July 24, 2010 – Begg

Consider God’s Mightiness

His camp is exceedingly great.

Joel 2:11

Consider, my soul, the mightiness of the Lord who is your glory and defense. He is a man of war; Jehovah is His name. All the forces of heaven are at His command; legions wait at His door; cherubim and seraphim, watchers and holy ones, principalities and powers are all attentive to His will. If our eyes were not blinded by the dust of sin, we should see horses of fire and chariots of fire round about the Lord’s servants. The powers of nature are all subject to the absolute control of the Creator: Stormy wind and tempest, lightning and rain, snow and hail, and the soft dews and cheering sunshine come and go at His decree.

The bands of Orion He looses, and He binds the sweet influences of the Pleiades.1 Earth, sea, and air and the places under the earth are the barracks for Jehovah’s great armies; space is His camping ground, light is His banner, and flame is His sword. When He goes forth to war, famine ravages the land, pestilence smites the nations, hurricane sweeps the sea, tornado shakes the mountains, and earthquake makes the solid world to tremble.

As for animate creatures, they all own His dominion, and from the great fish that swallowed the prophet down to “all manner of flies,” which plagued the field of Zoan,2 all are His servants, and even the caterpillars and the worms are squadrons of His great army, for His camp is very great. My soul, see to it that you are at peace with this mighty King. Be sure to enlist under His banner, for to war against Him is madness, and to serve Him is glory.

Jesus, Immanuel, God with us, is ready to receive recruits for the army of the Lord: If I am not already enlisted, let me go to Him before I sleep and beg to be accepted through His merits; and if I be already, as I hope I am, a soldier of the cross, let me be of good courage, for the enemy is powerless compared with my Lord, whose camp is very great.

1Job 38:31 2Psalm 78:43-45

July 23, 2010 – Stanley

The God of Comfort 2 Corinthians 1:3-7

When I am praying about a situation, I call upon the Lord, using one of His names that identifies my need. So in periods of difficulty or pain, I ask for my Comforter to come (Is. 40:1, 51:12, 66:13). I trust that He will encourage my heart, relieve my burdens, and help me through trials.

However, many people cannot see God as a comforter. They misinterpret names like “Judge” to mean a tough disciplinarian or “King” to mean a distant and distracted deity. They imagine He is either waiting to rain down punishment or too busy to notice our puny life. Someone with such a wrong concept won’t even notice the Lord’s offers of consolation as they walk through valleys. Instead, that person is likely to struggle with unbelief, frustration, and perhaps bitterness toward God.

Jesus Christ was the representation of God the Father on earth–and the symbol of all His names. He always responded to hurt and distressed people with soothing words and kind actions. He did not judge the Samaritan woman for her serial marriages. Instead, Jesus offered her new life (John 4:14). He gave relief to the bleeding woman (Luke 8:48) and solace to Jairus’ grieving family (Luke 8:52). And the Lord is as ready to comfort and strengthen believers today as He was back then.

Human beings heap shame and blame upon themselves and each other, but the Lord doesn’t operate that way. He is the God of comfort, a trait that shows up in another of His names: Shepherd. The Shepherd uplifts His followers, even through the valley of the shadow of death (Ps. 23:4).

July 23, 2010 – Begg

Cleanses

The blood of Jesus his son cleanses us from all sin.

1 John 1:7

“Cleanses,” says the text—not “shall cleanse.” There are multitudes who think that as a dying hope they may look forward to pardon. Oh, how infinitely better to have cleansing now than to depend on the bare possibility of forgiveness when I come to die.

Some imagine that a sense of pardon is an attainment only obtainable after many years of Christian experience. But forgiveness of sin is a present reality—a privilege for this day, a joy for this very hour. The moment a sinner trusts Jesus he is fully forgiven. The text, being written in the present tense, also indicates continuance; it was “cleanses” yesterday, it is “cleanses” today, it will be “cleanses” tomorrow. This is the way it will always be with you, Christian, until you cross the river; every hour you may come to this fountain, for it cleanses still.

Notice, likewise, the completeness of the cleansing: “The blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin”—not only from sin, but “from all sin.” Reader, I cannot convey the exceeding sweetness of this word, but I pray that God the Holy Ghost will give you a taste of it. Manifold are our sins against God. Whether the bill be little or great, the same receipt can discharge one as the other. The blood of Jesus Christ is as blessed and divine a payment for the transgressions of blaspheming Peter as for the shortcomings of loving John.

Our iniquity is gone, all gone at once, and all gone forever. Blessed completeness! What a sweet theme to dwell upon as one gives himself to sleep.

Sins against a holy God;
Sins against His righteous laws;
Sins against His love, His blood;
Sins against His name and cause;
Sins immense as is the sea—
From them all He cleanseth me.

July 22, 2010 – Stanley

Blinded by Love 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

If someone we care about hurts, our first instinct is to remove the pain. We want to offer money, advice, or a way out of a mess. However, if God is not ready to have the problem patched up, then the believer who repairs it gets himself into a fix. The Lord will discipline a Christian who obstructs His work in another person’s life.

Love can blind us to the fact that God bring a person to a position of utter desperation so that she will give up her self-sufficiency. Only when His strength is manifested in her weakness does she finally know what it means to rely upon God. We do not want to hinder such an essential lesson!

Our heavenly Father’s ways often do not make sense to humans. We wonder how pain could be the means of bringing about spiritual victory. Yet His greatest triumph–overcoming sin and death–was achieved through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice, which involved physical and emotional anguish. And the example in the paragraph above helps us understand why God uses hardship to mature believers: Hurt and despair often strip away the “props” we depend on and expose our need for a Savior. Man’s weakness is a showcase for God’s strength.

It is only natural that we want to rescue hurting loved ones. However, we may not be the tool God wishes to use for that purpose. The wise course of action is to ask God if He wants us to get involved. Then, we must be sensitive to His will and ready to stand aside so that His plan can move forward.

July 22, 2010 – Begg

Behold

‘Behold the man!’

John 19:5

If there be one place where our Lord Jesus most fully becomes the joy and comfort of His people, it is where He plunged deepest into the depths of woe. Come, gracious souls, and behold the Man in the garden of Gethsemane; behold His heart so brimming with love that He cannot hold it in—so full of sorrow that it must find expression. Behold the bloody sweat as it distills from every pore of His body and falls upon the ground. Behold the Man as they drive the nails into His hands and feet. Look up, repenting sinners, and see the sorrowful image of your suffering Lord. Consider Him as the ruby drops stand on the thorn-crown and adorn with priceless gems the diadem of the King of Misery. Behold the Man when all His bones are out of joint, and He is poured out like water and brought into the dust of death; God has forsaken Him, and hell surrounds Him.

Look and see, was there ever sorrow like His sorrow that is done unto Him? All passersby pause and look upon this spectacle of grief, a wonder to men and angels, an unparalleled phenomenon. Behold the Emperor of Woe who had no equal or rival in His agonies! Gaze upon Him, you mourners, for if there is no consolation in a crucified Christ there is no joy in earth or heaven. If in the ransom price of His blood there is no hope, there is no joy in the harps of heaven, and the right hand of God shall know no pleasures forevermore.

We need only sit more continually at the cross to be less troubled with our doubts and woes. We need only see His sorrows, and our sorrows we shall be ashamed to mention; we need only to gaze into His wounds and heal our own. If we would live properly, it must be by the contemplation of His death; if we would rise to dignity, it must be by considering His humiliation and His sorrow.

July 21, 2010 – Stanley

Forgiving An Abuser Ephesians 4:30-32

When I tell abuse victims that full healing requires forgiving their abuser, many will argue. Their message is generally the same: “You don’t understand the hurt I’ve endured.” They’re right. But I do know that a bitter spirit penetrates every part of our life like a cancer. Anger and resentment are symptoms that cannot be pushed away and ignored. They spill out, harming relationships and leading to risky decisions.

Withholding mercy feels as if we are punishing someone who inflicted harm. But people cannot take revenge on one another without destroying themselves. That’s why the Lord calls us to follow His example of extending grace to all (Eph. 4:32). No one can justify holding back forgiveness when God has given His so generously. An abuser does not deserve pardon, but neither are we worthy of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.

The cross was a torture device. Death was slow and excruciating, but at least the physical pain was temporary. Jesus’ worst torment began when, because He’d taken our sin upon Himself, He was rejected by God and severed from perfect love and companionship. I may not know your pain, but I assure you that Jesus does. He’ll help you overcome hurt, anger, and bitterness if you’ll simply give up your unforgiving spirit.

Forgiveness is a choice–an act of service to the Lord and a witness to the person who inflicted our pain. No matter how terrible the acts committed against us were, God demands that we show mercy. For our good and His glory, He wants us to give up the “right” to punish an abuser.

July 21, 2010 – Begg

Rejoice

Why do I go mourning?

Psalms 42:9

Can you answer this, believer? Can you find any reason why you are so often mourning instead of rejoicing? Why yield to gloomy anticipations? Who told you that the night would never end in day? Who told you that the sea of circumstances would ebb out till there should be nothing left but long stretches of the mud of horrible poverty? Who told you that the winter of your discontent would proceed from frost to frost, from snow and ice and hail to deeper snow and yet more heavy tempest of despair? Don’t you know that day follows night, that flood comes after ebb, that spring and summer succeed winter?

Be full of hope! Hope forever! For God does not fail you. Do you not know that God loves you in the midst of all this? Mountains, when in darkness hidden, are as real as in day, and God’s love is as true to you now as it was in your brightest moments.

No father chastens always. The Lord hates the rod as much as you do; He only cares to use it for that reason that would make you willing to receive it—namely, it brings about your lasting good. You will yet climb Jacob’s ladder with the angels and behold Him who sits at the top of it—your covenant God. You will yet, amidst the splendors of eternity, forget the trials of time or only remember them to bless the God who led you through them and works your lasting good by them. Come, sing in the midst of tribulation.

Rejoice even while passing through the furnace. Make the wilderness blossom like the rose! Cause the desert to ring with your exulting joys, for these light afflictions will soon be over, and then, forever with the Lord, your bliss shall never wane.

Faint not nor fear, His arms are near,
He changeth not, and thou art dear;
Only believe and you shalt see,
That Christ is all in all to thee.

July 20, 2010 – Stanley

When We Are Abused Matthew 5:43-48

Abuse is rampant in our world. It seems new stories are constantly emerging of one person inflicting harm upon others. Sadly, few victims know where to seek respite and restoration. You likely know someone who needs to hear that God is a hiding place for the mistreated. Perhaps that someone is you.

The heavenly Father is faithful to comfort His children and heal their wounds. When His strength undergirds us, we can respond rightly to abuse and the abuser.

  • Ask, “Lord, what would You have me do?” There’s no standard answer, since so many kinds and degrees of abuse exist. God knows when the right response is to leave home, seek counseling, stay and pray for the abuser, or follow some other course of action. The Lord will never tell you to do anything that violates His Word.
  • Pray for the abuser. Specifically, ask the Lord to show you what motivates the person to injure others. I wish I had prayed this way earlier for my own stepfather, who physically abused my mother and also hit me. My healing process accelerated when I finally learned that he had endured cruel treatment from his father. A harsh past did not excuse his actions, but I was able to feel compassion for him, thanks to God’s love at work in me.

God’s tender grace heals the wounds of abuse. Only He can replace resentment with compassion, erase the pain from bitter memories, and give the abused a renewed sense of their worth as His treasured children. From our hiding place in His love, we can thrive even in a harsh environment.

July 20, 2010 – Begg

Following God

And now what do you gain by going to Egypt to drink the waters of the Nile?

Jeremiah 2:18

By different miracles, by various mercies, by strange deliverances Jehovah had proved Himself to be worthy of Israel’s trust. Yet they broke down the hedges with which God had enclosed them as a sacred garden; they forsook their own true and living God and followed after false gods. Constantly the Lord reproved them for this infatuation, and our text displays God’s remonstrating with them, “And now what do you gain by going to Egypt to drink the waters of the Nile?” “Why are you wandering and leaving your own cool stream? Why do you forsake Jerusalem and turn aside to the wasteland? Why are you so strangely set on mischief that you cannot be content with what is good and healthy, but instead chase after what is evil and deceitful?” Is there not here a word of exposition and warning to the Christian?

O true believer, called by grace and washed in the precious blood of Jesus, you have tasted a better drink than the muddy river of this world’s pleasure. You have fellowship with Christ; you have obtained the joy of seeing Jesus and resting in His loving embrace. Do the trifles, the songs, the honors, the merriment of this earth content you after that? Have you eaten the bread of angels, and can you live on scraps?

Good Rutherford once said, “I have tasted of Christ’s own manna, and it has put my mouth out of taste for the brown bread of this world’s joys.” I think it should be so with you. If you are wandering after the waters of Egypt, O return quickly to the one living fountain: The waters of the Nile may be sweet to the Egyptians, but they will prove only bitterness to you. What have you to do with them? Jesus asks you this question this evening—what will you answer Him?

July 19, 2010 – Stanley

Can We Trust Our Conscience? 2 Corinthians 1:12

The conscience looks at thoughts and actions to determine if they are in line with one’s principles and standards. It is important to keep our internal alarm system well maintained so it will be trustworthy.

For our moral compass to sound at the right time and for the right reason, we must:

  • Accept Scripture as our standard for behavior. Second Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.” If we choose to adopt our culture’s values, which are often at odds with the Lord’s, our conscience will be unreliable. Instead, we want our radar to alert us to the possibility of going off course.
  • Align our thinking with the Lord’s. Romans 12:2 says to renew our minds. It is necessary and ongoing work to combat what this unbelieving world accepts as true and right. Our alarm system should help us identify ungodly ideas.
  • Apply God’s Word to daily living. When our habits reflect godly values, our conscience will become more sensitive to what is right and wrong.

In addition, it is essential that we rely on the Holy Spirit for understanding. Our conscience by itself is of some value, but it becomes indispensable when accompanied by the Spirit’s guidance (John 16:13).

The Scriptures teach us how to live–in our thought life, conduct, and emotions (Gal. 5:16-23). As we make our standards align more closely with the Lord’s, our conscience will become increasingly trustworthy because it is based on what is important to our heavenly Father.

July 19, 2010 – Begg

A Bruised Reed

A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench.

Matthew 12:20

What is weaker than the bruised reed or the smoldering wick? A reed that grows in the marshland—let a wild duck land on it, and it snaps; let but the foot of man brush against it, and it is bruised and broken; every wind that flits across the river moves it to and fro. You can conceive of nothing more frail or brittle or whose existence is more in jeopardy than a bruised reed. Then look at the smoldering wick—what is it? It has a spark within it, it is true, but it is almost smothered; an infant’s breath might blow it out; nothing has a more precarious existence than its flame.

Weak things are here described; yet Jesus says of them, “The smoldering wick I will not quench; the bruised reed I will not break.” Some of God’s children are made strong to do mighty works for Him; God has His Samsons here and there who can pull up Gaza’s gates and carry them to the top of the hill. He has a few mighties who are lionlike men, but the majority of His people are a timid, trembling race. They are like starlings, frightened at every passerby, a little fearful flock. If temptation comes, they are taken like birds in a snare; if trial threatens, they are ready to faint. Their frail craft is tossed up and down by every wave; they drift along like a seabird on the crest of the billows—weak things, without strength, without wisdom, without foresight. Yet, weak as they are, and because they are so weak, they have this promise made especially to them.

Herein is grace and graciousness! Herein is love and loving-kindness! How it opens to us the compassion of Jesus—so gentle, tender, considerate! We need never shrink back from His touch. We need never fear a harsh word from Him; though He might well chide us for our weakness, He rebukes not. Bruised reeds shall have no blows from Him, and the smoldering wick no damping frowns.

July 17, 2010 – Stanley

The Value of Our Conscience 1 Timothy 1:18-19

The conscience is God’s early warning system for alerting us to potential danger. It monitors our emotions, thought life, and conduct.

The way our conscience works is similar to a radar system, which notifies us of possible trouble, usually without specifically identifying the problem. The principles and standards that we hold to determine the sensitivity of our conscience. For example, if we believe lying is wrong, then an alarm will sound when we start to shade the truth. But if we think that lies are justifiable, it will be silent.

When programmed with the truth of God’s Word, the conscience has great value for a Christian. It detects deviations from the Lord’s standards and sends out a warning. The Holy Spirit uses that signal to get our attention. Then, He will reveal what the problem is, give us understanding about it, and show us the right choices to make. He will guide us to relevant Scripture verses that can shed light on our situation and point out the implications of a wrong choice.

Failure to heed our inner alarm can bring serious consequences. Adam and Eve knew what God expected (Gen. 2:15-17). However, when tempted, they ignored their conscience and sinned against Him.

When your conscience sounds the alarm, do you stop and take notice or continue on the same course? Repeatedly ignoring your internal compass can decrease its effectiveness at keeping you out of trouble. Ask God to help you program your inner alarm with His truth and sharpen your ability to hear it.

July 17, 2010 – Begg

Let None Escape

Let not one of them escape.

1 Kings 18:40

When the prophet Elijah had received the answer to his prayer, and the fire from heaven had consumed the sacrifice in the presence of all the people, he called upon the assembled Israelites to take the priests of Baal and sternly cried, “Let not one of them escape.” He took them all down to the brook Kishon and slew them there. So must it be with our sins—they are all doomed; not one must be preserved.

Our darling sin must die. Do not spare it because it cries. Strike though it be as dear as a beloved son. Strike, for God struck at sin when it was laid upon His own Son. With stern unflinching purpose you must condemn to death that sin that was once the idol of your heart. Do you ask how you are to accomplish this? Jesus will be your power. You have grace to overcome sin, given you in the covenant of grace; you have strength to win the victory in the crusade against inward lusts because Christ Jesus has promised to be with you even unto the end.

If you would triumph over darkness, set yourself in the presence of the Sun of Righteousness. There is no place so well adapted for the discovery of sin and recovery from its power and guilt as the immediate presence of God. Job never knew how to get rid of sin half as well as he did when his eye of faith rested upon God, and then he abhorred himself and repented in dust and ashes.

The fine gold of the Christian is often becoming dim. We need the sacred fire to consume the dross. Let us fly to our God. He is a consuming fire; He will not consume our spirit, but our sins. Let the goodness of God excite us to a sacred jealousy and to a holy revenge against those iniquities that are hateful in His sight. Go forth to battle in His strength and utterly destroy the accursed crew: “Let not one of them escape.”

July 16, 2010 – Stanley

Walking with Christ Romans 1:4-6

The pathway of faith has divine purpose, and we’re to obey, no matter what. But even when God’s direction is perplexing, we can count on the fact that He is good.

Walking obediently with Christ doesn’t guarantee an easy life, which is obvious when we consider the apostle Paul. He encountered all kinds of hardships, including shipwreck, persecution, and beatings (2 Cor. 11:23-27). Keep in mind, though, that nothing can touch a believer without God’s loving permission. He uses difficulty to strengthen and correct believers–and eventually to achieve His ultimate plan. Also remember that the Lord protects His followers in their suffering, just as He kept Paul safe in situations that seemed impossible.

Adversity can tempt us to ignore the Holy Spirit’s guidance. But we will ultimately regret such a decision, as God doesn’t spare us from the consequences of our sin. However, He never lets go of His children, whom He will continue to protect and guide throughout life.

Walking in obedience and trust is the only avenue to true peace. As Paul sat in an uncomfortable Roman prison where his life was in danger, he encouraged believers not to worry but to pray with gratitude. Doing so leads to experiencing peace beyond what we can comprehend (Phil. 4:6).

The only wise way to live is to trust in almighty God and follow wherever He leads. That is the road to contentment, fulfillment, protection, and peace. Are you journeying on the pathway of faith? Or is something holding you back from all God intended for your life?

July 16, 2010 – Begg

God’s Generosity

You will arise and have pity on Zion; it is the time to favor her; the appointed time has come. For your servants hold her stones dear and have pity on her dust.

Psalms 102:13-14

A selfish man in trouble is exceedingly hard to comfort, because the springs of his comfort are entirely within himself, and when he is sad all his springs are dry. But a large-hearted man full of Christian generosity has other springs from which to supply himself with comfort beside those that lie within. He can go to his God first of all and there find abundant help; and he can discover arguments for consolation in things relating to the world at large, to his country, and, above all, to the Church. David in this Psalm was exceedingly sorrowful; he wrote, “I am like an owl of the waste places; I lie awake; I am like a lonely sparrow on the housetop.”1 The only way in which he could comfort himself was in the reflection that God would arise and have mercy upon Zion. Though he was sad, yet Zion should prosper; however low his own estate, yet Zion would arise.

Christian man, learn to comfort yourself in God’s gracious dealing toward the Church. That which is so dear to your Master, should it not also be supremely precious to you? Although your path be dark, can you not cheer your heart with the triumphs of His cross and the spread of His truth? Our own personal troubles are forgotten while we look not only upon what God has done and is doing for Zion, but on the glorious things He will yet do for His Church.

Try this approach, O believer, whenever you are sad of heart and in heaviness of spirit: Forget yourself and your little concerns, and seek the welfare and prosperity of Zion. When you kneel in prayer to God, limit not your petition to the narrow circle of your own life, tried though it be, but send out your longing prayers for the church’s prosperity. “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem,”2 and your own soul shall be refreshed.

1Psalm 102:6-7 2 Psalm 122:6

July 15, 2010 – Stanley

The Pathway of Faith Genesis 12

Faith is the foundation of our Christian lives. Hebrews 11:1 gives us the biblical definition of this term: “faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see (NIV).

True belief is more than something we express verbally; it is a pathway you and I follow. Throughout life, our heavenly Father takes us on a journey, allowing us to experience a real relationship with Him as we encounter each circumstance.

Today’s passage illustrates that God has a purpose for everything we encounter. The Lord promised Abraham descendants as numerous as the stars visible in the sky. (Gen. 15:5). Then He directed His servant to obey several commands, such as moving from home. Abraham was not told the details of this plan.

We now know that he was the father of the Jewish nation, and his lineage included Jesus Christ, the Savior of mankind. Though the patriarch did not obey perfectly, he did step forward in faith, trusting in God’s ultimate purpose.

We, too, can know with certainty that the Lord is weaving together a beautiful plan. He isn’t obligated to explain His reasoning or reveal every detail. Instead, God shows us the next step (Ps. 119:105), and our job is to obey, even when it doesn’t make sense.

If you want to know what God is doing in your life, obey Him. Often, you won’t understand the intricacies of the plan, but you can trust the goodness of His heart. Rest assured that all He does is purposeful and for your benefit. So step forward in faith, and you will see His faithfulness.

July 15, 2010 – Begg

Christ’s Delivery

He appeared first to Mary Magdalene.

Mark 16:9

Jesus “appeared first to Mary Magdalene,” probably not only on account of her great love and persevering seeking, but because, as the context intimates, she had been a special trophy of Christ’s delivering power. Learn from this that the greatness of our sin before conversion should not make us imagine that we may not be specially favored with the very highest grade of fellowship. She was one who had left all to become a constant attendant on the Savior. He was her first, her chief, object.

Many who were on Christ’s side did not take up Christ’s cross; she did. She spent her substance in relieving His wants. If we would see much of Christ, let us serve Him. Tell me who they are who sit most often under the banner of His love and drink the deepest from the cup of communion, and I am sure they will be those who give most, who serve best, and who abide closest to the bleeding heart of their dear Lord.

But notice how Christ revealed Himself to this sorrowing one—by a word: “Mary.”1 It needed but one word in His voice, and at once she knew Him. Her heart expressed allegiance by another word, but her heart was too full to say more. That one word would naturally be the most fitting for the occasion. It implies obedience. She said, “Master” [KJV]. There is no state of mind in which this confession of allegiance will be too cold. When your spirit glows most with the heavenly fire, then you will say, “I am your servant. . . . You have loosed my bonds.”2 If you can say, “Master,” if you feel that His will is your will, then you stand in a happy, holy place. He must have said, “Mary,” or else you could not have said, “Rabboni,” “Master.” See, then, from all this how Christ honors those who honor Him, how love draws our Beloved, how it needs but one word of His to turn our weeping to rejoicing, how His presence makes the heart’s sunshine.

1 John 20:16 2 Psalm 116:16

July 14, 2010 – Stanley

Eternal Life John 3:16-18

Each of us faces the same dilemma. We have a sin debt that we owe to God but no way to pay for it. None of our solutions–living a moral life, being religious, or doing more good deeds—can take care of our problem.

God Himself has provided the solution–one that both satisfies His justice and grants us mercy. He sent His Son to pay the penalty we owed. Jesus was qualified to be our substitute because He never sinned (2 Cor. 5:21). He willingly took our place on the cross and experienced the full measure of the Lord’s wrath against our sinfulness. In dying for us, Christ secured our salvation by paying the debt for all our past, present, and future sins. When we trust in Jesus and surrender our life to Him, He becomes our personal Savior and Lord.

The great tragedy is that many have heard the gospel and rejected it. Some are like the rich ruler who placed his trust in material possessions and turned his back on the truth. Others have refused to even listen. Another group is convinced they are heaven-bound, based on erroneous confidence in their own good deeds. Only those who have entered into a relationship with Jesus through faith in Him will be welcomed into heaven.

If you’re wondering, How can I have eternal life? there is only one answer: through faith in Jesus Christ (John 14:6). We have an Enemy who actively seeks to blind people to the truth (2 Cor. 4:4). Pray that many who are separated from the Lord will trust in the Savior and gain everlasting life.

July 14, 2010 – Begg

Early Fellowship

Toward the dawn . . . Mary Magdalene . . . Went to see the tomb.

Matthew 28:1

Let us learn from Mary Magdalene how to obtain fellowship with the Lord Jesus. Notice how she sought. She sought the Savior very early in the morning. If you can wait for Christ and be patient in the hope of having fellowship with Him at some distant season, you will never have fellowship at all; for the heart that is fitted for communion is a hungering and a thirsting heart.

She sought Him also with very great boldness. Other disciples fled from the tomb, for they trembled and were amazed; but Mary, it is said, “stood”1 at the tomb. If you would have Christ with you, seek Him boldly. Let nothing hold you back. Defy the world. Press on where others flee. She sought Christ faithfully—she stood at the tomb. Some find it hard to stand by a living Savior, but she stood by a dead one. Let us seek Christ after this mode, cleaving to the very least thing that has to do with Him, remaining faithful though all others should forsake Him.

Note further, she sought Jesus earnestly—she stood “weeping.” Those teardrops were as spells that led the Savior captive and made Him come forth and show Himself to her. If you desire Jesus’ presence, weep after it! If you cannot be happy unless He come and say to you, “You are My beloved,” you will soon hear His voice.

Lastly, she sought the Savior only. What did she care about angels? She turned herself back from them; her search was only for her Lord. If Christ is your one and only love, if your heart has cast out all rivals, you will soon enjoy the comfort of His presence. Mary Magdalene sought thus because she loved much. Let us arouse ourselves to the same intensity of affection; let our heart, like Mary’s, be full of Christ, and our love, like hers, will be satisfied with nothing short of Himself. O Lord, reveal Yourself to us this evening!

1John 20:11

July 13, 2010 – Stanley

The Rich Young Ruler Luke 18:18-23

Three of the four gospels contain an account of the young man who asked Jesus a very important question: “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” (v. 18). A ruler with great wealth, he considered himself a moral man because he had kept God’s commandments.

However, he was operating under the false assumption that good works bring salvation. He seemed to be asking Jesus what else he had to do to secure his place in heaven–besides all the good things he’d already accomplished.

This is what I refer to as the “great deception”–the false belief that eternal life can be earned through our own efforts. If we give credence to this lie, then we do not understand the problem of our sin and how it separates us from God. Scripture tells us that we have inherited a sinful nature from the first man (Rom. 5:12). Ever since that time, humanity has been in rebellion against the Lord and under His judgment. There is nothing we can do to pay for our sin. If this were the end of the story, we would be a people without hope for today or the future. But the good news is that the heavenly Father recognized our plight and mercifully provided the way to heaven (John 14:6).

When God made us in His image, He created us to live forever. So, though our earthly body will perish, our spirit will never die. The question about eternal life is important, as we’ll spend eternity either with God in heaven or in an insufferable state, separated permanently from Him (Matt. 25:34, 41).

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