December 15, 2010 – Stanley

Walking by Faith 2 CORINTHIANS 5:6-8

We perceive our world through sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch–and respond according to the information gained by these five senses. Yet God tells us that there is a higher reality, even though our perceptions appear as truth. And our Father commands us to walk by faith, not according to what we see.

So, what is this Christian faith? It is the confident conviction that God is all He claims to be in His Word. The truth of who He is depends only on the Almighty–it is not based on our opinions, circumstances, or feelings. Nor is it something we can scientifically measure. And remember, belief is a gift from the Lord, not something we create (Eph. 2:8). Therefore, we can ask Him to help us if we find our faith faltering.

The way we walk by faith is through our conduct, lifestyle, and choices. The Holy Spirit guides our steps, and we purposefully follow. It is important that we ask for direction and wisdom, expect that He will answer and meet our needs, and trust that He knows what is best.

At times, of course, we’ll make mistakes. But God is always there to forgive our repentant hearts and help us back on track. As we grow into a deeper relationship with Christ, we become more focused on Him, and our trust increases.

When we try to handle life on our own, the stress can be overwhelming. How wonderful that our Creator offers us rest and peace as we trust Him to lead in all we do. Our infinitely wise, perfectly loving, and completely sovereign Father is supremely capable to care for His children.

December 15, 2010 – Begg

Cling to Jesus

And lay your foundations with sapphires.

Isaiah 54:11

Not only what is seen in the Church of God but also what is unseen is fair and precious. Foundations are out of sight, and as long as they are firm, it is not expected that they should be valuable. But in God’s work everything is of the same value—nothing devalued, nothing irrelevant. The deep foundations of the work of grace are as precious as sapphires; no human mind is able to measure their glory. We build upon the covenant of grace, which is stronger than steel and as enduring as diamonds and upon which age makes no impact. Sapphire foundations are eternal, and the covenant remains throughout the lifetime of the Almighty.

Another foundation is the person of the Lord Jesus, clear and spotless, as everlasting and beautiful as the sapphire, combining the deep blue of earth’s ever-rolling ocean and the azure of its all-embracing sky. At one time our Lord might have been compared to the ruby as He stood covered with His own blood, but now we see Him radiant with the soft blue of love—love abounding, deep, eternal.

Our eternal hopes are built upon the justice and the faithfulness of God, which are as clear and cloudless as the sapphire. We are not saved by a compromise, by mercy defeating justice or law suspending its operations; no, we defy the eagle’s eye to detect a flaw in the groundwork of our confidence: Our foundation is of sapphire and will endure the fire.

The Lord Himself has laid the foundation of His people’s hopes. It is a subject for serious inquiry whether our hopes are built upon such a basis. Good works and ceremonies are not a foundation of sapphires, but of wood, hay, and stubble; neither are they laid by God but by our own conceit. Foundations will all be tested before long: Woe to him whose lofty tower will come down with a crash because it was built on sand. The one who is built on sapphires may face storm or fire with confidence, for he will pass the test.

December 14, 2010 – Stanley

The Fragrance of Christ 2 CORINTHIANS 2:14-16

Have you ever had a negative experience when trying to share the good news of Christ? Some people just don’t want to hear about Jesus. Although your concern is for their eternal life, they may think you are trying to shove your religion down their throats.

To help us understand why some people will have such a negative reaction to our faith, the apostle Paul used the analogy of a Roman celebration of victory. In his day, when a general returned to Rome after conquering the enemy, he made a triumphal entry and led a parade through town. He rode in a golden chariot surrounded by his officers and followed by his troops. At the end of the procession were the chained captives.

During this pageantry, clouds of incense floated among the participants and the assembled onlookers as pagan priests carried their censors. To the conquerors, this was the sweet aroma of victory. But to the captives, it was the smell of death, because they would soon be killed by wild animals in the arena. In the same way, believers are a sweet fragrance of Christ to one another as we follow in His victory over sin and death. However, to those who don’t know Him as Savior, we are a reminder of the judgment they dread.

Although some people will be repulsed by us and our message, we must continue to share our hope with gentleness and grace (1 Pet. 3:15-16). At one time Paul hated Christians, yet he would be the first to affirm that the Lord can reach a hardened heart and change a captive into a victor.

December 14, 2010 – Begg

The Paradox of Christianity

I have been crucified with Christ.

Galatians 2:20

The Lord Jesus Christ acted in what He did as a great public representative person, and His dying upon the cross was the virtual dying of all His people. In Him all His people rendered justice its due and made an expiation to divine vengeance for all their sins. The apostle of the Gentiles delighted to think that as one of Christ’s chosen people, he died upon the cross in Christ. He did more than believe this doctrinally—he accepted it confidently, resting his hope upon it. He believed that by virtue of Christ’s death, he had satisfied divine justice and found reconciliation with God.

Beloved, what a blessed thing it is when the soul can, as it were, stretch itself upon the cross of Christ and feel, “I am dead; the law has killed me, and I am therefore free from its power, because in Christ I have borne the curse, and in the person of my Substitute all that the law could do by way of condemnation has been executed upon me, for I am crucified with Christ.”

But Paul meant even more than this. He not only believed in Christ’s death and trusted in it, but he actually felt its power in himself causing the crucifixion of his old corrupt nature. When he saw the pleasures of sin, he said, “I cannot enjoy these: I am dead to them.” Such is the experience of every true Christian. Having received Christ, he is to this world as one who is utterly dead. Yet, while conscious of death to the world, he can at the same time exclaim with the apostle, “I live.” He is fully alive to God. The Christian’s life is a matchless riddle. The unconverted cannot comprehend it; even the believer himself cannot understand it. Dead, yet alive! Crucified with Christ, and yet at the same time risen with Christ in newness of life! Union with the suffering, bleeding Savior and death to the world and sin are soul-cheering things. May we learn to live evermore in the enjoyment of them!

December 13, 2010 – Stanley

Letting Go of a Troubled Heart JOHN 14:1, 27What has a grip on your heart? Think about the things that trouble you. Perhaps you’re dealing with financial need, relational stress, difficult circumstances, or lingering illness. What are we supposed to do with all the challenging situations we face? Jesus’ words can seem like a pat answer to our very real dilemma because saying, “Do not let your heart be troubled” doesn’t change our feelings.

However, a more accurate interpretation is, “Be troubled no longer.” Jesus isn’t saying that we are to deny our feelings and put on a happy face, but rather that we’re not to let anxiety conquer us. Yes, we will experience trials, but through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can endure struggles with the peace of Christ.

But how do we move from overwhelming distress to undisturbed tranquility? Begin by focusing immediately on the Lord, not on the circumstance, trusting Him to help you through it. Read the Scriptures so you can understand His perspective on the problem and search out His promises. Then believe God and do whatever He says, because you can never have His peace without obedience. And lastly, present your troubles to the Lord in prayer, not just with requests for their removal, but with thanks for His strength to endure them.

The next time you feel a rush of fear or anxiety, remember Jesus’ remedy: “Believe Me!” (vv. 1, 11). If you trust that He loves you and has a good purpose for allowing that difficulty in your life, you can thank Him no matter what you feel or what the outcome may be. Faith always ushers in His peace

December 13, 2010 – Begg

Seek Much Grace

Give me children, or I shall die.

Genesis 30:1

The cry of Rachel for physical children should be more than matched by the believer’s longing for spiritual children. Our great object in living is to glorify God, and we mainly achieve this end by the winning of souls. We must see souls born unto God. If we do not win souls, we should mourn as the farmer who sees no harvest, as the fisherman who returns to his cottage with an empty net, or as the hunter who has roamed in vain over hill and dale. Ours should be Isaiah’s language uttered with many a sigh and groan—”who has believed what they heard from us, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”1 As ambassadors of peace we should not cease to weep bitterly until sinners weep for their sins. If we intensely desire to see others believing in the Lord Jesus, we must act in accordance with the principle and pattern of Scripture. We must depend entirely upon the Spirit of God. Do we not fail in many of our efforts because we practically, though not doctrinally, ignore the Holy Spirit? His place as God is on the throne, and in all our enterprises He must be the beginning, the middle, and the end; we are instruments in His hand and nothing more.

We must be most of all clear upon the great soul-saving doctrine of the Atonement. “He made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”2 This truth that Christ died in the place of sinners gives rest to the conscience by showing how God can be just and the justifier of whoever believes. This is the great net of gospel fishermen; the fish are drawn or driven in the right direction by other truths, but this is the net itself.

We must declare the love of God in Christ Jesus. Always keep His abounding mercy connected to His unerring justice. Never exalt one attribute at the expense of another. Let boundless mercy be seen in calm consistency with stern justice and unlimited sovereignty.

Believer, are you longing to see spiritual offspring? Do not let the sun set on this day without imploring God to show Himself strong in this regard. Beseech Him, “Give me children, or I shall die.”

Editor’s note: This meditation replaces Spurgeon’s original devotional, on Isaiah 54:12 and was adapted from Charles Spurgeon’s Lectures to Students, page 375.

1John 12:38 22 Corinthians 5:21

December 11, 2010 – Stanley

God’s Wisdom Revealed 1 CORINTHIANS 2:6-16

After exposing the futility of worldly thinking in 1 Corinthians 1, Paul introduces Christians to the higher realm of godly wisdom. This kind of knowledge and understanding isn’t available through human intelligence and reasoning; it comes strictly through divine revelation. Only those indwelt by God’s Spirit have “the mind of Christ” (v. 16) and access to “the things freely given” to them by God (v. 12).

Without this supernatural insight, no one can accurately know the Lord or His ways. Many people say they believe in God yet may not have a correct understanding of Him because their perceptions are based on their own thoughts and ideas. It’s easier to custom-design a god to fit our preferences than to make the required adjustments that worship of the one true God demands.

Even believers need to guard against trying to fit God into their preconceived image of Him. The Bible is the only reliable source of divine revelation, but we must be careful to consider the Scriptures as a whole–it’s critical that we don’t just pick and choose the verses we want to believe. For example, by focusing only on passages that emphasize the Lord’s lovingkindness while excluding those that speak of His holiness and justice, we misunderstand His true nature.

Let’s seek to know the Lord in truth by considering the entire counsel of Scripture. Divine wisdom is available to every believer through the Holy Spirit, who searches the depths of God. May we never try to limit Him to fit our preferences. Instead, may He enlarge our minds to embrace His thoughts.

December 11, 2010 – Begg

Servants of the Lord

You are serving the Lord Christ.

Colossians 3:24

To what special group was this word spoken? To kings who proudly boast a divine right? No! Too often they serve themselves or Satan and forget God who patiently permits them to wear their majestic crowns for a little while. Is the apostle speaking to those so-called “right reverend fathers in God,” the bishops or “the venerable archdeacons”? No; in fact, Paul knew nothing of these man-made titles. This word was not spoken even to pastors and teachers or to the wealthy and highly regarded among believers, but to servants and to slaves.

Among the toiling multitudes—the journeymen, the day laborers, the domestic servants, the drudges of the kitchen—the apostle found, as we still find, some of the Lord’s chosen, and he says to them, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” This saying grants significance to the weary routine of earthly employments and sheds a halo around the most humble occupations.

To wash feet may be servile, but to wash His feet is royal work. To untie sandals is poor employment, but to unloose the Master’s shoe is a princely privilege. The shop, the barn, the kitchen, and the workbench become temples when men and women do all to the glory of God! Then divine service does not take place for a few hours and in a few places, but all life becomes holiness to the Lord, and every place and thing as consecrated as the tabernacle and its contents.

Teach me, my God and King, in all things Thee to see;
And what I do in anything to do it as to Thee.
All may of Thee partake, nothing can be so mean,
Which with this tincture, for Thy sake, will not grow bright and clean.
A servant with this clause makes drudgery divine;
Who sweeps a room, as for Thy laws, makes that and the action fine.

December 10, 2010 – Stanley

Faith versus Reason 1 CORINTHIANS 1:18-31

The first battle between faith and human reason took place in the garden of Eden. Spurred on by the lies of the serpent, Eve began to look at her situation from a purely logical perspective and decided she was being cheated by God out of something good. Her faith faltered as “reasonable” thoughts of self-interest filled her mind.

I am not saying that the way of faith is never logical, but by operating only on the basis of reason, a conflict with the Lord is inevitable. The reason is that His instructions and actions don’t always appear reasonable from a human perspective. Although Isaiah 55:8-9 describes God’s thoughts and ways as higher than man’s, many people judge divine ideas to be lower than human intelligence.

Paul emphasizes this when he points out that God’s choices are illogical by the world’s standards. His message of salvation seems foolish, and His messengers appear weak and unimpressive. In an age that thrives on recognition, admiration, and importance, a person who believes the Bible is considered a weakling in need of a religious crutch to cope with life. While this description is given in derision, it’s actually quite accurate. Recognizing their helplessness, believers lean on Christ so He can raise them to stand with Him in righteousness.

That day in Eden, sin and self-importance entered the human heart. But all the worldly wisdom that fuels our pride is nullified by God. He is looking not for great and impressive people but for weak, humble servants who can boast only in Christ. The Savior alone is their strength and wisdom.

December 10, 2010 – Begg

A Taste of Heaven

The Lord opened her heart.

Acts 16:14

In Lydia’s conversion there are many points of interest. It was brought about by providential circumstances. She was a seller of purple goods, from the city of Thyratira, but at just the right time for hearing Paul we find her at Philippi; providence, which is the servant of grace, led her to the right spot. Again, grace was preparing her soul for the blessing—grace preparing for grace. She did not know the Savior, but as a Jewess she knew many truths that were excellent stepping-stones to a knowledge of Jesus. Her conversion took place in the use of the means. On the Sabbath she went to a place of prayer, and there prayer was answered. Never neglect the means of grace.

God may bless us when we are not in His house, but we have more reason to expect that He will when we are in fellowship with His people. Observe the words, “The Lord opened her heart.” She did not open her own heart. Her prayers did not do it; Paul did not do it. The Lord Himself must open the heart to receive the things that make for our peace. He alone can put the key into the door and open it and gain entry for Himself. He is the heart’s Master just as He is the heart’s Maker.

The first outward evidence of the opened heart was obedience. As soon as Lydia had believed in Jesus, she was baptized. It is a sweet sign of a humble and broken heart when the child of God is willing to obey a command that is not essential to his salvation, that is not forced upon him by a selfish fear of condemnation, but is a simple act of obedience and of communion with his Master.

The next evidence was love, displaying itself in acts of grateful kindness to the apostles. Love for the saints has always been a mark of the true convert. Those who do nothing for Christ or His church provide no evidence of an “opened” heart. Lord, grant to us the blessing of opened hearts always!

December 9, 2010 – Stanley

Eternal Security: Can We Be Sure? 1 JOHN 5:1-13

Our loving heavenly Father wants us to know with certainty that we have eternal life through His Son Jesus Christ. What assurances do we have that we are permanently secure?

God’s love. One reason that we can be sure of unending salvation is our heavenly Father’s unconditional love. At the cross, He demonstrated just how much we mean to Him: He sent His Son to die so that we might have eternal life. (1 John 4:9-10).

Christ’s life and death. Because Jesus was without sin, He qualified to serve as our substitute and take our place on the cross. By dying for us, He paid for all our sins and finished the work necessary to secure our salvation (John 19:30).

Jesus’ promise. We have our Lord’s assurance that we will spend eternity with Him. He promised that we can never be separated from Him and that no one can snatch us from His hand (John 10:28). He has gone ahead to prepare a place for us and will return to bring us there (John 14:2-3).

The Indwelling Holy Spirit. Another assurance of eternal security is the presence of God’s Spirit within each believer. The Holy Spirit acts as a seal, guaranteeing that we belong to the Lord and serving as a pledge of our future in heaven with Him (2 Cor. 1:21-22).

The Bible is filled with God’s promises that those who have received Jesus Christ as Savior will spend eternity with Him. If you struggle with doubt, meditate on the Scriptures, and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you into scriptural understanding about your salvation.

December 9, 2010 – Begg

Why Do My Prayers Go Unanswered?

My people will abide in a peaceful habitation.

Isaiah 32:18

Peace and rest do not belong to the unregenerate; they are the peculiar possession of the Lord’s people, and of them only. The God of Peace gives perfect peace to those whose hearts are fixed upon Him. Before the Fall, God gave man the Garden of Eden as his quiet resting-place; sadly, how quickly sin spoiled the fair abode of innocence. In the day of universal wrath when the Flood swept away a guilty race, the chosen family was quietly secured in the resting-place of the ark, which floated them from the old condemned world into the new earth of the rainbow and the covenant, symbolizing Jesus, the ark of our salvation. Israel rested safely beneath the blood-sprinkled dwellings of Egypt when the destroying angel smote the firstborn; and in the wilderness the shadow of the pillar of cloud and the flowing rock gave the weary pilgrims sweet repose.

Today we rest in the promises of our faithful God, knowing that His words are full of truth and power; we rest in the doctrines of His Word, which are consolation itself; we rest in the covenant of His grace, which is a haven of delight. We are more highly favored than David in the cave or Jonah beneath his plant, for no one can invade or destroy our shelter. The person of Jesus is the quiet resting-place of His people, and when we draw near to Him in the breaking of the bread, the hearing of the Word, the searching of the Scriptures, prayer, or praise, we find that any form of approach to Him brings peace to our spirits.

I hear the words of love, I gaze upon the blood,
I see the mighty sacrifice, and I have peace with God.
‘Tis everlasting peace, sure as Jehovah’s name,
‘Tis stable as His steadfast throne, forevermore the same:
The clouds may go and come, and storms may sweep my sky,
This blood-sealed friendship changes not, the cross is ever nigh

December 8, 2010 – Stanley

Eternally Secure in Christ COLOSSIANS 2:13-14

While many Christians know they are saved, they wonder about their eternal security. Does our behavior play a role in keeping our salvation? Examining what happened when we received Jesus as our Savior will bring us reassurance of our security in Him.

Prior to salvation, we had a spiritual problem. We were born with a nature inclined to rebel against God. Our inner self consistently rejected His rule and took charge. Because of our sinful state, we were spiritually dead (Eph. 2:1), under God’s judgment, and destined for eternal separation from Him. No amount of good works, repentance, or improved behavior could have changed our sinful condition. We required a divine solution. Knowing this, our heavenly Father provided what we needed through His Son Jesus (John 3:16).

On the day we trusted in Christ, our condition was changed from condemnation and death to forgiveness and life (John 5:24). We were given a new nature–one that wanted to please God–and adopted into His family (2 Cor. 5:17). God’s gift of salvation delivered us from eternal death, made us spiritually alive, and gave us eternal life. We cannot return to our dead, unforgiven state. Our new status as His children is permanent because it is based on what Jesus has done.

While our behavior may not always reflect our new nature, any mistakes we make do not jeopardize our salvation. Remember, it’s not our actions but Christ’s work on the cross that changed our condition. And nothing can undo a spiritual rebirth that came about through faith in Jesus (John 3:3).

December 8, 2010 – Begg

They Will Walk in White

In your goodness, O God, you have provided for the needy.

Psalms 68:10

All God’s gifts are prepared gifts laid away to meet wants He has foreseen. He anticipates our needs; and out of the fullness that He has treasured up in Christ Jesus, He provides from His goodness for the poor. You may trust Him for all the necessities you may face, for He has infallibly foreknown every one of them. He can say of us in all conditions, “I knew that you would be this and that.”

A man takes a journey across the desert, and when he has completed a day and pitched his tent, he discovers that he wants many comforts and necessities that he has not brought in his baggage. “Ah!” he says. “I did not foresee this. If I had this journey to do again, I would bring these things with me—they are necessary to my comfort.” But God is already aware of all the requirements of His poor, wandering children, and when those needs occur, supplies are ready. It is goodness that He has prepared for the poor in heart, goodness and goodness only. “My grace is sufficient for you.”1 “As your days, so shall your strength be.”2

Reader, is your heart heavy this evening? God knew it would be; the comfort that your heart requires is treasured in the sweet assurance of this text. You are poor and needy, but He has thought upon you and has the exact blessing that you require in store for you.

Plead the promise; believe it and obtain its fulfillment. Do you feel that you never were so consciously sinful as you are now? Behold, the crimson fountain is open still, with all its former efficacy, to wash your sin away. You will never come into such a position that Christ cannot help you. You will never arrive at a place in your spiritual affairs in which Jesus Christ will not be equal to the emergency, for your history has all been foreknown and provided for in Jesus.

12 Corinthians 12:9 2Deuteronomy 33:25

December 7, 2010 – Stanley

Resting in Jesus ISAIAH 26:2-4

Wars, economic crisis, and daily responsibilities are just a few common sources of stress that we encounter. Allowing ourselves to dwell on such things would invite anxiety to overwhelm us.

The Lord has a better way. Jesus assured us that, though we would face difficulty, we could rest in Him (John 16:33). But we cannot trust someone we don’t know. For this reason, we should first seek to find out who He is.

Truths from Scripture are a good place to start. For example, our God is Lord and Master. He is omnipresent, omniscient, faithful, and powerful. He loves unconditionally and offers forgiveness to all who trust His Son as Savior. He adopts believers as His own children and wants the best for every Christian’s life—so much so that He chastises us when we disobey. And He desires that we love Him above everyone and everything else.

Knowing these facts is only the beginning. As in any relationship, time together fosters closeness. We can read the Bible, pray, meditate on God’s Word and listen quietly for His Spirit to speak to our hearts. This helps us to understand how He thinks. What’s more, watching the way God works in other people’s lives helps us to know His ways.

Jesus is trustworthy, and He offers rest in the midst of a troubled world. He wants you to lay your burdens upon Him and experience His peace. Do you know this amazing God? Carve out time in your schedule to be in His presence every day so you can know Him better and better.

December 7, 2010 – Begg

Passion to Save Souls

I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.

1 Corinthians 9:22

Paul’s great object was not merely to instruct and to improve, but to save. Anything short of this would have disappointed him; he desired to see men renewed in heart, forgiven, sanctified, in fact saved. Have our Christian efforts been aimed at anything below this great objective? Then let us correct our ways, for what good will it be at the last great day to have taught and moralized men if they appear before God unsaved? If through life we have sought inferior objects and forgotten that men needed to be saved, then we will be held accountable.

Paul knew the ruin of man’s natural state and did not try to educate him, but to save him; he saw men sinking to hell and did not talk of refining them, but of saving from the wrath to come. To accomplish their salvation, he gave himself up with untiring zeal to spreading the Gospel, to warning and beseeching men to be reconciled to God. His prayers were persistent and his labors incessant. His consuming passion, his ambition, his calling was to save souls. He became a servant to all men, working for them, feeling a woe within him if he did not preach the Gospel. He laid aside his preferences to prevent prejudice; he submitted his will in things indifferent, and if men would just receive the Gospel, he raised no questions about forms or ceremonies. The Gospel was the one all-important business with him. If he might save some, he would be content. This was the crown for which he extended himself, the sole and sufficient reward of all his labors and self-denials.

Dear reader, have you and I lived to win souls to this extent? Are we possessed with the same all-absorbing desire? If not, why not? Jesus died for sinners. Can we not live for them? Where is our tenderness? Where is our love for Christ, if we do not seek His honor in the salvation of men? Lord Jesus, saturate us through and through with an undying zeal for the souls of men

December 6, 2010 – Stanley

Confidence in the Midst of Distress PSALM 46:1-11

Oftentimes, we use the word “stress” to describe the pressure we are feeling. It can come from something as simple as traffic or from more complex situations or underlying issues, such as insecurity. Stress becomes distress when it creates deep emotional and mental anxiety. Unfortunately, in today’s world, living with a fairly constant level of such tension is not unusual.

I remember 1944 being a year of tremendous turmoil in our country because of World War II. Many people would watch the evening news and hear reports of bloodshed in various locations. Those with loved ones overseas listened anxiously.

I can’t recall the name of my social studies teacher that year, but I have never forgotten something she said. One day, after tearfully announcing that we would take a break from the normal routine, she pulled out a Bible and read Psalm 46. The woman explained that her husband’s division had been mentioned on the news the previous night. Though fearful, she found comfort in the Scriptures.

Since then, I turn to that Psalm when I am troubled or afraid. We all face uncertain times when, in our humanness, we feel alone and scared. Yet there is confidence to gain in Jesus.

Today’s verse holds the key to releasing stress and finding peace. What is causing you mental anguish? Stop striving, and rest in our loving, almighty God. He wants you to trust Him, lean on Him, and allow Him to carry the burden for you. His desire is for His children to be relieved of worry.

December 6, 2010 – Begg

A Golden Sash

. . . With a golden sash around his chest.

Revelation 1:13

One like “a son of man” appeared to John in Patmos, and the beloved disciple noticed that He wore “a golden sash.” A sash, for Jesus was never unprepared while on earth, but always stood ready for service; and now before the eternal throne He continues His ministry as our great High Priest. It is good for us that He has not ceased to fulfill His offices of love, since it is one of our choicest safeguards that He ever lives to make intercession for us. Jesus is never lazy; His garments are never loose as though His offices were ended; He diligently carries on the cause of His people. A golden sash, to declare the superiority of His service, the royalty of His person, the dignity of His state, the glory of His reward. He no longer cries out of the dust, but He pleads with authority, a King as well as a Priest. Our cause is safe enough in the hands of our enthroned Redeemer.

Our Lord presents all His people with an example. We must never unbind our sashes. This is not the time for lying down to rest; it is the season of service and warfare. We need to bind the sash of truth more and more tightly around us. It is a golden sash, and as such it will be our richest ornament. And we greatly need it, for a heart that is not well braced up with the truth as it is in Jesus and with the faithfulness that is fashioned by the Spirit will be easily entangled with the things of this life and tripped up by the snares of temptation. We possess the Scriptures in vain unless we bind them around us like a sash, surrounding our entire nature, keeping each part of our character in order, and giving compactness to our whole being. If in heaven Jesus does not remove the sash, neither should we upon earth. Stand, therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth

December 4, 2010 – Stanley

Our Partnership with God 1 CORINTHIANS 12:4-11

I don’t know how some in today’s church got the false idea that the preacher is a servant and the folks in the pews are just members. No one is a bystander in God’s kingdom! All believers are in partnership with the Lord (2 Cor. 6:1). He chose to work through mankind to accomplish the gospel mission on earth. To borrow a biblical metaphor, we are the workers cultivating and harvesting His fields (Matt. 9:37-38).

God gave one or more spiritual gifts to every single believer to aid in the work for His kingdom. We each need this special “wiring” to carry out our unique role in His plan. He knits that spiritual gift into our personality and inborn talents to create a useful and effective servant. And just to be clear, there is no such thing as a non-gifted believer.

Believers are the Lord’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for the purpose of good works (Eph. 2:10). Spiritual gifts are not our own abilities. The Holy Spirit manifests them through us. Remember, it is the sap running from the vine into the branches that produces fruit (John 15:5). In the same way, the Spirit lives and works through God’s followers to bring forth acts of service. The Lord’s power is behind it all. Think of that when you are tempted to shy away from God-given opportunities.

God’s awesome power is present in and available to every believer. The Holy Spirit equips us to obey the Lord in whatever He calls us to do. Don’t waste your life sitting in a pew! Get busy using that spiritual gift. The fields of this world are ripe for harvest (John 4:35).

December 4, 2010 – Begg

Groaning for Redemption

We ourselves . . . Groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

Romans 8:23

This groaning is common among God’s people: To a greater or lesser extent we all feel it. It is not the groan of murmuring or complaint: It is a note of desire rather than of distress. Having received a deposit, we desire the rest of our portion; we are sighing that our entire manhood, in its trinity of spirit, soul, and body, may be set free from the last trace of the Fall; we long to discard the rags of corruption, weakness, and dishonor and to be clothed with incorruption, immortality, glory—the spiritual body that the Lord Jesus will bestow upon His people.

We long for the manifestation of our adoption as the children of God. “We . . . groan,” but it is “inwardly.” It is not the hypocrite’s groan, by which he would make men believe that he is a saint because he is wretched. Our sighs are sacred things, too holy and too personal for us to broadcast. We keep our longings for our Lord to ourselves. Then the apostle says we “wait,” by which we learn that we are not to be petulant, like Jonah or Elijah when they said, “Let me die”; nor are we to whimper and sigh for the end of life because we are tired of work or wish to escape from our present sufferings till the will of the Lord is done. We are to groan for glorification, but we are to wait patiently for it, knowing that what the Lord appoints is best.

Waiting implies being ready. We are to stand at the door expecting the Beloved to open it and take us away to Himself. This groaning is a test. You can learn a lot about a man by what he groans after. Some men groan after wealth—they worship money; some groan continually under the troubles of life—they are merely impatient. But the man who sighs after God, who is uneasy until he is made like Christ—that is the blessed man. May God help us to groan for the coming of the Lord and the resurrection that He will bring to us.

Scriptures, Lessons, News and Links to help you survive.