good to the one who has been brought to repentance by the Holy Spirit. Paul wasn't converted to Christ till he was a mature man. The strength of his youth had been spent in opposition to the true spiritual realities. But look at Paul after his conversion as he walked with God. He accomplished much in the power of the Spirit. The years were ``restored.'' Take courage and serve God with all your might for the rest of your days.

01/07

``You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities. Can two walk together, except they be agreed?''. {Am 3:2-3}

Israel had a special relationship with God. She had blessings and privileges that no other nation enjoyed. God had worked miracles on her behalf. He had brought her up out of Egypt and taken care of her in the wilderness. Finally he had brought her to the land of Canaan. She had the tabernacle, the priesthood, the prophets, the Old Testament scriptures. In spite of these blessings, Israel had turned her back on the ways of the Lord.

``Therefore'' God said that He would bring judgment on her. She who had enjoyed special blessings would now have to endure special judgments. Much had been given and much was now required.

The same principles apply today. Those who have been blessed to know the Lord have great responsibilities.

How is it with you? Do you desire to walk with the Lord? Then you must ``agree'' with Him as how you are to live.

01/08

``The lion hath roared, who will not fear? the Lord GOD hath spoken, who can but prophesy?''. {Am 3:8}

Are you shy in your witnessing for the Lord? Do you lack boldness in defending His cause? Is it difficult to stand up for Him when you think there might be opposition?

This spiritual timidity seems to be a common ailment today that afflicts many Christians. What is needed to overcome this? We must ask God to speak to our hearts with power. He spoke to Amos and Amos prophesied faithfully with great power in spite of much opposition.

The Lord spoke to Jeremiah and the word of God was in his ``... heart as a burning fire....''. {Jer 20:9} The Lord spoke to Peter who had denied Him three times. The result was that he uttered a flaming message of truth on the great day of Pentecost.

We must pray continually until God speaks to our hearts in power. When he speaks ``who can but prophesy?''

01/09

``Therefore thus will I do unto thee, O Israel: and because I will do this unto thee, prepare to meet thy God, O Israel.''. {Am 4:12}

God was here threatening judgment on the nation of Israel as a whole. These were not heathen; they were the chosen people of God! Yet by their continual and prolonged disobedience they had stirred up the wrath of God against themselves.

God had inflicted them with some preliminary judgments but now He was fixing to come in a much more severe judgment. He counseled them to ``Prepare to meet thy God, O Israel.'' God was ``calling them on the carpet.'' What would you do if you knew that your boss was about to call you on the carpet at work? You would prepare to meet him. You would ask him for ``another chance.'' You would right as many wrongs as possible and would repent of any deviation from his commands.

Friends, let us prepare to meet our God.

01/10

``Hate the evil, and love the good, and establish judgment in the gate: it may be that the Lord God of judgment will be gracious unto the remnant of Joseph.''. {Am 5:15}

Serving God is either black or white--there is no gray area. A thing is either good or it is evil. May God open our eyes and give us discernment so that we may clearly recognize what is good and what is evil. Having recognized this, let us learn to have a holy hatred of evil and a reverential love of that which is good.

Evil sometimes masquerades as good and we are deceived by it and fail to hate it. How deceptive Satan is and how attractively he packages evil so that we will feel kindly toward it. Being lulled to sleep, we will see evil destroy the usefulness of our lives and the happiness of our families and of our churches. Truly, ``The fear of the Lord is to hate evil....''. {Pr 8:13}

Let us follow the lead of the Savior. It was said of Him ``Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity.....''. {Heb 1:9}

01/11

``Woe to them that are at ease in Zion....''. {Am 6:1}

These words were pronounced against the ancient nation of Israel, but how applicable they are to us today. It is impossible to truly serve the Lord and be lazy or at ease. The service of the Lord is wonderful, satisfying, service, but it is hard, continual work!

Many do not even attend church meetings regularly, but for those who do this is just the beginning of our work for the Lord. There is much praying to be done. There are the fatherless, widows, spiritually sick, etc. to be visited. These are only a few suggestions, but they should suffice to stimulate us to more arduous service.

Do not remain at ease! This is a dangerous condition to be in. Woe is pronounced on it!

01/12

``Then answered Amos, and said to Amaziah, I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet's son; but I was an herdman, and a gatherer of sycomore fruit: And the Lord took me as I followed the flock, and the Lord said unto me, Go, prophesy unto my people Israel. {Am 7:14-15}

The Lord's ways are as high above our ways as the heavens are above the earth. He chooses those to bear His message who appear to lack adequate qualification for the work so far as the world is concerned. Amos did not have a distinguished family background. He did not have a seminary education. He had a very menial occupation.

Yet the Lord chose him to be His prophet to the nation of Israel. God's call and enablement prepared Amos for this great work.

What has God called you to do for Him? Are you to preach the Gospel? Are you to support and hold up the hands of those who do? Are your to be a godly father or mother and raise your children for the Lord? Whatever He has called you to do, He has also provided the qualifications. Go forth in His strength.

01/13

``Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord.''. {Am 8:11}

A famine is a terrible thing. The ground is parched. Vegetation dies. People become ill and die. Babies and children cry in hunger. All is bleak and desolate. A famine is to be feared and dreaded.

All this holds true with a famine of hearing the words of the Lord. Lives dry up. All true deep joy vanishes. People's lives are in chaos because of lack of direction. There is no comfort in times of sorrow and tragedy. How bleak and barren this is. How such a famine should be dreaded and avoided if at all possible.

Why would God send such a famine into our lives? For disobedience. For failing to appreciate and highly value His blessed Word. For despising and rebelling against those servants whom He sent to deliver the word to the people.

Friends, love God's word! Obey God's word! Read and meditate on God's word! Let God see that you truly are thankful to Him for the great gift of His word.

01/14

``But truly I am full of power by the spirit of the Lord, and of judgment, and of might, to declare unto Jacob his transgression, and to Israel his sin.''. {Mic 3:8}

It takes courage to speak out in the name of the Lord and to show people their sins. People usually have a deep resentment toward those who point out their deviations from the commandments of God.

A man will not consistently speak out in the name of the Lord by mere human courage. When criticism and abuse come, he will cease to speak. The only power that will enable a person to stand up for the Lord is Holy Spirit power. Micah was God's faithful man because he was ``full of power by the spirit of the Lord.'' The fearful apostles became bold heralds of the Gospel when they were filled with the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. They had been in a ten day prayer meeting immediately prior to this filling. The key to being filled with the Spirit of God is consistent and persistent prayer. The Lord Jesus said: ``If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?''. {Lu 11:13}

01/15

``But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from old, from everlasting.''. {Mic 5:2}

This is a direct prophecy of the incarnation of the Lord Jesus Christ. The chief priests and scribes recognized this as a prophecy of the Messiah. {Mt 1:5-6} Fulfilled prophecy is one of the greatest proofs of the authenticity of the word of God. The first coming of the Lord was prophesied in minute detail. These prophecies were fulfilled in every detail.

God has proved His word to be trustworthy. We can completely rely on it--its promises, threatenings, rebukes, encouragements, etc. God's word is true.

Looking with confidence into the future, we can be sure that the prophecies of the second coming of the Lord Jesus will be fulfilled just as certainly as the ones concerning His first coming here. Maranatha! ``Our Lord cometh!''

01/16

``He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?''. {Mic 6:8}

Sometimes we think that the service of the Lord is complicated. We run across passages of scripture that we don't understand and we feel so stupid. We become confused as to how to serve the Lord every day. Satan loves to have it so. He likes to complicate the matter. Paul was fearful lest the Devil should corrupt the minds of the Corinthian saints from the ``... simplicity that is in Christ.''. {2Co 11:3}

What is this simplicity? It is to ``do justly.'' In a world of fraud, lying, deceit, cheating, etc., the child of God is to ``do justly.''

Simplicity is to ``love mercy.'' When men of the world are filled with hatred, vengeance, and cruelty, the child of God is called upon to ``love mercy.''

Simple service is to ``walk humbly with thy God.'' While others are running after the Devil and his world system of entertainment, carnal pleasure, greed, lust for material things, etc., we must walk humbly with our God.

01/17

``Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the trangression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he deligheth in mercy.''. {Mic 7:18}

This is one of the most precious verses in the Bible to those who realize what great sinners they are. All mankind fell in Adam and the entire human race is steeped in sin. Even our best thoughts and actions are not entirely free from sin. This fact connected with the fact of the absolute holiness of God, should strike awe into our hearts. Such miserable creatures deserve nothing but death--eternal death. The holiness of God is so awesome that when Isaiah saw the Lord he said, ``... Woe is me! for I am undone; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.''. {Isa 6:5}

To realize that such a Holy God ``delighteth in mercy'' toward His people because of the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ should prompt us to great gratitude both in our lives and with our lips.

01/18

``He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us, he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.''. {Mic 7:19}

The story is told of a child-like man who had a deep love for the Lord. He attended a very dignified church which was steeped in formalism. When the love of God to poor sinners was preached he would often break out in shouts of praise. This embarrassed the congregation and he was asked to stop this. He replied that he was sorry to cause disruption but that he just couldn't help shouting when he thought of the love of God.

The officers of the church requested that when he felt a shout coming on he should go to the foyer and read a book to get his mind occupied and to stifle the shout. He agreed to this and at the next service he was observed going out to the foyer with a geography book. Soon shouts of praise were heard from the foyer. The officers rushed out to him and asked what was in a geography book that would cause one to shout. He replied that in the book he had found that in some places the seas were several miles deep. When he read in the Bible that his sins were ``cast into the depths of the sea'' he just had to shout!

May God grant that we can shout over such a wonderful truth!

01/19

``The Lord is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble, and he knoweth them that trust in him.''. {Na 1:7}

The Lord is described by many figures in scripture. Each of these figures describes an aspect of His glorious Person. Here He is described as a ``strong hold in the day of trouble.'' A strong hold is a fortified refuge where one is safe from the enemy. When the adversary approaches the intended victim can flee to the stronghold and find safety.

No matter what your trouble is, flee to the Lord and find refuge. Is Satan tempting you to commit some terrible sin? Flee to the stronghold! Has a loved one died? Flee to the stronghold and find comfort. Have you committed sin and your heart is grieved? Flee to the stronghold for repentance and forgiveness. Are you spiritually cold? Flee to the stronghold that your soul may be revived.

Whatever the trouble, flee to Him for refuge and safety.

How do we find the stronghold? By fervent prayer and meditation on the word of God.

01/20

``For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.''. {Hab 2:3}

God's children need ``vision'' or divine direction for their lives. Without this direction they fall into all sorts of pits and snares and get their lives into some horrible messes. When they are impatient and refuse to wait on direction from the Lord, they are certain to get into trouble.

They can and should study God's Word for direction, but sometimes it is not clear how they should apply the Word to a specific situation. Then it is time to wait on the vision. This waiting should involve constant study and prayer. God can't be rushed. If His people continually wait on Him, He will be pleased to send the vision in due time. Waiting for an answer is hard but remember, ``it will surely come, it will not tarry.''

What is that major decision that you must make? What is that decision that will affect the entire course of your life? Wait on the Lord! And be sure that He will never direct you contrary to His Word.

01/21

``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.''. {Hab 3:2}

This should be our constant prayer. We need revival! Our homes need to be revived. Marriages among most Christians are departing further and further away from the Biblical pattern. Our churches need to be revived. Even the liveliest of churches today are comparatively cold and powerless. Our nation desperately needs revival. Only a true Holy Spirit revival will save our civilization from the massive onslaught of secular humanism, gross immorality, and a wide-spread attitude of rebellion.

This revival must occur among God's children. Only the living can be revived!

We don't deserve a revival. We can't earn a revival. We must continually beg Him to ``in wrath remember mercy.'' Will you call for prayer meetings in your homes and churches to supplicate God for revival?

01/22

``Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat, the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: yet will I rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.''. {Hab 3:17-18}

The joy of a child of the world depends on external circumstances. When the godless one is in health, when he has sufficient wealth, when his family is well--then he can rejoice. Take these things away and he is dejected, sad, and dissatisfied.

This is not true of the child of God. He is thankful when things go well. But he can still rejoice when everything seems to go wrong. Paul and Silas can sing and pray in prison. The martyrs can go to their deaths with hearts full of joy. Why? Because their happiness does not depend upon things or circumstances.

Their happiness is in the Lord! Because He is immutable, so is their joy in Him.

I heard a poverty-stricken, arthritis-ridden old sister shout the praises of God one time. She shouted, ``Take your money and give me Jesus!''

01/23

``And he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel!''. {Mr 5:20}

You can't tell people what Jesus has done for you if you are not conscious that He has done anything for you. Only those can effectively witness for Christ who have in reality been delivered from the bondage of sin. Nothing falls so flat as a dry, technical attempt to witness when there is no life in the testimony. A man may be able to quote the entire Bible and still fail miserably as a witness for the Lord.

This man was no theologian. He was no Bible scholar. But he knew that Jesus had done great things for him. And he couldn't be quiet about it! He published the good news in Decapolis, a region of ten cities. He was able to do this because he had something to tell.

Do you have anything to tell? If not, then examine your relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Ask Him to return you to your first love. Ask Him to give you some things to tell. Make men to marvel about your glorious Savior.

01/24

``And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean.''. {Mr 1:41}

We should be so thankful that the Lord Jesus was and is a Man of compassion. His great heart is moved by the suffering plight of human beings. And He doesn't just ``feel'' compassion; He does something about it.

Not only should we be thankful that Jesus is compassionate; we should also follow Him in this. We must beg Him to give us hearts which are filled with compassion. Many people despise and distrust Christianity because many Christians seem to have little or no compassion. They may preach to those who have made no profession of Christ, but they rarely show true compassion toward them.

The church must preach pure doctrine, but she must also show compassion. She must not look down on sinners in cold self-righteousness. The combination of pure preaching clothed in deep compassion is an irresistible combination. Let us be like the Savior; let us reach out to sinners with compassion.

01/25

``Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.''. {Ps 121:4}

Do you ever have sleepless nights? Do you toss and turn but have no one to talk to? Perhaps you are a widow or a widower and feel with acute pain the empty space in bed where your companion used to lie and from which he or she used to commune in precious words in the still hours of the night. Maybe you are one who is afraid at night, especially if you are alone.

What good news it is to hear that the dear Lord never sleeps. He is constantly watching over His own. Not only does He watch over His children even at night but He ever stands ready to commune with them. Talk to Him; listen closely and He will talk back to you. Cast your cares upon Him, pour out your heart to Him. These ``night-watches'' with the Lord, when all is still and there is no one to disturb, can become some very precious times. David said that his soul was satisfied ``When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches.''. {Ps 63:6} Daniel spoke of ``... the visions of mine head in my bed....''. {Da 4:10}

01/26

``If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.''. {Jas 1:5}

Wisdom, that is true wisdom, is a priceless treasure. It is a very rare attribute that is possessed by very few. True wisdom comes directly form the Lord. There is much so-called wisdom in the world but it is not really wisdom. The wisdom of men has ``... indeed a show of wisdom...'', {Col 2:23} but it is not really so. ``... Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?''. {1Co 1:20} In the ancient world, even among the famous philosophers, Paul says that ``Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools....''. {Ro 1:22} Worldly wisdom is self-seeking and earthly. It concerns itself solely with the things of this world. ``But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.''. {Jas 3:17}

The source of this wisdom is Christ ``In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.''. {Col 2:3} We draw on this great Storehouse of wisdom by the prayer of faith.

01/27

``And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach....''. {Mr 3:14}

There are some precious things here that we would do well to consider. Christ chose these apostles that ``he might send them forth to preach.'' But He also chose them ``that they should be with Him.'' They would not be fit to preach until they had spent some time with Him. They learned from His example as they lived with Him and watched Him constantly. They heard Him speak and learned as they watched Him handle various situations.

If we wish to be sent forth in our daily lives to be witnesses for Him, we are going to have to spend some time with Him and learn from Him. We must spend time with Him in prayer. We must spend time with Him in His word also. We can observe there the life He lived while on earth and we can seek to emulate it.

Then we will be equipped to go out and speak for Him.

01/28

``Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets.''. {Lu 6:26}

We are not to try to be popular and we are not to try to be unpopular. We are simply to live as the Lord commands us to in His word. Invariably, when we do this we will have some critics and some bitter enemies. It is impossible to stand for something without standing against something. Whenever we stand up for Jesus, we are automatically standing against all who are opposed to Him.

No one likes to be corrected, rebuked, and exposed. Termites, rats, and human beings who are living in sin hate the light because it exposes their awful condition. That is why men hated the Lord Himself as He walked here on earth. Many today who profess the name of Christ would still hate Him if He were to come to earth and preach and live as He did in His pilgrimage here.

If I follow Him, not everyone will like me or speak well of me. If I am almost universally popular, I would do well to examine my Christian life and profession.

01/29

``After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come.''. {Lu 10:1}

Only rarely does the Lord require for one to labor in the gospel alone. I believe that a failure to recognize and practice this truth except in a few instances, is one of the reasons there is no more power in the churches today. These seventy were sent out by twos. Peter and John went up to the temple together. {Ac 3:1} Paul and Barnabas were sent out together. {Ac 13:2} Later it was Paul and Silas. {Ac 15:40}

Prayerfully ask God to give you a Christian friend, with whom you can work in spreading the gospel. In the case of married Christians your husband or wife can be you witnessing partner. See this in the case of Aquila and Priscilla. {Ac 18:2}

Remember that ``Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.''. {Ec 4:9-10}

01/30

``But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.''. {1Ti 3:15}

The Lord Jesus Christ set up His own church in Person while He was still here on earth. He delivered the ordinances to the church in Person, instituting the Lord's Supper on the night of His betrayal. He trained the twelve and others and commissioned them to disciple the nations, baptizing and teaching. {Mt 28:18-20} The church was founded by Jesus Christ, empowered on the day of Pentecost and has had a continual existence ever since. The church is ``the pillar and ground of the truth.'' The Lord has perpetuated His truth through the church--not through ``coffee house'' groups which engage in continual dialogue or extra-church prayer and study groups. Some good may be done in these and similar groups but they are not and never will be substitutes for the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. If you are a Christian it is your duty before God to support one of His true local churches. Other religious exercises will not be recognized by Him as a substitute for this.

01/31

``... And, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.''. {Mt 28:20}

This is a glorious promise and it was made to the church of the Lord Jesus Christ represented by the apostles. As Paul said, ``And God hath set some in the church, first apostles....''. {1Co 12:28} Many have been the attempts of the enemy to destroy those who worship in spirit and in truth--many in the Lord's church have died the death of martyrs. But, in spite of all assaults, the church is still in existence and will be when the Lord Jesus comes again. She does not rest on her own strength but on the promises of God. They are sure and steadfast. He promised Peter that ``... upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.''. {Mt 16:18}

Concerning the Lord's Supper, Christ said, ``For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till he come.''. {1Co 11:26} This indicates that there will be true churches of the Lord Jesus, keeping His ordinances when He comes again.

02/01

``Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.''. {Ps 127:3}

We are living in an evil day when children are often unwanted by their parents. Many forms of ``birth control'' abound. Abortion, which is one of the vilest forms of murder, is practiced on a widespread scale. Even when children are actually born they are often neglected. Instead of enjoying and tenderly caring for their precious off-spring, many mothers turn them over to ``baby-sitters'' or ``day-care'' centers while these little ones are in their formative years.

How different is the Biblical picture! The first command that God gave mankind was to ``... Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth....''. {Ge 1:28} This command was given before man fell into sin and it has never been withdrawn.

Children are to be deeply appreciated as wonderful blessings from the Lord. They are not, however, just playthings or novelties to be enjoyed selfishly. They belong to the Lord and they are to be diligently brought up in the ``... nurture and admonition of the Lord.''. {Eph 6:4}

02/02

``And thou saidst, I will surely do thee good, and make thy seed as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.''. {Ge 32:12}

Jacob uttered the above words when in fervent prayer. He had reached a crisis in his life and seemed to be in great danger. He pleaded with the Lord to deliver him from the hand of his enemy. Then he uttered the above words. What he was doing here was reminding God of His promises. While God does not need reminding, nevertheless, He is pleased when His children plead His promises with Him in prayer. This is a good way to pray. It is a necessary way to pray. It is an indispensable way to pray. Search the scriptures. Find God's promises to His people. Then plead these promises while in prayer. Moses did this. {Ex 32:13} Solomon did this. {1Ki 8:26} David did this. {Ps 119:58} Daniel did this. {Da 9:19}

We must learn to humbly but boldly plead the promises of God in our prayers. God always keeps His promises!

02/03

``... Joseph, being seventeen years old, was feeding the flock with his brethren ... And Joseph was thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh king of Egypt....'' {Ge 37:2; 41:46}

These two passages show us that Joseph went through a great trial of faith which lasted for thirteen long years. He was seventeen years of age when his brothers cruelly sold him into slavery. When he was thirty he became next to Pharaoh in power and authority. In the meantime, he suffered severely. He was absent from his beloved father. He was a slave who had lost his freedom. He was falsely accused of attempted adultery and cast into prison.

How did he behave himself while under these trials? He diligently worked at whatever job was placed before him. He did not murmur nor complain. He did not become bitter or discouraged.

After God had tried him and prepared him in the furnace of afflictions, He promoted Joseph to a position of great responsibility and honor.

If you are under trial, take heart! Behave under your trial as Joseph did. Remember, in the providence of God every trial has an end!

02/04

``... How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?''. {Ge 39:9}

Potipher's wife repeatedly tempted Joseph to commit adultery with her. Finally, when he steadfastly refused her advances, she became angry and falsely reported that he had tempted her to sin. For this Joseph was cast into prison.

Why didn't Joseph commit adultery? He was away from home in a strange land where no one knew him. The ``boss's'' wife would probably have tried to obtain better working conditions for him if he had pleased her. He could have enjoyed the pleasures of sin for a season.

One thing that kept Joseph from sinning was the respect that he had for his master. But the ultimate reason that Joseph stated for refusing to do this wickedness was that it was ``sin against God.'' David recognized the same thing about his sin with Bathsheba. He told God that ``Against thee, thee only have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight....''. {Ps 51:4}

Recognize sin for what it truly is and avoid it like the plague. When we sin, we sin against God!

02/05

``But the LORD was with Joseph, and showed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison.''. {Ge 39:21}

God is completely and sovereignty in control of every human being. ``The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.''. {Pr 21:1} The Lord can cause those who are over you to regard you with favor. Are you having trouble with your employer? Live right before God and pray to Him about it. The Lord gave Joseph favor in the sight of this keeper of the prison. The Lord gave Nehemiah favor in the sight of the king of Persia who gave him permission and help to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. {Ne 1:11} The Lord gave Esther favor in the sight of the Persian king. {Es 5:2} ``Now God had brought Daniel into favour and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs.''. {Da 1:9}

This ought to encourage us to walk humbly before God and to depend upon Him for our proper relationships with people. ``When a man's ways please the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.''. {Pr 16:7}

02/06

``And they said one to another, We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us.''. {Ge 42:21}

Guilt is a terrible thing and we cannot avoid it when we violate the laws of God. We may ``... be sure your sin will find you out.''. {Nu 32:23} Thirteen years before this, Joseph's brothers had sinned against God and against Joseph by selling him into slavery. They concealed their evil deed with a lie to their father, Jacob. They thought that no one would ever know. But God knew and he brought them before Joseph, whom they had wronged. Even though they did not as yet know that this was Joseph, their hearts were filled with guilt and fear.

King Herod had beheaded John the Baptist. He thought he head gotten rid of him for good. But when Jesus began to preach and to work miracles, Herod thought that John had risen from the dead. {Mr 6:16} His wicked heart was filled with guilt.

Let us, like Paul, exercise ourselves ``... to have always a conscience void of offence toward God and toward men.''. {Ac 24:16}

02/07

``And Joseph brought in Jacob his father, and set him before Pharaoh: and Jacob blessed Pharaoh.''. {Ge 47:7}

It is a wonderful thing to be a child of God! God's children are ``... heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ.... {Ro 8:17} They are ``... rich in faith....''. {Jas 2:5} They are ``... partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.''. {Col 1:12} Their wealth is eternal.

Not only are they rich, they are also in a position of dignity, honor, and power. Though they are usually despised by the children of this world, some day they shall judge angels. {1Co 6:3}

In this scene Jacob blessed Pharaoh. ``And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better.''. {Heb 7:7} Pharaoh might have been amused at Jacob. Here was an old nomad who had a family of around 70 members blessing Pharaoh, the mighty monarch who ruled over vast dominions and great multitudes of people.

But this was no fluke; this was not an accident. Pharaoh was just another king who would soon die and be forgotten. But Jacob was God's patriarch; he was God's child.

Are you a child of God? Lift up your head and walk worthy of your calling.

02/08

``And he blessed Joseph, and said, God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, the God which fed me all my life long unto this day....''. {Ge 48:15}

Jacob was well over one hundred years of age when he wrote these words. He had gone through many trying experiences in life and had one time suffered famine. He had been rescued from one trouble after another as he lived. Now, looking back over thousands of days of life and tens of thousands of meals, he said that God had fed him all the way.

David, also an old man, said: ``I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.''. {Ps 37:35} The Lord Jesus said: ``Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them.'' Then He asked His disciples, ``Are ye not much better than they?''. {Mt 6:26}

God has been feeding His people for centuries and He will continue doing it so long as the world stands. Don't dishonor Him with distrust.

02/09

``And Pharaoh's daughter said unto her, Take this child away, and nurse it for me, and I will give thee thy wages. And the woman took the child, and nursed it.''. {Ex 2:9}

As we read through the scriptures we must continually marvel and be comforted as we see the controlling influence of God. Here is a vivid case in point. Pharaoh had decreed that all the male infants of the Hebrews were to be destroyed. But Pharaoh's very own daughter adopted the infant Moses. And Moses' own mother was paid wages for nursing her own son! Great is the power of God manifested in behalf of His people.

Moreover, Moses was raised in Pharaoh's house and was educated there. He was ``... learned in all wisdom of the Egyptians....''. {Ac 7:22} Moses later became the great enemy of the Egyptians. Pharaoh, thus, provided an education for his enemy.

Pharaoh thought that he was a sovereign ruler when he decreed that the baby boys should be killed. But, unintentionally, he fed, clothed, and educated his mortal enemy. God proved to be the only Sovereign and He still rules and reigns.

02/10

``And the LORD said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows....''. {Ex 3:7}

Sometimes God's people fear that God has forgotten about them or forsaken them. They get in deep distress. Their troubles grow into a great heap. There doesn't seem to be any way out. That was precisely the situation with the children of Israel in Egypt. They were forced to perform hard labor for the Egyptians. They had been in Egypt for four hundred years and things had gone from bad to worse. Their situation looked hopeless. Surely God didn't care any longer.

But, not so! God ``saw'' their affliction. He ``heard'' their cry. He ``knew'' their sorrows. And at the very moment the situation looked the most hopeless He was preparing for their deliverance.

Are you, Christian friend, in dire circumstances? Then remember that God still sees, hears, and knows. ``... Look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.''. {Lu 21:28}

02/11

``And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Moses, and he said, Is not Aaron the Levite thy brother? I know that he can speak well....''. {Ex 4:14}

A very important lesson is here for us. The Lord had appeared unto Moses in the burning bush and told him to go to Egypt to bring His people out from bondage. Moses, realizing his weakness, questioned God about this. The Lord promised to go with Moses. Moses then protested that the Israelites would not believe him when he told them that God had sent him. The Lord promised to confirm his commission with signs and wonders. Then Moses complained that he was ``slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.'' God promised to ``be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say.''

Moses then asked the Lord to send someone else. God became angry with Moses, but in mercy gave him Aaron as a spokesman. Later, Aaron was the one who made the golden calf the Israelites worshipped as an idol. On another occasion Aaron and his sister Miriam challenged Moses' authority as leader. {Nu 12:2} Aaron seemed to be a frequent source of trouble to Moses.

Has God given you a job to do? Be about the father's business. Don't complain.

02/12

``For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in thy name, he hath done evil to this people; neither hast thou delivered thy people at all.''. {Ex 5:23}

An old expression has it that ``the darkest hour is just before dawn.'' It often seems that way in human affairs. Sometimes things have to get worse before they can get better. God had sent Moses to Egypt to deliver His people from cruel bondage. But Pharaoh didn't let the people go. Instead he made things harder for them. The people were discouraged and angry with Moses. Moses complained to God and wanted to know what was going on.

God had a purpose in the delay. He was going to bring severe judgments on Pharaoh. Man's extremity was God's opportunity. The harder the battle the sweeter the victory. The people of Israel would have done well to have trusted God's promises. Their eyes should have been on Him instead of on the circumstances.

Are things difficult? Wait patiently on the Lord. He will manifest Himself in due time.

02/13

``But when Pharaoh saw that there was respite, he hardened his heart, and hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had said.''. {Ex 8:15}

True repentance is a gracious gift of God. God ``... commandeth all men everywhere to repent....''. {Ac 17:30} But in his state of being dead in sin he is unable to do so. It takes a work of grace to enable a person to repent. Paul said of some people that ``... if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth....''. {2Ti 2:25}

True repentance is not sorrow for the consequences of sin, but sorrow for the sin itself. ``For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation....''. {2Co 7:10}

Pharaoh was not sorry for his sin; he was sorry because of the consequences of his sin. Pressure had been applied to him and he had seemed to repent. When the pressure was removed he ``hardened his heart.''

How is it with you? Are you genuinely sorry because of your sins? If so, you will turn from them. Not because of the consequences, but because you are sorry that you have sinned against the precious Lord.

02/14

``Our cattle also shall go with us; there shall not an hoof be left behind; for thereof must we take to serve the LORD our God; and we know not with what we must serve the LORD, until we come thither.''. {Ex 10:26}

After God had applied some pressure to Pharaoh he agreed to let the children of Israel go worship God. But he said they must leave their cattle behind. This was a wicked attempt at compromise. God's people could not worship God with full effectiveness without their cattle because they needed them to offer as sacrifices. Moses immediately refused to accept this compromise. In the boldness of a vigorous faith he told Pharaoh that they wouldn't leave one hoof behind.

Satan works today like Pharaoh did. He tempts God's people with compromises. He tells us that it is all right to serve God but we must withhold our money, our prime time, or refuse to part with some of our pet sins. He tells us to hold on to that particular job or that group of friends that is hindering us in our service to God.

We must refuse to compromise. We must tell Satan plainly that all we are and all that we have belongs to God. We must not leave a single hoof behind.

02/15

``And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the LORD went out from the land of Egypt.''. {Ex 12:41}

Even though the world is several thousand years old God is on a precise timetable. He has history planned out to the minutest detail. He had prophesied to Abraham that the family of God should go into captivity in Egypt and that they would be delivered at a precise time. He accomplished that prophecy on the very day that He had intended to do so.

Later, when He sent His Son into the world, He sent Him ``... when the fulness of time was come....''. {Ga 4:4} Not a minute too early, not a minute too late. When the Blessed Redeemer drew near the time He was to go to the cross, He said, ``... My time is at hand....''. {Mt 26:18} Christ gave Himself a ransom for all His people ``... to be testified in due time.''. {1Ti 2:6}

The universe is still operating on God's timetable. At the precise time, the Son of God will return to consummate His kingdom and time will give way to eternity.

02/16

``Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.''. {Eph 6:1}

We are living in a day of general disobedience. This is manifested flagrantly in the disobedience of children to their parents. Most people don't realize what an abomination this is to God. God commanded obedience to parents in the Ten Commandments. {Ex 20:12} Under the law, disrespect or disobedience to parents was a crime punishable by death. {Ex 21:15,17} In the New Testament disobedience to parents is listed in the category of ``... backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things....''. {Ro 1:30} Paul said that in the last days men would be ``... blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy.''. {2Ti 3:2}

Children, recognize the seriousness of this and obey your parents! Parents, if you love God and if you love your children, you must insist that they obey you. This is your responsibility before God. To fail to do so will bring the wrath of God down upon you and upon your children. Don't listen to the world. Don't listen to godless psychologists. Listen to God!

02/17

``Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil....''. {Ex 23:2}

It is easy to follow the crowd. It is hard to resist and to not follow the crowd. But God's people must do exactly that. The Bible is full of those who refused to follow the multitude to do evil. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to follow the crowd. They would not bow down to worship the golden image. God delivered them. There were many Hebrew captives in Babylon, but evidently many of them followed the multitude and bowed down to the idol.

Daniel refused to follow the multitude to do evil. He continued to pray openly to God even when he was told to do so no longer. He was cast into the den of lions but God delivered him. Throughout history there have been those men and women of God who took a stand against the crowd. Some of them were delivered in life; some of them were delivered in death. Let us walk in their footsteps as they follow Christ.

In the words of the song writer: ``Dare to be a Daniel; dare to stand alone; dare to have a purpose firm; dare to make it known.''

02/18

``By little and little I will drive them out from before thee, until thou be increased, and inherit the land.''. {Ex 23:30}

Cannan was full of enemies to the people of Israel. God promised to drive those enemies out. But He said that He would not drive them out all at once. If He drove them out immediately there would be no one to cultivate the land. The Israelites were not yet numerous enough to populate the land. The land would become a wilderness filled with wild beasts.

God promised that He would drive out the inhabitants by ``little and little.'' As the children of Israel gradually increased and were able to occupy and care for the country the Lord would give them more and more territory.

There is a good spiritual lesson here. Many of God's people would like to have opportunities for service that they are not capable of handling. They don't understand why God doesn't open up more doors for them. But, as God's people increase in godliness, dedication, and spiritual knowledge then ``little by little'' He will open the doors of opportunity. We must concentrate on deepening the testimony of our lives. God will provide for the spreading of that testimony to others.

02/19

``And thou shalt put the two stones upon the shoulders of the ephod for stones of memorial unto the children of Israel: and Aaron shall bear their names before the LORD upon his two shoulders for a memorial.''. {Ex 28:12}

Aaron was the high priest of Israel. As such, he was a type of the Lord Jesus Christ as the High Priest of His people. When Aaron went into the most holy place of the tabernacle he bore the names of the children of Israel on his shoulders before the Lord. The names were engraved on two onyx stones which were placed upon the shoulders of the high priest.

The tabernacle and the priesthood were ``... patterns of things in the heavens....''. {Heb 9:23} Aaron represented the Lord Jesus Christ as the High Priest who appears before God the Father to intercede in behalf of His people. What is the significance of the names being borne on the shoulders of the high priest? The shoulders in scriptures often represent the points of strength. In Isa 9:6, speaking of Christ, it is said, ``... and the government shall be upon His shoulder....''

No one but Christ has the strength and ability to bear His people before God the Father. No one else is ``... mighty to save.''. {Isa 63:1}

02/20

``And Aaron shall bear the names of the children of Israel in the breastplate of judgment upon his heart, when he goeth in unto the holy place, for a memorial before the LORD continually.''. {Ex 28:29}

As we saw yesterday, Aaron as the high priest of Israel represented Christ as the High Priest of His people. As Aaron went into the most holy place of the tabernacle, Christ is entered into the heavens into the presence of God the Father. ``For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us....''. {Heb 9:24} As the High Priest of His people, he ``... ever liveth to make intercession for them.''. {Heb 7:25}

Aaron bore the names of the children of Israel before God in the tabernacle. These names were engraved on twelve precious stones which were contained in Aaron's breastplate ``upon his heart.'' What a precious type! The names of God's children are continually borne before God the Father by Jesus Christ. And they are borne upon His heart--the place of affection! Wonderful blessing it is to be ``near to the heart of God!''

02/21

``And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.''. {Re 5:8}

In the Old Testament tabernacle service there was an altar of incense. This altar stood right before the holiest of holies. The priest burned sweet-smelling incense on this altar morning and evening. {Ex 30:7-8} What did this incense represent? What lesson are we to learn from it? Evidently incense was symbolical of the ascending prayer of the officiating high priest. David prayed, ``Lest my prayer be set before thee as incense....'' (Paul's. 141:2).

Here, in Re 5:8, there are ``... golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.'' In Re 8:3-4 incense is offered with the prayers of the saints.

Beautiful spiritual realities are taught here. The prayers of the saints ascend before the throne of God as they are mixed with the beautiful fragrance of the intercessions of their great High Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ. His blessed fragrance is what makes our prayers accepted.

02/22

``Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the LORD'S side? let him come unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him.''. {Ex 32:26}

God's people had sinned grievously when they had made and worshipped the golden calf. When Moses came down from the mount and saw what abominations they had committed, he made this challenge. The Levites committed themselves and came to Moses' side.

Today the need is great for those who profess Christianity to come out loudly and clearly on the Lord's side. We must live the separated life, in order to be on the Lord's side. Not separated physically, but separated in attitudes and actions. Where do you stand? Whose side are you on in matters of morality, dress, entertainment, education, etc? Does the world dictate you standards or does God's word? Do those with whom you live and work know where you stand? They do if you have really taken a stand. And, of course, God knows exactly where you stand. He knows if you are on His side or not.

02/23

``Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin....''. {Ex 34:7}

If Christians realized more fully the horror of their sins they would be more thankful for the redemption that is in Jesus Christ. Often we try to minimize the true nature of our sins by referring to them as ``weaknesses'' or ``shortcomings.'' But the scriptures permit no such minimizing. They call sin ``sin'' and even use many descriptive words to show the nature of sin.

Here the Lord referred to ``iniquity,'' transgression,'' and ``sin.'' The Hebrew word translated ``iniquity'' means ``perverseness'' or ``crookedness.'' It has reference to one who leaves a straight path. The word translated ``transgression'' means ``rebellion.'' We sinners rebel against the most high God every time we fail to fully obey Him from the heart. The word translated ``sin'' means ``missing the mark.'' Paul speaks of this in Ro 3:23: ``For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God....''

David admitted being guilty of all three of these in Ps 51:1-2. Let us freely admit our guilt before God and be thankful for the salvation that is in Jesus Christ.

02/24

``And they spake unto Moses, saying, The people bring much more than enough for the service of the work, which the LORD commanded to make.''. {Ex 36:5}

Asort of true religious revival is described here. The tabernacle was being constructed by the command of God. Much material, most of it of a very expensive and precious nature, was required in the construction of the tabernacle. It might have been thought that this material would be very hard to obtain. But the Lord stirred up the hearts of the people. They freely gave of what they had in the service of the Lord. They were so generous that the workmen told Moses that they had too much material. Moses issued a proclamation for the people to bring no more.

When people's hearts are stirred like this, it is because the Holy Spirit is at work among them. Would you like to check the condition of your heart? How generous are you toward God? Do you give to His cause freely and joyfully or grudgingly and sparingly? Pray for a revival in your soul. What a wonderful thing it would be to see this scene repeated in our own day.

02/25

``And if he be not able to bring a lamb, then he shall bring for his trespass, which he hath committed, two turtledoves, or two young pigeons, unto the Lord....''. {Le 5:7}

God never asks us to do more than we can but He does ask us to do everything we can do. For the trespass offering the guilty party was to bring a lamb to be sacrificed. But some people were too poor to bring a lamb. They had the responsibility of bringing two turtledoves or two young pigeons. If a man could not afford the lamb the Lord accepted his offering of birds just as certainly as He would have accepted the lamb. But if a man who could afford a lamb offered the turtle doves or pigeons, he would be robbing God.

The same principle applies today. If you have been prospered by the Lord but you only give as much in His cause as one who has not been so prospered you are as guilty as the man who could sacrifice a lamb but only sacrificed turtledoves.

02/26

``Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering....''. {Col 3:12}

God's elect are priests with God. Speaking of New Testament saints Peter said, ``Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.''. {1Pe 2:5}

One of the things that distinguished Old Testament priests was the type of clothing that they wore. Le 8:7-9 gives a description of the clothes which the priests wore. They had a special coat, an ephod, a robe and other garments. These clothes served to distinguish them from all other people.

The New Testament priest is to be distinguished from all other people also. But not so much by his outward dress (even though Christians are to dress modestly and decently). The Christian is to be distinguished by his attitudes and actions which manifest the condition of his heart. He is to be merciful, kind, humble, meek, longsuffering. It is certain that if a Christian puts on these things in abundance he will stand out from those around him.

02/27

``For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him.''. {Joh 3:34}

The Lord Jesus Christ is the great High Priest of His people. As such He was anointed by God the Father. With the Holy Spirit without measure. Aaron was a type of Christ as the High Priest. Aaron was anointed with the anointing oil before he entered in on his service as the High Priest. {Le 8:12} the Son of God was anointed with the Holy Spirit without measure before He began His public ministry. At His baptism the Spirit descended and remained on Him. {Joh 1:33}

All believers in Christ are given the Holy Spirit, but only Christ was given the Spirit without measure. God the Father said to Him: ``Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.''. {Heb 1:9}

02/28

``But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.''. {1Pe 1:15-16}

God intends for His people to be holy. This is the only way we can have fellowship with Him. His nature is holy so if we are to commune with Him we must be holy too. Now, no human is perfectly holy in the present state. But God's Spirit is continually working in all the children of God to bring them to greater degrees of practical holiness. The Lord chastens His people that they ``... might be partakers of his holiness.''. {Heb 12:10} The fact that the Lord is coming again should make us to continually consider ``... what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness....''. {2Pe 3:11}

If we have a desire to be holy now this is evidence that we are truly children of God. We can then look forward to the day that we will be ``holy and without blame'' before God because of the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. {Eph 1:4-7}

02/29

``And if she be not able to bring a lamb, then she shall bring two turtles, or two young pigeons....''. {Le 12:8}

The Lord Jesus Christ is a ``merciful and faithful High Priest'' for His children. {Heb 2:17} He can comfort His people when they suffer because He suffered when on earth in His body of flesh. {Heb 2:18} One of the areas in which He is able to comfort is in the area of poverty. The Lord Jesus was born into a poor home. As is pointed out here, when a woman under the law gave birth to a child she had to go through the rite of purification. For an offering at this time she was to bring a lamb. But if she was unable to bring a lamb, she was to bring two turtledoves or two young pigeons.

When Mary, the mother of our Lord, came to be purified she offered the sacrifice of the poor. {Lu 2:24} So, if you are in or from a poor home the blessed Lord was also. He can comfort you.

03/01

``But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.''. {Ge 9:4}

There are several vitally interesting things to consider in this verse. First, it confirms the inspiration of the scriptures. It is true that the life is in the blood. How did Moses know this? Because he was writing by infallible inspiration. Other ancient cultures had all kinds of weird and erroneous ideas as to the nature of physical life, but the Hebrews, with their divinely-inspired scriptures, knew that the ``life was in the blood,'' a fact which became known in modern times in or around 1648 by the English physician, William Harvey.

This verse also tells us that when the Lord Jesus Christ shed His precious blood in behalf of His people He was literally shedding His very life for them. This fact was predicted in Le 17:11 and was explained in these words: ``... without shedding of blood is no remission.'' (i.e. of sins - ZG; Heb 9:22).

Because the blessed Savior shed His very life for me I must say with William Cowper ``E'er since by faith I saw the stream Thy flowing wounds supply, Redeeming love has been my theme, And shall be till I die.''

03/02

``Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.''. {Le 19:18}

The Lord Jesus explained that the commandments of God are summed up into two--love for God and love for one's neighbor. {Mr 12:31} In the Parable of the good Samaritan, Jesus explained that the neighbor is anyone who needs help whom God has brought across our pathway in His providence. {Lu 10:29-37} So love to our neighbor is expressed in action, in works of mercy to those who are in need.

But here we are made to understand that love to one's neighbor also has to do with our attitudes. We are not to avenge ourselves when wronged. But, furthermore, we are not even to bear any grudges. If we are bearing grudges, we are not loving our neighbor and we are violating the commandment of God.

Let us then carefully guard both our attitudes and our actions. Let us be as quick to forgive our neighbor as we are to forgive ourselves!

03/03

``Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them: I am the LORD your God.''. {Le 19:31}

We are seeing a revival of interest in the occult, with witchcraft, seances, astrology, fortune-telling, palm-readers, mind-readers, hypnotism, etc. Some Christians have regarded these things as entertainment or as just harmless fun. Some of those who predict the future have claimed that they received this ability as a gift from God. Some see no danger in following the horoscopes in magazines and in newspapers.

But God warns against all these and similar practices; He says that to engage in them is to be defiled. Many have ruined their lives by becoming involved in the occult. A Christian must absolutely shun these practices. Satan is the instigator of them. ``Witchcraft'' is denounced as a work of the flesh. {Ga 5:20} The word translated ``witchcraft'' is the word from which we get the English word ``pharmacy.'' It refers to the taking the of mind-affecting drugs. Satan has used these to destroy many a person.

Beware of the wicked devices of Satan!

03/04

``Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old man, and fear thy God: I am the LORD.''. {Le 19:32}

We are living in an age and in a culture when there is little respect for old age. We literally worship youth. Anyone who is past the age of thirty-five is regarded as ``over-the-hill'' and ``out-of-date.'' Even children often are not taught to respect their parents, grandparents, and other older people. Advertisers and the entertainment media glorify the cult of youth.

Older people are guilty also. They don't want to grow older with dignity. They want to dress and act like young people. They dread growing old. They dye their hair and have their faces ``lifted.''

Brethren, according to the word of God, these things ought not to be! Let us respect old age. Let us teach our children to show deference to those who are older. And let us grow old gracefully ourselves. Let us heed the word of God!

03/05

``... I am the LORD your God, which have separated you from other people.''. {Le 20:24}

It is not an optional matter for God's people to live the ``separated'' life. God is the One who did the separating. We must live as He has placed us. He has not separated us physically. He has not taken us out of the world. But He has separated us morally, intellectually, and spiritually. We must not let the world set our standards and dictate our values. We must not think like the world. We must not dress like the world when they dress immorally.

We must be different! To not be so is to dishonor God. Admittedly this is difficult to do. It requires conscious, daily thought and effort. It will involve us to a more or less degree in persecution. We will be persecuted because we make the world feel uncomfortable when we refuse to conform to their standards. Christ said, ``If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.''. {Joh 15:19}

Are you willing to be separated? Are you willing to suffer the reproach of Christ?

03/06

``But whatsoever hath a blemish, that shall ye not offer: for it shall not be acceptable for you.''. {Le 22:20}

The Israelites were forbidden to offer sacrifices which were blemished. God simply refused to accept blemished sacrifices. There are two important lessons for us here, one doctrinal and one practical.

Doctrinally, the Old Testament sacrifices prefigured Christ. If there had been one blemish in the Person or Work of Christ, His work of redemption would have been unsatisfactory. But, praise God, His work was perfect. God accepted it on behalf of the elect people of God.

Practically, this lesson teaches us that our offerings of service to God must be the very best that we have to offer. We cannot give God the left-overs of our time, money, effort and concern and expect Him to accept them. To attempt to do so is to insult God and to deceive ourselves.

God gave the very best He had for us--His only-begotten Son. Let us give the best we have for Him!

03/07

``... Whether it was by day or by night that the cloud was taken up, they journeyed.''. {Nu 9:21}

The children of Israel were favored with visible symbols of the presence of God. They observed these symbols (a cloud by day and fire by night) and when God moved they moved. When God stood still, they stood still. It would have been disaster and folly if they had moved ahead of God. They would have gone off on their own and been liable to destruction by their enemies. If they had remained still when God moved on, they would have been left on their own. They had to remain sensitive to the movements of God and be ready to move by day or by night.

God's people today don't have these visible manifestations of God, but they have His blessed Presence in the Person of the Holy Spirit. They can be sensitive to Him and discern how, when, and where He is moving. How can they maintain this sensitivity? By constant, fervent prayer. By continual examination of the Holy scriptures. By refusing to allow unconfessed sin to remain in their lives. They must do this. They must move when God moves and remain still when God remains still.

03/08

``... We are journeying unto the place of which the LORD said, I will give it you: come thou with us, and we will do thee good: for the LORD hath spoken good concerning Israel.''. {Nu 10:29}

Moses spoke these words to his brother-in-law. Christians today ought to be able to speak these words to those with whom they come in contact. First, they must be sure where they are going. By study of the scriptures and constant examination of their lives, they must know that they are heading in the direction in which God would have them go. God has promised to give them many things as they walk in obedience to His Word.

In the pathway of obedience they are assured of God's abiding presence and then can be sure that good will accrue to all who go with them.

Can you say this about your church? Are you journeying to the spiritual land of God? Can you with confidence assure good to those who go with you? Has the Lord spoken good concerning you?

03/09

``And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread.''. {Nu 21:5}

The people thought they were speaking against only Moses. But they were also speaking against God, for Moses was God's appointed leader and was acting on God's directions.

Times were hard; God was testing their faith to see if they would be obedient and trust even in adverse circumstances. They had forgotten the terrible conditions in Egypt from which God had sent Moses to deliver them.

Have you ever spoken against the man whom God has placed as your leader--the man who is doing the best he knows how to lead you according to God's commandments as revealed in His Word? Has it ever occurred to you that you might be speaking against God? Have you forgotten Egypt? Are you dissatisfied with God's provisions? Does your soul loath God's light bread?

03/10

``How shall I curse, whom God hath not cursed? or how shall I defy, whom the LORD hath not defied?''. {Nu 23:8}

Balak, the wicked king of Moab, had hired Balaam, the heathen prophet, to curse Israel. Balaam sacrificed and did his utmost to pronounce a curse on Israel. But each time God forced the wicked prophet to pronounce glorious blessings upon Israel. His diabolical mission was a dismal failure. He just could not curse those whom God had blessed. Israel was wonderfully protected from her unknown enemy be the power of God.

Wonderfully comforting spiritual realities are taught here. The children of God have many terrible enemies who desire to ruin their souls. Chief among these is Satan who is the ``... accuser of our brethren....''. {Re 12:10} He is assisted by a horde of demons. But all the efforts of the enemy will be to no avail. God's people are blessed in Christ Jesus. None can curse them because He bore the curse for them. {Ga 3:13}

03/11

``And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.''. {Jer 29:13}

Are you desiring sweet communion with God? Is your soul lean and dry and famished? Have you sought Him with prayers and tears but just can't find Him? Are you about ready to give up and despair?

Wait! You must not give up. God will be found if you will truly seek him. He has promised this in His Word. His promises are always true. You must lay hold on these promises and persevere until you find Him.

What has been the trouble? You have not searched for Him with all your heart. Search your heart diligently. Discover which area you have held back from Him. What pet sin or wrong attitude have you entertained? You must forsake it.

Beg Him to ``... let me hear thy voice: for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely.'' (Song 2:14). When you find Him, do as the little lady: ``... but I found him whom my soul loveth: I held him, and would not let him go....'' (Song 3:4).

03/12

``And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind....''. {1Ch 28:9}

Are any of you who are reading this fathers? Do you have a son? Have you ever given your son any advice on how to live a successful life? What was the advice that you gave to him? Did you encourage him to make money as the primary goal in life?

The advice that King David gave here to his son, Solomon, is the best advice that any father could give to his son. Tell your son to know God and to serve Him with a perfect heart and a willing mind. This knowing God and serving Him makes for the best life that any son could live.

But wait! Can you truly say as David did, ``know thou the God of thy father?'' Is God truly your God? Have you put Him first in your life? Can your son see that you are actually serving God as well as talking about it? If you want your son to live your advice you must live it yourself before him. Remember that your actions speak louder that your words. Your son hears your talk and he sees your walk.

03/13

``And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness....''. {2Pe 1:6}

One of the most important as well as one of the most neglected Christian graces is temperance. Temperance is self-control. Lack of self-control has marred the testimony of many a Christian. When a man lacks self-control in eating he is a glutton; when he lacks self-control in sex he is an adulterer; when he lacks self-control in temper he is a contentious man and a trouble-maker; when he lacks self-control in the use of his tongue he is a gossip; when he lacks self-control in the spending of money he is a poor steward of what God has placed in his hands and is a robber of God; {Mal 3:8} when he lacks self-control in the use of his time he wastes his very life and walks as a fool before God; {Eph 5:15-16} when he lacks self-control as regards sleep he becomes lazy and accomplishes little for God.

Self-control is a fruit of the Holy Spirit {Ga 5:23} --we must exercise it in all areas of life to the glory of God.

03/14

``So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also.''. {Ro 1:15}

Too often Christians wait for a special moving from God before doing what they know they ought to do. They try to make God their alibi and excuse for not doing their duty. They excuse themselves by saying ``I just can't do it unless God helps me.'' While it is perfectly true that we can do nothing without the help of God, it is also true that we often use this as a sinful excuse for our failures.

Paul knew that he couldn't preach the gospel unless God enabled him to. But he said ``as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel.'' He would move out in faith and do the best he could, depending on God.

God has given us many commands and we are to do them because He has said so in His word. We are to do them without waiting for some special feeling.

What do you know from god's Word that you are supposed to be doing? Don't wait! As much as is in you, do it. Go will help you obey Him.

03/15

``For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps....''. {1Pe 2:21}

What were Christians called for? To go to heaven? Yes, but that is not all. They were also called to follow the steps of Christ while they are here on earth. Christ came to save but He also came to set the perfect example for the saved ones to follow.

How can we follow His steps if we don't know how He walked? How can we find out how He walked? We must constantly read the four gospels which tell how He walked. And we must constantly read the epistles which interpret His walk. And we must read the Acts of the Apostles to see how the early Christians followed in His steps. And we must read the Old Testament which prophesied of His walk.

It is not enough to merely read. This is just the first step. We must purposefully and prayerfully use what we have learned and actually walk in every day situations as He walked.

03/16

``And put a knife to thy throat, if thou be a man given to appetite.''. {Pr 23:2}

People sometimes laugh at gluttony and make jokes about it, but it is not a laughing matter. Gluttony is a manifestation of lack of self-control and it is a sin. Christians will have to recognize it as a sin before they will do anything about it. Like many other good things that God gave to us, the ability to eat and enjoy food can be abused and become a sin.

Sometimes God's people will single out drinking alcohol and smoking tobacco as sins and they will loudly denounce them. Some of these same people are gluttons. While it is true that the use of alcohol and tobacco damage the body (the temple of the Holy Spirit) and are therefore sins, it is also true that over-eating and eating the wrong kinds of food also damages the body and they are sins.

If gluttony is one of your problems ``put a knife to your throat.'' In other words, discipline yourself and reduce the in-take of your food to the glory of God. He will help you.

03/17

``If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain.''. {Jas 1:26}

What a sobering portion of scripture this is! It indicates that a man may be very faithful to attend religious services, may be generous in financial contributions for the Lord's service, may read the Bible faithfully, may pray regularly, and may visit the sick and afflicted, and still have a vain (empty and worthless) religion.

The tragic part is that such an individual is self-deceived. He thinks that he is doing fine, but God regards all his efforts as nothing but vanity.

Why? Because he doesn't control his tongue. Improper use of the tongue can tear down in a few minutes all the good works that we have built up over a period of years. We all need to talk a lot less and when we do speak, we need to be very careful what we say and how we say it.

Remember, when you speak in private or public, God hears every word!

03/18

``... For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.''. {Mt 12:34}

This scripture, carefully observed by us in our daily lives, is a wonderful instrument whereby we can accurately gauge the condition of our hearts. We all need to listen to ourselves talk more often. We ought to constantly analyze our own speech.

What do we talk about most of the time? Do we talk about material things--houses, clothes, cars? Do we constantly criticize and find fault? Doe we talk about other people in a derogatory way? Do we murmur and complain? If so, our heart is in bad shape. It is sick and needs the medicine of confession, repentance, prayer, and reading of God's word.

What kind of speech will indicate a healthy heart? ``... The sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.''. {Heb 13:15}

Let us pray as David prayed ``Let my mouth be filled with thy praise and with thy honour all the day.'' {Ps 71:8}

03/19

``Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.''. {Mr 8:38}

It is certainly true that we are living in an adulterous and sinful generation. Movies, plays, books, and magazines openly blaspheme God. Divorce, adultery, cursing, homosexuality and such things are more and more becoming socially acceptable. Christianity is less popular in our nation than ever before.

What is a Christian to do? To remain silent? To refuse to speak up in behalf of Jesus Christ and the gospel? To retreat into a shell of silence and timidity?

No! A thousand times, no! We must speak up for Jesus every time we have the opportunity, and we must boldly seek such opportunities. We must not be ashamed of Jesus. We must not fail Him.

If we do so we will face the awful prospect of the blessed Son of Man being ashamed of us.

03/20

``Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.''. {Col 3:19}

Bitterness toward their wives must be one of the besetting sins of husbands, else the scriptures would not have specifically warned us against it. The word translated ``bitter'' means ``sharp, harsh, pungent.''

The wife is the weaker vessel. The husband can usually overpower her with words and with violent force of personality. He has the sinful ability to ``put her down'' and to ``crush'' her with force of words. We often see a little wife who is abnormally silent and cowering in the presence of her husband. She is often afraid of speaking her opinion.

Husbands, who profess Christianity, this must not be true of you! If it is you must repent and ask God and your wife to forgive you. God did not call you to abuse your wife either physically or verbally. He called you to protect her, to love, cherish, and nurture her. You must die for her, if necessary. She must feel comfortable and safe when in your presence. God has commanded it!

03/21

``He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock....''. {Lu 6:48}

Digging is hard work, particularly when one must dig deep. But we must put forth this strenuous effort if we want our lives to stand the test when the trials come. Those who take the easy way out and refuse to dig will be destroyed when the difficult times and the troubles come.

Christ is here speaking of building our lives on Him in accordance with the principles which He has set forth in His Word. How can we dig deep? We must spend much time studying His Word--even when we are weary. We must pray diligently. We must work at prayer and wrestle with God in prayer. We must root out sin from our lives. That is hard work to get rid of a deeply-established sinful habit. But we must do it. We must be sober and vigilant and constantly flee from temptation.

We may have to dig through dirt, mud, clay and rock, but we will be safe when we have reached bed-rock. Dig, brethren, dig!

03/22

``Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.''. {Ps 51:6}

Sometimes, we conform our life outwardly to laws of God and we think we are pleasing Him and are in good spiritual shape. We speak and act correctly. We pay our debts, are law-abiding, provide for our families, and are not involved in gross immorality. All is well. We are respected by the community and by the church members.

But this is not enough! God desires truth in the inward parts. He knows whether we are conforming to His laws because we love Him from the heart or because it is expedient for us to do so. Do we resent any of our service to the Lord? Do we serve Him with a grudge in our heart? Do we secretly harbor a spirit of bitterness or of unforgiveness toward anyone? Do we have any jealousy?

Remember, God knows what is in the deepest places of our hearts. He desires truth there. He will teach us wisdom there. We must cultivate our souls on the deepest level. This will require much private prayer, confession and repentance.

03/23

``Notwithstanding ye would not go up, but rebelled against the commandment of the LORD your God....''. {De 1:26}

We often think of rebellion against God as something like breaking one of His moral commandments. Or when a person blasphemes God in his speech we know that he has rebelled against Him.

But, here, when the children of Israel refused to go into Canaan, God called it rebellion. They would not go into the beautiful land which God had promised them because of the fear of man. They feared ``Because they believed not in God, and trusted not in his salvation....''. {Ps 78:22} They refused to walk out on the promises of God, ``Yea, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel.''. {Ps 78:41} And God called this rebellion!

Are we living on the very highest spiritual plane? Are we strenuously exerting every spiritual effort to serve God? Are we pleading God's richest promises before Him in prayer? If not, we are rebelling against God.

03/24

``And ye murmured in your tents, and said, Because the LORD hated us, he hath brought us forth out of the land of Egypt, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us.''. {De 1:27}

Satan has a very dangerous device that we need to be constantly aware of. Satan continually tries to make God's people think that God hates them. In doing this, he is attempting to destroy their faith.

When we run into adverse circumstances or get into trouble, Satan, is going to be there saying, ``See, didn't I tell you that God really hates you?'' The people of Israel got into trouble and they listened to Satan. They began to murmur and to say that God hated them. They forgot that God had proved His love to them many times as He delivered them from Egypt and took care of them in the wilderness.

We, too, tend to forget God's proofs of love to us when things get rough. We need to remember the greatest proof of His love--the gift of His Son Jesus! We need to remember past mercies. And we need to trust Him, no matter what happens. Like Job, we must say, ``Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him....''. {Job 13:15}

03/25

``But Joshua the son of Nun, which standeth before thee, he shall go in thither: encourage him: for he shall cause Israel to inherit it.''. {De 1:38}

Moses was here speaking to the children of Israel who were about to go into the land of Canaan. Moses, himself, was not allowed by God to go in. He told the people that Joshua was going to lead them. He would ``stand before them'' as their leader. Furthermore he said that Joshua would ``cause Israel to inherit'' the land. Joshua was the God-appointed leader. Much depended on him. The nation as a whole would rise no higher and go no further than he did.

In view of this important fact, Moses told the people to ``encourage him.'' Joshua had a very difficult job at best. He needed all the encouragement that he could get.

The same holds true of your pastor. He is God's appointed leader over the flock. Generally speaking, you will rise no higher in spirituality than he will. God will use him to cause you to inherit many of the blessings of God. Do you see the vast importance of encouraging him in his work? Have you done so recently?

03/26

``But charge Joshua, and encourage him, and strengthen him: for he shall go over before this people, and he shall cause them to inherit the land which thou shalt see.''. {De 3:28}

This verse is very similar to the one we looked at yesterday but there is one notable difference. Here God is talking to Moses and He is telling him to encourage Joshua. This is a case of an old preacher encouraging a younger one. How important it is for younger preachers to be encouraged by their older brethren. An older minister's work is simply not complete until he has done all he can to assist those young men whom the Lord has raised up under him.

This reminds one of Paul's second letter to Timothy. It is significant that the last letter which the great apostle wrote was written to a young minister.

Notice what Moses was to do. He was to ``charge'' Joshua of his high calling and his solemn responsibility. He was to ``encourage'' him and to ``strengthen'' him by prayer and by reminding him that the Lord would ever be with him in his work.

03/27

``Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.''. {De 4:2}

This scripture is much more important and much more solemn than any of us realize. God doesn't want Him sacred Word to be tampered with either in the reading of it or in the practice of it.

Some people are so bold as to actually tamper with the sacred text itself. They issue ``translations'' which are different from the manuscripts in many particulars. Examples of these are ``The Living Bible'' and ``Good News for Modern Man.''

Most of us wouldn't dare to tamper with the text of scriptures but we diminish and add to the words of God in a practical way. We tend to take from the Bible what we want and to leave the rest alone. If the Bible commands us to do something that we don't want to do, we just put that part of it into the back of our minds. This is dangerous business! We must humble ourselves before God and His Word. We must examine ourselves to see where we may be, more or less consciously, adding to or diminishing from the Words of our blessed Lord.

03/28

``Gather me the people together, and I will make them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me....''. {De 4:10}

The fear of the Lord is a very wonderful thing. Those who have it are very blessed. ``The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.''. {Ps 19:9} Many times in the scriptures the promises of blessings are to those who fear Him. Proverbs states that the beginning of both wisdom and knowledge is the fear of the Lord.

The striking thing about this passage is that it indicates that the fear of the Lord must be learned. No one can learn the fear of the Lord except those who have been born from above. Speaking of the unregenerate, scripture says, ``There is no fear of God before their eyes.''. {Ro 3:18} When one has been born again he has an innate fear of God, but this fear must be developed, it must be learned. How is it to be learned? By constant study of the scriptures and prayer. The closer one gets to God the more he fears and loves Him. This fear is manifested by changes in his life. How much do you fear God?

03/29

``And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.''. {De 6:7}

The job of parenthood is one of the most awesome responsibilities that God has placed on anyone. ``As the twig is bent, so the tree grows.'' The very youngest days of childhood are vitally important in the training of children. Children are to be trained both formally and informally. They learn by both precept and example. A parent's teaching won't stick if his example is no good.

Christians have a particular responsibility to bring their children up in the nurture and in the admonition of the Lord. This is a constant work as indicated here. Not only must a parent systematically and formally teach the things of the Lord, but this teaching must also be constantly incorporated into the daily life. When the family sits at the table together (and time must be found for this) the talk should be on the things of the Lord. When the family is going somewhere together the talk must be of God. Devotions must be had evening and morning. Nothing less will satisfy the command of God.

03/30

``Ye shall not go after other gods, of the gods of the people which are round about you....''. {De 6:14}

The people of Israel were surrounded by pagans who were steeped in idolatry. They were forbidden to serve these strange gods which in reality were no gods at all.

Today we don't think that we could possibly be in any idolatry. We are much too enlightened for that, we are too educated and scientific. We would never worship an image or a golden calf.

But, in truth, there is a good deal of idolatry in all of us; we must be constantly on our guards against this tendency.

What are some of the gods of the people which are around us? The god of materialism. Many professing Christians put their jobs, their houses and other possessions far ahead of service to the Lord. The god of evolution. Many are not aware that it is impossible to be consistent and hold on to the Bible and evolution at the same time. The god of modern education. Many would rather their children to have a good secular education than to be spiritual minded.

03/31

``That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate....''. {1Ti 6:18}

Money is put into our hands for a reason. We are never to spend any money without prayer. We are not to spend money so as to ``consume it upon your lusts.'' When we don't spend money in the right way we are robbing God.

When a person has been blessed with a good job or with a lot of money this places a great responsibility on him to spend his money as God would have him to.

Here Paul is telling Timothy to charge them that have some money or a good job. These people are to ``do good.'' They are to be ``rich in good works.'' The way they are to do this is to be ``ready to distribute'' their material goods. They are to be ``willing to communicate'' their money to the Lord's cause in general and to those of the Lord's people who are in need in particular. There are wonderful blessings in this. A person who loves the Lord with a heart that is on fire will not die with a lot of accumulated money.

04/01

``Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you....''. {De 13:3}

This is a very interesting verse. In other places the people of Israel were told that a man was a false prophet if the sign or wonder that he predicted failed to come to pass. But here a man was to be recognized as a false prophet even if the sign or wonder which he predicted came to pass--if he tried to induce the people to follow other gods. The Lord was proving them to see whether a worker of ``miracles'' could lead them astray from the true God. The test of whether or not a man were a true prophet lay not so much in his ability to perform wonders as it did in what he taught. This lesson is especially pertinent today. Many are claiming to do many signs and wonders in all the power of Pentecost. But the ultimate test is ``what do they teach?'' God's people need to be rooted and grounded in the truth of the word of God today. This is their safeguard from being ``... tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine....''. {Eph 4:14}

04/02

``Where no oxen are, the crib is clean: but much increase is by the strength of the ox.''. {Pr 14:4}

In nature, where no labor is expended, no fruit is produced. Without the labor of the ox to till the ground there is no crop to be gathered. In the cultivation of spiritual things the same rule applies. Where there are no diligent spiritual laborers everything is barren and desolate. In 1Ti 5:18 and in 1Co 9:9 the oxen are identified as ministers of the gospel. The people of God are told to not ``muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn.'' They are to provide support for the minister so that he will have time to labor in the spiritual field. The ox is not a very pretty animal; he is not as fast as a race horse. But he is strong and steady. He just keeps plodding along even when the going becomes difficult. Let us hold our ministers' hands up and pray that they will be steady laborers. Pray ``That our oxen may be strong to labour; that there be no breaking in, nor going out; that there be no complaining in our streets.''. {Ps 144:14}

04/03

``For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land.''. {De 15:11}

There is an error being widely taught today that the Lord does not want any of His children to be poor in material goods. But this simply is not consistent with the teachings of scripture. While it is true that we give thanks for all our material blessings, it is also true that being poor it is not necessarily a mark of God's disfavor. The wicked are often wealthy. ``A little that a righteous man hath is better than the riches of many wicked.''. {Ps 37:16} Ps 73:3 speaks of the prosperity of the wicked. On the other hand, the Lord Jesus commended the poor widow. {Mr 12:43} James asked, ``... Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?''. {Jas 2:5}

Let us not fall into the error of saying that when a man is poor it is because he does not have a strong faith or is not close to the Lord. That is measuring things by the world's standards.

04/04

``A sound heart is the life of the flesh: but envy the rottenness of the bones.''. {Pr 14:30}

Religion is not only good for the soul, but is also good for the body. The practice of true religion is ``... health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.''. {Pr 3:8} Even modern medicine recognizes many illnesses, called ``psychosomatic,'' which are ``in the mind.'' A good conscience and a mind free of negative thoughts, fears, and evil passions are very conducive to good health. We all know of those who have ``worried themselves sick'' or who have become so angry that they became physically ill.

The particular sin mentioned in this passage is that of envy. It is ``rottenness of the bones.'' The envious person is never happy. He does not rejoice at the happiness or at the blessings of another. He would be pleased only by the ruin or injury of his neighbor.

Envy is a terrible thing. The heart cannot be sound when there is envy in it. And sooner or later envy will bring unsoundness to the body.

04/05

``Cease, my son, to hear the instruction that causeth to err from the words of knowledge.''. {Pr 19:27}

Parents, particularly fathers, are responsible before God for the things that their children are taught. They must be aware of all that their children are taught - both formally and informally. They must know what they are taught in church, in school, and in other institutions that they are affiliated with. They must know what kind of books that they read and what kind of music that they listen to. They must know what kinds of friends that they associate with, because children learn much from their friends.

If a parent finds that the child is hearing instruction that causes him to err from the words of knowledge, he must cause that instruction to cease so far as his child is concerned.

Most Christian parents are completely unaware of much that their children are being taught. Parents, awake! You must not shirk your responsibility before God.

04/06

``Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right.''. {Pr 20:11}

Many people do not realize the vast importance of early childhood. They tend to lightly dismiss the faults and tempers of the little ones by saving, ``he is only a child.'' But no wise parent will pass over little faults, as if it were only a child doing childish things. The discerning parent will recognize the beginnings of traits and habits which will later manifest themselves as full-grown character qualities. They will attempt to recognize and root out such bad principles as quarrelsomeness, obstinacy, rebelliousness, selfishness, etc. They will try to instill in their children such characteristics as holiness, helpfulness, cheerfulness, and honesty.

And all this must be done prayerfully. No outward reformation will be truly effective unless God moves in the heart of the child. Fervently and constantly praying for their children is one of the most blessed things that a parent can do for them.

04/07

``Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts.''. {Pr 21:2}

One characteristic that is universal in sinful, fallen mankind is the constant tendency to justify ourselves and our actions. We are experts at excusing ourselves and at condemning others. Our hearts are so deceitful that we will severely condemn in others what we ourselves are guilty of. Paul said, ``... for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.''. {Ro 2:1} When David became angry at the man in Nathan's parable he pronounced judgment on his own self. {2Sa 12:1-7}

We would all be much better Christians if we would be hard on our own selves in judgment and lenient on others--the reverse of what we do most of the time. And, finally, we must remember that we are deceiving ourselves when we justify ourselves. God is the Judge. He sees all and He judges righteously.

04/08

``Let not thine heart envy sinners: but be thou in the fear of the LORD all the day long.''. {Pr 23:17}

God's people often have trouble by wondering whether it is worth it to serve God. Satan put this lie into the mind of Eve in the garden of Eden when he suggested that Eve would miss out on something good by obeying God.

When God's people think this way they are really in sinful unbelief. The Bible plainly teaches that there are great rewards for those who live godly lives and great punishments for those who do not. God's people should pity the wicked, not envy them.

The reason for this envy is that the wicked often live lives of great outward prosperity and ease, while the righteous often suffer affliction. David speaks of this in Ps 37. Asaph speaks of it in Ps 73. The Lord showed the answer to both of them. The wicked often enjoy a short-lived prosperity but then die and go to eternal torment. The righteous may have some trials in this life, but their joys are eternal.

04/09

``My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways.''. {Pr 23:26}

There are some parents who are reading this right now. These words should especially interest you. Are there some fathers who are reading? These words should certainly grip your attention.

Can you say these words safely to your children? Would it be safe for them to give you their hearts? How would you mold them? Would you want them to observe your ways? All your ways? Do you have some secret sins that you would prefer that they did not know about? Do you live one way in front of them and another way away from them?

Children learn by both precept and example. The mouth and the feet must agree if our teaching is to be effective. Children detect hypocrisy very rapidly. Let us pray to God to help us to so live that if our children follow us they will be following the Lord.

04/10

``And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book....''. {De 17:18}

The Lord is showing here the tremendous importance of heeding His word. He is giving instructions through Moses to those who would be future kings over the nation of Israel. These kings were to live by the word of God. To live by the word of God a man must have a personal acquaintance with it. He cannot get it second-hand by letting someone else read it for him.

The Lord was so insistent that the kings of Israel have a personal acquaintance with His Word that he decreed that these kings write copies of the law of God in a book. The king was to copy his own personal, hand-written facsimile of the word of God. Does seem drastic in the lukewarm day in which we live when people have difficulty in reading in the Bible fifteen minutes a day? Make sure that you adopt whatever measures are necessary to give you a personal acquaintance with the word of God.

04/11

``And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.''. {De 18:19}

The Lord here is speaking of a very special prophet. This Prophet is His only-begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. God spoke to His people in many different ways, at different times, and by various spokesmen. Finally, in these last days, He has ``... spoken unto us by His Son....''. {Heb 1:2} This Son is the great Prophet. How wonderful of God to send this perfect Messenger with the glorious Message.

But we must be very careful how we hear and heed this message. To disregard the message is to despise the Messenger. If we despise His words, God says He will ``require it'' of us. Take heed! The matter is more serious than we realize.

04/12

``The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God.''. {De 22:5}

We are living in a time when ``unisex'' is being actively promoted. Men and women are dressing alike, they cut and style their hair the same way. By the use of the pill and abortion women are as free to engage in promiscuous sex as are their male counterparts. Men and women want to work at the same kinds of jobs with no exceptions. The Biblical roles of husband, wife, father, and mother are being challenged.

This is all very wicked. The distinctions between men and women are ordained by God. God has created diverse but complementary roles for men and women. The attempt to reverse these roles and to obliterate the distinctions between the sexes is abomination in the sight of God.

Christian men and women should avoid any semblance of this wickedness. Christian man, act and dress like a man! Christian woman, act and dress like a woman! If you love God you must.

04/13

``Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness?''. {2Co 6:14}

God's children are fundamentally different from those who are not. There is a sharp distinction between them. They do not have in common the most basic and precious things. When a believer becomes yoked with an unbeliever the yoke is unequal and the believer will greatly suffer. God taught this lesson of distinction between believers and unbelievers in many different ways in the Old Testament. In one graphic passage He said, ``Thou shalt not plow with an ox and an ass together.''. {De 22:10} These diverse animals with different natures were not suitable to work together in the same yoke. Neither are believers and unbelievers.

To what kind of human associations does this prohibition apply? To any close, voluntary association. At least three should be absolute--marriage, business partnership, and close friends.

04/14

``The LORD shall open unto thee his good treasure, the heaven to give the rain unto thy land in his season....''. {De 28:12}

This is only one of many, many scriptures that teach that God has complete control over the weather. In this age of unbelief men try to account for the weather with scientific and pseudo-scientific explanations. While it is true that there is nothing wrong with valid scientific endeavor, it is also true that it is wrong to not attribute to God the things that belong to Him. One of these things is absolute and complete control of the weather. In this passage, abundant rainfall was a sign of God's blessing on Israel, not an ``accident'' of nature.

In 1588 God defeated the Spanish Armada with the weather. During World War II the Lord defeated Hitler's army with a snowstorm.

Yes, our Lord is the Sovereign of nature as He is of everything else. Let us praise Him as such.

04/15

``And thou shalt eat the fruit of thine own body, the flesh of thy sons and of thy daughters, which the LORD thy God hath given thee, in the siege, and in the straitness, wherewith thine enemies shall distress thee....''. {De 28:53}

We like to think of the love of God, but it is also very important that we consider His severity. God blessed the people of Israel far above all the other people of the earth. But He warned them that if they were disobedient and persisted in their disobedience that He would bring awful judgments upon them. One of these judgments was predicted here. What a horrible judgment this was, practicing cannibalism on their own children! Josephus, the Jewish historian, informs us that some of the Jews who were starving actually did eat their own children during the siege of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. What is the lesson for Gentile Christians today? ``Be not highminded, but fear: for if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.''. {Ro 11:20-21}

04/16

``The tender and delicate woman among you, which would not adventure to set the sole of her foot upon the ground for delicateness and tenderness, her eye shall be evil toward the husband of her bosom, and toward her son, and toward her daughter....''. {De 28:56}

Appearances are deceiving. People often deceive one another by making a fair show in the flesh. David's brothers looked strong and brave, but when they faced Goliath they proved to be cowards. People often deceive themselves also. They think they are in fine spiritual shape until they are confronted by temptation, persecution or some other trial. Then their true colors show.

This woman was very ``refined.'' She was ``cultured.'' She was, no doubt, highly thought of and she thought highly of herself. She had no real idea of the evil that lurked within her heart. But when the pressure was applied she became a cannibal and devoured members of her immediate family!

Do we know what lurks in our hearts? Instead of being smug we need to pray with David, ``Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.'' {Ps 139:23-24}

04/17

``In the morning thou shalt say, Would God it were even! and at even thou shalt say, Would God it were morning! for the fear of thine heart....''. {De 28:67}

The Lord prophesied that the disobedient Israelites would be absolutely miserable when they went into captivity. Can you imagine anyone more miserable than the person described in this verse? He was so afraid to face the duties and responsibilities of the day that he longed for night while it was yet morning. In the night he was so afraid of the unseen terrors that he longed for morning.

Have you ever been this way, to one degree or another? If so, what is the answer? Turn to God in repentance and beg for His mercy. He will give to His obedient children the peace of God that passeth all understanding. In the morning the obedient child can say, ``This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.''. {Ps 118:24} At night he remembers that the Lord ``... giveth his beloved sleep.''. {Ps 127:2}

04/18

``The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.''. {De 29:29}

This verse, properly understood, will do much to clear up much misunderstanding about the things of God. God is infinite, no one can fully understand Him--even though many try to. He has revealed Himself in nature, in His Word, and in His Son, but there are many areas in which He has not revealed Himself. People ask questions like, ``Why did God choose a people for salvation before the foundation of the world? Why did not He choose everyone?'' God did choose such a people, {Eph 1:4} but did not fully reveal His reasons.

We sin when we quibble over the secret things of God. Because God has also given us some revealed things--part of which consists of plainly-understood duties for us to perform. This is what we are to do: live according to God's revealed will and trust Him completely even though we do not understand Him completely.

04/19

``And that their children, which have not known any thing, may hear, and learn to fear the LORD your God....''. {De 31:13}

Moses here commanded the children of Israel to be gathered together every seven years that they might hear the entire law of God read to them. Everyone was to come together--men, women, and children. That every age group was included is very important and contains some important spiritual lessons for us today. First, the adults never got too old to hear the law of the Lord again. Sometimes those who have read the Bible much, and who have much experience in the service of God, get complacent. But they are forgetful sinners who need to hear and to heed God's Word just as much the one thousandth time they hear it as the first time they heard it.

Second, the little ones need to hear it. We who are older need to remember that the little ones do not even know many of the things which we take for granted. We must teach them.

04/20

``O that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end!''. {De 32:29}

Sinful mankind usually fail to consider the ultimate consequences of their actions. If they are in a state of ease and prosperity they do not consider what are the consequences of their present way of life on the future. This shallow thinking leads to self-deception.

Moses was here predicting the future calamities which would befall the Jewish nation. At this time everything was going well for them. They were about to go into Canaan. The Lord was going to drive their enemies out before them. Even when they openly disobeyed the commandments of God, He was long-suffering and did not immediately visit them in judgment. They misinterpreted God's long-suffering and thought that He would not punish them for their disobedience. But, how wrong they were! When God finally punished them, how terrible this punishment was.

Take heed! Be not deceived. God is not mocked. Repent. Now.

04/21

``The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms....''. {De 33:27}

This magnificent verse has long been a favorite with the tempest-tossed people of God. And rightly so. The knowledge contained here is worth more than all the gold of the entire world. All earthly security perishes--sooner or later. Money is spent, insurance policies fail. Even if the money remains in one's possession, what good is it when facing death? The rich man dies, his body rots, and his fortune passes on to someone else.

Health fails; youth turns into age. Loved ones are wonderful but they, too, die and leave us all alone.

What is sure? Who is sure? Only the eternal God. He had no beginning and will have no ending. He is no impersonal spiritual ``force.'' He is a Person. He cares for His own. He is their sure refuge. Do you have trouble? Do you have sorrow? Fall into His mighty and loving arms.

04/22

``Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses.''. {Jos 1:3}

The Lord had promised to give the land of Canaan to the children of Israel. He had promised to drive their enemies out before them. But in most instances the Lord did not do this work directly. Usually He did it indirectly by enabling the Israelites. The enemy was not driven out while they slept in their tents and sat in easy chairs. He promised them the land but here told them that the soles of their feet must tread upon it.

The same holds true with many other of the promises that God has made to His children. The promises of God should not make us lazy, sitting around waiting for God to wait on us hand and foot. The consideration of His promises should make us the most zealous, hard-working, and energetic people on the face of the earth. Why? Because we know that the triumphant outcome does not depend on us. It depends of God Who works in us.

04/23

``... There is an accursed thing in the midst of thee, O Israel: thou canst not stand before thine enemies, until ye take away the accursed thing from among you.''. {Jos 7:13}

This is a familiar story to Bible readers. The Israelites had conquered Jericho through the power of God. Then they had tried to take the comparatively weak city of Ai, but had been beaten in a very embarrassing defeat. They were puzzled as to why they had been defeated. Here the Lord told them why. They had been commanded to take none of the things from Jericho when they had conquered that city. But Achan, one of them, had taken several things and had hidden them in his tent. God would not bring victory to Israel so long as this ``accursed'' thing remained in the camp. Achan was exposed by God and killed. Then Israel was able to destroy Ai and other cities.

The principle is plain. Are you living a defeated spiritual life? What secret sins are you trying to hide? Kill them! Get rid of them! Then you will be mighty in spirit.

04/24

``And the men took of their victuals, and asked not counsel at the mouth of the LORD.''. {Jos 9:14}

The people of Israel had been pretty cautious in following God and in dealing with their enemies up to this point. But here thy dropped their guard and made an unwise decision. Perhaps, because of their victories, they had grown over-confident and did not rely on God as completely as they had before.

The Gibeonites were afraid that they would be destroyed by the Israelites as had many other dwellers in Canaan. So they put on old clothes, came to the Israelites, and told them that they journeyed to them from a far away land. They asked to dwell among the Israelites in safety. The Israelites looked at the outward appearance of these men, took them at their word, and promised them safety. Later they found that they had been tricked but were bound by their promise.

We, too, will be tricked by Satan into making unwise decisions if we do not seek the Lord before every move.

04/25

``And Joshua said unto the children of Israel, How long are ye slack to go to possess the land, which the LORD God of your fathers hath given you?''. {Jos 18:3}

The children of Israel had been in the land of Canaan for some time. They were about to give the tabernacle a permanent resting place at Shiloh. But there were still seven of their tribes which had not received their inheritance. Joshua challenged them to go and possess that which God had already given them. They did not possess what was rightly theirs because of their slackness.

Today many of God's people are not possessing the fullness of the rich spiritual heritage that has been given to them by God. The reason is slackness. God's people need to diligently search the scriptures to find those things which God has promised to His children. Then they need to fervently plead these promises in prayer and to walk in the promised strength of the Lord. Have you possessed your inheritance?

04/26

``Take good heed therefore unto yourselves, that ye love the LORD your God.''. {Jos 23:11}

In view of the modern understanding of the meaning of ``love'' this sounds like a strange commandment. Love is equated with feeling today. A man ``feels good'' toward a girl so he ``loves'' her. Later on he may ``fall out of love'' with her, and ``fall in love'' with someone else. The same idea applies with love to God. Loving God is supposed to consist of ``feeling good'' about God. Many people feel good about whoever they think God to be while living contrary to His commands.

The Biblical concept of love is not primarily feeling. Biblical love is characterized by obedience and by sacrifice on the part of the one who loves. He obeys whether he ``feels'' like it or not. When the Lord Jesus loved His people He did not just feel good about them. He suffered and died for them. Christ said, ``If ye love me, keep my commandments.'' (Joh 14:15). Do you love Him? How do you know that you do?

04/27

``And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will ... but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.''. {Jos 24:15}

Ah, what a familiar verse! What church-goer has not heard it? Who has not said ``amen'' when it has been quoted? But, alas, who has really heeded it? Not very many, judging by the weakness we see in Christianity today.

Joshua here spoke as a father and as the leader of his household. He was determined to see to it that those in his care were going to at least outwardly serve the Lord. We need leaders of households who will show this same godly determination today. Joshua was willing to stand alone. He was willing to be thought of as ``odd,'' ``old-fashioned,'' and ``square.'' It mattered hot a whit to him what men thought. He was looking to God for approval. Will any of you men be real men? Will you stand with Joshua?

04/28

``And the people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the LORD, that he did for Israel.''. {Jg 2:7}

It is amazing how much influence for good that godly leaders have over their contemporaries. We rarely fail to appreciate those good and godly leaders that God in His mercy sometimes sends to His people. Joshua was one of these godly leaders. So long as he lived the people served God. And even after he died, so long as those leaders who had been personally under his influence lived, the people served God. But, alas, with the death of Joshua and his colleagues ``... there arose another generation after them, which knew not the LORD, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel.''. {Jg 2:10} The people transgressed the commandment of God and greatly suffered. Throughout the period of the Judges God would periodically raise up a godly man to call the people back to God. But after his death the people would invariably revert to idolatry. Let us pray for and appreciate godly leaders.

04/29

``And they were to prove Israel by them, to know whether they would hearken unto the commandments of the LORD....''. {Jg 3:4}

God's ways are as far above our ways as the heavens are above the earth. He had ordered the Israelites to completely drive the native inhabitants out of Canaan. The Israelites had failed to do so. God was angry with them because of their sin and He would no more help the Israelites to drive out their enemies. The Israelites had indeed sinned and this was appropriate punishment for them. At the same time God, in His marvelous providence, worked some good out of this. He said that the enemies of God's people who were left in the land would provide a test for the children of Israel. Would the Israelites partake of the same idolatrous practices of the heathen that remained in the land? This was their test. Perhaps God is testing you today. Maybe there is a situation that you would long to be out of, but you have not been removed. This situation will test you. Will you yield or will you stand fast for God?

04/30

``... In the places of drawing water, there shall they rehearse the righteous acts of the LORD....''. {Jg 5:11}

Down through history there have been informal gathering places for people, where they conversed, swapped stories, etc. We have all heard of the old wood stove in the country store where the men gathered to play checkers, whittle on sticks, and talk. For women we usually think of the conversation over the back fence or perhaps in the beauty shop.

In ancient times these places of converse were sometimes at the gate of the city. Or, as in the verse quoted above, at the well or cistern where the people stood in line to draw water.

But in this passage the conversation was not to be mere gossip. It was not to be about politics, the weather, or sports. There was to be a rehearsal of the righteous acts of the Lord. When you gather with people, especially with believers, do not waste time with worthless talk. Speak of the Person and the Works of the blessed Lord.

05/01

``And they went out of the prison, and entered into the house of Lydia: and when they had seen the brethren, they comforted them, and departed.''. {Ac 16:40}

Paul and Silas had just come through a great trial. They had been beaten and put in prison. It seems that the Christians at the house of Lydia should have comforted them. But, instead of being comforted, Paul and Silas comforted the ones at the house of Lydia. The ones who had been under great trial were stronger than the ones who had not undergone persecution. The lesson is this: The more we undergo persecution for the sake of the Lord the stronger we become.

05/02

``Insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them.''. {Ac 5:15}

This verse implies that even the shadow of Peter falling on the sick would heal them.

How wonderful it would be if we would be so filled with the Holy Spirit that even those we came into casual and momentary contact with might be spiritually benefited and influenced by our mere presence. The Lord Jesus Christ had such an amazing effect on those in His presence that John the Baptist leaped for joy in his mother's womb when he came into the presence of the Savior--who had just been conceived in Mary's womb. {Lu 1:41,44}

05/03

``On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour....''. {Ac 10:9}

Here it is recorded that Peter went on the housetop to pray. Even while he was praying, some servants from Cornelius' household were nigh unto the city of Joppa, where Peter was praying. These servants were going to prove to be sent from God in response to Peter's prayer. Peter had no idea that God, in His marvelous providence, was even at that moment speeding an answer to his prayer.

If we could keep this lesson in mind, there would never be a moment when our prayer life would become dull. Each experience at the throne of grace would be exciting with our never knowing how, or how rapidly, God would answer our prayers.

05/04

``And when it was day, certain of the Jews banded together, and bound themselves under a curse, saying that they would neither eat nor drink till they had killed Paul.''. {Ac 23:12}

Paul was in prison at Jerusalem. More than forty Jews made an awful agreement to kill him. Paul's nephew found out about it and warned him. Thus, this young man was used by God to save Paul's life.

Paul's nephew is a beautiful example of the very essential service that is rendered by even the seemingly insignificant child of God. The great apostle's life was removed from danger because of this boy's service. We can't all be Paul's, but our service is vital, nevertheless.

05/05

``Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas....''. {Ac 9:36}

Dorcas, whose story is recorded in Ac 9:36-41, is a beautiful illustration of the Christian woman, whose characteristics are set down in Tit 2:5: ``To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.'' Dorcas may not have been a glamorous ``career woman,'' but the Holy Spirit thought her work of making coats and garments for others important enough to record it in Ac 9:39. As the virtuous woman in Pr 31:20, Dorcas ``... stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.''

05/06

``Salute Rufus chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine.''. {Ro 16:13}

It is amazing what can be gotten out of a verse of scripture. There are many important truths contained in this verse.

First, ``salute'': The saints are to salute or greet one another. This shows the love and friendship which should govern the relationship among Christians. Saints are told to greet one another with a ``holy kiss'' in Ro 16:16; 1Co 16:20; 2Co 13:12; 1Th 5:26 and 1Pe 5:14.

Second, ``Rufus'': The great apostle Paul was not impersonal in his relationship with the saints. He often called them by name in his epistles. It is wonderfully said of the Lord Jesus Christ that ``... he calleth his own sheep by name....''. {Joh 10:3} Christians are individuals and we need to deal with one another as such.

Third, ``chosen in the Lord''; This teaches the wonderful truth of the personal election of each of the saints in the Lord Jesus Christ. Each saint was ``... chosen ... in him before the foundation of the world....''. {Eph 1:4}

Fourth, ``his mother and mine'': Saints compose one happy family and should think of themselves as such. Timothy was instructed to treat the older men as fathers, the younger men as brothers, the older women as mothers, and the younger women as sisters. {1Ti 5:1-2}

Many times Christians suffer the loss of the affections of their natural families as they follow the Lord. Paul, himself, ``... suffered the loss of all things....''. {Php 3:8} But they always find ``... an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands....''. {Mr 10:30} Paul lost his natural mother for following Christ, but he found a mother in Rufus' mother.

05/07

``And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him.''. {Ge 22:3}

God had told Abraham to take Isaac into the land of Moriah and there offer him for a burnt offering. This was, undoubtedly, the most difficult task Abraham was ever asked to perform. Notice how Abraham responded--he ``rose up early.''

We can all learn a good lesson from this. When we have a job to do, especially a very difficult task to perform, we are tempted to procrastinate, but this only makes the job harder. Satan likes for us the procrastinate; he likes to see God's people ``... halt between two opinions....''. {1Ki 18:21} But God wants us to obey him ``immediately'' or ``straightway.''. {See Mt 4:20}

Often we want God to bless us with great strength before we do a hard job, but God's way is that we are usually blessed in the deed, {Jas 1:25} not before it.

So, Christian friend, quit vacillating. ``... Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.''. {Eph 6:10} What is that difficult task that God has called upon you to do? Go, begin to do it right now! As you face your responsibility, God will strengthen you.

05/08

``Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.''. {Col 4:12}

We don't know much about Epaphras, but we do know that he was a mighty warrior of God in prayer. Three words in this verse tell us something of the intensity of Epaphras' prayer life.

``Always''- We know from this word that Epaphras prayed constantly. He, no doubt, went to God several times each day in prayer, making specific requests in behalf of the saints of Colosse. When he wasn't actually what we might call ``at prayer'' he was in a prayerful attitude. He literally prayed without ceasing. {1Th 5:17}

``Laboring fervently''- These two words are the translation of one Greek word AGONIZOMAI This word means ``to strive, wrestle.'' It means to ``endeavor with strenuous zeal.'' We get our English word ``agony'' from this word.

So not only was Epaphras praying continually--he was working hard at it when he prayed!

Christians often forget that real prayer is sometimes hard work. It is said that our Lord Jesus prayed with ``... strong crying and tears....''. {Heb 5:7}

Christian friend, how is your prayer life? Do you pray constantly? Do you work hard when you pray? Real prayer is not for the lazy Christian. But real prayer glorifies God and brings results.

05/09

``Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.''. {Pr 27:17}

To sharpen a piece of metal (like a hoe or an ax) a hard piece of metal (a file) must be rubbed against it. A piece of soft material (like wood) will only dull it.

The Lord has used this fact here to teach us how we can help our friends and how we, ourselves, can stay spiritually sharp. When we are in good spiritual condition, and we come in contact with our friends, we can help them to become spiritually stronger and more alert. When we speak of the excellencies of the Lord, it tends to stir up the souls of those to whom we speak to greater spiritual endeavors.

On the other hand, when we come in contact with one who is in better spiritual condition than we are, we are stimulated to become spiritually stronger.

Today, and everyday, determine that by the grace of God you will ``sharpen'' everyone with whom you come in contact. Before you utter a word in conversation, ask yourself, ``Will what I say sharpen or dull this person?'' Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.''. {Eph 4:29}

05/10

``But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.''. {Mt 4:4}

The constant reading, study, and meditation of the word of God is as necessary for the Christian's spiritual health as the constant, daily eating of good food is for the health of his body. Miss a few meals and you become physically weak; miss a day or two in neglect of God's word and you suffer from spiritual malnutrition.

The words that ``proceedeth out of the mouth of God'' are contained in the Bible. Paul in 2Ti 3:16 says that ``All scripture is given by inspiration of God....'' The word ``inspiration'' is, literally, ``God breathed,'' hence, out of the mouth of God.

When Joshua was called to lead the people of Israel into Canaan, it was said to him ``This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.''. {Jos 1:8}

David said of the blessed man that ``... his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.''. {Ps 1:2}

Even when Job was in the midst of his afflictions, he said, ``... I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.''. {Job 23:12}

We all know how eagerly that infants gulp down their mothers' milk. Peter said, ``As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby....''. {1Pe 2:2}

Christian friend, if you are spiritually weak today, get your head in the word of God! It will revive your drooping soul. David said, ``This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me.''. {Ps 119:50}

05/11

``Moab hath been at ease from his youth, and he hath settled on his lees, and hath not been emptied from vessel to vessel, neither hath he gone into captivity: therefore his taste remained in him, and his scent is not changed.''. {Jer 48:11}

The Lord is teaching a spiritual lesson here by referring to the process of wine-making. As wine is maturing, dregs or lees settle in the bottom of the bottle. If nothing is done the wine has a strong taste and is not good. Good wine is produced by emptying the wine into another vessel and leaving the dregs behind. This process may have to be repeated several times before the wine is good and clear and ready to drink.

Spiritually, if we are at ease with no problems or persecutions, we tend to ``settle on our lees,'' and we don't have the right taste or scent. When we are tried by trials or persecutions (emptied from vessel to vessel), the dregs of our lives (lack of prayer, neglect of the word of God, lukewarmness, various sins) are removed and with are better able to serve God. How merciful our Father is when he tries us!

If you feel to have been ``emptied from vessel to vessel'' praise God for it. It is for your good and his glory. It is not good to be ``... at ease in Zion....''. {Am 6:1} God prophesied against Judah, ``And it shall come to pass at that time, that I will search Jerusalem with candles, and punish the men that are settled on their lees: that say in their heart, The LORD will not do good, neither will he do evil.''. {Zep 1:12}

05/12

``But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.''. {Job 23:10}

Impurities, in the form of dross, are removed from metals, such as gold and silver, by the refining process. This process involves great heat. When the refining has been accomplished, the metal is pure, beautiful, and valuable.

In the scripture, the Lord draws an analogy between this refining process and the sufferings of the saints. When the Lord's people are brought through sufferings, the impurities of their lives are purged away and they are better able to serve the Lord.

It was prophetically said of the Lord Jesus, ``And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.''. {Mal 3:3}

Don't faint when under pressure. Don't give up when the fire gets hot. The Master Refiner is working on you. You will shine like gold or silver for Him when the dross is gone.

05/13

``As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings....''. {De 32:11}

The Lord's dealings with Israel are here described in a figure--a mother eagle watching over her young and teaching them to fly. This figure was touched on in Ex 19:4, where the Lord described his deliverance of Israel from Egypt by saying, ``... I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself.''

What is under consideration here is evidently the method by which the little eagles are taught to fly. When the mother perceives that they are ready she ``stirs'' them, she shoves them out of the nest. When their little wings weaken, she spreads her wings, swoops down under them and bears them up.

So it was with Israel of old--so it is with God's people today. We often have to be ``stirred,'' to be shoved out of the nest. But this is for our good. Our wings of faith would never become stronger if we didn't use them. When we do try them, find that we are not as strong as we think we are, and that we will surely perish, we suddenly feel the comforting presence of His ``wings'' beneath us, bearing us up.

05/14

``... My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?''. {Mt 27:46}

These words were uttered by the Savior on the cross as he was made to be sin, {2Co 5:21} made a curse, {Ga 3:13} gave his life a ransom for many, {Mt 20:28} gave his life for the sheep, {Joh 10:11} was offered to bear the sins of many, {Heb 9:28} his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree. {1Pe 2:24}

The anguish that Christ suffered as He paid for all the sins of all His people is beyond imagination. We can gain only a little knowledge of it. The more knowledge of this that we do gain, the more we will appreciate the Lord Jesus Christ and the more we will want to live for Him.

These same words were uttered by David some one thousand years before Christ uttered them. David, no doubt, uttered them about himself, as he was going through a great trial of affliction. But the Holy Spirit was also guiding him to speak prophetically of the sufferings of Christ which would occur approximately one thousand years later.

Examine Psa. 22, compare it with the Gospel accounts of the sufferings and death of the Lord Jesus, remember that one thousand years stand between the time of David and the time of Christ, and stand amazed at the providence of God in fulfilling prophecy.

Compare Ps 22:7-8 with Mt 27:39-43; compare Ps 22:17 with Mt 27:36 and Joh 19:33-36; compare Ps 22:18 with Mt 27:35. Consider the expressions in Ps 22:16 ``... they pierced my hands and my feet.''

Remember that the Old Testament had been completed and commonly accepted by the Jews several hundred years before the birth of Christ. The amazing recording in the New Testament of the events predicted in the Old is miraculous and can be accounted for only by the fact that God is in complete control of all history.

Read Ps 22 prayerfully and enter into the suffering of the Lord Jesus Christ.

05/15

``He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.''. {Pr 28:13}

Often the reason behind our lack of spiritual prosperity is hidden and unconfessed sin. Actually, we only hide our sins from each other. We can not hide them from God. ``For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.''. {Heb 4:12}

We often try to cover our sins from each other, because in our pride we wish to be thought better than we are. Often we try to cover our sins from ourselves by putting them out of mind, banishing serious thoughts, stifling conviction, and trying to persuade ourselves that we are happy. And, like Adam and Eve, who ``... hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.'', {Ge 3:8} we foolishly try to cover our sins from God.

But we can not prosper if we do so. Israel could not win the battle so long as Achan covered his sins. (Jos 7). Not matter how hard the sailors rowed they could not make shore so long as they tried to ignore Jonah's sin (Jon 1). And David was miserable when he tried to keep his sin hidden. {Ps 32:3}

But, praise the Lord, a sinner can be prosperous in soul again when he confesses and forsakes his sin. David said, ``I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin.''. {Ps 32:5}

The restored sinner is in a condition to serve the Lord. David said again, ``Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.''. {Ps 51:13}

There is wonderful healing for lives, for homes, for churches in confession and repentance. James said, ``Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed.''. {Jas 5:16}

Brethren, don't delay! Don't try to hide your sins. Confess them and turn from them today.

"Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth."(Lu 15:10).

05/16

``Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt.'' And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.''. {Mt 15:28}

True faith is very powerful and very persistent. It just doesn't give up. In the face of discouragements and obstacles it continues to persist. This Syrophoenician woman came to Jesus with a request that her daughter be healed. Jesus answered her not a word. This was a discouragement, but on top of that, His disciples asked Him to send her away. What a blow to her that must have been. But a further discouragement came when He said, ``I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.'' This evidently left her out because she was a Gentile. But she still refused to be discouraged. She worshipped Him and said, ``Lord, help me.'' Then came the greatest trial of all to her faith. Jesus said, ``It is not meet to take the children's bread, and cast it to dogs.'' This seems like to have been a crushing blow from which she should have turned away in despair. But her great faith caused her to say, "Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table.''

This great faith brought a response from Jesus. Every child of God has this faith. See Eph 2:8. It is a gift of God. We need to be aware of the great strength of our faith, and we need to learn to exercise this faith. As we exercise it, we will learn to ask great things of God. This pleases God. ``But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.''. {Heb 11:6}

Christian friend, don't underestimate the vast power of your God-given faith. ``For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.'' {1Jo 5:4}

05/17

``And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.''. {Mr 6:31}

When Jesus Christ walked this earth some 2000 years ago, He was the Son of God and He was also the Son of Man. As a man He was ``... in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.''. {Heb 4:15} As man He hungered, thirsted, and became weary. He understood that in His busy life it was necessary to frequently retire to a place by Himself for physical rest and for intimate communication with His Father by prayer.

On one occasion ``... he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.''. {Lu 6:12} As another reference puts it, ``And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.''. {Mt 14:23} Not only at night did He sometimes get off by Himself, but ``... rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.''. {Mr 1:35}

If Jesus found it necessary to get off in solitude to rest and to pray, it behooves His disciples to do the same.

In this hectic world we must find ``quiet times'' to be with the Lord, to worship Him and to commune with Him. This is the secret to real spiritual strength and to ascertain God's direction for our lives.

05/18

``Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me.''. {Ps 119:133}

One of the fruits of the Holy Spirit is self-control or ``temperance.''. {Ga 5:23} If a Christian does not exercise self-control over himself through the power of the Holy Spirit, his testimony before men and his communion with God will be greatly hindered.

Satan tempts us and tries to make us become slaves to our appetites and passions. Some people become addicted to drugs or alcohol. Others become slaves to sexual appetites, sports, or some particular hobby. Even legitimate pursuits become sinful when they gain control over us and distract us from the service of God.

Speaking of his determination to refuse to become a slave of his appetites or passions, Paul said, ``... all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.''. {1Co 6:12}

Not only our physical habits but our passions such as anger must be kept under strict control. As the wise man put it, ``He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.''. {Pr 25:28} Positively stated, ``He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.''. {Pr 16:32}

The Roman epistle exhorts the saints to ``Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.''. {Ro 6:12}

Admittedly, self-control is very hard work. But the child of God must do this work with great determination and with absolute dependence on the power of the Holy Spirit. Notice the tremendous determination of Paul as he said, ``I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.''. {1Co 9:26-27}

The only alternative to lack of self-control is becoming a castaway--to losing our usefulness in the service of God.

05/19

``Riches and honour are with me; yea, durable riches and righteousness.''. {Pr 8:18}

Almost everyone is interested in riches. People take great care to provide for the future with savings accounts, insurance policies, and retirement plans. The man is thought to be very prudent who provides for his needs in this way.

But while men plan for the future in this way, the vast majority neglect their own souls. They are so busy in material pursuits that they have no time to make provision for their spiritual needs.

But the above verse speaks of ``durable riches.'' The context plainly shows that these durable riches consist of the wisdom that comes with a close walk with God. Wisdom cries out: ``Receive my instruction, and not silver; and knowledge rather than choice gold. For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it.''. {Pr 8:10-11}

This wisdom of God is so much more durable than material wealth, no matter how great. Timothy was commanded to ``Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy....''. {1Ti 6:17} There is a great contrast between these ``uncertain riches'' and the ``durable riches'' of Pr 8:18.

The Son of God said, ``Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.'' (Mt 6:19-21)

05/20

``Fools make a mock at sin: but among the righteous there is favour.''. {Pr 14:9}

Today it is very common for people to make jokes about things that the Lord calls sin. This is supposed to be an innocent pleasure but the Lord calls them fools who engage in such conduct.

For example, jokes about sex, about men looking at pretty women with lust in their hearts, are quite common-place. However, the Son of God has said, ``But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.'' (Mt 5:28). The Bible further says that ``... whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.''. {Heb 13:4} So this is not a laughing matter. Satan knows that if he can get us to laughing about this and other sins, he can deceive us as to the seriousness of sin. Sin is deadly business. Sin caused the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ, ``Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree....''. {1Pe 2:24}

Jokes about Noah's ark, about meeting Peter at the pearly gates, about hell and about other sacred subjects are extremely common today--even among professing Christians. Such things should not be. We would do well to engage in ``Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.''. {Eph 5:4}

05/21

``He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.''. {Pr 13:20}

It is certain that those with whom with keep constant company have a great effect on us. We learn much--both good and bad from those around us. Much of this knowledge and behavior just ``rubs off'' on us without our being consciously aware of what is taking place. No wonder the word of God warns us to be very careful to choose those with whom we walk in close association each day.

Negatively, we are not to have as close friends those who do not fear God and do not use the Bible as the guide for their lives. David said, ``Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly....''. {Ps 1:1} Soloman said, ``My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not.''. {Pr 1:10} Paul said, ``... evil communications corrupt good manners.''. {1Co 15:33} It is impossible for anyone to keep bad company and not be corrupted by it.

Positively, our lives can be greatly enriched if we seek for and walk with noble men and women who love and fear the Lord. We can learn good habits and life patterns from those who have long walked with the Lord.

Not only will we learn how to live as we associate with these noble ones, but we will be challenged and encouraged to constantly grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.

How wonderful that our dear Lord has prepared a way for us to become truly wise--walking with His wise ones.

05/22

``By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.''. {Heb 13:15}

This verse is loaded with truth which, put into practice, will glorify God and greatly strengthen the believer.

``By him''--this expression tells us that we can't even praise God except through Jesus Christ. How thankful we should be that one of the gifts that Christ purchased on the cross for His people was the gift of praise.

``Sacrifice''--Believers in the New Testament period are all priests before God. {1Pe 2:5} Priests are to offer sacrifices. One of the sacrifices that we are to offer is praise. We praise Him as we reflect on His blessed attributes and on His goodness toward us. As we thus reflect, our lips will be compelled to give thanks to His name.

``Continually''--This giving of thanks should not be just an occasional exercise--it should be a constant and habitual practice. David said, ``... I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.''. {Ps 34:1} He said again, ``From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same the Lord's name is to be praised.''. {Ps 113:3}

Try following this practice today. You'll be surprised what a wonderful change will take place in your attitude. Even in the midst of death, trouble, and disappointment, the child of God can praise the Lord for His wonderful salvation.

05/23

``Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.''. {Php 1:24}

Paul stated that he had a ``... desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better....''. {Php 1:23} But he was willing to abide in the flesh so long as he was needed by the Philippians and others.

We would do well to follow the great apostle in this attitude. He didn't live to be served by others--his life was devoted to serving his Lord and the Lord's people. In this he was following the example of the Lord Who ``... came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.'' (Mt 20:28).

A Christian cannot be happy or fulfilled if he always expects others to serve him. True joy is found in a life of service. Try serving your Lord today--see what you can find to do for His people. A life of contentment will be the result. Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, ``... It is more blessed to give than to receive.'' (Ac 20:35).

05/24

``And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.''. {Mt 4:19}

Every believer is called to be a ``fisher of men.'' This means that he is to convert others to the truth as it is in Jesus Christ. There is only one way to become a fisher of men: that is to become a consistent follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. As one becomes a follower of the Lord, the change in him will become evident to those about him. This was evident in the case of Peter and John. It is written of them,

``Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.''. {Ac 4:13}

There is only one way to become a true follower of the Lord, one must carefully study the life of Christ as it is set forth in the scriptures, and then prayerfully imitate that life with the enabling of the Holy Spirit.

This must be done with real determination on a daily basis. Our Lord said, ``And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.'' (Lu 9:23).

Christian friend, do you want to experience the joy of becoming a fisher of men? Begin today! Make the life of Christ your diligent study and your constant pattern of living.

05/25

``Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.''. {Eph 4:29}

The ability of speech is a wonderful gift of God, and we must be very careful how we use it. Each word that we speak should be spoken for a definite purpose. When we speak to others we should use our words to edify (build up) the person to whom we are speaking. Our words should ``minister grace'' to those who hear. Our words should be carefully designed to bring about good reactions, to bring the hearers closer to the Lord.

There is no place for idle words in the conversation of a child of God. In fact the Savior said, ``... That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.'' (Mt 12:36). No wonder that David prayed, ``Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.''. {Ps 141:3} Again he prayed, ``Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.''. {Ps 19:14}

Christian reader, today and every day, use your words to bring glory to God and help to people.

05/26

``... For the joy of the LORD is your strength.''. {Ne 8:10}

It is so important for a Christian to be strong. There are many battles to be fought against our own flesh. To fight, we must be strong. To be strong, we must be filled with the joy of the Lord.

The joy of the Lord is not dependent on circumstances. A person can be afflicted and persecuted and still be strong in the joy of the Lord. See Paul and Silas praying and singing praises at midnight, even though they were in prison, with their feet in stocks and stripes on their backs. {Ac 16:25} See the apostles ``... rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.''. {Ac 5:41} Hear Paul say that he was ``... sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing....''. {2Co 6:10}

The joy of the Lord comes from walking in fellowship with the dear Lord. Speaking of the Lord, David said, ``... in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.''. {Ps 16:11} Joy is given to us as a fruit of the blessed Holy Spirit. {Ga 5:22}

Walk with the Lord today, dear one. Commune with Him in prayer. Follow Him in obedience. No matter the circumstances. You will be filled with joy and you will be strong. ``Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.''. {Php 4:4}

05/27

``Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all.''. {Joh 13:10}

This verse contains a glorious truth that, properly understood, will bring joy to the child of God. Jesus tells Peter that the one who has been washed (in the original language this is in the past or completed tense) is ``clean every whit.'' The expression ``every whit'' comes from a word which means ``all, whole, complete.'' Jesus is saying that the one who has been washed is wholly or completely clean. The word translated ``clean'' means ``without blemish, spotless, blameless.''

He who has been washed in the blood of Christ, who has been regenerated by the Spirit of God is wholly and entirely clean in the sight of God! He has been justified by the righteousness of Christ. Because of justification all his sins have been pardoned, and he is perfectly righteous in Christ before God. ``There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus....''. {Ro 8:1} ``Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth.''. {Ro 8:33} When God has pronounced one ``clean every whit'' no one, including Satan, can bring a charge against him.

When Jesus said, ``Ye are clean, but not all'' He was referring to Judas Iscariot, who was not a blood-bought child of God.

Even though the child of God is completely clean in a legal sense and will never come under the wrath of God, he still sins and must confess and repent daily. This is the lesson taught in the washing of the feet (the feet of his life and conversation). Even though our relationship with God can never be broken our fellowship with Him can be temporarily broken by unconfessed sins. The we need to wash our feet (confess and repent). One who is not already clean cannot confess and repent in the true sense of the word.

What does this mean to the child of God? Let us live like children of the king! Let us rejoice that when He sees us He sees us as clean and righteous in Jesus Christ. Let us go often to Him in prayer for only a cleansed one has the exalted privilege of coming into His glorious presence.

What good news it was to the Corinthian Christians when Paul told them that ``... ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.''. {1Co 6:11} What good news it is to us today!

05/28

``Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously....''. {1Pe 2:23}

The Savior is our perfect example in this as He is in everything else. He did not ``fight back'' when He was mistreated, but left His case in the hands of God the Father.

How hard it is for us to do this when we try to do it in our own power. Our natural tendency is for us to argue, to protest, to ``fight back,'' to defend ourselves when we have been wronged.

But we must follow the example of our Lord. His enemies said terrible things about and to him. To ``revile'' means to ``reproach, vilify, or slander.'' The enemies of Jesus constantly criticized Him, told lies about Him, and stirred the people up against Him. Perhaps the culmination of the hard things said against the Lord Jesus were those things said at His trial before the Jewish council. They even hired false witnesses against Him. Instead of defending Himself ``... Jesus held his peace .... {Mt 26:63} As Isaiah said, ``... as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.''. {Isa 53:7}

Why did Jesus remain silent? Because God was the righteous judge and Jesus was perfectly willing to trust His case in the hands of God. We, too, will quit trying to feverishly defend ourselves when we are willing to trust our case in the hands of the Lord. He will render the right verdict in His own time. In the meantime, we must humbly serve the Lord and silently suffer when we are blessed to suffer for His name.

When we can learn to trust our defense in the hands of the Righteous Judge, what peace will come to our souls.

05/29

``Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.''. {Ps 119:11}

One of the most powerful weapons that we have against Satan, sin, and the world is the word of God. In fact, we are to take the ``... the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God....''. {Eph 6:17} One of the most effective ways that we can use the word of God is by committing portions of the word to memory.

Evidently David had done this; he ``hid'' the word in his heart. This was not a mere intellectual exercise; he committed the word to memory for the purpose of not sinning against God. When Satan tempted David to commit a particular sin, David would call to mind a particular portion of scripture which forbade the commission of that very sin. This is truly using the word as the sword of the Spirit.

There are other benefits derived from committing the word to memory. Paul said ``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.''. {Col 3:16} When the word has been committed to memory and dwells in our hearts we will be in a position to teach and to admonish each other. Our admonitions then will not come from our own opinions; they will come from God's word. We will also be in a position to worship God more perfectly--in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. The Holy Spirit will take the word which we have committed to memory and help us to worship God with it.

If you wish to be strong in the Lord commit verses to memory every day. One verse memorized each week would make about fifty a year. In ten years this would grow to five hundred verses. For the glory of God, begin today.

05/30

``And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.''. {Lu 22:31-32}

The great enemy of our soul hates us and would like for us to completely and permanently deny our Lord. If we were left to ourselves this would be our sad case. But the Lord Jesus as our great Intercessor prays for us and, even though we may have temporary lapses, our faith will never be extinguished. The Lord will bring us to repentance and restoration. When we are restored or ``converted'' then we are once again useful in the service of our Lord. Then we are able to strengthen our brethren.

Peter denied his Lord, but the Lord brought him to repentance, restored him to a place of usefulness, and gave him the command to feed His sheep and lambs. {Joh 21:15-17} The Lord even permitted Peter to glorify Him in his death. {Joh 21:19}

What should this mean to us? When we fall into sin and our lives become cold and useless, we should seek repentance. We should not wallow in misery and in self-pity, but should pray for God to restore us to a place of service.

We can do this with great courage and hope, knowing that God always hears the prayers of Jesus, and that Jesus has prayed for all His children that their faith would not fail.

05/31

``And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.''. {Ga 6:9}

The context indicates that this verse primarily applies to the giving of our material goods in the cause of Christ. But the principle applies to all areas of our Christian life. We need to persevere in Christian works lest we fail to reap.

The Christian life is a constant struggle against Satan, the world-system, and our own flesh. As we struggle and fail to see immediate results, we grow weary and discouraged and are tempted to give it all up. But we must not! God has promised that we will reap bountiful blessings in due time. To give up would be like a man drilling for oil who ceased drilling at 90 feet. If he had drilled to 100 feet, he would have struck a gushing oil well.

To keep from giving up, we must constantly encourage ourselves with the promises of God. ``He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: 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.''. {Isa 40:29-31}

06/01

``Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied. {Ac 9:31}

The churches had been under great trial because of the persecution of Saul of Tarsus. No doubt they had been ready to despair. They were so weary. But the Lord knows just how much His people can take before they collapse. He changed Saul the persecutor to Paul the Apostle and gave his people rest.

He works with individual Christians the same way. We may think that we will reach the breaking point, but He will deliver before that time. ``Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all.''. {Ps 34:19}

Persevere in righteousness, weary Christian. The Lord will deliver in due time. He will, in His glorious providence, give you rest when He knows you have to have it. Resist Satan. Encourage yourself in the Lord. The Lord set the example of resisting Satan. ``And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season.''. {Lu 4:13} The Lord will see to it that the devil will depart from you for a season, too.

06/02

``Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven. {Lu 10:20}

The Lord Jesus had sent seventy preachers out. As they came back from their mission they ``... returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.''. {Lu 10:17} Then the Lord told them that the real cause of rejoicing should be that their names were written in heaven.

To have one's name written in heaven is to be assured of eternal salvation. Speaking of the eternal city of God the scripture says, ``And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.''. {Re 21:27} The names of God's elect people were ``... written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.''. {Re 13:8} Those ``... whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world....'' {Re 17:8} are those who will not be brought to salvation.

A man may have wealth, power, health, and all other outward advantages. But if he is not one of the Lord's, all this will come to an end when he dies and he will suffer eternal misery. But though a man be sorely tried in this life and yet has his name written in heaven he has great cause for rejoicing. God is his God now and forever more through the Lord Jesus Christ.

How do I know if my name was written in the Lamb's book of life before the foundation of the world? I know it because God saves me by His grace now in this life and causes me to love Him and to live for Him. ``We love Him, because he first loved us.''. {1Jo 4:19} God always draws those He loves to salvation. ``Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.''. {Jer 31:3}

Paul could thus speak of those who had labored for the Lord as those ``... whose names are in the book of life.''. {Php 4:3}

Some glorious day in the future, all the saints will enjoy the continual presence of the Lord Jesus Christ in their capacity as the ``... general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven.''. {Heb 12:23}

So, dear reader, if you truly love the Lord this means that He loves you. Circumstances may be dark and the way may be difficult, but ``rejoice, because your names are written in heaven!''

06/03

``One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in his temple. {Ps 27:4}

The New Testament believer can and should pray this prayer that David prayed. God's house is the place where He chooses to especially abide. His house today is each true New Testament congregation of believers: ``... the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.''. {1Ti 3:15}

There is one principal thing that David desired--not wealth, not fame, not fading worldly pleasures--but and opportunity of attending continually on the public worship of God.

He said he would ``seek after'' this; by prayer, by availing himself of every opportunity of worshipping God in the congregation; by conducting his life so that he would not bring reproach upon God's church.

The psalmist wanted to dwell there ``all the days of his life.'' He was committed to be a good church member. He had not thought of ever forsaking the assembly of the saints.

He wanted to ``behold the beauty of the Lord.'' This beauty is displayed as Christ is geld forth in the gospel. This beauty is beheld as the saints lift up their hearts and voices together to sing praises to their Redeemer. The beauty of the Lord is beheld as God's people walk in the unity of the Holy Spirit and genuinely care for each other and serve one another. The beauty of the Lord is beautifully displayed in the ordinances of Baptism and the Lord's supper, and in the practice of washing the saint's feet. (Joh 13).

David, furthermore, wanted to ``inquire in his temple''--to seek the face of the Lord, to consult Him in matters of difficulty, to search after the knowledge of divine things.

What a worthy prayer this is! Let this be the heart-breathing of every true believer today. The church of the Lord Jesus Christ is the most wonderful assembly on the face of the earth.

06/04

``For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. {Mt 6:14-15}

One major reason that causes a lack of spiritual power among Christians is the failure to forgive. The above verses teach plainly that we can have no fellowship with the heavenly Father when we fail to forgive those who wrong us.

People often say ``I will forgive, but I can't forget.'' But this is not real forgiveness. Forgetting is the very essence of forgiving. Consider the following passage: ``For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.''. {Heb 8:12}

But you may say, ``Well, I just can't put something out of my mind.'' This may be true but there are three things that can be done which will constitute forgetting in a very real way:

You can resolve to never bring the matter up again to the person involved.

You can determine to never speak of the matter to any third party.

You can refuse to think of the matter again--or at least to let your mind dwell on it.

If the thought comes to your mind, think about something else. Perhaps you could memorize scriptures that have to do with forgiveness and think on these when the matter tries to invade your mind.

Prayerfully determine to do these things and experience the blessed peace of our Lord when He says, ``... Well done, thou good and faithful servant....'' (Mt 25:21).

06/05

``If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? {Lu 16:11}

The way that we think about and use money tells a good deal about our character. The Savior said a great many things about money while He was on earth and He is the One who is speaking here.

We do not have a right to use our money any way we please. We are obligated to use our wealth the way our Lord tells us to. He is the One who has given us the opportunity and ability to make money. ``But thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth....''. {De 8:18}

It is sin for us to waste money by foolish spending or by purchasing luxuries with which to pamper ourselves. These luxuries, expensive hobbies, etc., tend to take our minds off the Lord and consume money that could be put to much better use in the Lord's service.

It is also sin for us to be covetous. A covetous person is selfish and wants to lay up all his wealth for himself or to spend it on himself and perhaps on his near of kin. This individual will come to great sorrow. Speaking of the covetous rich man who died in disfavor with God, Jesus said, ``So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.''. {Lu 12:21}

Let us be rich toward God! Let us examine our spending practices with a prayerful attitude and see where we are wasting money that should be used in the service of God. This is where we will find true happiness. A covetous person is never happy. Every true child of God who has practiced sacrificial giving has truly learned that, ``... It is more blessed to give than to receive.''. {Ac 20:35}

When we do this, then more and more, the Lord will commit to our trust the true riches.

06/06

``And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God. {Lu 16:15}

Being popular with men does not make a cause or a practice right. In fact, the majority of things that receive approval among sinful men are disgusting to God.

We, as sinful creatures, must ever guard against the temptation to judge the rightness or the wrongness of a thing by its popularity or unpopularity. We are tempted to be like those who, ``... believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.''. {Joh 12:42-43}

How do we find out what God loves and what God hates? Only in His word. We must diligently study it and strive to build into our lives those things which God approves.

For example, the world places great emphasis on physical beauty, especially as regards women. A beautiful woman is nearly always popular, regardless of her character or morals. But God says, ``Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.''. {Pr 31:30}

Another example: The world today praises women who are loud, proud, and self-assertive. This is particularly evidenced in the so-called Women's' Liberation movement. But this is an abomination to God. Speaking of godly women, the Bible says that they are to be adorned with ``... a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.''. {1Pe 3:4}

Dear readers, let us not try to please men. Paul said, ``... for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.''. {Ga 1:10}

06/07

``Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. {Heb 4:16}

Satan does everything he can do to keep the child of God from coming to the throne of grace in prayer. He tells us that we are too sinful to pray, or that God won't really understand our problems, or that our particular problems are too insignificant for God to be concerned with.

But all these are lies. We can confess our sins and ``obtain mercy.'' God does understand, ``For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.''. {Heb 2:18} Our problems are not insignificant to God Who said, ``Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God? But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.''. {Lu 12:7}

Finally come ``boldly'' to the throne of grace. The word translated ``boldly'' has as its root idea ``freedom of speech, unreservedness of utterance.''

Don't let Satan hinder you. Go in prayer right now and pour out your heart to God.

06/08

``Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. {Mt 6:34}

Worry about the future causes much distress to God's people. The Savior here warns against it. To worry about tomorrow shows a lack of faith in Him Who has all things in His hands.

The Lord gives us strength to live only one day at a time. To try to take on the cares of two or more days at a time is to invite physical and mental collapse.

To worry about tomorrow tends to paralyze us into inactivity so that we cannot perform today's tasks.

Christian friend, get up and work on today's tasks, one by one, in the strength of the Holy Spirit. Leave tomorrow in the hands of the all-wise God. Remember the promise of our Lord, ``... and as thy days, so shall thy strength be.''. {De 33:25}

06/09

``Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath... {Jas 1:19}

Man's ways are usually the opposite of God's, hence man is in trouble most of the time. Most people are not good listeners, they want to do most or all the talking in a conversation, and they become angry very easily.

But the word of God here tells us to be swift to hear. Oftentimes we miss messages that God is sending to us through an individual because we are not swift to hear.

The word tells us to be slow to speak. We need to always weigh our words before we speak them, to consider whether or not they will glorify God and help the individual to whom we are speaking. The wise man said, ``Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? there is more hope of a fool than of him.''. {Pr 29:20}

We also need to be more like our Lord Who is ``... slow to anger....''. {Ps 103:8}

Consciously try to practice these three things today and see how much better your conscience feels.

06/10

``For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. {Jas 1:20}

When a person is filled with wrath, he loses control over himself. He does and says things that he may later deeply regret. The Jews in the synagogue at Nazareth were ``... filled with wrath ...'' {Lu 4:28} and they tried to kill Jesus. Paul was mobbed by the Ephesians who were ``... full of wrath....''. {Ac 19:28} Wrath is one of the ``... works of the flesh....''. {Ga 5:19-20}

The child of God, who has the indwelling Holy Spirit, has the ability to control his wrath. If you are born again, don't let Satan deceive you with the lie that you can't control your wrath. You can learn to control it with the help of God. You can't work the righteousness of God and be useful in His service if you don't control it.

The wise man said, ``He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.'' {Pr 16:32}

06/11

``Quench not the Spirit. {1Th 5:19}

God's people can never totally lose the Holy Spirit once they are born again, {see Php 1:6; Joh 10:28} but they can greatly dampen the felt presence of the Spirit in their lives.

The symbol of fire is here alluded to in reference to the Spirit. There are two ways to quench a fire: remove the source of fuel or pour water or some other such substance on it.

We remove the source of fuel when we neglect to read the Word, cease to pray, and absent ourselves from public worship.

We pour foreign matter on the Spirit when we indulge in sin, keep bad company, etc.

Today begin to pour the fuel of God's word, prayer, worship, and good works on the fire of God within you. Remove the foreign material of sin by confession and repentance.

Experience revival in your soul as the Spirit of God rises to a mighty blaze in your life.

06/12

``That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ....''. {Php 1:10}

Each of us has a limited time to live on this earth and many choices confront us as to how to use this time. Christians will reject openly sinful activities, but they let Satan deceive them into using much of their precious time in activities that will bring them little spiritual profit. A hobby, a form of recreation, a second job, will keep them from spending their time on the really ``excellent'' things.

But Paul tells us to ``approve things that are excellent.'' Everything that engages our time needs to be consciously put to the test. Everything but the very best needs to be rejected. We need to engage in the study of the word, in prayer, in meditation, in good works. These are among the excellent things that are to be highly valued and esteemed more than our necessary food.

When we come to die the ``excellent'' things will be all that really matter to us. May it be so while we live.

06/13

``For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.''. {Php 1:21}

Even Christians sometimes dread death. They live in morbid fear of it. But not Paul. He looked forward to death as ``gain.'' Why? Because for to him to live was Christ.

And it must be so for every believer who wants the fear and dread of death removed from his life. We can't expect to set our affections on the things of this world--to spend our time, money, and efforts in worldly pursuits--and at the same time have the glorious assurance or our eternal salvation.

Each of us must speak for himself in this matter. No one can live our life for us. When we can say ``For to me to live is Christ''--then we can say, ``Yes, and for me to die is gain!''

06/14

``For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.''. {Ezr 7:10}

Even though the minister of the Lord Jesus Christ is to be the authoritative teacher in the church, every Christian has the duty to teach in certain situations. {see Tit 2:3-5; Heb 5:12} Ezra set a good example for every would-be teacher.

First, he ``prepared his heart'' by confession, repentance, and prayer. Next, he sought the law of the Lord. He searched the scriptures diligently to know the mind of God. Then he was determined ``to do it.'' He lived according to the principles of the scriptures in his own life. Only then was he prepared ``to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.''

If you want your teaching to be effective--even if it is teaching your own children--then you must follow Ezra's example. Otherwise your teaching will be ineffective and will have no more authority than the teaching of the scribes and Pharisees.

06/15

``And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that thine hand might be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! And God granted him that which he requested.''. {1Ch 4:10}

Jabez called on God for great things and God gloriously answered his prayer. We, too, need to call on our God for great things. We have a rich and generous Father!

We need to ask God to ``enlarge our coast,'' to give us a great sphere of influence as we witness for Him. As He blesses us then we need to humbly request that His hand would be with us and that He would keep us from evil. This is necessary because without His restraining influence we would tend to be lifted up with pride and over-confidence as we received His bountiful blessings.

Let us dare to ask God to use us greatly in His service for His glory. He will graciously grant such a God-honoring request.

06/16

``Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.''. {1Pe 2:24}

The greatest incentive that any Christian can have to righteous living is to consider the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross. If this doesn't move us to righteous living, we have reason to doubt our very salvation.

It is true that He ``bare our sins in his own body on the tree.'' It is true that we were healed by the stripes which the Roman soldiers put on His precious body with their cruel whips.

But it is also true that His death, in which we became partakers in the new birth, rendered us ``dead to sins.'' Because of this we are to ``live unto righteousness.''

When you are tempted to sin, flee in your mind to the cross. See Him there ``... wounded for our transgressions ... bruised for our iniquities....''. {Isa 53:5} See if this awful scene doesn't kill your taste for sin.

06/17

``But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear....''. {1Pe 3:15}

Christians are called upon to be witnesses for their Lord. This verse tells us how to be so.

First, we must be sanctified in our hearts. Our lives are to be cleansed of known sin and we are to live for Him as our Lord and Master.

Next, we must always be ready. We must be living in fellowship with Him and must know the scriptures so that we can properly represent Him.

When we are living this way, men will take notice of our lives and God will, in His providence, cause some to ask us why we thus deny ourselves and live for Him.

Then we must give our answer in the proper attitude--``with meekness and fear;'' meekness toward those with whom we speak and with a reverential fear of the Lord God.

When our testimony is given in this way, and not with a proud or haughty spirit, God will bless it to be effective to His glory.

06/18

``By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.''. {Joh 13:35}

One of the greatest witnesses that Christians can bare for their Savior is the manifestations of love the each other. This is a vital matter. A church or an individual cannot bare the proper testimony without an active love. The church at Ephesus was doctrinally sound and zealous in works, but the Lord Jesus strongly rebuked them because they had left their first love. {Re 2:1-5} Our Lord commanded, ``... Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.''. {Lu 10:27} If we are really loving God we will love our neighbor. John said, ``We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.''. {1Jo 3:14}

In a dark world that is filled with hatred and strife, Christians are called upon to let their lights shine. One of the brightest beams of this light is loving one another.

06/19

``A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.''. {Pr 15:1}

Paul said, ``Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.''. {Ro 14:19} One of the best ways to make peace is to always give a soft answer. One of the most effective ways to destroy peace is to use grievous words. It takes two to have an argument. If a brother is a little out of sorts, a grievous word will stir him up to hot anger. When he is angry he sins. If we have stirred him up to anger, we have put a stumbling block in his way and caused him to sin. Satan is in the background with evil glee in his heart as he watches two brethren get madder and madder.

A soft answer is like pouring oil on troubled waters. It is like quenching a dangerous fire with water. What could have been a fierce argument is turned into a profitable conversation. Satan is defeated.

Let us pray that God will help us to always give a soft answer.

06/20

``But the firstling of an ass thou shalt redeem with a lamb: and if thou redeem him not, then shalt thou break his neck. All the firstborn of thy sons thou shalt redeem. And none shall appear before me empty.''. {Ex 34:20}

In this verse there is a beautiful picture of redemption. The ass was an unclean animal according to the Levitical law. The ass is a picture of sinful mankind who are by nature unclean before God. Sinful man needs redemption. He needs a substitute to die in his place and purchase redemption for him. If the substitute be not found, sinful man must die eternally under the wrath of the Holy God, even as the unredeemed ass died.

Thanks be to God, Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, {Joh 1:29} died to save His people from their sins. {Mt 1:21} All for whom Christ died shall be saved with eternal salvation. He paid the price for them with His own precious life.

This glorious reality must move us to a life of willing, thankful service to Him. Christian, live today for Him who died for you.

06/21

``While I live will I praise the LORD: I will sing praises unto my God while I have any being.''. {Ps 146:2}

Life on earth is so short. The average life-span of man is around seventy years. Many do not even attain unto this age.

Human beings are so fragile and death is so certain and so final. The strong, robust man is walking about today and tomorrow he is dead. Disease, accidents, old age cut him down in a moment. His voice is stilled; he stares out of unseeing eyes; his ears hear not. He is buried and soon forgotten; his once-strong body soon decays into a little pile of dust.

It behooves us,then, to praise the Lord now! He has given us our voices. Let us lift them in continual praise to His holy name.

The blood-bought saint will not only praise Him in this world, but will praise Him more perfectly in the world to come. Our life is in Christ and He ``... liveth for ever and ever.''. {Re 4:10}

One of the main reasons we should praise Him now is because He has purchased for us the blessed privilege of praising Him forever and forever, world without end.

06/22

``Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.''. {Pr 27:6}

The person who is always complimenting us, and who never points out our faults is not our true friend. None of us are perfect in our walk. Often we are blind to our own faults and need a faithful friend who will admonish us when we are engaging in some practice that is destructive to us and dishonoring to God. The wounds may hurt but they will soon heal and they are for our ultimate good.

We also need to be faithful to wound our friends when we see that they have need of it. Such wounding must be done with prayerful concern and in the right attitude. We must ``... consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works....''. {Heb 10:24}

These faithful wounds may hurt for awhile and there may be a temporary break in close fellowship. But, if the rebuke is delivered in the right spirit and for the right reason, our friend will in time realize that we are his true friends. ``He that rebuketh a man afterwards shall find more favour than he that flattereth with the tongue.''. {Pr 28:23}

06/23

``The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion.''. {Pr 28:1}

Nothing will give us spiritual power and boldness like maintaining a clean conscience before God and man. When a man's guilty conscience is accusing him, he will imagine threats and dangers when there are none. When a man is not right with God, there is a ``... certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.''. {Heb 10:27} When a man is not right with his fellow man he can't look him in the eye.

But the man who knows that he is right with God and with men is bold as a lion. He knows that his cause is right and he will boldly contend for it, knowing that God is on his side. Angels are his guardians and Christ has overcome the world for him. He is not afraid of Satan and knows that he is a conquered enemy, and when resisted, will flee from him. Though he is afraid of committing sin, he is fearless of the damning power of it, for Christ has borne his sins. He is not afraid of death, for Christ has removed its sting and for the righteous man to die is gain. {Php 1:21} Such righteous men were Stephen, Paul, Daniel, and the Hebrew children.

Let us be as Paul who said, ``And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men.''. {Ac 24:16}

06/24

``He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.''. {Pr 29:1}

We need to keep a soft and sensitive heart toward God. He is merciful and long-suffering, but His patience has an end. When he reproves us in our conscience, from His Word, or with a circumstantial happening, we must immediately turn from our sin. When we continue in sin, we become hardened and insensitive and leave ourselves open to the retribution of God. ``Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.''. {Ga 6:7}

Because God does not always immediately inflict punishment, men tend to think that they will get away with their rebellion against God. ``Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.''. {Ec 8:11} But ``... Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people.''. {Heb 10:30}

God sent His prophets to Israel for many years but the people hardened their necks. Finally they were torn from their homelands, sold into slavery, carried into captivity, and ``that without remedy.''

``Happy is the man that feareth alway: but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief.''. {Pr 28:14}

Keep a soft heart before God. Listen to His slightest whisper.

06/25

``The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe.''. {Pr 29:25}

The only thing that will remove the fear of man is the fear of God. Jesus said, ``And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.''. {Mt 10:28}

When we fear man we fall into all sorts of snares that Satan sets for us. The preacher who fears man fails to bring the message of God. The one who fears to lose friends compromises the standards that God sets for him to live by. The end result is misery and guilt.

Abraham was willing to let Sarah go into Abimelech's harem because of the fear of man. {Ge 20:11} Peter temporarily went back under the law because he feared the Jews. {Ga 2:11-13} Some of the chief rulers who believed on Christ refused to openly confess Him because they were afraid of being put out of the synagogue. {Joh 12:42}

We must not fear mortal men. We cannot be the servants of Christ if we do so. Remember, ``... God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.''. {2Ti 1:7}

06/26

``A man that hath friends must show himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.''. {Pr 18:24}

Oftimes people complain because they don't have any friends. Usually the one who lacks friends does so because he is not friendly. To be truly ``friendly'' involves a lot. It means giving of oneself for the benefit of the one befriended. It means helping one's friend, defending one's friend, communicating with one's friend. True friendship must be cultivated. It takes time, thought, and effort. Many people lack friends because they are too self-centered, selfish, or lazy to work at friendships. If you lack friends examine yourself and see if the cause doesn't lie with you. Be a true friend yourself and you will gain friends. ``A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.''. {Pr 17:17}

The truest friend the child of God will ever have is the Lord Jesus Christ. He ``sticketh closer than a brother.'' He said, ``Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.''. {Joh 15:13} He did just that.

Do you want to be a friend of the Lord Jesus Christ? Show yourself friendly. He said, ``Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.''. {Joh 15:14}

``... Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.''. {Jas 2:23}

06/27

``I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.''. {1Ti 2:1-2}

As this is written we in the United States of America enjoy a great deal of freedom to worship as we please without governmental persecution. It may not always be so. Our liberties are constantly being eroded. For much of history, God's people have been sorely persecuted by those in authority. Such persecution is going on throughout much of the world today. We are complacent and not acutely concerned with the terrible danger that lurks just around the corner.

What is our most potent weapon with which to fight this danger? It is constant prayer. ``... For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.''. {Ro 13:1} It is wonderful when the Lord gives God-fearing rulers in response to the prayers of His people.

Even when wicked men rule, God has complete control over them. ``The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.''. {Pr 21:1}

Let us pray constantly for those in authority on every level.

06/28

``He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again.''. {Pr 19:17}

Many people despise the poor. If they are in good circumstances themselves, they don't concern themselves with the troubles of others. God is not pleased with this heartlessness. He is concerned with the poor and He has instructed His people to be so concerned. God demonstrated this concern in the Old Testament when He instructed His people to let their land lie fallow every seventh year, ``... that the poor of thy people may eat....''. {Ex 23:11} The Lord Jesus knew what it was to be poor when He was upon the earth: ``For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.''. {2Co 8:9}

The attitude which we have toward the poor tells a great deal about the very essence of our character. The Lord said, ``But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?''. {1Jo 3:17}

Begin today to be aware of the needs of the poor around you. Sacrifice a little of your luxury for his needs. In doing so you ``lendeth unto the Lord.''

06/29

``Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.''. {Jas 1:27}

Many people appear to be very religious who are not really so before God. They are regular church attenders. They sing, preach, and pray. They may read their Bibles at home. They may even be leaders in the church. But in their self-centeredness and covetousness they won't lift a finger to help the helpless. Their religion is completely worthless in the sight of a Holy God.

The Pharisees were so. Christ said of these hypocrites who neglected the helpless, ``Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.''. {Mt 15:7-8}

Pure religion is to visit the helpless. They have many needs--financial needs, fellowship needs, needs for advice on practical matters, yard-cutting, house repairs. They need someone to pray with them, to share God's Word with them.

Pick out a widow or a fatherless one today. Meditate on how you can help them. Invite them to dinner or take your dinner to their home and share yourself and it with them. This is pure religion.

06/30

``Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim.''. {Joh 2:7}

Jesus gave a commandment here which was within the ability of His hearers to perform. He did not ask them to do something that was impossible. They did what He asked. And they didn't do it half-way or half-heartedly. They filled them up to the brim.

Then Jesus did what was impossible for them to do; He changed the water into wine.

It is so in every avenue of our lives. Jesus doesn't tell us to do the impossible. He gives us tasks that we can perform. We must do these tasks eagerly and to the very best of our ability. He will perform the miraculous.

He told the early church to be witnesses unto Him. {Mt 28:18-20; Ac 1:8} This was something that they could do in the power of the Holy Spirit. Then ``... the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.''. {Ac 2:47} This was something only He could do.

The same principles hold true in every area of our lives.

07/01

``The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.''. {De 29:29}

God has revealed all that He wants His people to know. He has made this revelation in nature and especially in His Word. There are many things which He has not chosen to reveal. These are the ``secret things'' which belong to Him.

We are not to inquire into these secret things. God has given us what we need to know now. He has given us these revealed things ``that we may do all the words of this law.'' He wants us to live by what we do know, and to refrain from following our curiosity by seeking into those things that belong only to Him.

Some people are so busy trying to figure out mysteries that God has not chosen to reveal, that they don't even live basic Christian lives according to the plainly revealed principles of God's Word.

Let us seek diligently to know everything that God has revealed--and live according to this revelation! And let us not waste time speculating on what has not yet been revealed.

07/02

``But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased.''. {Ps 115:3}

The truth taught in this verse should bring comfort and stability to the child of God, no matter how confused and troubled the world becomes. God is in control of all things. He is not the author of sin but He overrules even the sinful acts of men for His own wise purposes.

Sinful men and nations can go just so far as the Lord allows them to go and no farther.

King Nebuchadnezzar recognized this sovereignty of God as he said, ``And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?''. {Da 4:35}

This is a very practical truth for the child of God to believe in with all his heart. Let come what may, he will have peace in his heart because the King of kings is on His throne and is in control.

07/03

``And Jacob their father said unto them, Me have ye bereaved of my children: Joseph is not, and Simeon is not, and ye will take Benjamin away: all these things are against me.''. {Ge 42:36}

Satan always tries to get the child of God to look on the dark side of life. The devil attempts to make us believe that things are worse than they really are. He does this so that we may be fearful and discouraged in the work of the Lord.

Jacob said ``all these things are against me'' when in reality they were all working together for his good. Joseph was not really dead, but God in His marvelous providence, had sent him to Egypt for the specific purpose of saving Jacob and his family alive during the famine. {Ge 45:7} Simeon and Benjamin would both outlive their father and the whole family would live together in happiness and prosperity in the land of Goshen. {Ge 46:34} Things were a lot brighter than Jacob thought they were.

And things are a lot brighter than you think they are too, child of God. God loves His children and He orders all things for their good and His glory.

07/04

``Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity....''. {Hab 1:13}

There is a great need today for God's people to understand the holiness of God. Sin will not appear as horrifying to us as it really is unless we understand that sin is committed against a holy God. Salvation in Jesus Christ cannot be properly appreciated until we realize the immeasurable contrast between the Holy God and filthy sinners.

The angelic beings recognize the holiness of God for what it is. Isaiah heard the seraphim cry ``... Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.''. {Isa 6:3} John had this to say about the heavenly creatures: ``And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.''. {Re 4:8}

Let us beg the Lord of glory to open our eyes so that we may behold His holiness. Then we will automatically see our own wretchedness and we will glorify God for His salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ. And we will be revived! There is no lukewarmness when we behold the glory of the Most High God!

07/05

``The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.''. {Pr 15:3}

Do you really believe this verse? Really believe it? Believe it from the heart and not just from the head?

The answer to this question is found by the effect which it has on an individual's life. A real believer will be just as careful about his private conduct as he is about his public conduct.

One who hesitates to commit certain sins because the eyes of men are upon him, but who commits them when alone, does not really believe this verse. A person who watches his language when he is around Christians, but does not do so at other times, does not believe this verse.

Sodom and Gomorrah could not hide their sins from the Lord. {Ge 18:21} David could not hide his sin from the Lord. {2Sa 11:27} Cain could not hide his murder from the Lord. {Ge 4:10}

We all live in glass houses as far as God is concerned. May this truth mold our lives in private and in public.

07/06

``And it came to pass, after the year was expired, at the time when kings go forth to battle, that David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel ... But David tarried still at Jerusalem.''. {2Sa 11:1}

It has been well said that ``an idle mind is the devil's workshop.'' David was a mighty man of God and had gone before the armies of Israel many times as they fought the Lord's battles. But now David had become overconfident or lazy or both. He did not go to battle with his troops, but stayed behind and lounged around the palace.

While he was in this condition of slothfulness, he was tempted to sin and wound up committing adultery and murder. If he had been busy fighting the Lord's battles the temptation would not have been presented.

One of the best ways to protect ourselves against temptation is to be so busy about our Father's business that there is no room in our lives for Satan's suggestions.

Christian friend, busy yourself today in the work of the Lord.

07/07

``Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.''. {1Co 6:18}

When an enemy or something dangerous approaches us the best thing to do is to flee with all our might. To play with fire is to risk being burned. Joseph literally fled from a situation in which he was being tempted to commit fornication. {Ge 39:12}

The Bible tells us to flee from other things: ``... flee from idolatry.''. {1Co 10:14} Whatsoever a man most trusts in and most delights in is his ``god.'' Therefore health, wealth, friends, family can all become idols.

``... Flee these things....''. {1Ti 6:11} Here with are told to flee from a covetous love of money.

``Flee also youthful lusts....''. {2Ti 2:22} Many strong desires we have when we are young can lead us into sin but the Bible says to flee them--to run from them with all our might.

We must believe the word of God that these things are extremely dangerous to our souls and we must heed God's Word and flee from them. The things that we have been warned to flee from are ``... fleshly lusts, which war against the soul....''. {1Pe 2:11}

07/08

``Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.''. {Joh 15:8}

The highest aim of a child of God should be to glorify the Heavenly Father. The way to glorify the Father is to bear much fruit. The fruits of righteousness cannot be borne by mere human effort. They can only be borne as the child of God abides in Jesus Christ. ``... He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.'' (Joh 15:5). We abide in Christ as His words abide in us. {Joh 15:7} It is impossible for us to abide in Christ and to bring forth fruit to the glory of God if we are not knowing and obeying the word of God.

This can only be done by the power of Jesus Christ in us. Paul prayed that the Philippians should be ``... filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.''. {Php 1:11}

Christian friend, are you glorifying God? Are you bearing much fruit or are you just getting by? The Father is glorified when we bear much fruit.

Get your Bible out; read it; meditate on it; apply it practically to your life today. Then you will be abiding in Christ and you will be bearing much fruit.

07/09

``What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.''. {1Co 6:19-20}

Many wonderful things are taught in these verses. First, the child of God learns that his body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. A true belief in this will have a profound effect on the way that one lives. Everywhere he goes, every thought he thinks, every word he speaks, every sight he sees, is witnessed by the indwelling Holy Spirit.

This passage also tells the child of God that he does not have the right to live as he pleases. Why? He does not belong to himself. He is God's by right of purchase. Let that thought sink in deeply--you do not own yourself!

Finally, this passage teaches that the chief aim of a child of God should be to glorify God both in body and spirit. This should be our constant and conscious aim each day. Our physical, emotional, and mental life must be completely devoted to Him each day.

Glorify Him today as you have never glorified Him before!

07/10

``As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.''. {Ga 6:10}

One of the primary characteristics of Christians should be their helpfulness to others. In doing this they are imitating the heavenly Father Who ``... maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.'' (Mt 5:45). He said, ``... Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you....'' (Mt 5:44).

We are to be helpful every time the opportunity to be so presents itself. The Good Samaritan did good to a total stranger when the opportunity arose. {Lu 10:33-37}

We are to be especially helpful to those of the ``household of faith.'' Our primary efforts in works of benevolence are to be directed toward the members of the true congregations of the Lord Jesus Christ.

As we thus busy ourselves in helping mankind in general and members of the body of Christ in particular, we will live happy, fulfilled lives. We won't have time to complain, to worry, or to feel sorry for ourselves.

Find someone to help today in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

07/11

``Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me.''. {Joh 21:22}

The Lord had told Peter that he would die a martyr's death. Peter then asked the Lord about John saying, ``and what shall this man do?'' the Lord replied with the words of our text.

There is a very important lesson for us here. We are sometimes so busy speculating on what others are doing that we don't get our own jobs done! Our Lord has a job for each of His people to do, and these jobs will take all of our time and energy if they are properly done. If we are doing what the Lord has for us to do we won't have time to be ``... a busybody in other men's matters.''. {1Pe 4:15}

God has not given us the job of telling other Christians what their jobs are. It is true that for each man, ``... to his own master he standeth or falleth....''. {Ro 14:4}

Today, do as the Apostle Paul did. Say ``... Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?....''. {Ac 9:6} Then, get up and be about the Master's business.

07/12

``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....''. {Joh 21:25}

The Man, Jesus Christ, is God manifest in the flesh. {1Ti 3:16} In Him ``... dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.''. {Col 2:9} While on earth, every word that He spoke and every deed that He performed were of infinite significance.

If a man were blessed to study His life daily for a thousand years he would not even begin to exhaust the riches of that blessed Life.

It is the duty and the privilege of every child of God to daily study and meditate on the life and works of the Son of God. Such prayerful study will enrich and strengthen the life of the saint beyond imagination.

Begin today! Make the contemplation of the life of the Lord Jesus Christ the all-consuming passion of all your days on earth. You will be wiser than wise men, richer than kings, stronger than the mighty.

07/13

``And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.'' (Joh 11:44).

Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead by merely crying, ``Lazarus, come forth.'' Then he told those that were standing by, ``Loose him, and let him go.'' There is an important lesson taught here. Jesus did what man cannot do--He gave life to the dead. Then He told men to do what they were capable of doing--assist the one who had been given life.

What is true in the natural realm is also true in the spiritual. Man cannot give spiritual life. He cannot even help in giving spiritual life. This is the work of God. God must speak directly through the Holy Spirit to one dead in trespasses and sins in order for him to obtain spiritual life. ``Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.'' (Joh 5:25).

Then the work of the church of Jesus Christ is to ``loose and let go'' the one who has been given spiritual life. The gospel removes the graveclothes of ignorance and false ideas and allows the child of God to serve his Lord freely and unhindered.

Christian, are you loosing and letting go the children of God?

07/14

``And say to Archippus, Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfil it.''. {Col 4:17}

Paul was closing his letter to the church at Colosse as he wrote this verse. Evidently Archippus was neglecting the job which the Lord had assigned him to.

Each saint has a ministry which he has received from the Lord. No one can do the job which the Lord has given to you but you!

Each saint needs ``to take heed'' to his ministry. Satan will try to hinder you in it or divert your attention from it. The attractions of this present evil age are designed to make you forget or neglect your ministry.

But it is essential that you fulfill it! First, prayerfully determine what your ministry is. God will show it to you. Then seek to fulfill it with all your might. Don't let anybody or anything distract you from it.

Then, as you lay dying you will be able to joyfully say, ``I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith....''. {2Ti 4:7}

07/15

``For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica....''. {2Ti 4:10}

Demas had at one time been a professing Christian and a follower and helper of Paul. Writing to the Colossians from prison in Rome, Paul had said, ``Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you.''. {Col 4:14} Writing to Philemon Paul had said, ``Marcus, Aristarchus, Demas, Lucas, my fellowlabourers.'' (Phile 24).

But now, in his last imprisonment, Paul says that Demas has forsaken him. And why? Because he loved this present world. Demas evidently became afraid of persecution and hardship and deserted the apostle. While we cannot judge the soul of this man it is evident that he was guilty of a very great sin which brought sorrow to his life and dishonor to the cause of Christ.

Christian friend, are you a Demas? Has the going gotten too rough for you? Must you hang your head in shame?

If so, repent! Confess your sin. There is forgiveness in Jesus Christ. He forgave Peter and restored him to service.

Get back in the battle on the Lord's side. There is victory at the end.

07/16

``For we have great joy and consolation in thy love, because the bowels of the saints are refreshed by thee, brother.''. {Phm 7}

``Refresh'' is a wonderful word. It means ``to give rest, to give intermission from labor.'' Often we become weary in both body and soul. How sweet it is when some good brother or sister in Christ refreshes us with a kind word of encouragement, with a good meal, or with assistance in our work.

Such a man was Philemon who refreshed the weary saints of God. Paul spoke of others who ``... refreshed my spirit and yours....''. {1Co 16:18} On this occasion the refreshment evidently consisted of a much-needed gift of money.

On another occasion Paul wrote, ``... the more joyed we for the joy of Titus, because his spirit was refreshed by you all.''. {2Co 7:13}

Let us be as a brook of cool waters to our thirsty Christian friends. Let us do this in both word and deed.

07/17

``Insomuch that we desired Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also finish in you the same grace also.''. {2Co 8:6}

The ``grace'' under consideration is the grace of giving. It is a wonderful blessing when God works in our hearts so that we willingly give of our money in His cause. ``The children of Israel brought a willing offering unto the LORD, every man and woman, whose heart made them willing to bring for all manner of work, which the LORD had commanded to be made by the hand of Moses.''. {Ex 35:29}

When God gives us the grace of a willing heart we need to exercise this grace by actually giving. Titus was commanded to ``finish'' or perfect this grace in the Corinthian saints. When God stirs up your heart to give, be thankful for this great blessing and don't despise it. Say with Paul: ``... and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain....''. {1Co 15:10}

Remember, ``... God loveth a cheerful giver.''. {2Co 9:7}

07/18

``For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse....''. {Ro 1:20}

God does not grant a saving knowledge of Himself to everyone, but He has left such abundant witness of His majesty in nature that no human being can without excuse deny His power in creation. Even ``... The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork.''. {Ps 19:1}

There is absolutely no excuse for anyone to be an atheist or to advocate the false theory of evolution. The work of the Master Designer is everywhere evident in the natural creation.

The child of God, whose spiritual eyes have been wonderfully opened, has even more reason to see the mighty hand of God revealed in the natural creation. Let us take time to observe the wonders of nature today.

Let us cry out with the angelic seraphim: ``... Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.''. {Isa 6:3}

07/19

``But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death; Because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus.''. {Joh 12:10-11}

When man is dead in sin, his blindness and rebellion against God is incredible. These religious leaders knew that a miracle had been wrought. They knew that Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead. But, instead of worshipping Him as the Son of God, they tried to get rid of the evidence of this miracle!

Later these same leaders reacted in a similar fashion to another miracle. They said, ``... for that indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them is manifest to all them that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it.''. {Ac 4:16} But again they refused to worship Jesus of Nazareth. Again they tried to suppress the evidence. Why, oh, why? Because they were dead in their sins!

Truly the Lord Jesus said that ``... no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.'' (Joh 6:65).

07/20

``I thank my God upon every remembrance of you ... For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now....''. {Php 1:3,5}

The word ``fellowship'' here means ``sharing in common.'' Paul is thankful that these Philippian saints have shared in common his efforts to spread the gospel. How did they share in his work? By praying for him and by assisting him many times with gifts of money as he was preaching.

They had helped him from the ``first day'' that they had received the gospel when Lydia let Paul and his companions use her house for a base of operations. {Ac 16:15} They had helped him several times as they sent him funds so that he might be free to be in the preaching ministry full-time. {Php 4:14-16} And even ``now,'' when he was imprisoned at Rome, they had sent him a gift. {Php 4:18} They had shared in common Paul's work of preaching even though they had not actually been out in the field preaching themselves.

Christian friend, are you fellowshipping your pastor and other faithful ministers of the word?

07/21

``Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.''. {Heb 13:3}

When things go well with us, it is all too easy for us to forget those who are in trouble. Even when we don't completely forget them, we don't enter into their troubles as we should.

But we must mentally put ourselves in the place of our brethren in Christ who are in trouble. We must think on their troubles and try to vividly imagine what they are suffering. Then we must fervently be in diligent prayer for them. We will be better able to pray fervently if we have gained a sympathetic knowledge of their troubles.

But this is not enough. We must not remember them in word, thought, prayer only. We must remember them in deed. We must help them in every way we possibly can. This is truly ``remembering'' in the scriptural sense of the word.

The saints of God must heed the words of the apostle when he said, ``... whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.''. {1Co 12:26}

This kind of closeness among the people of God will make life in this cold world a lot more pleasant.

07/22

``Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth's sake.''. {Ps 115:1}

Man has no real glory of his own but he is nevertheless prone to try to take honor and glory to himself. Even religious men like to glory in their works for the Lord. Many men like to boast of how many souls they have saved when, in reality, ``... Salvation is of the LORD.''. {Jon 2:9}

We must beg God to help us subdue our pride and to give all glory to God. We must have the same song on our lips as those heavenly ones did in the vision which God gave to John. They said, ``Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.''. {Re 4:11} No one is worthy to receive glory but the Lord of hosts. How unbecoming it is for a mere man to seek for glory.

We must have the same attitude as John the Baptist. Speaking of the Savior he said, ``He must increase, but I must decrease.''. {Joh 3:30} We must be as Paul who said, ``... He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.''. {1Co 1:31}

When Christ taught His disciples to pray He instructed them to say, "... For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.'' (Mt 6:13).

Praise the Lord, right now! Praise Him forevermore!

07/23

``And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.''. {Php 1:14}

Paul was under house-arrest at Rome. He was still permitted to preach the gospel. Many of the Christians in Rome had been silent because of fear of persecution from the Jews and from the Roman government. But Paul was not afraid to preach Christ. His bold example stirred up many of those who had been timid to preach also.

We never know when our example may be just what someone else will need to enable him to stand up for the Lord Jesus Christ. The opportunity may occur in a classroom when an ungodly teacher is ridiculing the claims of the Bible.

God will bless us and will use His Word when we speak it. Satan knows this and he will attempt to put a muzzle on us.

Stand up for God today. Set the example for timid Christians. You may be pleasantly surprised to see the results.

07/24

``Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry.''. {Ac 17:16}

Athens was the cultural, intellectual, and artistic capital of the ancient world. People came from afar to see the art and architecture. They came to hear the wisdom of the famous philosophers. Men in general were greatly impressed by this fabulous city.

But Paul was a man whose heart beat for God. He was not impressed by all this worldly finery. He was stirred in soul because there was no worship of the true God in this place. All these magnificent works were used in the service of idols.

Friends, the world in general is in just about the same condition as it was in the days of Paul. We have much that is impressive. Science has performed wonders. ``Higher'' education is available to more people than ever before. Worldly comforts have rapidly multiplied and become widely available.

But there is very little worship of the true God. Oh, there is plenty of worship going on, but a close examination will reveal that most of it is a modern form of paganism.

We need men and women like Paul. Those who are not easily impressed by the ``progress'' that is being worshipped today.

Open your eyes. Is the world more pagan than you thought it was? Will your soul be stirred? Will you speak in the name of your Lord?

07/25

``And when they opposed themselves, and blasphemed, he shook his raiment, and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean: from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles.''. {Ac 18:6}

A very important principle of personal responsibility is taught here. Paul had faithfully preached to these Jews in Corinth. They had rejected the message. Then Paul told them that their blood was on their own heads.

He was referring to a principle in Eze 33 where a watchman was set over the people. When the watchman saw danger approaching he was to warn the people. If the people refused to take heed the blood was on their heads. But if the watchman failed to warn the people the blame would be upon him.

Paul was faithful to live by this principle for his entire ministry. As he neared the end he could say, ``Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.''. {Ac 20:26-27}

What kind of position do you find yourself in? Has the whole counsel been preached to you and have you rejected it? If so, blame lies at your door. Have you been in a position to deliver warning and have failed to do so? Blood is on your head.These are serious matters. We must consider them often.

07/26

``I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD.''. {Ps 122:1}

David had a proper appreciation of the house of the Lord. Many Christians lack this appreciation today. The New Testament house of God is the congregation of believers who worship the Lord in spirit and in truth. {1Ti 3:15}

Many Christians try to do their spiritual work on their own or organized into groups apart from the church. There is not one whit of authorization for these practices in the word of God. Men think they can improve on God's ways, but this is impossible.

We need a fresh appreciation for the church of the living God. This is God's house. It is where He dwells in a special way. This is the institution which He has chosen to propagate His truth.

The church is not beautiful to the world and never has been. But the child of God who has been shown the beauty of God's house is compelled to say, ``For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.''. {Ps 84:10}

Are you blessed to be a member of a true New Testament congregation? Thank God for it. This is one of the choicest blessings that God gives. Be glad beyond measure when it is time for the assembly to meet.

07/27

``And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.''. {Joh 1:51}

There is a tremendous gap between the sin-cursed earth and heaven. This gap could only be bridged by the proper mediator or go-between. This mediator was the Son of Man and the Son of God combined in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.

In prophetic vision Jacob saw a ladder reaching from heaven to earth and the angels of God ascending and descending on it. {Ge 28:12} When he awoke from his sleep, he said, ``... this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.''. {Ge 28:17}

John here identifies Jacob's ladder as the Lord Jesus Christ. The bottom of that ladder stands at the house of God, which is the church of the living God. {1Ti 3:15}

One of the benefits of the mediatorial work of Christ is the sending of angels to minister to His people. ``Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?''. {Heb 1:14}

It is impossible to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ too much. There are innumerable pictures of Him in the Bible. May you today glorify Him Who is the true Jacob's ladder--the One who bridged the chasm between heaven and earth and brought complete salvation to all His people.

07/28

``Wherefore comfort one another with these words.''. {1Th 4:18}

Paul had just been teaching the church at Thessalonica the glorious truth of the resurrection of the bodies of the saints. They were assured that they would once again see their brethren in Christ who had died in the Lord. Even better they had been told, ``and so shall we ever be with the Lord.'' Then he told them to comfort each other with these words.

We need to do this today. We hear bad news on every hand. This life is full of toil and trouble for the conscientious child of God. There are always wars and rumors of wars.

God's people need to come together as often as possible and comfort one another with the glorious truths of the resurrection. Just a few more days, and troubles and toils will come to an end. Sin will be no more. Our own sinful bodies will be raised and glorified. We will see God in peace forevermore. What glorious words of comfort these are!

``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.''. {Mal 3:16}

Find a believer today and remind him of the glorious resurrection.

07/29

``For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.''. {Mal 3:6}

What a glorious truth this is. What tremendous security there is in it for the child of God. Immutability, or the quality of not changing, is one of the attributes of God. God is not fickle like man is. But many people believe that God is changeable--that He may love you today and hate you tomorrow. His love, so they say, depends on their conduct. But, praise be to God, this is not so. Israel was not preserved because of her faithfulness. She was preserved because of the unchanging love of God.

God spoke to Israel, ``... Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.''. {Jer 31:3} These glorious promises of God don't just belong to Israelites according to the flesh; they belong to every child of God. Speaking to the saints at Philippi, many of whom were Gentiles, Paul said, ``For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.''. {Php 3:3}

Let us praise God with the poet who wrote, ``Change and decay in all around I see: O Thou who changest not, abide with me!''

07/30

``Cursed be he that doeth the work of the LORD deceitfully, and cursed be he that keepeth back his sword from blood.''. {Jer 48:10}

In an army a man that refuses to join battle with the enemy is regarded as a very poor soldier if not an out-and-out traitor.

We are poor soldiers of Jesus Christ when we ``keep back our swords from blood.'' The sword we are to wield is ``... the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God....''. {Eph 6:17} It is a sin to know the word of God and not to use it. This is keeping back our swords from blood. We need to use this sword in defending the truth, in combating false ideas, in denouncing sinful practices.

We can have full confidence in our weapons because God has provided them for us. ``For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds.''. {2Co 10:4}

Warfare is not easy. We cannot be lazy or cowardly and be a good soldier. Paul instructed Timothy to ``... therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.''. {2Ti 2:3}

Are you keeping back your sword from blood? Are you letting your brethren fight all the spiritual battles?

Remember, our LORD said, ``... cursed be he that keepeth back his sword from blood.''

07/31

``By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.''. {Heb 11:27}

God is only visible to the eye of faith. Therefore some believe that a belief in God is a very flimsy thing. But those who have had their eyes opened by the Holy Spirit know that the invisible God and that all the other spiritual realities are much more real and enduring than are the material things.

As Paul said in another place, ``... for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.''. {2Co 4:18}

Invisibility is a basic attribute of God. ``Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.''. {1Ti 1:17}

But the only one who can endure is the one who knows the invisible God and who constantly sees Him by an eye of faith. A man may be alone in a prison cell but he won't despair if he sees God there with him.

We can even face death unafraid if we can see that the invisible One is with us.

08/01

``And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.''. {Eze 22:30}

God protected Israel from her enemies. He spoke of this protection as having surrounded her with a hedge. The same expression was used about God's protection of Job, of whom it was said, ``Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land.''. {Job 1:10}

Because of Israel's disobedience God had removed the protective hedge or had made a gap in it. Now he was seeking for a man, whose heart was right toward him, to stand in the gap and prevent the land from being destroyed. Sadly, no such man was to be found.

Christian friend, is there a gap in the hedge round about your family, your church, your community, your nation--because of disobedience toward God? Is disaster right over the horizon?

Is your heart right toward God? Have you consecrated your life completely to Him? Are you a fit man or woman to stand in the gap?

08/02

``And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?''. {Ge 3:9}

God knew where Adam was all the time. ``... All things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.''. {Heb 4:13}

However, God often represents Himself in the scriptures as one with human characteristics, so that we may better understand Him. Here He is represented as ``seeking'' Adam. In the same sense, the Lord is seeking men and women today. He is seeking those who have certain attitudes of heart. When He comes seeking your heart, what will He find?

``For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him....''. {2Ch 16:9} Will the Lord find your heart perfect toward Him?

"But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.'' (Joh 4:23).

May the Lord find us so worshipping when He comes seeking our way.

08/03

``... Them that honour me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed.''. {1Sa 2:30}

The principle stated in this verse is true today and is one which we must remember in our everyday life. We must accept it on faith, because sometimes it takes a long time for the outworking of this principle to be made manifest.

Joseph was seventeen years old when he was sold into slavery. For thirteen years he suffered, was lied about, and was treated unjustly. Yet, in every instance, he honored God. He gave God credit for his great ability to interpret dreams. {Ge 41:16} He even remembered God when he named his children. {Ge 41:51-52}

Finally God exalted him and made him next to Pharaoh in Egypt.

Saul, on the other hand, despised God by disobeying His word. {1Sa 15:10} God rejected him from being king over Israel. It was several years before God's judgment came in its fullness, but it came.

We must make sure that we honor God in every detail of our lives.

08/04

``Your iniquities have turned away these things, and your sins have withholden good things from you.''. {Jer 5:25}

These words were spoken to the Jewish people in Old Testament times, but they also apply to the people of God today. Unconfessed sin in the lives of God's people rob them of many of the choice blessings of the Heavenly Father. The Lord Jesus said, ``If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.'' (Joh 15:7).

Just as an earthly father delights to give good things to his obedient children, the Heavenly Father loves to lavish blessing after blessing on His children who walk in obedience to His commandments.

Satan is the father of lies. {Joh 8:44} Just as he told Eve in the garden of Eden that there would be no serious consequences if she broke God's law, so he tells the child of God the same today. But this is a great lie. Eve lost her innocence and her place in the garden. The one who sins today also loses a great deal. If we could only know what we lose because we sin, we would realize how foolish it is to continue in sin.

Let us turn from sin today in the power of the Holy Spirit and receive the good things from the hand of our Heavenly Father.

08/05

``I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.''. {3Jo 4}

Faithful ministers of the Lord Jesus Christ are like fathers to those children of God who are under their pastoral care. Like John writes here, they are made happy when their spiritual children walk in truth. It is not enough to know truth--one must also walk in it.

Paul felt as John did. He wrote, ``For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.''. {1Co 4:15} Paul was their father who had begotten them unto the truth. As a father, he was vitally interested in their spiritual welfare. When children behave they bring honor to their parents. When they misbehave they bring disgrace upon them. Thus Paul could refer to the obedient Philippians as ``... my joy and crown....''. {Php 4:1}

If you are blessed with a good pastor, thank God for him. Help him by being obedient and following him as he follows the Lord. You will bring honor to the Lord; you will bring honor to your pastor; and you will reap manifold blessings to yourself.

08/06

``Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry.''. {Ac 17:16}

Athens was the cultural capital of the ancient world. It was filled with magnificent buildings and other beautiful works of architecture. This was also the city of brilliant philosophers. Plato, Aristotle, and Socrates had taught here. There was much in Athens to impress anyone with the great achievements of the human race.

But the great apostle was not impressed. What he saw was a city ``wholly given to idolatry.'' Here was a city without the true worship of God. His spirit was stirred within him and he preached Christ there.

May it be so with Christians today. Let us not be carried away with the works of men's hands. Let us not be unduly impressed with the work of scientists, educators, and empire-builders. Let us look beneath the surface of these things and see the absence of the true worship of God.

May our souls be stirred within us. And may we preach Christ.

08/07

``Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay.''. {Jer 20:9}

Jeremiah had spoken out against the sins of the people of Judah. For doing this, he had received great persecution. The people mocked him and made fun of him. He was smitten and placed in the stocks.

Because of his troubles and because his preaching didn't seem to be doing any good, Jeremiah determined to keep his mouth shut. But he couldn't do it. He was compelled to speak in the name of the Lord. The word of God was as ``a burning fire shut up in his bones.''

Today the people of God still face opposition and persecution when they speak out against the sinfulness of those round about them. They may grow weary and determine to speak no more. But they must speak. God has called on them to be witnesses for Him.

May He rekindle the fire within you so that you must speak out today.

08/08

``And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses' hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him.''. {Ex 34:29}

Moses had been on the mount with God receiving the ten commandments. While in the presence of God his face began to shine. When he came down from the mount he had to place a vail on his face while he spoke with the people.

We need to spend time with God today in the mountain of prayer. As we are with Him, our lives will take on a spiritual glow that others will be able to detect. We will be able to influence them for good.

We will be like Peter and John. Their enemies ``... took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus''. {Ac 4:13} Have you been on the mount with God? Have you been with Jesus? Can those round about you detect this?

Let us pray God that we may have this ``heavenly glow.''

08/09

``And when he was full forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren the children of Israel.... And when forty years were expired, there appeared to him in the wilderness of mount Sina an angel of the Lord in a flame of fire in a bush.''. {Ac 7:23,30}

Moses lived 120 years. The first two-thirds of his life were spent in preparation for the great work to which God had called him. The first forty years were spent in learning all the wisdom of the Egyptians. The next forty years were spent in the backside of the desert in the wilderness of Sinai. The final forty years were spent leading the children of Israel.

No doubt Moses sometimes became discouraged during the first eighty years of his life. He probably felt that God was never going to use him. But God knew what He was doing. He was preparing Moses for his great task.

If you are discouraged about your service to God, take consolation in the fact that you are going to God's school. When He has prepared you, He will open up a field of service. In the meantime, learn your lessons well.

08/10

``Now also when I am old and greyheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have showed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come.''. {Ps 71:18}

David had faithfully served God all his life. He could truthfully say, ``... hitherto have I declared thy wondrous works.''. {Ps 71:17} He had been a faithful witness.

Now that he had become old, he was not ready to retire from the service of God. In fact, there is no retirement for the saints. We are called upon to serve Him until He calls us home. Some of our most valuable service to Him may be our dying testimony.

David didn't want to die until he had ``... showed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come.''. {Ps 71:18}

When you are old and have served God for many years, you have many wonderful experiences to share with young saints. Don't waste any time! Tell the young ones how the Lord has stood with you all your life. Tell them of the times when He has revived your soul. Encourage them in the Lord.

08/11

``Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.''. {Ps 73:25}

We can depend upon nothing and no one to give us ultimate satisfaction but our Lord. Christian friends and family are wonderful. Health and daily bread are great blessings. The ability to work and to travel bring great pleasure. But satisfaction in the truest sense of the word comes only from being in the presence of the Lord. Without His abiding presence all the other blessings become meaningless.

We need to seek His presence now--every day. And when we die our greatest expectation should be to see Him. People often think of the joy of someday being reunited with their loved ones who have died in the Lord. And this will be joy. But our greatest joy will be to see Him. ``... In thy presence is fullness of joy: at thy right hand there are pleasures evermore.''. {Ps 16:11} As the poet put it, ``Just one glimpse of Him in glory will the toils of life repay.''

David said, ``As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness.''. {Ps 17:15}

08/12

``Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.''. {Isa 49:15}

The love of God for His people is a wonderful thing. Words can not adequately express it. The Lord delights in assuring His children of His love for them.

This verse powerfully expresses the love of God. It is almost inconceivable that a mother could forsake a suckling infant, which she has borne in her womb and nestled on her breast. What, oh what, could be stronger than a mother's love? The blessed answer is--the love of God for His children!

Do you have blessed evidence that you are a recipient of God's love? If so, then rejoice in that love. Be comforted by it. If the whole world hate you, what does that matter if God loves you?

Does not such wonderful love make you want to serve Him with all your might, all the days of your life?

08/13

``He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?''. {Ro 8:32}

Often God's people have assurance of their eternal salvation, but they doubt that God will provide them with the necessities of their daily lives. They behave like the children of Israel who experienced God's deliverance from Egyptian bondage, but who immediately began to fear that they would perish from lack of food and water.

Brethren, this is sinful unbelief! This unbelief is instigated by the lying Satan. Tell Satan to get behind you.

God has proved His great love for His children. He proved it by giving His beloved Son to die for us, to redeem us from hell, to prepare a place in heaven for us.

How can we doubt, with this great evidence of His love for us that He will provide us with all that we need in time and in eternity?

Yes, He will ``freely'' give us all things. Doubt no more. Do not dishonor Him by sinful unbelief.

08/14

``For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven....''. {2Co 5:2}

The child of God need never expect to be completely satisfied so long as he is in his sinful body. There is a constant warfare between the flesh and the spirit. He never lives just exactly as he would like to live. He discovers that, like Paul, ``I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.''. {Ro 7:21}

Having a desire to please God, but often falling short of that desire, the saint tends to go into despair.

But, if this be your case, don't despair. Lift up your head! This groaning for the glorified body is evidence that you are a child of God. We must groan in this life for righteousness. ``... Ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.''. {Ro 8:23}

But the glorious day is coming when He ``... shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body....''. {Php 3:21}

08/15

``Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.''. {Mt 22:29}

Jesus was talking with the unbelieving Sadducees, who denied the resurrection. He told them that the reason why they didn't believe was that they were ignorant of both the scriptures and the power of God.

The same principle holds true today. Whenever we are in error it is because we don't know the scriptures, don't have faith in the power of God, or both.

It is essential that we both know the scriptures and believe in the power of God. A lack of either one of these areas will lead to error. For example, one may have plenty of faith in the power of God. But if he is ignorant of the scriptures he may be disappointed when God doesn't manifest His power in a particular way in which He plainly revealed in His word that He was not going to manifest it.

On the other hand, to know the scriptures is not enough if we don't believe that God has the power to do what He said He would do. Let us diligently study God's Word and ask Him to strengthen our faith.

08/16

``But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste?''. {Mt 26:8}

The disciples of Christ spoke these words to the good woman who took the box of very precious ointment and poured it on Jesus' head. To them it appeared as if this ointment had been wasted.

Today, when people minister to the body of Christ (His church) there are those scoffers who say, ``to what purpose is this waste?'' Satan and his followers tell us that all the money, time, and effort that we put into the service of the Lord is wasted. But, not so! Jesus rebuked His disciples by saying, ``... Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me.''. {Mt 26:10}

The esteem of Jesus is worth more than all the approval of men. Service rendered to God is never wasted. ``For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have showed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.''. {Heb 6:10}

08/17

``Thy testimonies also are my delight and my counsellors.''. {Ps 119:24}

When we need counsel we often go to the wrong source. We sometimes go to an individual who does not base his counsel upon sound principles.

Another difficulty that often presents itself when one is seeking counsel is that many conflicting opinions are offered as counsel. Thus the one seeking counsel doesn't know to whom he can go for counsel. If he finds someone to whom he can go but receives contrary advice from another source, he is confused as to whom to follow.

What is the solution? David presents it here. He said that the testimonies of the Lord were his counselors. By the testimonies of the Lord, he had reference to the word of God. There is no problem that confronts a child of God but that the solution can be found in the word of God. The answers found in the word of God are sure and safe to go by.

The next time you need counsel prayerfully go to the testimonies of the Lord. Let them be your counselors.

08/18

``Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise thy name....''. {Ps 142:7}

David was in prison when he wrote this psalm. He was in a cave hiding from king Saul. While in such trouble he found it impossible to praise the Lord. Not only was he in a cave but his very soul seemed to be in prison. He cried out to God to deliver his soul from prison that he might praise His name. David simply wasn't satisfied when he was not able to freely praise the Lord.

We, too, must cry out to God for help when our souls are depressed. Often outward troubles tend to be reflected in our hearts. We become fearful and apprehensive and praise is far from us.

But God will deliver us when we cry to Him. He delights in the praise of His saints.

Christians, if you are oppressed today, cry out to God. He will bring your soul out of prison and you will be able to truly praise him in glorious freedom.

08/19

``Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.''. {Ec 9:10}

God is simply not pleased with half-hearted effort. He expects us to do the very best we can with any job to which He assigns us.

To spur us on to great effort He reminds us of the shortness of life and of the certainty of death. On our death bed it will be wonderful to look back over a life of working hard for God and hear Him say, ``Well done, my good and faithful servant.''

Hard work for God is also good for us now. When we are working diligently for Him, we won't have time to get in trouble by listening to the suggestions of Satan. One of the best cures for worry is work--when we are working at the right thing.

If we find it impossible to pour our hearts into what we are doing, we need to examine what we are doing.

Today, make sure (by prayer and the study of God's word) that you are doing what the Lord would have you to do--and then do it with all your might.

08/20

``In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.''. {Pr 3:6}

Life is full of change. We often find ourselves confronted with important decisions to make. What we decide upon often affects the entire course of our lives. The many factors involved in making decisions can bring uncertainty and confusion to us. We just don't know what to do.

But we can always lay hold of the precious promise contained in this verse. The glorious promise is sure and certain, ``he shall direct thy paths.'' But we must acknowledge Him in all our ways.

What is it to acknowledge Him? We must recognize that He is our Lord and Master. We must find out from His Word what it is that pleases Him. And we must never go contrary to the will of God as it is revealed in His word.

When we do the best we can to do what He has shown us to do, then we can confidently trust that He will choose our changes for us. He will order circumstances so that we will be gently led along the right pathway.

08/21

``Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy....''. {Ps 107:2}

God's people need to constantly acknowledge the goodness and mercy of their blessed Lord, both in private and in public. We must not be ashamed to give Him credit for all that is good in our lives.

If we are able to overcome a bad habit, let us give God credit for it, instead of our will-power. When we are delivered from danger, we must not say that we are ``lucky'' or ``fortunate.'' We must say that ``God delivered me.''

Let us plainly tell people that God is our all in all; that He upholds us by the word of His power; {Heb 1:3} that ``... in him we live, and move, and have our being....''. {Ac 17:28}

When men claim to be ``self-made'' and when they take credit for all their successes, the redeemed of the Lord must ``say so'' about their Heavenly Father.

Develop the habit of giving your Lord praise in everything. Begin today. See how much better you feel. See how much more confidently you can face the future.

08/22

``Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.''. {Ps 103:13-14}

This passage was not written to encourage us to continue in ungodliness or to cause us to be luke-warm in our service to God. Rather it was designed to encourage us to persevere in righteousness, knowing that we have a loving and an understanding Heavenly Father.

The conscientious child of God, who tries to do the best he can, realizes that there are times when he miserably fails despite his best efforts. When he fails his Lord he is tempted to give it all up. Satan jumps on him and tells him that he is a hypocrite and might just as well quit trying to serve God.

But, praise the Lord, we have a loving Heavenly Father! He knows our weaknesses. He understands that even the most mature are but children in their Christian warfare. He picks us up, wipes away our tears, bandages our scratches, and sends us on our ways again to serve Him.

Remember your loving Father. Rise up from whence you have fallen. He will receive you with open arms and will help you to serve Him again.

08/23

``And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do....''. {Ge 18:17}

The Lord was about to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. He revealed what He was about to do to Abraham because Abraham was his friend. {Jas 2:23}

A wonderful lesson is taught here. A man reveals his most intimate self to those who are his very close friends. A man will tell things to his friends that he would not dare to reveal to a casual acquaintance. The Lord Jesus told His disciples, ``... but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.''. {Joh 15:15}

How important it is that we live close to the Lord in true friendship. The closer that we live to Him, the more of His blessed Person and Works that He will show to us. When we don't live in fellowship with Him we are ``in the dark.''

How is it that we can be the friends of God? Christ said, ``Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.''. {Joh 15:14}

08/24

``Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.''. {Isa 6:8}

What a wonderful attitude of willingness Isaiah showed here. He was ready to do the Lord's bidding. His would be a difficult task, but he did not shrink from it.

Other servants of God have manifested this same willingness. When the armies of Israel were afraid of Goliath, young David said, ``... Is there not a cause?''. {1Sa 17:29} When the twelve spies returned from searching the land of Canaan, Caleb said, ``... Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.''. {Nu 13:30} Paul said, ``So, as much as in men, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also.''. {Ro 1:15} The most glorious example of all is that of the Lord Jesus Who said, ``... My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.''. {Joh 4:34}

Dear friends, ask God to give you a willing heart. Don't hold back. It is a great privilege to be able to serve Him.

Let us say with Paul, ``... Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?....''. {Ac 9:6}

08/25

``Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.''. {Jas 5:10}

It is certain that ``... all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.''. {2Ti 3:12} Paul told those Christians in Asia Minor ``... that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.''. {Ac 14:22}

Persecution is hard to take and we need some examples to guide us through this difficult experience. In His mercy the Heavenly Father has given us such examples in the persons of the prophets.

Study the lives of Elijah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, and others. They lived in difficult times. They faithfully spoke the word of the Lord even against much opposition. They were misunderstood most by their own people--by the very ones they were trying to help.

But they persevered, upheld by the power of God. We must do the same.

Our ultimate example is the Lord Jesus Who ``... endured such contradiction of sinners against himself....''. {Heb 12:3} He remained faithful even unto death.

08/26

``Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.''. {Mt 5:12}

The Savior is here telling us what attitude we should be in when we suffer for the cause of Christ. We are to rejoice! This attitude is contrary to nature, but it can be maintained. The scriptures show plainly that many of God's children have done this. Many of the saints ``... took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance.''. {Heb 10:34} When the apostles were beaten they were ``... rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.''. {Ac 5:41} After Paul and Silas had been beaten they ``... prayed, and sang praises...'' at midnight while in prison. {Ac 16:25}

So the scriptural evidence is abundant that we can, through the power of the Holy Spirit, obey this command of the Lord Jesus.

As James said, ``My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.''. {Jas 1:2-3}

08/27

``Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.''. {1Pe 5:7}

What a glorious verse this is. The life of a child of God is full of cares. Job said, ``Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble.''. {Job 14:1} It is impossible for weak and sinful man to bear all the cares that come upon him. The one who tries to bear the cares of life without help very soon reaches the breaking point. Physical, spiritual, social, and emotional troubles appear in the life of the one who tries to carry the load himself.

But, praise the dear Lord, He commands us to cast our cares upon Him. His shoulders are broad and strong enough to carry the whole load. And He is willing to carry the load, ``for he careth for you.''

We must acknowledge our inherent weakness and at the same time acknowledge the strength of our Lord.

Let us say with the song writer, ``I must tell Jesus! I must tell Jesus! I cannot bear my burdens alone; I must tell Jesus! I must tell Jesus! Jesus can help me, Jesus alone.''

08/28

``... Who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?''. {Es 4:14}

These words were spoken to Esther by her kinsman, Mordecai. Esther had become the queen of the Persian Empire. The wicked Haman had sought the destruction of the Jews. Mordecai now besought Esther to go before the king and plead for the life of the Jews. Esther did so and the Jews were saved from destruction.

Esther could not have done this had not God, in His marvelous providence, placed her in the Persian palace. He Who ``... worketh all things after the counsel of his own will ...'' {Eph 1:11} used Esther and placed her in a position from which she could do this great work.

Christian reader, Esther's God is your God, too. He uses all His people to one degree or another. Consider your life. What position has He placed you in? How can you best serve God from that position?

We may not be used in as spectacular a way as Esther was used, but we will be used if we are His. Perhaps He has made you a mother or a father and has given you some little ones to raise for Him. ``Who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?''

08/29

``Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.''. {Jude 3}

It is the duty of every saint to earnestly contend for the faith (the body of truth revealed in the scriptures). To contend for the faith we must first know what it is. This means that we each must be diligent students of the scriptures. It is impossible to fight for something when you don't know what you are fighting for.

We must also discipline ourselves to prepare for a hard fight. Warfare is never easy. Good soldiers cannot be lazy or soft. Paul told Timothy to ``... endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.''. {2Ti 2:3} We must prepare ourselves by diligent study and prayer and by a constant turning away from sin in our lives.

We must also have confidence that our weapons are adequate to bring about victory. ``For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds....''. {2Co 10:4}

Let us so live that when we come to the end of our lives we can say with Paul, ``I have fought a good fight....''. {2Ti 4:7}

08/30

``For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption....''. {Ac 13:36}

We each have only one life to live. We didn't live in the past and we won't live too far into the future (in our present state of existence). It is true that we may influence the future, but we will influence it only by what we do in the present. How important each day becomes when we realize that, like David, we can only serve our own generation.

Let us determine that, by the grace of God, we will leave things in a little better shape than we found them.

Are you serving your generation? One of the best ways in which we can serve our generation is by passing on truth to the coming generation. If we diligently teach them all that we have learned from the word of God, then they will be in a better position to serve their own generation.

Today is a day that can never be recalled. Serve your generation today.

08/31

``Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.'' {Mt 5:9}

A peacemaker is one who does everything he can to peacefully live with those about him. He won't compromise truth to do this, but he will do everything he can which is consistent with truth. As Paul said, ``If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.''. {Ro 12:18}

A peacemaker also does everything he can to bring brethren together who have had differences. After Saul of Tarsus was converted, Barnabas acted as a peacemaker and brought Saul to the disciples in Jerusalem. {Ac 9:26-27}

The very opposite of a peacemaker is one who sows discord among brethren. One of the things that God hates is ``... he that soweth discord among brethren.''. {Pr 6:19}

In order to be peacemakers we must learn to control our tempers. ``An angry man stirreth up strife, and a furious man aboundeth in transgression.''. {Pr 29:22}

Let us make sure that by our attitudes, words, and actions we are peacemakers. For then we shall be called the children of God.

09/01

``But refuse profane and old wives' fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness.''. {1Ti 4:7}

Most of us would like to have ``instant'' godliness but are not willing to put out the consistent effort that is required to develop a truly godly life. We make sporadic attempts to be more godly but become discouraged when we fail time and again.

What is the answer? Exercise! Yes, exercise, spiritual exercise, is the key to living a godly life. No athlete ever became proficient at his sport overnight and no Christian ever became proficient at living for Jesus Christ overnight.

An athlete becomes better conditioned and more skillful as a result of consistent daily practice. Likewise, the Christian becomes more conformed to the image of Jesus Christ as he daily strives to practice the Christian virtues contained in the Bible.

Begin today. Prayerfully pick an area of your life in which you need improvement. Work on it today, tomorrow, the next day, etc. Be persistent through the power of the Holy Spirit. You will find yourself becoming more skillful in living for Jesus.

09/02

``Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.''. {Eph 6:11}

A soldier without armor is defenseless. How foolish it would be for a man to go into battle with no weapons and with no protective armor. Yet that is just what many Christians do.

The enemy is real and vicious. We are in a daily battle whether or not we realize it. We will suffer certain defeat if we don't utilize the weapons and armor which God has provided for us.

Do you know what your weapons are? Have you ever studied about them in Eph 6? If you have studied them, do you consciously put your armor on every day? If not, it is no wonder that you live a defeated life.

Turn to Eph 6 right now. Learn your weapons. Ask your pastor to help. Then daily, with a conscious mental effort, clothe yourself in the whole armor of God.

Find new joy as you successfully withstand the adversary of your soul.

09/03

``Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh....''. {Pr 1:24-26}

These are serious words, indeed! Many people want to live their lives without much regard as to how the Lord would have them to live. They live without the church, without prayer, without the Bible.

But when they get into trouble they think they can always call on the Lord and they think that He will always help them out of their troubles.

But God says here that He will laugh at them when their troubles come. God is not going to be mocked. If we try to live without God and then expect Him to rescue us from trouble we are going to be sadly surprised. A consideration of this would instill us with a healthy fear of God.

``He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.''. {Pr 28:9}

09/04

``And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.''. {Eph 4:32}

This beautiful verse sets forth the attitude for life that should characterize every Christian. A Christian cannot be harsh. Instead he must be kind. A Christian cannot be hardhearted. He must be tenderhearted. And a Christian simply cannot have an unforgiving spirit. He must continually extend forgiveness to all those who wrong him--even to his worst enemies.

He is to do this because God, for Christ's sake, has forgiven him. When did God forgive His people? Even while they were His active enemies. ``But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.''. {Ro 5:8}

What God did for us we ought to practice toward others. Don't wait until all wrongs are made right before you forgive your brother. If God had waited until we got right before He forgave us, we would all be in hell.

Freely forgive your brother for Christ's sake and experience the joy of the Lord.

09/05

``And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.''. {1Th 1:10}

We usually like to emphasize the love and kindness of God, but God also is a God of wrath. His wrath is as terrible as His love is wonderful. Someday ``... the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ....''. {2Th 1:7-8} This is going to be a terrible day. In that day those who have not been redeemed by the Lord Jesus Christ will say to the mountains and rocks, ``... Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb....''. {Re 6:16}

If we have been made true believers in the Lord Jesus Christ by the irresistible power of the Holy Spirit, we shall escape the wrath of God. See Joh 3:36.

If we have the blessed assurance that Jesus has drawn us to Him how happy we should be. No trial or difficulty in life can take this joy from us.

09/06

``For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake....''. {Php 1:29}

Two of the most wonderful gifts that God gives to His people are listed here. First, is the gift of believing on Christ. Not everyone can believe in Christ as Lord and Savior; only those can believe who have been given the ability to do so. As Christ said, ``... This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.'' (Joh 6:29).

If you truly believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior thank God for it. You did not come by this wonderful belief on your own.

The other gift listed here is that of suffering for the sake of the Lord Jesus. Many times we suffer for our own sins, but if we have ever suffered because we bore the name of Christ we have cause to greatly rejoice. Paul plainly said, ``If we suffer, we shall also reign with him....''. {2Ti 2:12}

We may consider material goods, family, health, etc. as wonderful gifts from the hand of God. But these gifts are far inferior to those of believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, and suffering for His sake.

09/07

``And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.''. {Ro 11:6}

This verse tells us plainly that grace and works don't mix. It is very important that we understand this. Many people who think they believe in salvation by grace don't really understand what grace is. They say that God does His part but you must do your part too. But this is not grace--it is a mixture of grace and works. Such a mixture is impossible because when any work enters the picture ``grace is no more grace.''

It is true that the sinner will respond when God calls him, but the response is also the gift of God which was worked in the heart of the sinner by the grace of God.

Grace is the free, unmerited gift of God. Let us rejoice in the grace of God our Savior and give Him all the credit for our salvation.

09/08

``Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.''. {Php 2:4}

As sinful human beings we all tend to be selfish. We are concerned primarily for our own safety and welfare. We take pains to see that our needs are properly met and have little concern for the needs of others.

But this scripture tells us not to be so. We are to become other-oriented instead of self-oriented. We have the great EXAMPLE in our Lord Jesus Christ, Who ``... came not to be ministered unto, but to minister....''. {Mt 20:28} Christ did not live for Himself. He lived for His Father and for others.

This is the only way that we can be truly happy. A selfish person is never happy. The happy man is he who loses himself in the service of God. Much of this service consists in serving others. Paul says ``... by love serve one another.''. {Ga 5:13}

Begin to find true fulfillment today as you look on the things of others.

09/09

``I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,)....''. {1Co 16:15}

We hear a lot about addiction today. Some are addicted to drugs; others are addicted to alcohol or tobacco. But here was a wonderful Christian household who had ``addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints.''

When a man is addicted to anything, that thing dominates his life. The drug addict will sell everything he has in order to purchase more dope.

The household of Stephanas was dominated by the desire of serving the saints. Much of their time, thought, effort, and money was dedicated to this pursuit.

What can be said about your household? What are you addicted to?

09/10

``And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.''. {Php 2:8}

This scripture has to do with the work of redemption, but it also has to do with the Son of Man as our great example. Jesus lived a life of perfect obedience. To do this He humbled Himself. A man who won't obey is not humble. We might appear to be ever so spiritual but we are not really so if we don't humble ourselves and obey God and those authorities which God has placed over us. Children are to obey their parents; {Eph 6:1} wives are to obey their husbands; {1Pe 3:6} church members are to obey their rulers. {Ro 13:1}

The only time we have a right to disobey any authority is when they tell us to do something which is contrary to the word of God.

Let us follow Christ. Let us humble ourselves. Let us obey!

09/11

``... Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry....''. {1Sa 15:22-23}

Yesterday we saw that a man who won't obey is not humble. Today we gain further insight into the sin of disobedience. The Lord says here that the man who won't obey is rebellious and stubborn. He further says that the sin of disobedience is in the same class with witchcraft, iniquity, and idolatry. What a serious matter that disobedience is!

Let us search our hearts and pray that the Lord will remove all the pride, rebelliousness, and stubbornness that is there. Let us determine that, by the grace of God, we will obey God and all the authorities that He has placed over us.

09/12

``But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities.''. {2Pe 2:10}

We have for the past two days considered the sin of disobedience. This is such a serious matter that it warrants further study. In this passage we learn that the disobedient are presumptuous and self-willed. Furthermore, they do not hesitate to criticize and speak against those whom the Lord has placed over them.

The Lord's people even do this sometimes. Aaron and Miriam spoke against Moses. The Lord showed His displeasure by making Miriam a Leper. See Nu 12.

Paul the apostle apologized for speaking against the high priest, even though he spoke the truth and the high priest was a wicked man. {Ac 23:5}

Let us realize the horror of the sin of disobedience and thoroughly repent of it.

09/13

``And the king said unto Araunah, Nay; but I will surely buy it of thee at a price: neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the LORD my God of that which doth cost me nothing....''. {2Sa 24:24}

Many Christians today want to take a ``free ride.'' They don't want their service to God to cost them anything. They shrink from the idea of sacrificing their time, money, or concern.

How refreshingly different is the attitude of David as portrayed here! David wanted his service to God to cost him something. He was so appreciative of the mercies of God that he wanted to do something to show his appreciation. He refused to take a free ride.

May our attitude be as David's was. Any other attitude will bring us emptiness and lack of fulfillment.

09/14

``And Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him, and did let none of his words fall to the ground.''. {1Sa 3:19}

It is to be feared that many times the words of God's servants fall, as it were, to the ground. Many sermons are preached but the words are not heeded. Hearts are not smitten; people do not repent; lives are not changed; revival does not come.

The fault may lie with preachers, with people, or both. The preacher may not be spending time with God in prayer. Things may not be right in his life. The people may not be preparing their hearts to receive the word of God with a ready mind.

We know that the fault does not lie with God. Will you join me in repentance and in prayer that, like in the time of Samuel, the words will not fall to the ground but will penetrate the hearts of the people of God?

09/15

``Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time....''. {1Pe 5:6}

All men are proud by nature. Pride is one of the chief elements of our sinful nature. True humility is possible only in a child of God. God here commands us to humble ourselves. We can and must do this by the grace of God.

If we try to exalt ourselves we will only fall. ``Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.''. {Pr 16:18}

The way ``up'' in the service of God is ``down.'' We must humble ourselves and He will exalt us in due time. We might have to wait awhile but we can claim God's promise as true and sure.

It was so with the Lord Jesus. He humbled Himself. ``Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name....''. {Php 2:9}

09/16

``Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in labour, and fellowsoldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants.''. {Php 2:25}

When we are fully yielded to the Lord we can be many things to many people. We can be an instrument of blessing to others in the hands of the Lord.

Epaphroditus was such a man. He was a brother in Christ. A brother is one upon whom we can depend. He is one with whom we can share sorrows and joys. A companion in labor is one who works alongside us. He makes our job easier and more pleasant. ``Many hands make light work.''

A fellowsoldier is one with whom we go into battle shoulder to shoulder. We face the enemy with confidence when we go into battle with dependable fellowsoldiers.

Epaphroditus was also a faithful messenger of the Philippian church and one who lovingly ministered to the needs of Paul.

How many things are you to the people of God?

09/17

``Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness; and hold such in reputation....''. {Php 2:29}

Epaphroditus was a faithful servant of God. He had hazarded his life for the sake of the gospel. Paul is now sending him back to Philippi and he exhorts the church there to hold Epaphroditus in reputation.

We need to heed this admonition today concerning the servants of God. They are our leaders in the fight against Satan and the world. Both Satan and the world have the servants of Jesus Christ targeted for their special animosity.

The church of the Lord Jesus Christ must hold their faithful leaders in reputation. They must defend them against gossip and slander.

Feeling the support of their brethren behind them, the ministers of the gospel will have their hands greatly strengthened as they lead into battle against the adversary of our souls.

09/18

``Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe.''. {Php 3:1}

We sometimes grow weary of repetition. We get tired of hearing the same things over and over again. We tend to close our minds when someone speaks on a subject with which we are already familiar.

But we are forgetful creatures. We need to be constantly reminded of the basics which are the foundation of Christianity. Paul said that it was for the safety of the Philippians that he write the same things to them.

Peter said the same thing in the following words: ``Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth. Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance....''. {2Pe 1:12-13}

Don't be a lazy or indifferent hearer of the word of God. Pray that each sermon will come to you afresh, even when it is an old and familiar theme. Remember that it is for your ``safety.''

09/19

``That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death....''. {Php 3:10}

What an amazing statement this is! Paul was writing as an old man who had served Christ well for many years. He was a good friend of the Lord. But he wanted to know the infinite God better. He was not complacent or satisfied with his knowledge of the Savior. Do you have this same thirst to know Christ in His fullness, or are you lukewarm and have reached ``a sticking point'' in your relationship with the Lord?

Paul wanted to know more of the resurrection power of the Lord in his daily walk. But he realized that as he experienced this wonderful power, he would also be called upon to fellowship the sufferings of the Lord.

Don't shrink back from the suffering for the Lord. As you suffer for Him you will be brought into fellowship with His mighty power.

09/20

``Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.''. {Php 3:13-14}

Paul compared his Christian life to running a race. He intended to win. He ran strenuously. He concentrated all his efforts on reaching the mark.

He did not look back on past accomplishments or failures. Past accomplishments might lift him up with pride and cause him to slacken his efforts. Past failures might discourage him.

He concentrated on the present and looked with expectation to the glorious future. He didn't stop to look around to see how others were running. He knew that each man must run this race for himself. He kept his eyes glued to the goal.

May we follow the example of Paul as we run our race with all our might.

09/21

``Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.''. {Php 3:17}

We know that the great example after whom we must pattern our lives is the Lord Jesus Christ.

But, in addition, he has given us other examples whom we can also follow as they follow Christ. One of the best ways to learn to do anything is by observing those who do it well. This is the highly-effective apprenticeship method of learning.

Search out Christians who have learned how to live the Christian life. Spend time with them, watch them, ask them questions, learn from them.

Would you learn patience? Observe a patient man. Would you be filled with joy? Find a joyful Christian and learn the secrets of his life.

Search the scriptures. Find men and women there who lived as you would like to live. Study their lives prayerfully. Then follow them as they follow Christ.

09/22

``For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ....''. {Php 3:20}

The word ``conversation'' here means citizenship. For the true believer, his citizenship is in heaven. That is where his true home is. This earthly life is a temporary one.

Everywhere we go we represent our true country. If we want people to get the true conception of our country, we must behave like good citizens. We must never forget that home of which we are the representatives.

And even though we are away from home we never lose our desire to go there. We must never regard this world as our true home. We must not attempt to put down deep roots here. After all we are ``... strangers and pilgrims on this earth.''. {Heb 11:13}

And we long to hear of news from home. Our newspaper is the Bible. Our radio and television is the preaching of the gospel.

Our direct-line telephone to our true home is prayer. Let us often use our telephone to talk with our ``... Father which art in heaven....''. {Mt 6:9}

09/23

``Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.''. {Php 4:6-7}

We have here an admonition and a promise. The admonition is that we should not be ``careful'' or anxious about anything. In other words it is sin to worry. To worry indicates unbelief in the goodness of our Father.

The way to prevent worry is to pray. Sincere, believing prayer about every detail of our lives will drive worry far away.

The promise is the peace of God. God has promised us this peace and we must claim it by faith.

The world may be falling down around us, but if we are constantly praying and trusting God, we will be kept by peace which marches up and down before our hearts and minds as a sentinel of God.

09/24

``Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.''. {Php 4:8}

We are largely a product of our thoughts. Evil thoughts lead to evil actions. Despondent thoughts cause the heart to become despondent. Speaking of the programming of a computer it has been said, ``Garbage in, garbage out.''

The Christian must discipline his mind. Vulgarity, violence, chaos, rebellion, and other such influences surround us daily. If we allow our minds to dwell on such things we will become spiritually ill.

Paul says that we must combat this by filling our minds with truth, honesty, justice, purity, loveliness, good report, virtue, and praise. Then we will have the proper mental attitude with which to serve God.

To do this we must discipline ourselves as to what we read, listen to, look at, and think upon.

Let our minds be lovely for Christ.

09/25

``Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.''. {Php 4:11}

Paul was satisfied no matter what condition he was in. If he were in poverty he didn't fret and worry. When he was in wealth his prosperity didn't go to his head. What a blessed condition to be in!

But Paul didn't come by this contentment automatically, and neither will we. He learned to be content. He, no doubt, learned this by prayer, by experience, and by meditating on the word of God.

Paul knew that God orders the events in our lives and that He is a wise and good heavenly Father. He will give us what we need and what is good for us. If we can believe this then we will be content.

Paul did not put a premium on material things. He knew that God's spiritual blessings were a great deal more valuable than the material blessings. Communion with God was a lot more important to Paul than new clothes or good food.

If we look at things the way Paul looked at them, we will also learn to be content.

09/26

``I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.''. {Php 4:13}

Paul is not boasting in himself here but he is making his boast in the Lord. He is facing life with supreme confidence that his Lord will sustain him through each trial. Paul is not afraid of life; he is willing to meet each challenge head-on in the strength of the Lord.

How Christians today need to emulate the example of Paul. Too often they face life afraid. They dread the problems, sacrifices, and persecutions that accompany living for the Lord.

Often they mistake this condition of being ``cowed down'' with humility. But this is not humility, it is unbelief. We must learn to face life as Paul did--in full confidence that we can successfully handle all the problems that come our way because Christ gives us the strength to do so.

09/27

``Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.''. {Php 4:17}

Paul is here thanking the Philippian Christians for the gift of money which they had sent to him while he was in prison. But, even though he was thankful for the money, he was even more thankful that the Philippians would receive a great blessing because of this gift which was given in the service of God.

People put money into banks thinking that it will be secure. But banks can fail; thieves can break in and steal. But when Paul told the Philippians that he desired ``fruit that may abound to your account,'' he knew that they had made an investment which was secure. Money on account with God is safe and will bring great returns. How much do you have invested with God?

09/28

``But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.''. {Php 4:19}

A person gives according to his ability to do so. A rich man can give much, a poor man only a little. Here Paul assures the Philippians that God will supply all their need according to his riches in glory. And He will do this by Christ Jesus.

God is not only a rich Father; He is also a generous Father. He loves to give good gifts unto His children. He will give His children only the best.

God is also a wise Father who will give His children what is best for them. He knows what true riches are. He will lavish generous amounts of the true riches on the objects of His love.

Don't listen to the lies of Satan who tries to tell you that the heavenly Father is stingy and hard-hearted. Our Father is rich, generous, and wise.

09/29

``That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto.''. {1Th 3:3}

Sometimes people get the idea that when a person begins to serve the Lord all his problems vanish. When a good Christian begins to be severely afflicted or persecuted, people become confused. Some begin to question God or even to doubt the existence of a good and loving God.

But, as Paul pointed out to the Thessalonian Christians here, the people of God will suffer tribulation. We should not think it a strange thing when hard times come upon us. We bring glory to God when we maintain a cheerful and believing attitude as we suffer. God often uses these trials to deepen our faith and to purge us from our sins.

Don't become discouraged when persecution comes to you or to other Christians. Remember that we are appointed thereunto.

09/30

``But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law....''. {Ga 4:4}

God does not do things by chance. He always works according to purpose. He is never caught off guard or taken by surprise. He is always on time. Jesus Christ was born ``when the fullness of time was come.'' The entire history of the world till that moment was a preparation for the advent of the Son of God into the world.

Christ lived His appointed time on earth, was crucified, buried, resurrected, and ascended to the right hand of the Father. He is now directing the events of the world and at the appointed time will come again.

This truth should sustain the child of God as he looks round about him and sees the confusion and chaos the world is in. God is not confused. He still has control of things and is ordering them to His ultimate glory. ``... Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.''. {Re 19:6}

10/01

``O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together.''. {Ps 34:3}

It is certainly possible to praise the Lord when alone. But there is something very special about two or more who love the Lord praising His name together. David was here so moved as he contemplated the greatness and goodness of the Lord that he wanted someone to join him in praise. The early church enjoyed meeting together, ``Praising God, and having favour with all the people....''. {Ac 2:47} When together they ``... lifted up their voice to God with one accord....''. {Ac 4:24} They experienced power in their united praise.

What would draw a family closer together than by praising Him together? Have you experienced spiritual coldness lately? Then go to the assembly of the saints, call your family together, or find a likeminded Christian friend and ``exalt His name together.''

10/02

``The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.''. {Ps 34:18}

``Contrite'' means ``crushed in spirit by a feeling of remorse or guilt.'' The Hebrew word here translated ``contrite'' means ``crushed to powder.'' When God convicts a man of his sinfulness that man is just crushed. He sees how vile he is and he knows that he deserves the full wrath of God to fall upon him. He is miserable and fears that sudden destruction will fall upon him. He fears that there is no hope for him.

Do you feel this way? Has God shown you your awful condition?

If so, there is blessed hope for you! There is no hope for the one who is self-satisfied and complacent. But if God has broken your heart it is sure that He will bring real healing to you. Look to Him for mercy. Flee to the cross in repentance. David understood that ``... a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.''. {Ps 51:17}

10/03

``Plead my cause, O LORD, with them that strive with me: fight against them that fight against me.''. {Ps 35:1}

Here David prayed what each child of God should pray. When we try to live for the Lord and experience opposition and persecution we are to let Him fight our battles for us. We are never to seek vengeance for ``... Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.''. {Ro 12:19}

When we take up weapons of our own we are sure to be the losers. Jesus told Peter, ``... Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.''. {Mt 26:52} The same could be said about the tongue.

When we turn our battles over to the Lord, we have this precious promise: ``No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD.''. {Isa 54:17}

10/04

``Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity.''. {Ps 37:1}

Here we are warned against two attitudes into which the saints are liable to fall. They are in danger of fretting themselves because of the activities of evildoers. To fret is to be irritated, to become ``envious against the workers of iniquity.''

The reason why saints develop these attitudes is that it often seems like the evil ones are prosperous and happy, while the saints are often beset with afflictions. Satan comes to them and tells them that it is just not worth it to live for the Lord. When we get to feeling this way we are liable to fall into despair, doubt, and other sins.

But the inspired Word tells us that the evil ones shall ``... soon be cut down like the grass....''. {Ps 37:2} But of the righteous it is said, ``... their inheritance shall be for ever.''. {Ps 37:18}

Yes, it is worth it to live for the Lord! Walk by faith and trust God for the outcome.

10/05

``O spare me, that I may recover strength, before I go hence, and be no more.''. {Ps 39:13}

Are you ready to die? Have you done everything that you hoped to do in this life? Is there anyone with whom you have had a conflict that you have not become reconciled to? Have you so lived before your family, church, and friends that you would like them to remember you as you are now? Are you living in sins that you have not repented of? Have you openly confessed Jesus Christ as your Savior and been baptized as He commanded? Are you walking in close fellowship with Jesus? Would you like to die when you are spiritually cold or would you rather die when you are spiritually warm? How long do think you will live? Could you die unexpectedly? Would you like to have a little more time to ``get your house in order'' with God and with man? Would you make good use of that time or would you waste it?

10/06

``I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry.''. {Ps 40:1}

Several things are taught in this verse. First, it is obvious that the writer was troubled in soul. He did not feel the presence of the Lord. Be he did not give up in despair; he ``waited'' for the Lord. He knew that the Lord would again visit him. Thus he exhibited faith. And he waited ``patiently.'' He didn't fret, murmur, nor complain. He knew that the Lord knew his needs better than he did himself. But this patient waiting didn't stop him from praying. He prayed fervently--he ``cried'' unto the Lord.

The Lord rewarded this patient waiting and fervent praying. ``He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God....''. {Ps 40:2-3}

10/07

``I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.''. {Ps 40:8}

The only time a child of God can experience any real peace is when he is doing the will of God. The law of God has been written in the heart of every one who has been born from above. When one of these goes contrary to the will of God he is living in conflict with his very spiritual nature; misery and discontent are the results.

We need to discover the will of God for our lives (by prayerful Bible study), and then delight in performing it in the power of the Holy Spirit.

We need to live like David of whom God said, ``... I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will.''. {Ac 13:22}

Jesus said, ``... My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.'' (Joh 4:34).

Are you doing the will of God in your life? Do you even know what it is?

10/08

``I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation: I have not concealed thy lovingkindness and thy truth from the great congregation.''. {Ps 40:10}

It is one thing to experience the wonderful salvation of the Lord. It is another thing to tell others of it. God does not want His people to hide the blessings they have received from Him. We glorify Him when we tell others of His goodness toward us. It is ingratitude and sin to remain silent about our wonderful Lord. We are not to ``hide'' nor ``conceal'' what He has done for us.

Christians are generally so close-mouthed that they won't testify of the goodness of the Lord even in their assemblies--much less to the outside world. Brethren, these things ought not to be!

Let us say with David, ``Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he hath done for my soul.''. {Ps 66:16}

10/09

``Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the LORD will deliver him in time of trouble.''. {Ps 41:1}

We manifest mercy when we relieve the poor and afflicted. We manifest a selfish nature and a hard heart when we turn our backs upon them. One of the evidences of a regenerated soul is liberality toward the poor. ``But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?''. {1Jo 3:17}

This compassion on the poor was even taught under the Law when the people of Israel were taught to leave the gleanings of the vineyard for the poor and the stranger. {Le 19:10}

He that would receive mercy from the Lord should consider the following words: ``He that giveth unto the poor shall not lack: but he that hideth his eyes shall have many a curse.''. {Pr 28:27}

10/10

``As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.''. {Ps 42:1}

We should never be satisfied unless we feel the near presence of the Lord. The curse of the church at Laodicea was their lukewarmness. {Re 3:16} They weren't close to the Lord but it didn't bother them.

David, by contrast, didn't feel the nearness of the Lord and it greatly grieved him. He was thirsty for God! He represents his thirst as that of a deer who, perhaps fleeing from the hunter, was parched with thirst. He was panting in his agony. He was seeking fresh brooks of sparkling water. How sweet and refreshing a drink of cool water would be to him.

This is how it should be with the Christian. It is no disgrace to be thirsty for God. On the contrary it is a disgrace to not thirst for Him. The wonderful promise is, ``Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.'' (Mt 5:6).

Are you thirsty for God?

10/11

``Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.''. {Ps 42:5}

There are times when a Christian just has to ``get hold of himself.'' Many times when we get down we tend to wallow in self-pity. We feel sorry for ourselves and feel that there is no hope for us. But there are many times that we can help our selves through the in-dwelling power of the Holy Spirit.

David was feeling low and he began to talk to himself. He questioned why he was in his present condition then he admonished himself to ``hope in God.'' And, laying hold of the promises of God, he expressed the confidence that he would yet praise Him--that he would feel the smiles of God again.

You can do what David did, but don't get the idea that mere will-power can pull you through. David didn't do this in his own strength. He ``... encouraged himself in the LORD his God.''. {1Sa 30:6}

10/12

``In God we boast all the day long, and praise thy name for ever. Selah.''. {Ps 44:8}

It is always wrong for a Christian to boast in himself. ``... All the workers of iniquity boast themselves....''. {Ps 94:4} But it is also wrong for a Christian to not boast in God! We are to live victorious lives in Him. When we live defeated lives it is a reflection on His goodness and power. The victory cry of the saint is, ``I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.''. {Php 4:13} We must continually say, ``My soul shall make her boast in the LORD....''. {Ps 34:2}

When we overcome sin in our lives let us boast in God. When we grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ let us boast in God. Let us be like the illiterate preacher who said that all he could do was ``brag on Jesus.''

What problem in life do you have today? Take it to the Lord in prayer. Then overcome it through Him. And when you have overcome it don't forget to brag on Jesus.

10/13

``The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God....''. {Ps 53:1}

There are many today who deny God. This denial takes many forms. Some are out-and-out atheists. Some, by holding the theory of naturalistic evolution, deny His direct work of creation. Some, by denying the supernatural inspiration of the scriptures, deny what He Himself has said is His infallible and inerrant word. Some claim that there is a God, but in reality, they deny Him by their lives. ``They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.''. {Tit 1:16}

Into this latter class fall all those who advocate relative morality. These deny that God as Creator has the authority to tell us just exactly how to live.

Many of these people are very intelligent and highly educated. Many are regarded as respectable citizens and hold high positions in the government and in schools.

But God says that they are fools.

10/14

``Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.''. {Ps 55:17}

The custom of Jews was to pray at three stated times each day. We are not today tied down to these particular times of prayer, but we should pray just as frequently. No single thing will revive a drooping spiritual life like a revival of prayer. Each morning we should thank God for protection through the night and implore Him for strength for the day. The Lord Jesus rose up early to pray. {Mr 1:35}

In the middle of the day we need to renew our strength by prayer. Peter went to pray at noon (the sixth hour) and was blessed with a marvelous answer. {Ac 10:9}

Every evening we should fervently thank God for the mercies of the day and commit ourselves into His hands for protection through the night. Then we can say, ``I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety.''. {Ps 4:8}

A praying Christian is one who knows the joy of the power of God in his life. Bestir yourself and pray!

10/15

``Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.''. {Ps 55:22}

The word translated ``burden'' here is YEHAB which means ``what is given by Providence.'' (Strong's Concordance). God is good and is a kind Father to His children. He never lets anything come their way but that which is ultimately for their good. This has to be believed by faith, for there are many things which befall us that we can't see the good in with our natural understanding. We simply have to believe God's word and trust His goodness.

One of the things that He does to teach us to trust Him is to give us burdens to bear. We soon learn that we can't bear the burdens, and we are constrained to cast them upon the Lord. To our joy we find that He will sustain us.

If you are burdened today that burden will prove to be a blessing. It will teach you not to rely on your own self but on the Lord. Cast it upon Him. He has broad shoulders.

10/16

``There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword: but the tongue of the wise is health.''. {Pr 12:18}

The tongue is a very small member of our bodies, but what vast power it has for either good or evil. The tongue can cause death, even literal physical death. People can be incited to murder by wicked use of the tongue. The tongue can also cause the death of a reputation. Here it is said that the tongue speaks ``... like the piercings of a sword....'' David speaks of ``... the sons of men, whose teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword.''. {Ps 57:4} Speaking of the wicked Paul says, ``... with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness....''. {Ro 3:13-14} The sting of the asp is a poisonous sting which can cause death. James says the tongue can cause a ``forest fire'' of destructive slander and gossip. {Jas 3:5-6} This fire can burn down years of hard work and dedicated effort.

We usually don't realize how destructive some of our conversation is. Let us carefully guard every word that comes out of our mouths.

10/17

``The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies. Their poison is like the poison of a serpent: they are like the deaf adder that stoppeth her ear....''. {Ps 58:3-4}

Every human that is born into this world after Adam sinned has been born in sin. ``Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one.''. {Job 14:4} There is no such thing as infantile purity. If infants were pure and innocent they would not die, for sin is what brings about death. {Ro 5:12}

Children don't have to be taught to do wrong--on the contrary they have to be taught to do right. Little children can be very cruel to their playmates.

If little ones are sinners how is it they can be saved? Those for whom Christ died are saved by His blood. Many of them are born again at a very early age. John the Baptist had eternal life even when he was in his mother's womb. {Lu 1:4}

How terrible that sin is, even affecting little ones. But, oh, how wonderful is the salvation of the Lord.

10/18

``... Lead me to the rock that is higher than I''. {Ps 61:2}

Some people would like to put themselves on a level with God. As God spoke of them: ``... thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself....''. {Ps 50:21} Still others would exalt themselves above God and sit in judgment of Him.

But the humble child of God is thankful that He is ``the rock that is higher than I'' When we are in trouble we recognize that we need a God Who is vastly superior to us in power and in wisdom. If God were on such a level that we could thoroughly understand Him, He wouldn't be God. The child of God who realizes the need of an almighty Savior rejoices in the following words and in many words like them: ``For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.''. {Isa 55:9}

Don't try to fully understand the infinite Lord. Just be thankful for Him and trust Him.

10/19

``When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches.''. {Ps 63:6}

Life is so short and the Lord is so wonderful that there is no time to be lost in serving Him. As we are in bed falling asleep, we can use this time to meditate on Him. There is no better way to relax and relieve the tension of the day's burdens than by immersing our minds in the sea of God's perfections.

The best way to meditate on the Lord is to memorize scriptures that reveal His glorious attributes and revolve them in the mind while falling off to sleep. The more we do this the more we will delight in such exercises. We will be in the company of the blessed man whose ``... delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.''. {Ps 1:2}

Faithfully practiced and diligently cultivated these night seasons with the Lord will become some of the most enjoyable times of our lives.

10/20

``If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me....''. {Ps 66:18}

When we pray we need to have an open channel of communication and fellowship with the Lord. Any known sin should be repented of immediately. The failure on our part to do this probably explains many of our failures in prayer. Solomon wrote, ``He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.''. {Pr 28:9} God spoke through Isaiah, ``... yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.''. {Isa 1:15} Remember this was spoken to God's chosen people in the kingdom of Judah. Isaiah said again, ``But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.''. {Isa 59:2}

These examples, which could be multiplied, are sufficient to show that we must continually repent before God if we are to experience any power in our prayers.

10/21

``Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah.''. {Ps 68:19}

We have much to bless the Lord for. Many of His most valuable blessings we take for granted. We often murmur in ingratitude when things don't go exactly as we think they should.

One of the best antidotes to ingratitude is to list God's daily blessings to us. As we compile the list we will be very amazed at His bountiful blessings that we will have hearts overflowing with thanksgiving rather than hears filled with ingratitude.

We are blessed with marvelous bodies with which to serve Him--organs of sight, hearing, tasting, smelling, feeling. We have voices with which to communicate. So marvelous are our bodies that David said, ``I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.''. {Ps 139:14}

Yes, there is much reason to praise the Lord.

10/22

``I will go in the strength of the Lord GOD: I will make mention of thy righteousness, even of thine only.''. {Ps 71:16}

Many people have an exaggerated sense of their own strength and righteousness. The fact is that sinful humans have no strength nor righteousness of their own. As far as strength is concerned, it is ``... in Him we live, and move, and have our being.''. {Ac 17:28} Let us be very careful to give God all the credit for any and all good that we may be blessed to accomplish. Let us say with Paul: ``... I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.''. {1Co 15:10}

As far as our righteousness is concerned, it is true that ``... all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.''. {Isa 64:6} The righteousness that a child of God has is the imputed righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ. ``But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.''. {1Co 1:30-31}

10/23

``Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee: the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain.''. {Ps 76:10}

God is glorified even in the lives of the wicked. Truly, ``The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.''. {Pr 16:4} As the inspired writer, John, wrote, ``Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.''. {Re 4:11}

God lets the wicked rage in His wrath and rebellion until it suits His purposes to restrain him. He let Pharaoh rage and boast and show great wrath. Then He restrained His wrath and finally destroyed him. God was glorified in it all.

Today many men and women display a hatred of God and say many blasphemous things against Him. But, somehow this wrath will be used to praise God, and He will restrain the remainder of wrath at the precise right moment.

What a wonderful consolation this is.

10/24

``Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.''. {Ps 85:10}

This verse contains a wonderful description of what transpired on the cross in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ.

God is a Holy God Who is ``... of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity....''. {Hab 1:13} Man fell in sin and became separated from the Holy God. If God extended mercy but did not require that sin be paid for, He would violate His righteous nature. How could mercy be extended without a violation of truth and justice?

There can be no true peace between God and man where there is no righteousness on the part of man. How can righteousness and peace ``kiss'' each other? Job asked the question long ago: ``I know it is so of a truth: but how should man be just with God?''. {Job 9:2}

The grand answer to these questions is found in the glorious Person and Work of the Lord Jesus Christ. He satisfied divine justice for His people. He paid the price for their sins. He made peace by the blood of the cross. He is their righteousness. He is truth incarnate. Praise His Holy Name!

10/25

``Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God: thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness.''. {Ps 143:10}

This is a wonderful prayer and should be the constant petition of every child of God. God's will is revealed in the scriptures. However, we need the illumination of the Holy spirit as we study the scriptures. We must understand not only the letter but also the spirit of the scriptures. {2Co 3:6}

We also need the chastening hand of God upon us if we are to learn to do His will. This is necessary because of the stubbornness of our sinful natures. God's chastening is an indication of His love. {Heb 12:6}

We also need to be directed by the providence of God into the experience in life that will enable us to experience the reality of the truths contained in the word of God!

Indeed, we are saying a lot when we pray, ``teach me to do thy will.''

10/26

``LORD, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty: neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me.''. {Ps 131:1}

David here makes a statement of his humility that would be well for us all to be able to truthfully repeat. Nothing becomes a child of God like true humility. Nothing is more unbecoming to a saint than to be lifted up with pride. ``Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.''. {Pr 16:18}

The man who is lifted up with pride will soon find himself in water that is too deep for him. He will presumptuously take upon himself jobs which he can't handle. He will always be restless and dissatisfied.

The humble man has peace within. He just does the best job he can and depends upon God to advance him. Thus David, the humble shepherd boy, is exalted by God to be king over Israel. Let us pray that God will make and keep us humble.

10/27

``Those that be planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing....''. {Ps 92:13-14}

The house of the Lord today is the local church. {1Ti 3:15} Here God's house is compared to a beautiful orchard of fruit-bearing trees. The wonderful promise is that those in this orchard will still be producing fruit in old age. Some of the choicest fruit of the saints is borne in old age. Old age is, for the saint, not a time to be dreaded, but a time to be looked for with anticipation.

But this promise of fruit-bearing is only to those who are ``planted'' in the house of the Lord. Here is where the Lord nourishes with the ``... rivers of water....''. {Ps 1:3}

10/28

``I am a companion of all them that fear thee, and of them that keep thy precepts.''. {Ps 119:63}

Our companions have a great deal of influence on us. An evil companion will inevitably corrupt us in some way. A righteous companion will always be an influence for good.

We must choose as our friends only those who fear God. A person who doesn't fear God will engage in almost any kind of conduct.

Those who truly fear God will keep His precepts. As we walk with such along life's road we can help each other along the pathway of righteousness.

10/29

``I rejoice at thy word, as one that findeth great spoil.''. {Ps 119:162}

It is impossible to overestimate the preciousness and value of the word of God. Without the blessed word we would not know where we had come from nor where we were going. We would not know from how to live, and would not have anything like and adequate knowledge of the Savior. But words fail to express the value of the Holy scriptures.

As we pore over its pages in an attitude of prayer God will open to us His storehouse of great treasures. These treasures are to be esteemed far above silver and gold. A man may have much silver and gold and still be miserable, but the man who rejoices at the word of God has true contentment. He alone has a right sense of values.

10/30

``Seven times a day do I praise thee because of thy righteous judgments.''. {Ps 119:164}

How many times have you praised God today? Have you even thought once about His righteous judgments? Do you know that there is power in praise? Do you know that Satan hates praise rendered to God? He will do anything he can to stop the sound of praise. As the song-writer put it: ``Hell's foundations quiver at the shout of praise, Brothers, lift your voices, Loud your anthems raise!''

Don't wait until you feel like it to praise God. He is worthy of our praise at all times, whether or not we feel like it.

Begin to praise Him and you'll soon feel like it!

10/31

``... What man is there that is fearful and fainthearted? let him go and return unto his house, lest his brethren's heart faint as well as his heart.''. {De 20:8}

This is what the commanders of the armies of Israel were to tell the people before they entered into battle. They realized that fear and doubt were contagious and would spread like wildfire among the troops, demoralizing them.

The same holds true in our Christian warfare. We will greatly discourage our brethren if we manifest faithless attitudes of fear and doubt.

For the glory of God, for our own good, for the good or our brethren--let us ``... be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might.''. {Eph 6:10}

11/01

``Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall....''. {2Pe 1:10}

One of the most potent weapons a child of God can use against the devil is the assurance of salvation. Make a man doubt his salvation and he will falter in his fight against sin. Make him sure of his salvation and he will cheerfully face all opposition.

Here saints are told to make their calling and election sure. The words ``to make'' are a middle infinitive in the Greek. The middle voice has the subject acting upon itself. So the saints are to make their calling and election sure to themselves. Their calling and election in Christ Jesus before the world began is sure and certain. {Eph 1:4; 2Ti 1:9; Ro 8:29-30} Salvation is sure to all the elect of God.

But saints don't always live in the assurance of their salvation. The closer they live to God, the more sure they are of their salvation. Then they will ``in no wise stumble at any time.'' (literal Greek).

11/02

``Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all.''. {1Ch 29:11}

We need to be constantly reminded of the greatness of God. We live in an age of skepticism, agnosticism, and growing atheism. Men mock God in their words and deeds. Movies, plays, and songs are written in which God and the Bible are openly mocked.

Even many Christians don't have the proper idea of the power of God. Many pulpits picture God as weak and impotent as He begs the sinners to let Him come into their hearts. Expressions such as ``please give Jesus a chance'' are commonly used.

But this is not the picture of God which the Bible gives us. He is the almighty. Everything belongs to Him and He controls even wicked men and women for His own purposes. See Ro 9:17.

This God is worthy of our worship and our trust.

11/03

``Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.''. {Ex 20:7}

This commandment means, among other things, that we are forbidden to use the name of the Lord in an empty manner. This means that there must be a good reason for using His precious name every time that we use it. When we say ``Lord,'' ``oh God,'' or ``lordy,'' and such expressions we are taking the name of the Lord in vain.

The slang expression ``gee'' is a contraction of Jesus (Webster's Dictionary) and is taking God's name in vain. ``Golly'' is a euphemism for God and should not be used by those who desire to please God. ``Gosh'' is also a euphemism for God.

You may have been in the habit of using some of these expressions, thinking that they were harmless. But they are not. They are the taking of the name of our Lord in vain. The sin must be confessed and the habit must be broken with the help of God.

11/04

``But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.''. {1Jo 1:7}

Light is a wonderful thing. ``... God is light....''. {1Jo 1:5} The first thing that God created was light. {Ge 1:3}

Darkness is a fearful thing. Those in darkness stumble and fall because they can't see where they are going. Those living in darkness have miserable homes and miserable individual lives.

There is only one way to have light on our pathway. We must walk close to God. He is the source of light. We walk close to Him as we live according to His word. ``Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.''. {Ps 119:105}

Let us heed the challenge that Isaiah gave to the people of God long ago: ``O house of Jacob, come ye, and let us walk in the light of the LORD.''. {Isa 2:5}

11/05

``If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.''. {1Jo 1:9}

This is a wonderful promise to a sin-burdened child of God. Often when the saint has been overtaken in sin, Satan tells him that his case is hopeless--that there is no forgiveness for him this time. The one overtaken in sin often feels that there is no forgiveness.

But we must not go by our feelings nor by Satan's lies. We must go by the infallible word of God. And the word says there is forgiveness upon confession. The word translated ``confess'' is HOMOLOGEO and literally means ``to speak the same thing.'' When we truly confess our sins we say the same thing about them that God does. We agree with what God says in His word about our sins. As a result of the inward conviction of the Holy Spirit we declare ourselves guilty.

And our merciful God forgives us and cleanses us.

11/06

``A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.''. {Jas 1:8}

A double minded man is one who can't make up his mind what he wants to do. One moment he wants one thing, and the next moment something else. The context in James indicates that the double-minded man doesn't pray effectively because he wavers right in the middle of his prayer! This man is unsettled and disorderly in all that he does. He will never get anything significant done in the cause of the Lord.

The unstable man is like the Israelites of whom Elijah said, ``How long halt ye between two opinions?''. {1Ki 18:21} The word ``halt'' is from PASACH and means ``to limp.'' The Israelites were just limping along like a nation of cripples, because they couldn't make up their minds whether or not to serve God.

Don't go limping along. Satan is the author of this attitude. Be single-minded. Put God first today and every other day of your life.

11/07

``Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.''. {Col 4:6}

There is a lot more in this verse than meets the eye. To live according to it, we need to carefully choose each word that we speak. We use many words that would shock us if we knew their real origin and meaning.

For example, when something pleasant happens to a person they are likely to say, ``That was lucky or that was fortunate.'' Such words should never be used by a child of God. They are pagan in origin. The words ``fortune,'' ``fortunate,'' etc. come for Fortuna, who in Roman mythology was the goddess of fortune. The word ``luck'' is a synonym of fortune.

Instead of using such words the informed child of God will give God credit for all the things he receives. He will call God's goodness ``blessings'' instead of ``luck'' or ``fortune.''

Let you speech be seasoned with grace.

11/08

``Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.''. {Jas 4:17}

There are sins of omission as well as sins of actual commission. We may think the sins of commission are greater, but sin is sin.

Many professed Christians think if they are free from some of the grosser sins such as adultery, murder, and drunkenness, that they are doing well. But this verse from James tells us that it is sin to not do that which God has commanded.

In the parable of the talents, the Lord referred to the one who had not put his talent to use as a ``... wicked and slothful servant....''. {Mt 25:26} This man was guilty of sin because of inaction!

Have you been smugly resting in the idea that since you're not grossly sinning that God must surely be well-pleased with you? You had better reconsider the matter, repent of the sins of inaction and get busy in the Master's business.

11/09

``Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.''. {Jas 5:10}

The lives of Christians sometimes become very difficult. Especially is this true of very dedicated followers of the Lord who live in a complacent and luke-warm age like that of today. When their voices rise in protest against the ungodliness which abounds on every hand, they are sure to be persecuted--at the very least verbally.

When these trials come they need to again study the lives of those prophets of the past who lifted their voices like trumpets to protest the rising tide of ungodliness in their day. They stood against incredible odds. Often they lost their lives without seeing any outward fruit of their work. But the Lord Jesus said of such: ``... for great is your reward in heaven....''. {Mt 5:12} ``Just one glimpse of Him in heaven will the toils of life repay.''

11/10

``But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.''. {Jas 5:12}

We sin with the tongue a great deal more than we realize. We are not to utter any idle words. But, because of habits that we pick up, most of us are prone to say many unnecessary things. Most, if not all, these unnecessary words are sinful.

It would appall most of us if we had to listen to a recording of our speech during a day. We probably utter many oaths without realizing it. But remember that God hears each word. Let us carefully listen to every word that proceeds out of our mouths and let us cultivate the habit of letting our ``yea be yea; and our nay, nay.''

11/11

``Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.''. {Heb 11:3}

The first chapter of Genesis makes it plain that God created the universe, including our heavens and earth, out of nothing. There was a time when there was no matter. God simply created all material substance by His word and formed it as He pleased.

Atheists, skeptics, and other so-called intellectuals believe that matter is eternal. Some believe that God and matter are the same thing. In other words they believe the universe is ``God,'' but the Bible teaches that God is a Person--not just a mass of mindless matter. God is immaterial; He is a Spirit. {Joh 4:24}

How can one believe this? How can one literally believe what the Bible says about Creation? Only if God has given him faith. Without faith a man can no more understand this than a dog can understand a man's world.

11/12

``By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.''. {Heb 11:7}

What we do always has an effect on others, especially on those of our own family. This is particularly true of the heads of households. Noah's family was saved from the flood because he believed and obeyed God. When Lydia obeyed the word of God preached by Paul, her entire household was affected. {Ac 16:15} The same was true of the Philippian jailer. {Ac 16:31-34}

When Korah, Dathan, and Abiram rebelled against the Lord their entire households were destroyed. {Nu 16:23-35}

Let us be very careful how we live before the Lord. We can be a great blessing or a great curse to the ones who are closest to us.

11/13

``And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing....''. {Ge 12:2}

Abraham was not only blessed; he also became a blessing. So it should be with each of us. God doesn't bless us just so we can selfishly consume His blessings. He intends for us to use His gifts for the benefit of others. If we fail to do this, He will likely cut off His stream of blessings to us.

The Dead Sea is at the lowest sea level on earth. The Jordan River flows into it but nothing flows out of it. And it is so dead that nothing lives in it. So it will be in our lives.

The Sea of Galilee has streams flowing both into and out of it. It is teeming with life. It keeps on receiving and keeps on giving.

Has God given you money, health, talents? ``Give and it shall be given unto you....''. {Lu 6:38}

11/14

`` (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.''. {Heb 11:38}

It is much better to be considered great in the eyes of the Lord than great in the eyes of the world. John the Baptist was ``... great in the sight of the Lord....''. {Lu 1:15} So were these heroes of the faith in Old Testament times whose sufferings and deeds of faith are recorded in Hebrews eleven.

In the Apostolic Age and since there have also been many who were despised by the world but who received the gracious approval of God.

The world exalts her own heroes. She builds monuments to them and writes of their earthly exploits in numerous books. But some day monuments, books, even the world itself will be burned up by the fire of God.

But those lowly ones, of whom this world was not worthy ``... shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and ... as the stars for ever and ever.''. {Da 12:3}

11/15

``For our God is a consuming fire.''. {Heb 12:29}

We often hear that ``God is love.'' That is wonderfully true. But it is also true that God is a consuming fire. This truth is a terror to the enemies of God, but, it is a wonderful consolation to His friends.

As far as His enemies are concerned, ``... he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.''. {Mt 3:12} This will be the eternal fire of ``... hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched.''. {Mr 9:43}

But the friends of God will not be destroyed by His fire. For them the fire is designed to purge away the dross of sin that they accumulate in their daily lives. For them it is the ``refiner's fire'' that they undergo from time to time in this earthly life. ``And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.''. {Mal 3:3}

11/16

``Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.''. {Heb 13:8}

This wonderful verse reveals much of the Godhood of the Lord Jesus Christ. First, it says that He is ``the same.'' This speaks of His immutability. Men are fickle. They change. But our blessed Lord is perfect. He never changes. To change would imply imperfection. We can rely on His unchanging perfection. As the song writer put it: ``Change and decay in all around I see: O Thou who changest not, abide with me!''

Christ's eternity is also taught here. He has always been, is now, and always will be. He said, ``... Before Abraham was, I am.''. {Joh 8:58} He is now with His people. He said, ``For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.''. {Mt 18:20} He will always be. Paul, speaking of the resurrected saints, said, ``... and so shall we ever be with the Lord.''. {1Th 4:17}

11/17

``Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry.''. {2Ti 4:11}

There is a wonderful lesson of restoration taught here. Mark had once proved cowardly and had in fear forsaken the service of the Lord. {Ac 13:13} Because of this Paul refused to take him with him the next time he went on an evangelistic tour. {Ac 15:37-39}

Now, many years later, Mark has repented and become strong in the Lord. Paul says that he is now profitable for the ministry.

Have you failed God? All is not lost! Beg God for forgiveness. He will strengthen you, restore you, and make you profitable for the ministry.

11/18

``And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.''. {Ac 4:32}

The early church had tremendous spiritual power. Two reasons for this were their amazing degree of unity and their willingness to share what they had with one another. When these conditions are met today, the power will likely return.

Not everyone sold everything they had. But even what they retained, they freely shared--even houses. See Ac 12:12.

Some people criticize this sharing and say that it brought poverty to the Jerusalem church. But this is not what brought poverty; the poverty was the result of a severe drought. See Ac 11:28-29.

There is not even implied in the inspired account one word of disapproval of this holy liberality.

Let us pray that God will soften our hearts and give us this unity, this generosity, and this power.

11/19

``For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.''. {Ac 4:27-28}

God controls all things! Even the wicked inadvertently fulfill His will. It was in God's plan that the Lord Jesus die for His people. Christ stood in God's plan as ``... the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.''. {Re 13:8}

God is not the author of sin but He uses even wicked men for His purposes. These wicked ones who vented their malice on the Lamb of God were acting according to their natures and their desires when they crucified Jesus. But, unknowing to themselves, they were carrying out the purposes of God. They were doing ``... whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.''. {Ac 4:28}

We must bow in reverence and in awe before Him ``... who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.''. {Eph 1:11}

11/20

``And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.''. {Ge 1:26}

In this age of amazing achievements of men in almost every field of endeavor, we hear much boasting of the greatness of man. Secular humanism has become a religion and man is his own god. But man deserves no credit. When God created man, He gave him the commission and the ability to have dominion over all the earth. This commission did not include just the saints but mankind in general.

It is true that man has misused the commission and abused God's good earth, but the commission is still in force. Even wicked men live, and move, and have their being in him--not as Savior, but as Creator. {Ac 17:28} Let us give credit to God to whom it is due.

Man can go no farther than God will allow him.

11/21

``Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.''. {Mt 1:23}

Some so-called Christians today deny the Virgin Birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. They know not what they say. It was absolutely essential that the Son of God be born of a virgin. He had to have a human nature in order to take on Himself the sins of humans. See Heb 2:14. But He had to have sinless human nature. This would have been impossible had he had a human father. All the human race, coming from Adam, were born sinners. See Ro 5:12.

But Jesus was conceived in the womb of Mary by the Holy Spirit. See Mt 1:20. Thus He had a human nature, but was sinless. There could have been no Savior without this sinless conception and birth. Praise be to God for His marvelous work of the Virgin Birth of the Lord Jesus Christ! Truly Christ was and is ``... holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens.''. {Heb 7:26}

11/22

``Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?''. {Mt 6:31}

Is it not true that almost universally men violate this command of the Lord? What do most people, even Christians, worry about the most? Isn't it rising prices, not enough money, fear of poverty? And yet our Lord says ``don't worry about these things.''

He doesn't mean by this for us to be lazy or foolish. He means that we should do an honest day's work so far as He provides ability and opportunity, and let the matter rest with Him.

Follow this command of the all-wise Savior and see if you don't feel and get along a hundred per cent better.

11/23

``But Simon's wife's mother lay sick of a fever, and anon they tell him of her. And he came and took her by the hand, and lifted her up; and immediately the fever left her, and she ministered unto them.''. {Mr 1:30-31}

We can learn a good lesson from Simon's mother-in-law. When Jesus healed her, she immediately began to serve. Many people when either spiritually or physically sick, want the Lord to heal them. They want to get well. But, why? All too often it is so they can go back to their old fun-loving way of life. They don't want to get well so they can serve the Lord and His people.

How is it with you? Are you sick? Do you want to get well? Why?

Or maybe the Lord has blessed you to get well. What are you doing with your physical and spiritual health?

11/24

``And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.''. {Mt 7:28-29}

When one has true authority, he doesn't have to argue. He just has to make statements. In fact, when one in authority argues with those under him, he lowers himself in their eyes.

Our Lord didn't argue. He had authority from heaven. He just spoke the truth and let it lie with the hearers. God didn't argue or try to reason with the atheists and evolutionists. He has authority and He simply said, ``In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.''. {Ge 1:1}

The church of the Lord Jesus Christ isn't called to argue. They are simply called to speak with authority. We have no authority in ourselves, but when we speak God's word we speak with His authority. Let us be careful to speak only His word. When we speak our words we cease to speak with authority.

11/25

``He must increase, but I must decrease.''. {Joh 3:30}

John the Baptist was a great man. He stirred the world with his preaching. He had large crowds of followers. He was truly ``the man of the hour.'' But what really made him great was that he realized his littleness. He didn't exalt himself or try to make a place for himself. His one aim in life was to exalt the Lord Jesus Christ. He knew that if Christ was going to be exalted in his life that he was going to have to get into the background.

He didn't try to draw attention to himself. He pointed men to the Lamb of God. He constantly said, ``... Behold the Lamb of God!''. {Joh 1:36}

If we want Jesus to be exalted in our lives we are going to have to do the same thing. Let us concentrate on decreasing that He may be increased.

11/26

``John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven.''. {Joh 3:27}

We hear people today say something like this: ``Christ has purchased salvation for you but all His work will be in vain if you don't accept His offer of salvation. He has done all he can; now you must do your part, or all will be in vain.''

This is not the teaching of scripture. According to the above verse a man can't even receive anything unless the ability to receive it is given him from heaven. Christ purchased total salvation for His people. And this includes the ability to receive what He purchased on the cross.

He said, ``All that the Father giveth me shall come to me....''. {Joh 6:37} And they don't come of their own ability. ``No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.''. {Joh 6:44}

God must receive all the credit for salvation. None of it belongs to man.

11/27

``That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.''. {Joh 5:23}

This verse excludes all but the Christian religion from being true religions. Many religious profess to honor God, but they don't do so unless they give full credit to the Lord Jesus Christ as being co-equal and co-eternal with God the Father. Mohammedans claim to honor God, but they hold Jesus as merely a great prophet. The Jews profess to honor the God of the Old Testament but they will never do so until they acknowledge the Lord Jesus Christ as the true Messiah. The Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons have a high place in their theologies for the Lord Jesus Christ, but it is not high enough.

No one can honor God until he can from the heart say of Jesus what God the Father did. Of God the Father it is said: ``But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.''. {Heb 1:8}

11/28

``The officers answered, Never man spake like this man.''. {Joh 7:46}

Do you know why that no man had ever spoken like this Man? Because there had never been another Man like Him. He was the God Man. When He spoke the blind received their sight, the lepers were cleansed, the lame were healed. Even the waves and the wind obeyed His voice.

Nothing and no one can resist when He speaks. When He chooses to speak to the dead heart of a sinner that sinner receives spiritual life just as surely as Lazarus received physical life when he was raised from the dead. Lazarus didn't resist that irresistible voice and neither will any sinner to whom He chooses to speak. He said, ``... the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.''. {Joh 6:63} Has He spoken to you?

If He has you will hear Him speak again when ``... the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise....''. {1Th 4:16}

11/29

``She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.'' (Joh 8:11).

This woman had broken one of the Ten Commandments of God. She had been caught in the very act of adultery. But Jesus had granted her repentance. He had forgiven her. He did not condemn her. We had better be mighty careful to not be in the position of condemning one whom Jesus has forgiven. We had better not be found in ``Moses' seat'' as the Scribes and Pharisees were, administering the cold condemnation of the letter of the law. We might find that ``Moses' seat'' will turn out to be a ``hot seat'' for us.

But if we are in the position of the forgiven one, we had also better take heed to the words of the Master, ``... go, and sin no more.'' (Joh 8:11).

11/30

``Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word.''. {Joh 8:43}

These are amazing words. These people heard the words of Christ. They discoursed with Him. They were not deaf. There was nothing wrong with their physical ears. But Jesus said that they could not hear His word. What did He mean?

They could not ``spiritually understand'' the import of the words of the Savior. They were dead in sin. They were not the children of God. Christ said that ``Ye are of your father the devil....''. {Joh 8:44}

A man may hear many glorious sermons, but unless the Lord gives him spiritual ``ears'' he won't really hear. Have you heard the Savior? Has He so spoken to you that your life has been changed? Then praise Him for it and live for Him. Where would you be if He had not loved you and blessed you to hear?

12/01

``But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.''. {Jas 1:4}

Patience is one of the most important spiritual graces. As James says, the Christian character cannot be complete without it. An impatient Christian is an immature Christian.

This is also one of the most difficult graces to develop. This grace grows only under trial (v.3). It is nurtured by tribulations. {Ro 5:3} God fosters the growth of this grace in His children by chastening them. (The word ``endure'' in Heb 12:7 is the verb form of the word translated ``patience.'')

The fact that suffering plays such a great part in the development of this gift may explain why older saints often suffer very much. God is, as it were, ripening fruit for heaven! See how much Paul the Apostle suffered as an old man after he had spent much of his life in the service of the Master.

Patience is hard to learn, but what a precious grace it is. No wonder that James told us to ``... count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations (testings); know this that the trying of your faith worketh patience.''. {Jas 1:2-3}

12/02

``The cloak that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments.''. {2Ti 4:13}

This letter was written from Rome where Paul was imprisoned. It was written just before Paul died the death of a martyr for Jesus Christ. Paul knew that he was to die soon. {2Ti 4:6}

Knowing all this Paul requested that ``the books, but especially the parchments'' be brought to him. Paul was requesting that the scriptures (which were often written on parchment) and that other books be brought to him. These other books (written on papyrus scrolls) were perhaps comments or notes that Paul had made on the scriptures.

Paul set a good example. He never ceased to study the word of God, even when he knew that he was soon to die. He fed his soul from the word of God. Christians must never cease to spend time in the word. As they near death the blessed word will strengthen them to die triumphantly.

12/03

``... And David said unto Saul, I cannot go with these; for I have not proved them....''. {1Sa 17:39}

David had volunteered to fight Goliath, the giant. King Saul put his own armor on David. Then David uttered the above words and refused to use Saul's armor. He later went out, chose his own weapons (which he was accustomed to using), and slew the giant.

There is a very important spiritual lesson taught here. It is this: we cannot live life second-handedly using someone else's experiences. We can draw strength from one another; we can profit from following the good example of someone else; we can and should get counsel and advice from others. But we must live our own lives before God. We must pray our own prayers; we must obey God our own selves.

Second-hand faith is no good. We may be inspired and encouraged by the faith of someone else, but we must ask God to increase our own faith. As Paul said: ``But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.''. {Ga 6:4}

12/04

``Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!''. {Isa 5:20}

Sinful man, in his blinded condition, places great value on those things which are worthless. He also regards as of no value those things which are most valuable. All this distortion is abominable in the eyes of God, and woe is pronounced on those who are guilty of it.

We see this twisting of things in the world today in the following and other ways:

Acceptance of homosexuality as an accepted way of life when God says it is sin of the basest kind. {Ro 1:26-27}

Glorification of the ``career'' woman when God says that it should be the ambition of women ``... to be keepers at home....''. {Tit 2:5}

Acceptance of pre-marital and extra-marital sex, when God says that ``... whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.''. {Heb 13:4}

Abortion which the word of God condemns as murder.

12/05

``Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began...''. {2Ti 1:9}

It is a wonderful consolation that salvation is entirely in the hands of the Lord. If it were wholly or partly in the hands of men it would be uncertain.

This verse stresses the certainty of the salvation that is in the Lord. It is certain because it is not according to our works. Men are all sinners, and even the works of saved men are tainted with sin.

Salvation is certain because it is according to ``His own purpose and grace.'' Salvation is not an accident. God saves men ``on purpose.'' All those He purposed to be saved shall be saved. Nothing can hinder the purposes of the Almighty God.

Salvation is certain because it was given to the saints as they were viewed in Christ Jesus ``before the world began.'' This was before they could either help or hinder.

The saint who recognizes his sinfulness can thus rejoice in the salvation that is entirely dependent on the Lord.

12/06

``For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called....''. {1Co 1:26}

As we study history or look about us at contemporary life, we are prone to regard the famous and the wealthy as heroes. Children and even adults tend to pattern their life-styles after these heroes. We admire kings, generals, athletes, and glamorous figures from the entertainment world.

But this is not a safe practice. God says that the majority of these are not called into eternal life. Most of the Caesars of Rome lived notoriously wicked lives. Henry VIII of England had several of his wives murdered. Many entertainers live grossly immoral lives.

We must not be impressed with earthly grandeur, which will soon perish. Let us emulate the life of the lowly Man from Galilee. Let Him be our hero. He was meek and lowly while here on earth, but now He occupies the most exalted throne of all. True greatness lies in following Him.

12/07

``That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.''. {Php 2:10-11}

In these wicked days many refuse to bow before Christ. God is blasphemed; jokes are made about the Bible; movies and songs openly mock God and true religion. These things grieve the true children of God.

But they must take heart! The day is coming when the entire universe will bow before the Lord Jesus Christ. The righteous will do so joyfully. The wicked will be compelled to do so by His majesty, power, and authority.

You will bow before Him some day--one way or the other. Are you bowing before Him now?

12/08

``So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy.''. {Ro 9:16}

Salvation is entirely of the Lord. Many deny this. Some say that salvation is by their works. But, it is not of ``him that runneth.'' God's people perform good works because they are saved--not in order to be saved.

Some say that salvation is by an act of the human will; that men must embrace Christ by an act of their ``free will.'' But is not of ``him that willeth.'' When a person embraces Christ with his will, it is only because Christ has already worked that will in him. {Php 2:13} Men are born into the family of God, ``... not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.''. {Joh 1:13}

So salvation is not of man in any sense of the word, but is ``of God that sheweth mercy.''

12/09

``Strangers have devoured his strength, and he knoweth it not: yea, gray hairs are here and there upon him, yet he knoweth not.''. {Ho 7:9}

Men often become old and weak almost before they know it. The advancing signs of age will go undetected, especially if we never look into a mirror.

In spiritual matters, Christians become weak and gradually decline if they are not very careful. They are often self-deceived and think they are doing very well, when, in reality, they are growing very cold toward God.

This is particularly true if they are not spending time before their spiritual ``mirror'' (the Bible). Neglect of the regular study of God's word will result in spiritual ``gray hairs'' appearing without being detected.

Have you got gray hair? Have you looked into your mirror lately?

12/10

``Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.''. {Ge 3:21}

Adam and Eve were evidently clothed with the glory of God in their state of innocence. When they sinned they became acutely aware of their nakedness. They tried to clothe themselves with fig leaves. This clothing was not durable.

In mercy God gave them the substantial clothing of coats of skins. This involved the shedding of blood.

The gospel is preached in this story. When men become convicted of their sins and realize that they stand naked before God they try to clothe themselves with their good works. These soon wither away like the fig leaves. In mercy God shed the blood of His Son and clothed His people in the imputed righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Praise God for this perfect clothing! It alone enables a sinner to stand before God.

12/11

``And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.''. {Ge 3:12}

Sinful man refuses to accept the responsibility for his actions. He tries to ``pass the buck'' to someone else and ultimately blames God for his miserable condition. That is exactly what is recorded here of Adam. He blamed Eve for his sin and then blamed God for giving him Eve!

When one is brought to repentance, however, he acknowledges that he is to blame, and he begs God for mercy.

How is it with you? Do you still blame others for your failures? Do you finally blame God? Or has He graciously granted repentance to you?

12/12

``And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters....''. {Ge 5:22}

There is wonderful encouragement here for Christians who want to walk with God in this evil generation. Enoch walked with God for three hundred years! It wasn't easy because Enoch stood alone in a wicked world. And he witnessed against this wickedness. {Jude 14-15}

Enoch did not do this in his own strength and neither can you. Enoch did it by faith. {Heb 11:5} We must do the same and give God all the glory.

12/13

``Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom.''. {Ge 13:12}

Greed and selfishness will bring great trouble into a man's life. As Paul said, ``But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.''. {1Ti 6:9}

Lot chose to live near Sodom for material reasons. He saw that the area was ``... well watered every where....''. {Ge 13:10} Sodom was a terribly immoral place and Lot probably did not plan to live there. At first he only ``pitched his tent toward Sodom.'' But the next notice that is made of Lot is that he ``... dwelt in Sodom.''. {Ge 14:12} That is the way that sin works. It is insidious; it eats like a cancer. The sinner usually never intends to go as far into sin as he actually does. He is caught in its trap before he realizes what has happened.

The lesson here is: ``Don't pitch your tent toward Sodom.'' Don't take the first step into sin. It will ruin you.

12/14

``But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly.''. {Ge 13:13}

The name of Sodom is infamous for its moral corruption. In fact the word ``sodomy'' has become established in the English language. Sodomy is ``any sexual intercourse regarded as abnormal, as between persons of the same sex.'' (Webster's Dictionary). Today it is popular to regard homosexuality and other perversions as ``sicknesses'' or even as acceptable behavior.

But God said that those who practice such things are ``wicked and sinners before the Lord exceedingly.'' This is the position genuine Christians must take. It is the only position sustained by the Bible.

God showed His anger at these perversions by destroying Sodom and Gomorrha with fire. He said that these ``... are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.''. {Jude 7}

If anyone reading this is guilty of such perversion, repent of it before God! The psychiatrist and sociologist may pour balm on your conscience for awhile. But ultimately, you must face God with your sin. If He grants you repentance, He will forgive you. But you must cease from this filthy practice.

12/15

``In the selfsame day was Abraham circumcised, and Ishmael his son.''. {Ge 17:26}

Abraham is a good example of instant obedience to God. He obeyed God immediately. He didn't argue with God or ask for time to think the situation over.

This was when Abraham was ninety-nine years old. Many people think that a person is ``over-the-hill'' when they reach an advanced age. This may be true physically, but it certainly is not true spiritually.

This instant obedience is one of the traits which constituted the noble character of Abraham. God will use a man or woman who will obey Him. Don't argue with God; don't ``drag your feet.'' When He tells you to do something, do it right then.

12/16

``And the LORD said, If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.''. {Ge 18:26}

There is vast power in a righteous life. God will have respect to those who are diligently trying to obey Him. If there had been fifty righteous in the wicked city of Sodom God would have spared it for their sakes. He even said that He would spare it if there were ten righteous ones found there. {Ge 18:32}

Eze 14:14 indicates that men such as Noah, Daniel, and Job possessed great spiritual power with God. We should examine the lives of these men and seek to emulate them.

Christian friend, do you feel weak and fear that there is nothing you can do to combat the rising tide of wickedness? Well, there is something you can do. Draw nigh to God. Purge yourself of all known sin. Your life will have great power with Him and will act as a preservative for the land.

12/17

``And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.''. {Ge 22:13}

There is a plain and beautiful picture of the Lord Jesus Christ here. Isaac was on the altar; the knife was in the hand of Abraham about to be plunged into the breast of Isaac.

God told Abraham to do no harm to his son. Abraham looked round and saw the ram caught in the thicket. This ram became the substitute for Isaac and was offered up in his stead.

Isaac is a vivid type of the elect of God who deserve eternal death because of their sins. The knife is a type of God's justice which must be satisfied. The ram is a beautiful type of Christ. He took the place of His people and died for them on the cross. They went free. This is the essence of the gospel. May this familiar account always remain fresh and beautiful to the child of God.

12/18

``And there was set meat before him to eat: but he said, I will not eat, until I have told mine errand....''. {Ge 24:33}

A great example of dedication to the service of someone else is taught here. Abraham's servant was to seek a bride for Isaac. To do so he had to cover many weary miles on camels. When he arrived at his destination he was, no doubt, very tired and hungry. Food was set before him.

But he was so urgent in the service of his master, that he refused to eat until he had told his errand. In this day of love of ease and comfort it is good to have an example of one who so loves his master that he is more interested in service to him than he is to his own needs.

If this man could be that dedicated to Abraham, how much more should we be dedicated to the Lord Jesus.

12/19

``And Isaac entreated the LORD for his wife, because she was barren: and the LORD was entreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived.''. {Ge 25:21}

There is a great power in the prayers of husbands for their wives. God has placed the husband as the head of the household. This is an awesome responsibility. But where God gives responsibility, He is also gracious to give power to fulfill that responsibility.

When a man prays for his wife God hears that prayer! Husbands, recognize your privilege and responsibility. Don't neglect to protect your precious wife by lifting up your voice to God day and night in her behalf!

12/20

``Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.''. {Ge 26:5}

Our obedience to God has great consequences, not only for ourselves, but for our offspring to many generations. Here the Lord was blessing Isaac for Abraham's sake. What would have been the sad consequence for Isaac if Abraham had been disobedient?

Wake up! Be alert! Don't be drugged to sleep by Satan. Your obedience to God has vast consequences. It will help you to be obedient if you can envision the multitude of blessings obedience will bring to future generations.

12/21

``And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her.''. {Ge 29:20}

Time just seems to ``drag by'' when we are doing a job we don't like. It seems like the days are so long and dreary. But look how fast the years passed for Jacob. He knew that at the end of the seven years he would fully experience the love of his beloved Rachel.

Translate this into service for the Lord. If we look forward to embracing our precious Savior at the end of earthly life the years will fly by. Unpleasant tasks will become a joy. ``Just one glimpse of Him in glory, will all the toils of life repay.''

12/22

``And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.''. {Ge 32:26}

This is a powerful example of prevailing prayer. This was not presumption on Jacob's part. Jacob was given the faith to ``hold on to'' God until he was given an answer.

What a contrast this is to the weak and sickly prayers that are often offered.

If we want power from God we are going to have to ``wrestle'' with Him in prayer. Jacob's life was radically changed as a result of this ``all-night'' prayer meeting with God.

Do you want radical change in your life? Pray God that He will help you to pray like this!

12/23

``Then Jacob said unto his household, and to all that were with him, Put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean, and change your garments....''. {Ge 35:2}

Sometimes the godly head of a home must ``put his foot down'' and demand at least external righteousness from his household. That is his solemn responsibility before God. God holds fathers responsible as His representatives to demand obedience from the family to the laws of God.

How we need resolute and courageous leadership in homes today! Faint-hearted father, follow the example of old Jacob. Don't take ``no'' for an answer. Encourage yourself in the Lord; accept your responsibility before God. He will help you, and your family will be immeasurably blessed.

12/24

``He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath he seen perverseness in Israel: the LORD his God is with him, and the shout of a king is among them.''. {Nu 23:21}

This is a glorious testimony of the covering blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jacob had plenty of iniquity; Israel was full of perverseness. But the Lord did not see it; He did not behold it. Why? Because He saw the blood!

This is why the believer can boldly approach God in prayer. This is why the saint can walk in communion with God.

Balaam wanted to curse Israel. But, ``Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth.''. {Ro 8:33}

12/25

``But if ye will not do so, behold, ye have sinned against the LORD: and be sure your sin will find you out.''. {Nu 32:23}

We can't escape the all-seeing eye of God. It is foolish to try to do so. When we least expect it our sin will find us out--probably in a very embarrassing and humiliating way.

The only way to escape this humiliation is to immediately confess and repent of all known sin.

Cain couldn't hide his sin; David couldn't hide his; you can't hide yours. It may take many years for it to happen, but ``be sure your sin will find you out.''

12/26

``But if ye will not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you; then it shall come to pass, that those which ye let remain of them shall be pricks in your eyes, and thorns in your sides, and shall vex you in the land wherein ye dwell.''. {Nu 33:55}

The Israelites did not drive out all the wicked inhabitants of the land as God commanded them to. They drove out only enough to make the land barely habitable. They stopped before the job was complete. The ones they left in the land proved to be great sources of trouble to them.

It is that way with our sins. When we are saved by the power of God, we must try to drive all sin out of our lives. We must not permit any ``pet'' sins to remain. We cannot peaceably co-exist with a few sins. They will be a snare to us and will lead us into greater sins.

Declare unconditional war on all your sins!

12/27

``And the LORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as it is at this day.''. {De 6:24}

Satan tries to tell us that the Lord is a hard taskmaster and that He has given us a lot of commandments to keep to take all the joy out of our lives. This is a base lie and must be recognized as such.

God loves His children. He never does anything but good to them. He gave all His commandments out of love to them. All God's laws are ``for our good always.''

Don't listen to Satan's lies. Cheerfully obey the laws of God for His glory and for your good.

12/28

``And if there be any blemish therein, as if it be lame, or blind, or have any ill blemish, thou shalt not sacrifice it unto the LORD thy God.''. {De 15:21}

These words were spoken regarding the Old Testament sacrificial offerings. The Israelites were forbidden to offer ``second best'' offerings to the Lord. They were to offer the very best of what they had.

The principle holds true today. If we give the Lord the ``left-overs'' of our time, money, energy, and concern, He will regard these as blemished offerings.

When the Lord gave His best (His only-begotten Son) for sinners, how can we expect Him to accept our ``lame'' and ``blind'' offerings?

``Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.''. {Ga 6:7}

12/29

``The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God.''. {De 22:5}

These words were uttered in Old Testament times, but they are particularly applicable in the wicked times in which we live. Every attempt is being made by Satanic forces to break down the God-ordained distinctions between the sexes. Perversion in the vilest forms is being promoted on every hand.

Christian men must be men and Christian women must be women. These distinctions must be maintained in every particular--in dress, hair styles, occupations and attitudes. To do otherwise is abomination before God and will bring judgment upon the land.

12/30

``Thy sons and thy daughters shall be given unto another people, and thine eyes shall look, and fail with longing for them all the day long: and there shall be no might in thine hand.''. {De 28:32}

This terrible prophecy became a horrible reality to the Jews. It will also be a reality to those people of God today who walk in disobedience.

If we want our children to be with us in the service of the Lord we must be obedient to Him in all things.

What a terrible way to spend our old age if our children are removed from us because of our disobedience and half-hearted service to the Lord. A worse state of loneliness and despair could hardly be imagined.

12/31

``Now therefore give me this mountain....'' {Jos 14:12}

These triumphant and challenging words were boldly proclaimed by Caleb when he was eighty-five years old. They show plainly that there is no retirement age for the Christian in his spiritual warfare in the service of the Lord.

Caleb had served the Lord for over forty-five years. Now, in the twilight of life, he was eager to take on a daring assignment to conquer one of the most dangerous areas of the promised land.

Let us serve the Lord with vigor and look forward to our last job on earth for Him to be our best.