June 24, 2010 – Begg

From the Jaws of Death

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said . . . ‘Be it known to you, O King, that we will not serve your gods.’

Daniel 3:16, 18

The narrative of the manly courage and marvelous deliverance of these three holy children, or rather champions, is well calculated to engender in the minds of believers firmness and steadfastness in upholding the truth in the teeth of tyranny and in the very jaws of death. Here is a wonderful example especially for young Christians, teaching them that when it comes to faith in action they must never sacrifice their consciences. Lose everything rather than lose your integrity, and when everything is gone, still hold fast a clear conscience as the rarest jewel that can adorn the bosom of a mortal. Do not be guided by expediency but by divine authority. Follow the right at every hazard. When you see no obvious advantage, then walk by faith and not by sight. Honor God by trusting Him when it comes to matters of loss for the sake of principle. See whether He will be your debtor! See if He does not even in this life prove His word that “there is great gain in godliness with contentment,”1 and that for those who “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness . . . all these things will be added to you.”2

Should it happen that in the providence of God you are a loser for conscience’s sake, you will find that if the Lord does not pay you back in the silver of earthly prosperity, He will discharge His promise in the gold of spiritual joy. Remember that a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of what he possesses.

To wear an honest spirit, to have a heart void of offense, to have the favor and smile of God is greater riches than all the gold and diamonds in the world. “Better is a dinner of herbs where love is than a fattened ox and hatred with it.”3 An ounce of contentment is worth a ton of gold.

11 Timothy 6:6 2Matthew 6:33 3Proverbs 15:17

June 23, 2010 – Stanley

The Greatness of God Isaiah 40:12-26

When you think of God, what comes to mind? Often, people view Him in the way that best fits their particular need or situation. For example, a person who struggles with guilt might focus on the Lord’s forgiveness or holiness. And someone with a thirst for justice might dwell on the Almighty’s righteousness.

The truth is, His character encompasses far more than we could ever comprehend or try to explain. I would never attempt to summarize such an awesome God in this devotion. At the same time, however, it is important to look at Scripture in order to gain an accurate a picture of the One we worship.

Today we will focus on one attribute: His greatness. Our passage tells us that God is greater than creation (v. 12), for it was by His hands that everything we see came into being. He is higher than the nations or any idol fashioned by the finest craftsman (vv. 18-20). In fact, He is above the world and all mankind (vv. 22-23), surpassing even the heavens and all galaxies.

Our Father’s thoughts and ways are far grander than our own (Is. 55:9)—and lofty compared with what we can understand. Psalm 93:1 states, “The LORD reigns, He is clothed with majesty; the LORD has clothed and girded Himself with strength.”

Consider the awesome God we serve. He truly is worthy of our praise. As we grasp even a fraction of His greatness, our response should be one of humble worship. After all, who are we that a God like this would desire our friendship—so much so that He sent His Son to die for our sins?

June 23, 2010 – Begg

Open Adoption

We wait eagerly for adoption as sons.

Romans 8:23

Even in this world saints are God’s children, but the only way that people will discover this is by certain moral characteristics. The adoption is not displayed; the children are not yet openly declared. Among the Romans a man might adopt a child and keep it private for a long time; but there was a second adoption in public; when the child was brought before the constituted authorities, its old clothes were removed, and the father who took it to be his child gave it clothing suitable to its new status in life. “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared.”1 We are not yet clothed in the apparel of heaven’s royal family; we are wearing in this flesh and blood just what we wore as the children of Adam. But we know that “when he appears” who is “the firstborn among many brothers,”2 we will be like Him, for we will see Him as He is.

Can’t you imagine that a child taken from the lowest ranks of society and adopted by a Roman senator would say to himself, “I long for the day when I shall be publicly adopted. Then I shall discard these poor clothes and be dressed in clothes that depict my senatorial rank”? Glad for what he has already received, he still groans until he gets the fullness of what has been promised to him. So it is with us today. We are waiting until we put on our proper clothes and are declared as the children of God for all to see. We are young nobles and have not yet worn our crowns. We are young brides, and the marriage day has not arrived, but our fiancée’s love for us leads us to long and sigh for the bridal morning. Our very happiness makes us long for more; our joy, like a swollen stream, longs to spring up like a fountain, leaping to the skies, heaving and groaning within our spirit for lack of space and room by which to reveal itself to men.

11 John 3:2 2Romans 8:29

June 22, 2010 – Stanley

Jesus Identifies with Our Needs Hebrews 4:14-16

We often forget that during His stay on earth, Jesus identified with us—not only in meeting our needs but also in experiencing His own. Although Christ was fully God, He was at the same time completely human, with all of humanity’s weaknesses except for sin.

When Jesus had finished a 40-day fast in the wilderness, He experienced physical hunger and an onslaught of temptation from the Devil (Matt. 4:1-2). Later, after an exhausting day of healing, teaching, and feeding a crowd of more than 5,000, the Son of God required time alone with His Father for spiritual refreshment (Matt. 14:23). And in the Garden of Gethsemane, Christ was under tremendous spiritual and emotional pressure as He faced the ordeal of paying for the sins of mankind through His death on a cross (Matt. 26:38-39).

In each weakness, Jesus turned to His Father. The Word of God was His defense in temptation, prayer was His source of strength for ministry, and submission to the Father’s will was His pathway to victory over sin and death. By passing through every difficult situation without sin, He became our High Priest, who intercedes for us and invites us to draw near to the God’s throne for help in time of need.

Whatever your needs may be, you can follow Christ’s example and experience the Father’s provision. The Word of God is your protection, prayer is your strength, and submission to the Father is the way to victory over sin. Draw near with confidence, and let the Lord shower you with His grace.

June 22, 2010 – Begg

Remain Unshaken

. . . In order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain.

Hebrews 12:27

We have many things in our possession at the present moment that can be shaken, and it is not good for a Christian to rely upon them, for there is nothing stable beneath these rolling skies; change is written upon all things. Yet we have certain “things that cannot be shaken,” and I invite you this evening to think of them—that if the things that can be shaken should all be taken away, you may derive real comfort from the things that cannot be shaken and that will remain. Whatever your losses have been, or may be, you enjoy present salvation.

You are standing at the foot of Christ’s cross, trusting alone in the merit of His precious blood, and no rise or fall of the markets can interfere with your salvation in Him; no breaking of banks, no failures and bankruptcies can touch that. Then you are a child of God this evening. God is your Father. No change of circumstances can ever rob you of that. Even if by loss you are brought to poverty and stripped bare, you can still say, “He is still my Father. In my Father’s house are many rooms; therefore I will not be troubled.” You have another permanent blessing, namely, the love of Jesus Christ. He who is God and man loves you with all the strength of His affectionate nature—nothing can affect that. The fig tree may not blossom, and the flocks may dwindle and wander from the field, but it does not matter to the man who can sing, “My Beloved is mine, and I am His.” Our best portion and richest heritage we cannot lose.

Whatever troubles come, let us play the man; let us show that we are not like little children cast down by what happens to us in this poor fleeting state of time. Our country is Immanuel’s land, our hope is fixed in heaven, and therefore, calm as the summer’s ocean, we will see the wreck of everything earthborn and yet rejoice in the God of our salvation

June 21, 2010 – Stanley

God Knows Our Needs Philippians 4:10-19

Today’s passage presents an interesting paradox. Paul promises the Philippians that God will supply all their needs (v. 19) yet admits that he has experienced times of want (v. 12). To reconcile these two statements, let’s consider God’s divine viewpoint.

Paul wrote these words from a prison cell—a place of great physical discomfort. From a human perspective, we would all agree that God should have provided for Paul by relieving his suffering. But instead, the Lord taught him contentment in this difficult situation. Although his physical discomfort remained, a greater need for a changed attitude was met.

A change of heart toward ongoing suffering is a huge challenge. On our own, it’s impossible, but the Lord promises to strengthen us through Christ. By living in dependence and submission to Him, we gain His power to overcome our negative, sinful attitudes and learn contentment in all kinds of situations.

Our problem is not that the Lord won’t provide for us, but that we so often fail to understand what our deepest needs are. God sees from an unlimited perspective and works for our eternal good, providing for us according to His good purposes from the limitless supply of “His riches in glory.”

Instead of merely pleading with God to take away your difficulty, try asking Him to strengthen you through it. Although He may not always deliver you from trials, you can count on Him to work in you to produce contentment, no matter what your external needs may be.

June 21, 2010 – Begg

The Foundation of Our Faith

But God’s firm foundation stands.

2 Timothy 2:19

The foundation upon which our faith rests is this, that “in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them.”1 The great fact on which genuine faith relies is that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us,”2 and that “Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God”;3 “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree”;4 “Upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.”5 In one word, the great pillar of the Christian’s hope is substitution.

The vicarious sacrifice of Christ for the guilty, Christ being made sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him, Christ offering up a true and proper expiatory and substitutionary sacrifice in the room, place, and stead of as many as the Father gave Him, who are known to God by name and are recognized in their own hearts by their trusting in Jesus—this is the cardinal fact of the Gospel. If this foundation were removed, what could we do? But it stands firm as the throne of God. We know it; we rest on it; we rejoice in it; and our delight is to hold it, to meditate upon it, and to proclaim it, while we desire to be stirred and moved by gratitude for it in every part of our life and conversation.

In these days a direct attack is made upon the doctrine of the Atonement. Men cannot bear substitution. They gnash their teeth at the thought of the Lamb of God bearing the sin of man. But we, who know by experience the preciousness of this truth, will proclaim it confidently and unceasingly and in defiance of them. We will neither dilute it nor change it, nor distort it in any shape or fashion. It shall still be Christ, a positive substitute, bearing human guilt and suffering in the place of men. We cannot, dare not give it up, for it is our life, and despite every controversy we affirm that “God’s firm foundation stands.”

12 Corinthians 5:19 2John 1:14 31 Peter 3:18 41 Peter 2:24 5Isaiah 53:5

June 19, 2010 – Stanley

A Faith Worth Passing Down 2 Timothy 1:3-7

The word “inherit” may bring to mind cash and possessions—or even genetic and personality traits. Yet the Bible talks about something else that can be passed down to the next generation, and it is the most precious thing we have: our faith.

In today’s passage, Paul writes to Timothy about faith worth passing down—namely, that which is based on the truth of God’s Word. It is the confident conviction that God is who He says He is and will do everything He says He will do. The apostle notes that the younger man’s sincere faith did not materialize out of thin air, but in fact was evident in his lineage (v. 5).

There are many ways to hand down a rich legacy of faith to the next generation:

  • 1. Share basic biblical principles. Kids must be taught the proper attitude about money (Ps. 24:1), how needs are fulfilled (Phil. 4:19), and direction in life (Pro. 3:5-6).
  • 2. Model through lifestyle. How we live—with transparency, peace, and persistence or fear, doubt, and frustration—sends a loud message about whether God can be trusted.
  • 3. Serve God by serving others. If we act on our faith, we show it is real (James 2:26).
  • 4. Pray and praise. Children won’t forget hearing us speak their names in prayer. And when we praise them for trusting the Lord, they will be motivated to do so again.

Parents should be intentional about passing down faith to their sons and daughters. But even the childless have opportunity to leave this godly legacy to the next generation of believers. Paul nurtured new Christians as a father would his children, and he encourages us to imitate him (1 Cor. 4:14-16).

June 19, 2010 – Begg

Being His

My beloved is mine, and I am his; he grazes among the lilies. Until the day breathes and the shadows flee, turn, my beloved, be like a gazelle or a young stag on cleft mountains.

Song of Songs 2:16-17

Surely if there is a happy verse in the Bible it is this—”My beloved is mine, and I am his.” It is so peaceful, so full of assurance, so overflowing with happiness and contentment, that it might well have been written by the same hand that penned the Twenty-third Psalm. Yet though the prospect is very bright and lovely—as fair a scene as earth can display—it is not an entirely sunlit landscape. There is a cloud in the sky, which casts a shadow over the scene. Listen: “Until the day breathes and the shadows flee.”

There is a word, too, about the “cleft mountains,” or “the mountains of division,” and to our love, anything like division is bitterness. Beloved, this may be your present state of mind. You do not doubt your salvation, you know that Christ is yours, but you are not feasting with Him. You understand your vital interest in Him, so that you do not have a shadow of a doubt about being His and of His being yours, but still His left hand is not under your head, nor does His right hand embrace you. A shade of sadness is cast over your heart, perhaps by affliction, certainly by the temporary absence of your Lord, so that even while exclaiming, “I am his,” you are forced to take to your knees and to pray, “Until the day breathes, and the shadows flee, turn, my beloved.”

“Where is He?” asks the soul. And the answer comes, “He grazes among the lilies.” If we would find Christ, we must get into communion with His people, we must come to the ordinances with His saints. Oh, for an evening glimpse of Him! Oh, to eat with Him tonight!

June 18, 2010 – Stanley

The Father’s Good Gifts Matthew 7:7-11

Today’s passage contains one of God’s most generous assurances to us. Not only are we granted permission to come to Him with our requests, but He also promises to answer our prayers. However, you may be thinking, If this is true, why hasn’t He given me what I asked?

Verses 9–11 hold the key to understanding this passage: “What man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? . . . If you, then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!” Think in terms of parenting. A child may want the latest video game, but his parent knows that a different gift would be better for him. In the same way, the God who made us is more keenly aware of our needs than we are (Matt. 10:30).

Because of spiritual immaturity or the limitations of our humanity, we may ask for what we perceive as good and necessary, when it isn’t truly in our best interest. But our loving Father gives what He knows is more beneficial. Many of His gifts are the intangible qualities of a Christlike character, which develops through trials and testing. We may feel He’s given us a snake instead of a fish, but the problem is with our lack of understanding, not with God’s goodness.

When it seems that the Lord isn’t answering your requests, remember that He’s a loving Father, and consider what good gifts He is giving instead. Although it may take years to gain an adequate perspective, in time you’ll say, “Lord, You were right. Thank You for giving me exactly what I needed.”

June 18, 2010 – Begg

The Garden of Christ

I came to my garden, my sister, my bride.

Song of Songs 5:1

The heart of the believer is Christ’s garden. He bought it with His precious blood, and He enters it and claims it as His own. A garden implies separation. It is not the open field; it is not a wilderness; it is walled around or hedged in. If only we could see the wall of separation between the church and the world made broader and stronger. It is sad to hear Christians saying, “Well, there is no harm in this; there is no harm in that,” and by this approach getting as near to the world as possible. Grace is at a low ebb in the soul that is always inquiring about how far it may go in worldly conformity.

A garden is a place of beauty; it far surpasses the wild uncultivated lands. The genuine Christian must seek to be more excellent in his life than the best moralist, because Christ’s garden ought to produce the best flowers in all the world. Even the best is poor compared with what Christ deserves; let us not disappoint Him with withering and feeble plants. The rarest, richest, choicest lilies and roses ought to bloom in the place that Jesus calls His own.

The garden is a place of growth. The believer must not remain undeveloped, just mere buds and blossoms. We should grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Growth should be rapid where Jesus is the gardener and the Holy Spirit the dew from heaven.

A garden is a place of retirement. So the Lord Jesus Christ would have us reserve our souls as a place in which He can show Himself, in a way that He does not to the world. As Christians we should be far keener to keep our hearts closely shut up for Christ! We often worry and trouble ourselves, like Martha, with much serving, and like her we do not have the room for Christ that Mary had, and we do not sit at His feet as we ought. May the Lord grant the sweet showers of His grace to water His garden today.

June 17, 2010 – Stanley

God’s Love Comforts Us Romans 8:38-39

Our heavenly Father wants us to know how much He loves and cares for us. He has made this clear through . . .

  • Revelation of Himself. In Scripture, we learn that the Creator made us in His image and has a purpose for our lives. We also discover that sin has separated us from the Lord, but He has a solution to our problem.
  • Provision of a Savior. We were trapped by our sinful nature and unable to free ourselves. That left us helpless and lost, like sheep without a shepherd (Matt. 9:36). Worse still, we were under a sentence of eternal death—separation from the Lord forever. Because of our Father’s great love for mankind, He sent His only Son to bear the penalty we deserved (Rom. 6:23) and to give us eternal life. Jesus rescued us from slavery to sin and reconciled us to the Father. What we could never do for ourselves, He did for us. His provision is free to us but costly to Him.
  • Adoption of believers. When we place our trust in Jesus Christ as our Savior, we become children of God. The separation between Him and us is gone; instead of enemies, we are family. His indwelling Holy Spirit serves as both evidence that we belong to God and assurance of His unending love.

The Father’s care for us shines brightly through the cross—it was because of love that He sent Jesus to earth to die in our place (1 John 4:9-10). Once we accept the gift of salvation through Christ, nothing can separate us from God’s love. What a comfort that is in times of need.

June 17, 2010 – Begg

Promises Fulfilled

Then Israel sang this song: ‘Spring up, O well! Sing to it!’

Numbers 21:17

This well was famous in the wilderness because it was the subject of a promise: “That is the well of which the LORD said to Moses, ‘Gather the people together, so that I may give them water.'” The people needed water, and it was promised by their gracious God. We need fresh supplies of heavenly grace, and in the covenant the Lord has pledged Himself to give us all we require.

The well also became the cause of a song. Before the water gushed out, cheerful faith prompted the people to sing; and as they saw the crystal fountain bubbling up, the music grew more joyful. In similar fashion, we who believe the promise of God should rejoice in the prospect of divine revivals in our souls, and as we experience them our holy joy should overflow. Are we thirsting? Then let us not grumble but sing. Spiritual thirst is bitter to bear, but we need not bear it—the promise indicates a well; so let us be of good heart, and look for it.

Moreover, the well was the center of prayer. “Spring up, O well.” What God has promised to give, we must seek after, or we show that we have neither desire nor faith. This evening let us ask that the Scripture we have read, and our devotional exercises, may not be an empty formality but a channel of grace to our souls. May God the Holy Spirit work in us with all His mighty power, filling us with all the fullness of God. Lastly, the well was the object of effort. “The nobles of the people delved, with the scepter and with their staffs.” The Lord wants us to be active in obtaining grace. Our implements are ill suited for digging in the sand, but we must use them to the best of our ability. Prayer must not be neglected; the gathering of God’s people must not be forsaken; ordinances must not be set aside. The Lord will give us His peace most generously, but not on the path of laziness. Let us, then, stir ourselves to seek Him in whom we find all our fresh and flowing springs.

June 16, 2010 – Stanley

Ignoring the Conscience 1 Timothy 1:18-19; 4:1-2

Are you making certain choices today that your conscience would not have allowed in the past? If that’s the case, you may have become desensitized over time. This is a dangerous place to be.

As we discussed yesterday, God uses our internal “moral compass” along with the Holy Spirit’s guidance to direct our daily choices. The conscience serves as an “alarm system,” intervening when a Christian is about to take part in ungodly behavior. In that way, it offers protection. But sin can throw off the system’s sensitivity.

The insidious process begins if we choose to disobey and then refuse to deal with our rebellion. The conscience warns us repeatedly, but it will eventually become “gummed up” and ineffective if we persist in ignoring the distress signal. When that happens, there are no longer any signals from the heart to point us back toward godliness. In other words, the conscience has become seared.

This situation is akin to removing all traffic lights from a busy intersection: it is a recipe for disaster. If you are at this place, get on your knees and repent, immersing yourself in God’s Word and bathing your life in prayer. Pursue accountability and fellowship with other believers. A healthy conscience is worth the effort.

Are your internal signals in good working order, or have they become muffled? Don’t delay. Scripture warns us that we have a real Enemy who desires to lure us away from godliness and into destruction. God uses a clear conscience to guide, protect, and lead us into His light and peace.

June 16, 2010 – Begg

Light in Our Darkness

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

Psalms 27:1

The LORD is my light and my salvation.” Here is personal interest: “my light,” “my salvation“; the soul is assured of it, and therefore declares it boldly. Into the soul at the new birth, divine light is poured as the forerunner of salvation; where there is not enough light to reveal our own darkness and to make us long for the Lord Jesus, there is no evidence of salvation.

After conversion our God is our joy, comfort, guide, teacher, and in every sense our light: He is light within us, light around us, light reflected from us, and light to be revealed to us. Note, it does not just say that the Lord gives light, but that He is light; nor that He gives salvation, but that He is salvation; so, then, whoever by faith has laid hold upon God has all the covenant blessings in their possession. Once this fact is assured, the deduction from it is put in the form of a question, “Whom shall I fear?” A question that is its own answer. The powers of darkness are not to be feared, for the Lord, our light, destroys them; and we need not dread the damnation of hell, for the Lord is our salvation.

This is a very different challenge from that of boastful Goliath, for it rests not upon the conceited vigor of human strength, but upon the real power of the omnipotent I AM. “The LORD is the stronghold of my life.” Here is a third glowing quality showing that the writer’s hope was fastened with a threefold cord that could not be broken. It is no surprise that we accumulate terms of praise where the Lord lavishes deeds of grace.

Our life derives all its strength from God; and if He deigns to make us strong, we cannot be weakened by all the cunning movements of our adversary. “Whom shall I fear?” The bold question looks into the future as well as the present. “If God is for us, who can be against us,”1 either now or in time to come?

1 Romans 8:31

June 15, 2010 – Stanley

A Clear Conscience Acts 24:10-16

When facing hard decisions, do you pay attention to your conscience? And is it necessarily wise to trust this inner voice?

God gave everyone an internal “moral compass.” In fact, reflecting His truth within all men is one way that He reveals Himself to mankind. The conscience is a divine alarm system that warns us of oncoming danger or consequences. Its primary purpose is godly protection and guidance.

But sin warps perception and can lead us astray. So it’s important to understand the difference between following your heart and allowing a clear conscience to help with decisions. To make a determination, ask, What is the greatest influence on my morality? If the world’s system of what is acceptable has infiltrated your heart, then your conscience cannot be trusted. But if you have allowed God’s Word to permeate and transform your thinking (Rom. 12:2), that inner voice is likely trustworthy.

The Holy Spirit, along with a divinely informed conscience, guides believers. In order to maintain a healthy internal compass, we should continually meditate on Scripture. The Ten Commandments are a solid basis for morality, and we are wise to internalize them—especially the two Jesus highlighted: to love God above all else and to love others (Matt. 22:36-40).

What would you say has the greatest impact on your belief system? Is it the truth of Scripture? Or do the world’s standards of right and wrong infect your heart? Almighty God knows what is best for you, His child—and He gave you a conscience to aid in making wise decisions.

June 15, 2010 – Begg

He Sets an Open Door

. . . Who opens and no one will shut.

Revelation 3:7

Jesus is the keeper of the gates of paradise, and before every believing soul He sets an open door, which no man or devil will be able to close. What joy it will be to find that faith in Him is the golden key to the everlasting doors. My soul, do you carry this key close to you, or are you trusting in some dishonest locksmith who will fail you in the end?

Pay attention to a parable of the preacher, and remember it. The great King has made a banquet, and He has proclaimed to all the world that no one will enter except those who bring with them the fairest flower that blooms. The spirits of men advance to the gate by thousands, and each one brings the flower that he esteems the queen of the garden; but in crowds they are driven from the royal presence and do not enter into the festive halls. Some are carrying the poisonous plant of superstition, others the flaunting poppies of empty religion, and some the hemlock of self-righteousness; but these are not precious to the King, and so those carrying them are shut out of the pearly gates.

My soul, have you gathered the rose of Sharon? Do you wear the lily of the valley on your lapel constantly? If so, when you arrive at the gates of heaven you will know its value, for you only have to show this choicest of flowers, and the Porter will open and without a moment’s delay, for to that rose the Porter always opens. You will find your way with the rose of Sharon in your hand up to the throne of God Himself, for heaven itself possesses nothing that excels its radiant beauty, and of all the flowers that bloom in paradise, none of them can rival the lily of the valley. My soul, get Calvary’s blood-red rose into your hand by faith, by love wear it, by communion preserve it, by daily watchfulness make it your all in all, and you will be blessed beyond all bliss, happy beyond a dream. Jesus, be mine forever, my God, my heaven, my all.

June 14, 2010 – Stanley

The Privilege Corrupted Romans 1:21-34

God has revealed Himself to mankind and provided all that is necessary for a relationship with Him. Yet many people foolishly refuse His offer.

By choosing to live without God, a person will spiral downward into sin and a skewed understanding about the truth that’s evident all around. As ignorance overpowers the capacity for intelligent understanding, an ever-darkening heart develops. The individual hungers for something to fill his emptiness but fails to recognize that only the Lord can satisfy his longing.

Desiring to fill his spiritual void, the person will look for an idol to worship. It won’t be a statue of wood or gold, but rather something on which to focus his affections. “Idols” occupy a person’s passion, time, and energy; in today’s world, they often take the form of money, prominence, and relationships. The “worshiper” begins to indulge in earthly pleasures and desires. Yet nothing can satisfy the emptiness. Eventually, as Romans 1:28 makes clear, the Lord will turn him over to a depraved mind—one that can no longer make right judgments.

Remember, the heavenly Father desires a relationship with us. He even gave His own Son to make this possible. It is man who rejects Him and begins the journey toward godlessness and emptiness.

Look around; notice the manifold evidence that points to a holy, loving God who desires an intimate friendship with you. Don’t put off accepting His offer of relationship—the consequences of rejection are far too dangerous, and the benefits of saying yes are beyond what you can imagine (Eph. 3:20).

June 14, 2010 – Begg

Lie Low Before the Throne

To us, O Lord, belongs open shame . . . Because we have sinned against you.

Daniel 9:8

A deep sense and clear view of sin, its dreadfulness, and the punishment that it deserves should make us lie low before the throne. We have sinned as Christians. It is sad that it should be so. We have been favored, and yet we have been ungrateful; privileged beyond most, but we have not brought forth fruit in proportion. Who is there, although he may have been engaged in the Christian warfare for years, who will not blush when he looks back upon the past? As for our days before we were born again, may they be forgiven and forgotten; but since then, though we have not sinned as before, yet we have sinned against light and against love—light that has really penetrated our minds, and love in which we have rejoiced.

The sin of a pardoned soul is an atrocity! An unpardoned sinner sins cheaply compared with the sin of one of God’s elect, who has had communion with Christ and leaned upon Him for his comfort. Look at David! Many will talk of his sin, but I ask you to look at his repentance and hear his broken bones as each one of them moans out its mournful confession! Consider his tears as they fall upon the ground, and the deep sighs with which he accompanies the softened music of his harp!

We have strayed: Let us, therefore, seek the spirit of penitence. Look again at Peter! We often speak of how he denied Christ. Remember, it is written, “He wept bitterly.” Do we have no denials of our Lord to be lamented with tears? These sins of ours, before and after conversion, would consign us to the place of inextinguishable fire if it were not for God’s sovereign mercy, which snatched us like sticks from the fire.

My soul, bow down under a sense of your natural sinfulness, and worship your God. Admire the grace that saves you—the mercy that spares you—the love that pardons you!

June 12, 2010 – Stanley

The Privilege of Knowing God Psalm 19:1-6

There is no greater privilege than knowing God—and no greater tragedy than failing to develop a relationship with Him. Yet many people live their whole life apart from Jesus, and, therefore, when they die, they are separated from Him eternally.

While on earth, both the righteous and unrighteous enjoy benefits of divine blessing (Matt. 5:45), so those who choose to live without Christ probably have no clue how dreadful a godless eternity will be. Some people seem to ignore the Bible’s warnings about “outer darkness,” “weeping,” and “gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 8:12; 22:13; 25:30; Luke 13:28). Or is it possible they’ve simply never heard the good news of salvation?

Romans 1:18-20 answers that: Creation offers so much evidence of God that man is held accountable for unbelief. Consider nature’s design, beauty, and order—these things don’t just evolve.

What’s more, God reveals Himself in the human conscience (2:14-15). Even societies with no access to Scripture forbid ungodly behaviors like rape, murder, and theft.

In addition, we have God’s revelation of Himself through both His Word and the incarnation of Jesus (John 14:7-9). Christ, who was fully God, became fully man. And His life perfectly demonstrates the heavenly Father’s character and heart.

Can you recognize evidence of the Almighty in creation and in the “law” written on your conscience? Do you seek to know Him better through His Word and the example of Christ? The Lord desires a relationship with you and is calling. Answer with a seeking heart, and watch for God to “show up.”

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