December 26, 2011 – Stanley

The Holy Spirit—God in Us
John 16:7-15
 

God’s presence with mankind has become progressively more intimate—from a cloud of glory in the temple, to the incarnate Son of God living with men, and now to the indwelling presence of His Spirit within the hearts of Christians. That’s why Jesus said it was better for us if He went away so that the Helper could come.

While on earth, Christ was limited by His humanity. He could be in only one place at a time. But after His ascension, the Holy Spirit came to live within His followers, imparting divine wisdom, insight, and power. If you want to see the difference this made, just compare the disciples’ lives before and after Pentecost. They were transformed from fearful men hiding in a locked room to bold preachers ready to suffer for the gospel of Christ.

The Lord wants to do more than just live among men in the person of His Son; He desires to accomplish His will in our lives. But without His supernatural indwelling presence, we can never become the people He wants us to be or accomplish the tasks He’s called us to do. Through His Spirit, Christ lives His life in us, producing His fruit and empowering His work. If we really believed this, we would live like the victorious children of God that we are.

If you are a believer, think about the amazing opportunity and blessing that is yours: even when you feel helpless to change or inadequate for a task, God’s power resides within you. No challenge is insurmountable, because the Holy Spirit is greater than any obstacle you’ll ever face

December 26, 2011 – Begg

The Sponsor and Substitute – The last Adam.

1 Corinthians 15:45

Jesus is the representative head of His people. In Adam every heir of flesh and blood has a personal interest, because he is the covenant head and representative of the race when considered under the law of works; so under the law of grace, every redeemed soul is one with the Lord from heaven, since He is the Second Adam, the Sponsor and Substitute of the elect in the new covenant of love.

The apostle Paul declares that Levi was in the loins of Abraham when Melchizedek met him: It is a certain truth that the believer was in the loins of Jesus Christ, the Mediator, when in eternity the covenant settlements of grace were decreed, ratified, and made sure forever.

Whatever Christ has done, He has accomplished for the whole body of His Church. We were crucified in Him and buried with Him (read Col. 2:10-13), and to make it still more wonderful, we are risen with Him and even ascended with Him to the seats on high (Eph. 2:6). It is in this way that the Church has fulfilled the law and is “blessed in the Beloved.”1

She is regarded with satisfaction by the just Jehovah, for He views her in Jesus, and does not look upon her as separate from her covenant head. As the Anointed Redeemer of Israel, Christ Jesus has nothing distinct from His Church, but all that He has He holds for her. Adam’s righteousness was ours so long as he maintained it, and his sin was ours the moment that he committed it; and in the same way, all that the Second Adam is or does is ours as well as His because He is our representative.

Here is the foundation of the covenant of grace. This gracious system of representation and substitution, which moved Justin Martyr to cry out, “O blessed change, O sweet permutation!” is the very groundwork of the Gospel of our salvation and is to be received with strong faith and rapturous joy.

1 Ephesians 1:6

The family reading plan for December 26, 2011

2 Chronicles 31 | Revelation 17

December 24, 2011 – Stanley

Immanuel—God with Us
Matthew 1:18-25
 

Throughout ancient human history, heaven was God’s dwelling place, and except for a few personal encounters (as with Abraham, Hagar, and Jacob), He seemed far away to most people. Then He came to be in the Israelites’ midst, first in a pillar of cloud and fire, then in the tabernacle and temple. But now, He was about to do something totally new. His presence would be with them in the form of God’s Son, a man who’d literally live among them.

Even before Jesus was born on earth, He was given two names, which both indicated His identity and ministry. Immanuel tells us who He is—”God with us.” Christ took on human flesh while retaining undiminished deity and became the perfect God-Man. He lived on earth, walked among men, and suffered the weaknesses of humanity. Yet He also displayed the power of Almighty God as He healed the sick, cast out demons, calmed the sea, and raised the dead.

Jesus means “The Lord is salvation,” which describes what He came to do—to save us from the bondage of sin through His death on our behalf. This explains why He had to become Immanuel. Since the Father is immortal and cannot die, His Son had to take on a human body in order to offer Himself as a substitutionary sacrifice for the sins of mankind.

But what do these two names of Christ mean for you today? Through the presence of the indwelling Holy Spirit, Jesus still lives with you and has the power to deliver you from the grip of any bondage. No sinful habit, painful past, or present struggle is too difficult for the God-Man to overcome

December 24, 2011 – Begg

He Became Poor  –  For your sake he became poor.

2 Corinthians 8:9

The Lord Jesus Christ was eternally rich, glorious, and exalted; but “though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor.” As the wealthy believer cannot be true in his fellowship with his poor brethren unless from his wealth he ministers to their needs, so (the same rule holding with the head as between the members) it is impossible that our Divine Lord could have had fellowship with us unless He had given to us from His own abounding wealth and had become poor so as to make us rich.

If He had remained upon His throne of glory, and we had continued in the ruins of the Fall without receiving His salvation, fellowship would have been impossible on both sides. Our position by the Fall, apart from the covenant of grace, made it as impossible for fallen man to communicate with God as it is for Satan to be in communion with Christ. In order, therefore, that communion might be enjoyed, it was necessary for the rich relative to bestow his estate upon his poor relatives, for the righteous Savior to give to His sinning brethren from His own perfection, and for we, the poor and guilty, to receive of His fullness grace for grace, so that in giving and receiving, the One might descend from the heights, and the other ascend from the depths, and in this way be able to embrace each other in true and hearty fellowship.

Poverty must be enriched by Him in whom are infinite treasures before it can begin to commune; and guilt must lose itself in imputed and imparted righteousness before the soul can walk in fellowship with purity. Jesus must clothe His people in His own garments or He cannot admit them into His palace of glory; and He must wash them in His own blood or else they will be too defiled for the embrace of His fellowship.

Believer, herein is love! For your sake the Lord Jesus “became poor” that He might lift you up into communion with Himself.

The family reading plan for December 24, 2011

2 Chronicles 29 | Revelation 15

December 23, 2011 – Stanley

What’s in a Name?
Exodus 3:13-15
 

Today, most people choose names for children based on their preferences, but in ancient times, a name characterized the person. When God identified Himself to Moses, He said, “I AM WHO I AM.” This may seem like a strange name to us, but in reality, it’s the most effective way to describe someone who is completely self-existent. In essence, He’s saying, “From eternity past through the present and into eternity future, I AM.” We know this rendering of God’s name as Jehovah or Yahweh. In most versions of the Bible, it is usually translated as “Lord” in capital letters.

Throughout Jewish history, God’s name was associated with His presence. When He led the children of Israel through the wilderness, He went with them as a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night (Ex. 13:21). After they built the tabernacle, He met with Moses above the mercy seat of the Ark of the Covenant (25:22). God gave the Israelites visible, physical symbols to remind them of His everlasting presence with them.

When Joshua finally led the people into the Promised Land, the Lord gave him two promises: “I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you” and “The Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Josh. 1:5, 9).

What a great assurance to know that God will never leave His children, and nothing touches a believer without first touching Him. Our Father goes ahead of you and me to prepare the way and walks with us through every situation. Strive to be aware of His presence, and you will know peace

December 23, 2011 – Begg

Seeing Face to Face  –  Friend, move up higher.

Luke 14:10

When the life of grace first begins in the soul, we instinctively draw near to God, but it is with great fear and trembling. The soul, conscious of guilt and humbled by it, is overawed with the solemnity of its position; it is prostrated by a sense of the grandeur of God, in whose presence it appears.

With sincere humility it takes the lowest room. But later on, as the Christian grows in grace, although he will never forget the solemnity of his position and will never lose that holy awe that must encompass a gracious man when he is in the presence of the God who can create or destroy, yet his fear has all its terror taken out of it; it becomes a holy reverence, and no longer an overshadowing dread.

He is called up higher, to greater access to God in Christ Jesus. Then the man of God, walking among the splendors of Deity and veiling his face like the glorious cherubim with those twin wings, the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ, will, reverent and bowed in spirit, approach the throne; and seeing there a God of love, goodness, and mercy he will realize the covenant character of God rather than His absolute Deity.

He will see in God His goodness rather than His greatness, and more of His love than of His majesty. Then the soul will bow just as humbly as before and enjoy a more sacred liberty of intercession; for while prostrate before the glory of the Infinite God, it will be sustained by the refreshing awareness of being in the presence of unlimited mercy and infinite love and by the realization of acceptance “in the Beloved.”1 In this way the believer is invited to come up higher and is enabled to exercise the privilege of rejoicing in God and drawing near to Him in holy confidence, crying, “Abba, Father.”

So may we go from strength to strength,

And daily grow in grace,

Till in Thy image raised at length,

We see Thee face to face.

1 Ephesians 1:6

The family reading plan for December 23, 2011

2 Chronicles 27 , 28 | Revelation 14

December 22 – Stanley

How to Experience Christ’s Peace

John 14:27-31

My peace I give to you” (John 14:27). Jesus spoke these amazing words just hours before His crucifixion. His peace isn’t dependent upon external circumstances, but rather, it transcends them. Although He gives His peace to every believer as a gift, our experience of it is related to our faith in the following truths:

God is in control of everything. Without this assurance, the world is a scary place.

He loves me and will see me through every circumstance, no matter how difficult or painful it may be.

To have Christ’s peace, I must surrender my life to Him. When I hold onto my ways and plans, I’ll experience turmoil.

I have a limited perspective and understanding of my circumstances and God’s purposes for allowing them. His goals for me are greater than my immediate comfort.

The Lord promises to work all things out for my good. He is continually working to transform my character into Christ’s image.

I must live in sync with God, walking in the Spirit and promptly confessing and repenting of sin.

Scripture is my foundation for peace. It increases my trust in the Lord’s goodness, assures me that He keeps His promises, and reminds me of His sovereignty over every situation.

Sadly, many Christians live their whole lives without consistently experiencing this incomprehensible peace. Perhaps faith and submission are the most challenging issues. But only as we surrender control of our lives to Christ and trust in His plans for us will we discover tranquil rest for our souls

December 22, 2011 – Begg

How Can He Fail You?   –   I will strengthen you.

Isaiah 41:10

God has a strong reserve with which to discharge this responsibility, for He is able to do everything. Believer, until you can drain the ocean dry of omnipotence, until you can break into pieces the towering mountains of almighty strength, you never need to fear.

Do not think that the strength of man will ever be able to overcome the power of God. While the earth’s huge pillars stand, you have enough reason to live firm in your faith.

The same God who directs the earth in its orbit, who feeds the burning furnace of the sun, and trims the lamps of heaven has promised to supply you with daily strength. While He is able to uphold the universe, do not dream that He will prove unable to fulfill His own promises.

Remember what He did in the past, in the former generations. Remember how He spoke and it was done, how He commanded and it stood firm. Will He who created the world grow weary? He hangs the world upon nothing; will He who does this be unable to support His children? Will He be unfaithful to His word for lack of power?

Who is it that restrains the tempest? Does He not ride upon the wings of the wind and make the clouds His chariots and hold the ocean in the hollow of His hand? How can He fail you? When He has put such a faithful promise as this on record, will you for a moment indulge the thought that He has outpromised Himself or gone beyond His power to fulfill? No! You can doubt no longer.

My God, You who are my strength, I believe that this promise will be fulfilled, for the boundless reservoir of Your grace can never be exhausted, and the overflowing storehouse of Your strength can never be emptied by Your friends or plundered by Your enemies.

Now let the feeble all be strong,

And make Jehovah’s arm their song.

The family reading plan for December 22, 2011

2 Chronicles 26 | Revelation 13

December 21, 2011 – Stanley

Our Prince of Peace
Isaiah 9:6
 

The Christmas rush is here. There are plans to make, gifts to buy, and parties to attend. Sometimes these activities leave us exhausted and cranky—instead of peace and joy, we may feel inner churning because there’s too much to do. Or perhaps this time of the year brings nothing but sad memories and loneliness. Unrealistic expectations and conflicts with loved ones often leave us depressed and discouraged.

How can Jesus be our Prince of Peace when our expectations and traditions fight against the tranquility we desire? To understand why Jesus was given this title, we must first understand what it means. First of all, God’s Son did not come to do away with all conflicts—not yet, anyway. One day He will return to earth and rule as King in an environment of external harmony, but that was not the purpose of His first coming. So while we’re on earth, we’ll have trouble (John 16:33).

When Christ left heaven to become a human baby, His goal was to bring us peace with God by reconciling us to the Father. His death on the cross paid our sin debt in full, and our relationship with God is restored. Now He offers us divine peace—an inner serenity that fills our hearts and minds no matter what is going on in our circumstances.

Is your life characterized by a quiet assurance that guards your heart and mind all day long (Phil. 4:6-7), or have stressful circumstances left you feeling depressed or agitated? Try setting aside time each day to fix your eyes upon Jesus. Then let Him heal your heart and calm your spirit

December 21, 2011 – Begg

An Everlasting Covenant – For he has made with me an everlasting covenant.

2 Samuel 23:5

This covenant is divine in its origin. “He has made with me an everlasting covenant.” Oh, that great word “he”! My soul, consider-God, the everlasting Father, has positively made a covenant with you; yes, the God who spoke the world into existence by a word; He, stooping from His majesty, takes hold of your hand and makes a covenant with you. Isn’t this act so stupendous and such an example of condescension that it would overwhelm us forever if we could really understand it? “He has made with me an everlasting covenant.”

A king has not made a covenant with me-that would be something; but the Prince of the kings of the earth, Shaddai, the Lord All-sufficient, the Jehovah of ages, the everlasting Elohim-“He has made with me an everlasting covenant.”

But notice, it is particular in its application. “For he has made with me an everlasting covenant.” Here is the sweetness of it to each believer. It is nothing for me that He made peace for the world; I want to know whether He made peace for me! It is a small matter that He has made a covenant; I want to know whether He has made a covenant with me.

Blessed is the assurance that He has made a covenant with me! If God the Holy Spirit gives me assurance of this, then His salvation is mine, His heart is mine, He Himself is mine-He is my God.

This covenant is everlasting in its duration. An everlasting covenant means a covenant that had no beginning and that will never, ever end. How sweet in all the uncertainties of life to know that “God’s foundation stands firm,”1 and to have God’s own promise, “I will not violate my covenant or alter the word that went forth from my lips.”2 I will sing of this through all my days and at their ending and forever.

1 2 Timothy 2:19 2 Psalm 89:34

The family reading plan for December 21, 2011

2 Chronicles 25 | Revelation 12

December 20, 2011 – Stanley

Christmas Memories
Luke 2:1-20
 

The first Christmas I remember was when I was three years old. My aunts and uncles came to visit, and when they opened the trunk of the car, I discovered that it was full of presents—and all of them were for me! I’m sure you, too, can recall memories from past Christmases, whether good or bad. There’s just something about that day that sticks in our minds.

You can be sure that all of the people who experienced the first Christmas never forgot it. Joseph remembered the weight of responsibility on his shoulders as he cared for Mary during their journey and searched for a place where she could give birth. And we can imagine that the shepherds often replayed in their minds the scene of glorious angels and the sight of the newborn Messiah. But Scripture mentions only one who “treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart” (v. 19). Mary had carried this baby in her womb for nine months, but now she saw what no one else had ever seen—the face of God!

What was it like to see deity displayed in the body of a newborn baby? Though we can never see what Mary saw, we can each remember when we first recognized our Savior—the moment we realized He died for us.

This Christmas, take time to remember when you first met Jesus. What was going on in your life? How did you feel after accepting His offer of forgiveness? How has your life changed since that day? Now imagine what it will be like when you finally see Him face to face in heaven

December 20, 2011 – Begg

Love Beyond Doubt – I have loved you with an everlasting love.

Jeremiah 31:3

Sometimes the Lord Jesus tells His Church His love thoughts. “He does not consider it sufficient to declare them behind her back, but in her very presence He says, ‘Behold, you are beautiful, my love.’1 It is true, this is not His ordinary method. He is a wise lover and knows when to hold back the intimation of love and when to declare it; but there are times when He will make no secret of it, times when He will put it beyond all dispute in the souls of His people” (R. Erskine’s Sermons).

The Holy Spirit is often pleased, in a most gracious manner, to witness with our spirits to the love of Jesus. He takes the things of Christ and reveals them to us. No voice is heard from the clouds, and no vision is seen in the night, but we have a testimony more certain than either of these

If an angel should fly from heaven and inform the believer personally of the Savior’s love for him, the evidence would not be one bit more satisfactory than that which is born in the heart by the Holy Spirit.

Ask the Lord’s people who have lived the nearest to the gates of heaven, and they will tell you that they have had seasons when the love of Christ toward them has been a fact so clear and sure that they could no more doubt it than they could question their own existence.

Yes, dear believer, you and I have had times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord, and then our faith has soared to the heights of assurance. We have had confidence to lean our heads upon the shoulder of our Lord, and we have not questioned our Master’s affection for us. The dark question, “Lord, is it I that will betray You?” has been put far from us. He has kissed us with the kisses of His mouth and killed our doubts by the closeness of His embrace. His love has been sweeter than wine to our souls.

1 Song of Solomon 1:15

The family reading plan for December 20, 2011

2 Chronicles 24 | Revelation 11

December 19, 2011 – Stanley

Finding Satisfaction
Philippians 4:11-13
 

God has provided us with many things to enjoy. But too often our lives are filled with turmoil instead of contentment. Four practices that create dissatisfaction are . . .

Busyness. We live in a hurry-up society, dashing from one activity to another. Jesus did not rush anywhere, yet He accomplished whatever God gave Him to do. Not once did He tell His followers to move faster. He even praised Mary for choosing to stop her work and spend time with Him (Luke 10:39, 42).

Earthly perspective. Too often we live focused on our circumstances. Our minds think about what happened earlier in the week, what’s on today’s agenda, and the activities occurring next week, month, or year. No wonder enjoyment of life remains elusive. The solution is to have an eternal perspective, which acknowledges that God is in charge and our goal is to please Him.

Self-imposed pressure. We have all experienced the unavoidable burdens of schoolwork, employment, and relationships. But we bring needless pressure on ourselves when we allow unnecessary “musts” and “shoulds” to rule us. The remedy is to turn to God, acknowledge His right to order our days, and ask for His plan.

Unhealthy attitudes. Perfectionism, false guilt, and apathy all undermine our enjoyment of life.

Satisfaction is found in a life that reflects God’s priorities—and time with Him comes first. Reading His Word, we become mindful of the Father’s great love, learn what He views as important, and experience the joy of belonging to Him. When contentment is elusive, it’s time to examine our priorities

December 19, 2011 – Begg

A Holy Calm  –  The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.

Proverbs 16:33

If the decision about the lot is the Lord’s, whose is the arrangement of our whole life? If the simple casting of a lot is guided by Him, how much more the events of our entire life-especially when we are told by our blessed Savior, “Even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”1 It would bring a holy calm over your mind, dear friend, if you were to constantly remember this. It would relieve your mind from anxiety and enable you to walk in patience, quietness, and cheerfulness as a Christian should. When a man is anxious he cannot pray with faith; when he is troubled about the world, he cannot serve his Master, for his thoughts are serving himself.

f you would “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness,”2 all things would then be added to you. You are meddling with Christ’s business and neglecting your own when you fret about your lot and circumstances. You have been trying to do the providing and forgetting to do the obeying. Be wise and pay attention to the obeying, and let Christ manage the providing. Come and survey your Father’s storehouse, and ask whether He will allow you to starve while

He has so great an abundance in store. Look at His heart of mercy; see if that can ever prove unkind! Look at His unsearchable wisdom; see if that will ever be at fault. Above all, look to Jesus Christ your Intercessor, and ask yourself, while He pleads, can your Father deal ungraciously with you? If He remembers even sparrows, will He forget one of the least of His poor children? “Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.”3

My soul, rest happy in your low estate,

Nor hope nor wish to be esteem’d or great;

To take the impress of the Will Divine,

Be that your glory, and those riches thine.

1 Matthew 10:30-31 2 Matthew 6:33 3 Psalm 55:22

The family reading plan for December 19, 2011

2 Chronicles 22 , 23 | Revelation 10

December 17, 2011

Facing Challenges with Faith
Joshua 1:1-9
 

After Moses died, God gave Joshua the difficult task of leading the Israelites into the Promised Land, but He also gave precise instructions on how to succeed. With each command, the Lord issued a promise and foretold the outcome. Joshua’s job was to stay focused on God, not the difficulty of the challenge—and to obey.

  • Cross this Jordan—I have given you the land (vv. 2-4). In God’s eyes, what He’s promised has already happened, even before we take our first step.
  • Be strong and courageous—I will never fail or forsake you (vv. 5-7). No task is impossible when God is on our side.
  • Be careful to obey My Word—then you will have success wherever you go (v. 7). The Lord measures success in terms of obedience to His will. We’ll always do well both spiritually and eternally when we follow His directions.
  • Meditate on the Scriptures—and your way will be prosperous (v. 8). Biblical thinking keeps us on a right path so we can accomplish what God has called us to do—that’s true prosperity.
  • Do not fear—I am with you wherever you go (v. 9). When we really believe this, our confidence in the Lord enables us to walk boldly by faith through humanly impossible situations.

When God places a challenge before you, don’t retreat or try to avoid it. The same commands and promises He gave to Joshua also apply to you. If you keep your eyes on Him and follow His instructions, He’ll lead you into a deeper relationship with Him and greater opportunities to serve Him

December 17, 2011 – Begg

He Never Ceases to Remember   –   I remember the devotion of your youth.

Jeremiah 2:2

Let us note that Christ delights to think upon His Church and to look upon her beauty. As the bird returns often to its nest, and as the traveler hurries to his home, so the mind continually pursues the object of its choice. We cannot look too often upon the face we love; we continually desire to have what is precious to us.

This is also true with our Lord Jesus. From all eternity He has been “delighting in the children of man.”1 His thoughts rolled onward to the time when His elect would be born into the world; He viewed them in the mirror of His foreknowledge. “In your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there were none of them” (Ps. 139:16). When the world was set upon its pillars, He was there, and He set the boundaries of the people according to the number of the children of Israel. Many a time before His incarnation, He descended to this lower earth in the similitude of a man-on the plains of Mamre (Gen. 18), by the brook of Jabbok (Gen. 32:24-30), beneath the walls of Jericho (Josh. 5:13), and in the fiery furnace of Babylon (Dan. 3:19, 25).

The Son of Man visited His people. Because His soul delighted in them, He could not stay away from them, for His heart longed for them. They were never absent from His heart, for He had written their names upon His hands and had graven them upon His side.

As the breastplate containing the names of the tribes of Israel was the most brilliant ornament worn by the high priest, so the names of Christ’s elect were His most precious jewels and glittered on His heart. W may often forget to meditate upon the perfections of our Lord, but He never ceases to remember us. Let us chide ourselves for past forgetfulness, and pray for grace that we might constantly and fondly remember Him. Lord, paint upon the eyeballs of my soul the image of Your Son.

1 Proverbs 8:31

The family reading plan for December 17, 2011

2 Chronicles 19 , 20 | Revelation 8

December 16, 2011 – Stanley

Be Strong and Courageous
Deuteronomy 31:1-8
 

Have you ever faced a challenge that left you feeling inadequate and afraid? The great men and women in the Bible weren’t superhuman, so they undoubtedly experienced the same weaknesses we do. Though Joshua was a strong military leader, he probably felt inadequate to fill Moses’ shoes. After all, Moses had talked with God face to face, performed amazing miracles, and led the Israelites out of Egyptian bondage. How could Joshua ever expect to live up to that?

But remember, Moses didn’t start out as a mighty man of faith. When God first called him to deliver the children of Israel, he focused on his own inadequacy and begged the Lord to send someone else (Ex. 4:10-13). I think Moses knew exactly how Joshua felt. That’s why he exhorted his successor to be strong and courageous.

However, the strength Joshua needed was not going to come from positive thinking or puffed up self-confidence. What he needed was assurance that the Lord would go ahead of him every step of the way and give the nation the land as promised. Confidence for God-given challenges never comes from within ourselves. But when we believe Him and rely on His Word instead of our feelings, He’ll give us the ability and courage to accomplish His will.

If your life were always easy, you’d never need strength and courage. But then you would miss great opportunities to get to know God intimately. Only as we face one faith-stretching challenge after another and experience God’s faithfulness will we learn to depend on Him instead of ourselves

December 16, 2011 – Begg

The Call of Christian Faith   –  Come to me.

Matthew 11:28

The call of the Christian faith is the gentle word, “Come.” The Jewish law spoke harshly: “Go, pay attention to your steps as to the path in which you will walk. Break the commandments, and you will perish; keep them, and you will live.” The law was a dispensation of terror that drove men before it as with a scourge; the Gospel draws with cords of love. Jesus is the Good Shepherd going before His sheep, bidding them follow Him, and leading them forward with the sweet word, “Come.” The law repels; the Gospel attracts. The law shows the distance that exists between God and man; the Gospel bridges that awful chasm and brings the sinner across it.

From the first moment of your spiritual life until you are welcomed into heaven, the language of Christ to you will be, “Come to me.” As a mother extends her hand to her tiny child and woos it to walk by saying, “Come,” even so does Jesus. He will always be ahead of you, bidding you follow Him as the soldier follows his captain. He will always go before you to pave your way and clear your path, and you will hear His life-giving voice calling you to follow Him all through your life; in the solemn hour of death, His sweet words with which He will usher you into the heavenly world will be, “Come, you who are blessed of my Father.”1

This is not only Christ’s call to you, but if you are a believer, this is your call to Christ-“Come! Come!” You will be longing for His return; you will be saying, “Come quickly; even so come, Lord Jesus.” You will desire nearer and closer fellowship with Him. As His voice to you is “Come,” your response to Him will be, “Come, Lord, and stay with me. Come and occupy the throne of my heart; reign there without a rival, and consecrate me entirely to Your service.”

1 Matthew 25:34

The family reading plan for December 16, 2011

2 Chronicles 18 | Revelation 7

December 15, 2011 – Stanley

Hearts Fixed on Jesus  –  Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her.

Ruth 1:14

Both of them had an affection for Naomi and therefore set out with her upon her return to the land of Judah. But the test came: Naomi unselfishly set before both of them the trials that awaited them and encouraged them if they cared for ease and comfort to return to their friends in Moab.

At first both of them declared that they would take their stand with the Lord’s people; but upon further consideration Orpah with much grief and a respectful kiss left her mother-in-law, and her people and her God, and went back to her idolatrous friends, while Ruth with all her heart gave herself up to the God of her mother-in-law.

It is one thing to love the ways of the Lord when all is fair, and quite another to hold to them in the face of discouragements and difficulties. The kiss of outward profession is very cheap and easy, but the practical clinging to the Lord, which must show itself in holy devotion to truth and holiness, is no small matter.

How do things stands with us? Is our heart fixed on Jesus, our body a living sacrifice? Have we counted the cost, and are we solemnly ready to suffer the loss of all things for the Master’s sake? The ultimate gain will be an abundant provision, for the treasures of Egypt do not compare with the glory to be revealed.

Orpah fades from view; in glorious ease and idolatrous pleasure her life melts into the gloom of death. But Ruth lives on in history and in heaven, for grace has placed her in the noble line that produced the King of kings.

Blessed among women will be those who for Christ’s sake renounce all; but forgotten, and worse than forgotten, will be those who in the hour of temptation violate their conscience and turn back to the world. This morning let us not be content with the form of devotion, which may be no better than Orpah’s kiss, but may the Holy Spirit work in us a clinging of our whole heart to the Lord Jesus.

The family reading plan for December 15, 2011

2 Chronicles 17 | Revelation 6

December 14, 2011 – Stanley

Spending Our Inheritance
Ephesians 1:11-22
 

The word “inheritance” usually brings to mind the money and real estate handed down from one generation to another. But God has an even greater legacy to share with His children—one that they are given the moment they enter His family.

Galatians 4:7 tells us that believers are God’s heirs. First among our priceless treasures is a living hope in Jesus Christ that cannot be taken away (1 Peter 1:3). What’s more, He pledged to supply our needs according to His riches (Phil 4:19). In other words, we already have all that we need for an abundant and victorious life.

However, some folks get stuck in spiritual poverty because they refuse to view themselves as adopted children. Failing to tap into their inheritance, they’re like a man who sees himself as a poor, sinful creature: he wanders through this big angry world hoping to hold on to his meager scrap of faith until he’s lucky enough to die and go to heaven. Of course that man misses the blessings available in this life, because he’s not looking for them.

How differently people see themselves when they look through the eyes of Jesus. Christians who live like the beloved, empowered heirs that they are will lavishly spend their inheritance of grace to benefit everyone they meet.

God gives all believers a pledge of inheritance out of the unsurpassed riches of His infinite grace. We are spiritually rich citizens of heaven who have nothing to fear in this world. Choose to live boldly for Christ, and see how abundantly God pours out blessing from the legacy already set aside for you

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