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Days of Praise

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March 6, 2020
Holidays
“Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days.” (Colossians 2:16)

This is the only verse in the New Testament that has any reference to holidays (at one time considered “holy days”). However, the Greek word so translated does occur there quite often, being rendered elsewhere always by its correct meaning of “feasts.”

Such “holy days” in the Old Testament economy normally required “no servile work” to be done on those days and were usually associated with a special “feast” of some deep spiritual significance. They certainly were not holidays in the modern sense, devoted mostly to pleasure.

In fact, it is perhaps significant that neither holidays nor vacations are mentioned in the Bible at all. The weekly Sabbath “rest” day is, of course, frequently emphasized. One day in seven has always been observed as a day to rest from labor and to remember our Creator. However, the other six days were to be spent working. Many can still remember when the norm was a six-day workweek.

Not so now. Many complain about even a five-day week, and “T.G.I.F.” is a common feeling as the “weekend” approaches. “Labor” Day is now a day mainly for fun, but it might be a good day for Christians to thank God for the privilege of work and doing that work “heartily, as to the Lord” (Colossians 3:23). Our work, whatever it may be, can become a real testimony for (or, sadly, against) the Lord whom we profess to serve.

In the ages to come, there will still be work to do for the Lord. In that day, it is promised that “his servants shall serve him” (Revelation 22:3). Therefore, we should be “abounding in the work of the Lord” right now. It will not be “in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58). HMM

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March 7, 2020
The Duty of Rejoicing
“But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee.” (Psalm 5:11)

It may seem strange to think of rejoicing as a Christian duty, but the Scriptures do contain many commands to rejoice, and many of these are given in circumstances of grief or danger, as is the case of our beautiful text verse.

“Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice” (Philippians 4:4), Paul wrote from a Roman dungeon. In the upper room the night before He was to die on a cross, the Lord Jesus said to His disciples: “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full” (John 15:11). And then He said: “They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service” (John 16:2). But then He said again: “Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full” (John 16:24).

If David could rejoice while fleeing from murderous enemies, if Paul could rejoice while chained unjustly in a Roman prison, if the disciples could experience fullness of joy while facing martyrdom, and if the Lord Himself “for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame” (Hebrews 12:2), then our Christian duty of rejoicing in all circumstances may not be such an unseemly command after all.

We can rejoice, as our text reminds us, “because thou defendest them.” Furthermore, He Himself provides the joy, for “the fruit of the Spirit is…joy” (Galatians 5:22). It is not that the Christian will never know sorrow, for Christ Himself was “a man of sorrows” (Isaiah 53:3). But He also was a man of joy and, in Him, we can be like Him—“as sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing” (2 Corinthians 6:10). HMM

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March 8, 2020
Apostasy and Prosperity
“And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.” (2 Corinthians 9:8)

One of the most tragic movements in Christendom today teaches that God promises to make each Christian prosper in material wealth. Suffice it to say, the Bible teaches no such thing, as seen in our text and elsewhere, but this false teaching is not new and is associated with apostasy.

Consider chapters 17 and 18 of the book of Judges, which describe a period of rampant apostasy and confusion. The chapters provide character sketches of an itinerant Levite, the tribe of Dan, and a man named Micah. First we see that Micah steals 1,100 shekels of silver from his mother, who then places a curse on the unknown thief. Micah, fearing the curse, confesses the crime. His mother tries to lessen the curse by dedicating all the money to the Lord and converts 200 shekels into an idol. Micah places the idol with his others and consecrates his son as priest, even though they are of the tribe of Ephraim. Later, he hires the Levite to be his priest and exclaims, “Now know I that the Lord will do me good, seeing I have a Levite to my priest” (Judges 17:13).

In the next chapter, spies of the Danites go to the priest for God’s blessing on their efforts to find land that they can conquer. When the marauders return, they recruit the Levite to a more prosperous position. He joins them, having stolen Micah’s idols, and establishes the tribal priesthood.

Each one in this story was confident that God would bless them materially because they had the trappings of religion. The common denominator was greed. Their desire for personal prosperity led them to a prostitution of the true worship of God. But whenever religion is “used” to justify the “love of money,” it suffers degradation. “Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24). JDM

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March 9, 2020
Everlasting Love
“The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” (Jeremiah 31:3)

Perhaps no doctrine in Scripture is as clearly stated as that expressed in our text and in many other passages. God loves us! His love is an “everlasting love” and compels Him to act strongly and lovingly on our behalf. “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10). This theme finds glorious expression in the grand hymn of the last century entitled “I Am His, and He Is Mine.”

Loved with everlasting love, Led by grace that love to know;
Spirit, breathing from above, Thou hast taught me it is so!
O this full and perfect peace, O this transport all divine—
In a love which cannot cease, I am His and He is mine.


Jesus prayed, “I in them, and thou in me,…that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am” (John 17:23-24). The Father will never allow us to part from Him or our Savior.

These precious facts are taught to us by the “inspired” (literally “God-breathed”) Scriptures (2 Timothy 3:16), and “the Comforter…the Spirit of truth [who] will guide [us] into all truth” (John 16:7, 13). He drew us to Himself “in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself” (Ephesians 1:4-5). “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God” (1 John 3:1). In His grace, we come to Him, experiencing sweet forgiveness and everlasting love. Cradled in the security of His undying love, we have peace. “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee” (Isaiah 26:3). JDM

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March 10, 2020
Appreciating God's Creation
“And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food.” (Genesis 2:8-9)

Everything in the garden of Eden was prepared for man’s enjoyment. In the time between creation and the curse, Adam and Eve no doubt fully enjoyed the vegetation (Genesis 2:5, 9, 15-16), the animals (vv. 19-20), the atmosphere and the weather (vv. 5-6), the rivers and the raw materials (vv. 10-14), each other (vv. 18, 21-25), and fellowship with God (3:8). But soon they rebelled and were driven from the beautiful garden (3:24), and ever since, mankind’s ability to enjoy creation has been shackled somewhat, for creation was distorted by sin, and the eyes of each one of us have become dull. The second verse of the well-loved hymn “I Am His, and He Is Mine” describes a partial reopening of the eyes of a believer upon salvation, as a love gift from our Lord.

Heav’n above is softer blue, Earth around is sweeter green;
Something lives in ev’ry hue Christless eyes have never seen!
Birds with gladder songs o’erflow, Flowers with deeper beauties shine,
Since I know, as now I know, I am His and He is mine.


In His abundant love for His children, our Lord promises to supply all our needs once again. “Why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these” (Matthew 6:28-29). Creation’s beauty waits to thrill us and instruct us. Our loving Father wills it so. But creation will be fully restored soon, and “the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing” (Isaiah 35:1-2). He beckons us to join Him in His kingdom. JDM

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March 11, 2020
His Everlasting Arms
“The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms: and he shall thrust out the enemy from before thee.” (Deuteronomy 33:27)

The third verse of “I Am His, and He Is Mine” recalls former times of alarm, fear, and doubt, but testifies of the rest and peace in His love, cradled in the “everlasting arms” of the Savior.

Things that once were wild alarms Cannot now disturb my rest;
Closed in everlasting arms, Pillowed on the loving breast!
O to lie forever here, Doubt and care and self resign,
While He whispers in my ear—I am His and He is mine.


This verse reminds us of the evening when Jesus and His disciples were in a boat and a violent storm arose. They awoke Jesus from His sleep and cried, “Master, carest thou not that we perish?” (Mark 4:38). Of course Jesus cared, for He loved them. So “he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still” (v. 39). To His disciples, He said, “Why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith?” (v. 40). The time would come when they would need that faith and peace. They would learn to rest in His loving care.

The song also reminds us of the special loving relationship between Jesus and the disciple John. “Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23). A deep intimacy with Him was John’s, and can be ours, if we will only pillow our head on Him. No passage expresses that intimacy as well as the Song of Solomon, using the analogy of husband and wife to reflect the self-sacrificing love between our Lord and His children. “I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine” (Song of Solomon 6:3). The affairs of this life interrupt our times of intimacy with Him, but there will be a day when we will “ever be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:17). JDM

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March 12, 2020
While God and I Shall Be
“For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)

The final verse of the majestic hymn “I Am His, and He Is Mine” focuses on the unending love between the believer and God. As we read in our text, nothing can “separate us from the love of God.”

His forever, only His—Who the Lord and me shall part?
Ah, with what a rest of bliss Christ can fill the loving heart!
Heav’n and earth may fade and flee, First-born light in gloom decline,
But while God and I shall be, I am His and He is mine.


Resting in such supernatural love, which lasts forever, begets peace and rest even now. Our Savior beckons, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Aspects of our present life may be temporary, but His love lasts forever. “The heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment,…but my salvation shall be forever” (Isaiah 51:6). “And even to your old age I am he; and even to hoar [gray] hairs will I carry you” (Isaiah 46:4).

Consider the last line in the hymn. “But while God and I shall be, I am His and He is mine.” As long as either God or the individual remains, their love will last. “But the LORD shall endure forever” (Psalm 9:7). “He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5). Thus, the Christian “will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever” (Psalm 23:6). “I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand” (John 10:27-28). JDM

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March 13, 2020
The Beginning of Creation
“But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.” (Mark 10:6)

These words of the Lord Jesus Christ ought to settle once and for all, for those who take His words seriously, the controversial question of the age of the earth. The earth was created essentially at the same time, He said, as the creation of Adam and Eve. Christ was quoting from Genesis 1:27: “male and female created He them.” This greatest of God’s creative works was “from the beginning of the creation,” not 13 billion years after the beginning of the creation, as modern old-earth advocates allege.

One can understand why atheists believe in evolution and an almost infinitely old universe, for they really have no other alternative. One who believes in a personal God, on the other hand, only dishonors God if he believes such humanistic speculations rather than God’s Word. God is omniscient and omnipotent, as well as loving and merciful, and He would never do anything like this. The great ages assumed by evolutionary geologists supposedly involved billions of years of suffering and dying by billions of animals before man ever evolved. Surely this would have been the most inefficient, wasteful, and cruel method that ever could have been devised for “creating” human beings. Since man’s creation was God’s main purpose, there is no conceivable reason why He would waste billions of years in such a meaningless charade as this before getting to the point. In fact, the only reason He took six days instead of an instant of time was to serve as a pattern for man’s workweek (Exodus 20:8-11).

In fact, the Lord Jesus Christ was not only a creationist but was Himself the Creator of all things (John 1:3; Colossians 1:16; etc.). Therefore, He is the best possible witness as to when He created man and woman, and He said it was “from the beginning of the creation”! HMM

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March 14, 2020
Cities Set on a Hill
“Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.” (Matthew 5:14)

Cities in ancient times were often built on a hill, and this was especially important for those six cities in Israel that had been designated as cities of refuge. They were located, geographically, so that no one in Israel was more than a day’s journey from one of them—accessible to all who might need to flee to one for refuge some day. These were designated as havens, “that the slayer that killeth any person unawares and unwittingly may flee thither: and they shall be your refuge from the avenger of blood” (Joshua 20:3).

“And they appointed Kedesh in Galilee in mount Naphtali, and Shechem in mount Ephraim, and Kirjatharba, which is Hebron, in the mountain of Judah. And on the other side Jordan by Jericho eastward, they assigned Bezer in the wilderness upon the plain out of the tribe of Reuben, and Ramoth in Gilead out of the tribe of Gad, and Golan in Bashan out of the tribe of Manasseh” (Joshua 20:7-8). The first three cities are specifically said to be on mountains. On the east of Jordan, Ramoth was on Mount Gilead, Golan on the Golan Heights east of the Sea of Galilee, and Bezer apparently on the high tablelands east of the Dead Sea. Thus, all could be seen from a great distance, even at night, by its watch fires. Their strategic locations were a comfort to the accidental killer as he fled for his life from an avenger of blood.

The cities of refuge were a type of Christ, to whom we “have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us” (Hebrews 6:18). He is, to us, a strong city set on a hill, ready to receive all who come to Him in faith. He called Himself “the light of the world” (John 8:12), but then He also said that those who now have His light must also serve as lights—as cities on a hill that those who see them may “glorify [their] Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). HMM

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March 15, 2020
In Time of Trouble
“For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock.” (Psalm 27:5)

In this psalm of praise, David expresses his confidence in the Lord, even though “the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh” (v. 2). In spite of the danger, he looks to God for safety. “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (v. 1). Why did God preserve David? The answer is at least twofold.

First, David had a heart for God. “One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in his temple” (v. 4). “Thy face, LORD, will I seek” (v. 8). “Teach me thy way, O LORD” (v. 11).

The second reason is the nature of God Himself. God, by His very nature, hates evil and extends grace toward His own. He is pictured here as a warrior conquering the evil enemies of David. His laws forbid their actions; His gospel robbed these evildoers of their grip; His final kingdom will be rid of them. Until God’s justice, His gospel, and His purpose all fail, we can be sure that He will act.

In our text, David is hidden in the Lord’s “pavilion.” The word, which literally means a protective covering, was used for the tent of the commander-in-chief. Here, with the commander-in-chief, is the most fortified, guarded, and safe area of the battleground. If the pavilion falls, the battle is lost and God has failed. Hidden in His pavilion, we are as safe as He. He sees to it that we are not frightened (v. 13) amid the din of battle, and we shall share in the ultimate victory.

In this world, we have tumultuous war; in the next, unbroken peace. Assured of the outcome, we can “wait on the LORD: [and] be of good courage” (v. 14). JDM

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March 16, 2020
Glorious Holiness
“Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?” (Exodus 15:11)

Our finite minds would never grasp the idea of holiness if not for the revelation granted to us in the Scriptures. God’s “separateness” requires even the awesome four-faced, sixwinged Seraphim to “rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, LORD God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come” (Revelation 4:8).

Samuel’s gentle mother, praying before the tabernacle, was no doubt moved by the Spirit of God to proclaim, “There is none holy as the LORD: for there is none beside thee” (1 Samuel 2:2). Her short statement of faith is the core of holiness—the separate unique character that only the Creator of the universe can possess.

Those who have been “born again” (John 3:3) are called “saints” (Romans 1:7) when they were “created in righteousness and true holiness” (Ephesians 4:24). Our “holiness” is part of the “gift of God” from the One who is holy, “without which no man shall see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).

Because our Creator, Lord, and King is “righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works” (Psalm 145:17), it should come as no surprise that “as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:15-16).

The “great and precious promises” (2 Peter 1:4) given to us by our gracious Lord are the spiritual means by which we can “cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1). Our destiny is sure. Our duty is clear. “Yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the Lord, and my God shall be my strength” (Isaiah 49:5). HMM III

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March 17, 2020
The Unjust Steward
“And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.” (Luke 16:8)

This parable of the unjust steward has perplexed many Christians, for it seems to indicate that the Lord approved of dishonesty. “Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness” (v. 9) also seems to contradict verse 13, when He said, “Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”

The apparent contradiction vanishes, however, when we realize Christ was not commending the dishonesty of the steward, but his acute business sense and concern for the future. Neither does the Lord approve of greed or covetousness, but He does exhort believers to be as prudent in investing their money for the eternal future as shrewd worldlings are in feathering their earthly nests. Sad to say, it is common experience that, by this measure, “the children of this world” do conduct their affairs “in this generation” far more shrewdly than “the children of light.” Even more sadly, the latter often even try to follow the example of the ungodly in “laying up for themselves treasures upon earth,” rather than “treasures in heaven” (see Matthew 6:19-20).

The Lord would exhort us, on the other hand, to use our money (“the mammon of unrighteousness”) to make true friends, “that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations” (Luke 16:9). The “unjust steward” was trying to insure his own earthly future, hoping to make temporal friends by bribing them with money that was not even his own.

How much wiser it is for us to use whatever money the Lord has entrusted to us to make true friends, helping to bring them to Christ and building them up in the faith. Then, when we “fail” from this life, we shall enjoy their fellowship and gratitude in the “everlasting habitations” of eternity. HMM

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March 18, 2020
The Poetry of God
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)

The word “poem” is derived from the Greek poiema. Used only twice in the New Testament, it refers to two great works of God Himself. Thus, God is the divine poet who has created two great masterpieces—artistic creations of marvelous intricacy and surpassing beauty.

The first is the entire physical universe: “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20). In this key verse, poiema is translated “things that are made.” Everything in the universe, animate and inanimate, constitutes a marvelous product of God’s creative forethought and inventive skill. If a beautiful poem requires a poet to create it, so much the more does the complex cosmic poem of the universe demand a great poet of consummate wisdom and infinite power. The rejection of the poet and the message of the poem not only leave one “without excuse” (v. 20), but facing “the wrath of God” (v. 18).

Yet an even more amazing poem is the work of transforming redemption accomplished in a lost soul saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8). For then it is we, ourselves, who become His poem! This also is a great creative masterpiece, for “we are his workmanship [same word, Greek poiema], created in Christ Jesus unto good works.” A life once dead in sin, now born again and walking in good works—this is God’s greatest poetic masterpiece of all!

Both the mighty universe and the soul made new in Christ are special creations of God, and both manifest His greatness and His love. “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift” (2 Corinthians 9:15) of grace. HMM
 
 

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March 19, 2020
The Indwelling Trinity
“To know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.” (Ephesians 3:19)

One of the great doctrines of Christianity is the doctrine of the indwelling Holy Spirit of God, who lives in the heart of each believer who trusts in Christ for salvation. “Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God?” (1 Corinthians 6:19).

At the same time, God is one God, so all three persons of the Godhead must, through the Spirit, likewise indwell the believer. Note Paul’s prayer for the believers in the Ephesian church (Ephesians 3:14-19).

“That he would grant you…to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man” (Ephesians 3:16). This request acknowledges the indwelling Spirit. Christ also prayed for this: “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter…the Spirit of truth…for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you” (John 14:16-17).

“That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith” (Ephesians 3:17), that we might “know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge” (v. 19). Here is the indwelling Son. This is also revealed in Galatians 2:20 (“Christ liveth in me”) and Colossians 1:27 (“Christ in you, the hope of glory”).

“That ye might be filled with all the fulness of God” (Ephesians 3:19). This can only refer to the indwelling Father, as well as the entire tri-unity of the Godhead. Can this indwelling be ours? Note also that the entire prayer was addressed in the first place to “the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 3:14). This, likewise, is a reflection of Christ’s promise: “If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him” (John 14:23). “Filled with all the fulness of God!” What a wonderful privilege—and responsibility—is ours. HMM

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March 20, 2020
In a Moment of Time
“And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.” (Luke 4:5)

It is interesting that there are just three “moments” mentioned in the New Testament and that there are three different Greek words so translated, each used one time only in the Bible. Furthermore, each of these three “moments” is used in a context that is anticipatory of the future.

First of all, Satan tempted Jesus by flashing before His eyes a vision of the whole world, offering it to Him immediately without His having to endure the cross, if He would rule it for the devil. Here the Greek word for “moment” is stigme, meaning a “point,” like a period after a sentence. In an infinite “timeline,” it would be just a dot on the line, a “point” in time. Satan’s apparent dominion over this world, though it lasts six thousand years or so, is only a moment compared to eternity, and Jesus knew this was a poor bargain.

One day, in fact, He will return to reclaim the world from Satan. At that great day, “we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye” (1 Corinthians 15:51-52). In this passage, the unique word is atomos, meaning an indivisible particle. That is, in an “atom of time,” too instantaneous to measure, we shall be changed to be like Him in “his glorious body” (Philippians 3:21).

Right now, however, our bodies are weak and easily beset with pain and sickness. Nevertheless, we are assured that “our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17). The word here is parautika, referring specifically to the present moment. What we must endure “here and now” is so brief compared to the eternity “then and there” that it is not even “worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18). HMM

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March 21, 2020
Aceldama
“And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood.” (Acts 1:19)

Never was a tract of land more fittingly named than Aceldama, an Aramaic word meaning “field of blood,” for it had been purchased with blood money, “the price of blood” (Matthew 27:6). The purchaser had been Judas (through the “executors” of his estate, as it were, following his suicide), but the blood he sold, to acquire the price of the field, he had deemed “innocent blood.”

The miserable 30 shekels of silver that consummated this transaction was the price of a slave in ancient Israel (Exodus 21:32), but this slave was none other than God incarnate, so the 30 pieces of silver—the price set by the religious leaders of Israel—was the price for the sale of God.

The prophet Zechariah, more than 500 years before, had acted out a prophecy of these strange events: “So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver…a goodly price that I was prised at of them” (Zechariah 11:12-13). Next, according to both prophecy and fulfillment, this blood money was cast down in the temple and then used to buy the potter’s field (Zechariah 11:13; Matthew 27:5, 7-8).

These and many other such details in these accounts constitute a remarkable type and fulfillment of prophecy, and thus a testimony of both divine inspiration and divine foreordination. But, more than that, it is a striking picture of the price of our salvation, for the “field of blood” typifies that great field is the world (Matthew 13:38) and Christ is the man who, searching for “treasure hid in a field…selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field” (Matthew 13:44). All that He had—the very blood of His life—was willingly shed that we, dead in sins and hidden in the world, might be “purchased with his own blood” (Acts 20:28). HMM

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March 22, 2020
Holy Things
“If a soul commit a trespass, and sin through ignorance, in the holy things of the LORD.” (Leviticus 5:15)

The “shadow of things to come” (Colossians 2:17) in the Old Testament focuses on physical items and places that were considered especially holy and dedicated.

 

• Holy place (Exodus 26:33-34)
• Holy altar (Exodus 29:37)
• Holy sacrifices (Exodus 29:33-34)
• Holy garments (Exodus 28:2-4)
• Holy ointment (Exodus 30:31-37)
• Holy vessels (1 Chronicles 22:19)


In the New Testament, however, the “holy things” were focused on the eternal and spiritual holiness that was merely “shadowed” by the earlier ceremonies. Our “holy calling” (2 Timothy 1:9) is granted through our “holy faith” (Jude 1:20). God has designed us to become “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1 Peter 2:9).

While we serve the Lord on this earth, we are “sealed with that holy Spirit of promise” (Ephesians 1:13), expecting that the Lord will make us “to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men.… To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God” (1 Thessalonians 3:12-13).

Jerusalem on Earth, destroyed and rebuilt throughout history, is the prototype of “the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven” wherein “the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God” (Revelation 21:2-3). HMM III

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March 23, 2020
Heaven Opened
“And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.” (John 1:51)

In Jacob’s dream (Genesis 28:12), angels were ascending and descending on a great ladder between Earth and heaven. Christ promised a future reality in which He Himself would be the ladder to the opened heaven.

But that was to be “hereafter.” Until Christ came to die and rise again, heaven was closed, for nothing unclean could enter there, and death had “passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12). Even those who died in faith could only be “comforted” in “Abraham’s bosom” deep “in the heart of the earth” (Luke 16:22, 25; Matthew 12:40), because “it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins” (Hebrews 10:4).

Then Christ died and rose again “to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Hebrews 9:26). In His spirit, “he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth,” and “when he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive” (Ephesians 4:8-9), leading all pre-Calvary saints with Him into heaven. Then was fulfilled the wonderful scene predicted in Psalm 24:7: “Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.”

Since that wonderful day when Christ ascended back to heaven, “to be absent from the body” is “to be present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8). Heaven someday will even receive our resurrected bodies. John prophesied it this way: “I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice…said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter” (Revelation 4:1). Heaven thenceforth will be open eternally to all the redeemed. “The gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there” (Revelation 21:25). HMM

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March 24, 2020
Building-Vine-Body
“For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:3)

There are three wonderful figures in the New Testament that depict the relationship of the individual believer to all other believers and to Christ Himself. Christians are like little branches in the great vine, which is Christ. They are stones in a great building of which He is the foundation and cornerstone. They are all members of the great body of which He is the head. In each case, they have been placed “in Christ,” and they derive all life and meaning from Him.

As a stone lying alone on the ground is useless and ugly, so would be a professing Christian who is not truly in Christ. But we, “as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house” (1 Peter 2:5) as “the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:19-22).

Similarly, a branch without its vine and roots is lifeless. Jesus said: “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5).

The members of a body are functionless without the head to direct them. “But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him” (1 Corinthians 12:18), and it is intended that we “may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together…maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:15-16).

Outside of Christ, we are useless, and lifeless, and without direction. In Him, we become a beautiful temple, a fruitful vine, and a strong body. HMM

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March 25, 2020
Holy Goodness
“[Barnabus] was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith.” (Acts 11:24)

The Holy Spirit indwells all believers (1 Corinthians 1:22; 6:19, etc.) and the fruit of the Spirit includes “goodness” (Galatians 5:22) among eight other godly traits. One should therefore expect those empowered by the Spirit (Romans 15:19) to demonstrate holy goodness.

How does holy goodness manifest itself in people?

• Good people delight in God’s holiness (Psalm 37:23).
• Good people expect God’s blessing (Proverbs 12:2).
• Good people secure their children (Proverbs 13:22).
• Good people are satisfied with life (Proverbs 14:14).
• Good people love wisdom (Matthew 12:35).
• Good people are just people (Luke 23:50).
• Good people are full of faith (Acts 11:24).

Our Lord Jesus made it clear that the “fruits” borne by our lives provide the identification of our spiritual status (Matthew 7:20) for all to see.

The parables of the “talents” and the “pounds” (Matthew 25:14-30 and Luke 19:11-27) teach two different applications of the same principle.

In the one case, the same amount was given to everyone and reward was based on how well each did with their resources.

In the other case, different resources were granted to each, and the reward was distributed in proportion to the faithful use of what was initially given.

In both cases, the “unfaithful” and “lazy” servant was castigated and his initial wealth confiscated. No man “having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62).

Good people are productive people. HMM III

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March 26, 2020
Babes in Christ
“Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men.” (1 Corinthians 14:20)

The Christian life is entered by the new birth so that everyone who is genuinely born again must begin as a spiritual babe. “Except ye be converted, and become as little children,” said the Lord Jesus, “ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3).

Furthermore, they should continue to be as innocent children insofar as “malice” (Greek kakia, literally meaning “wickedness” or “evil”) is concerned. This is an attribute that should diminish, not grow, in a believer.

The sad truth, however, is that many born-again Christians remain spiritual babes in attributes that should characterize strong men and women of God. Paul equated the term “babes in Christ” with carnality, characterized by “envying, and strife, and divisions” (1 Corinthians 3:1, 3). Paul also speaks of those Christians as “children” who are “tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine” (Ephesians 4:14). He urges each one to be “speaking the truth in love,” so that we “may grow up into him [Christ] in all things” (Ephesians 4:15).

Spiritual growth, of course, can come only through spiritual food and spiritual exercise. “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2). “But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Hebrews 5:14).

Christians should become mature, both in understanding and in behavior. The last reference to growth in the Bible applies to each Christian: “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). HMM

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March 27, 2020
The Deep Sleep
“And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof.” (Genesis 2:21)

This is the first of seven occurrences of the unusual term “deep sleep” (Hebrew tardema) in the Old Testament. In each case it seems to refer to a special state induced by the Lord Himself in order to convey an important revelation to, or through, the person experiencing it.

In Adam’s case, God made a bride for him during his deep sleep from whose seed would be born all the nations of the earth. “And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man” (v. 22). The covenant God made with Adam and Eve delegated dominion over the earth to their descendants.

The second deep sleep was that which “fell upon Abram” (Genesis 15:12) when God passed between the sacrificial animals and established His great covenant with him, promising that from his seed would be born the chosen nation. “And I will make of thee a great nation” (12:2). The Abrahamic covenant also delegated the central land of the earth to Isaac’s descendants (15:18-21) and promised that “in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed” (12:3).

But Adam was a type of Christ and Abraham was a type of Christ, and their deep sleeps pre-figured His own deep sleep of death on the cross. There He became the last Adam and the promised seed, dying to give life to His great bride and living again to establish a holy nation of the redeemed, fulfilling all of God’s ancient covenants, and instituting the eternal New Covenant in His own blood.

When Adam fell into a deep sleep, a bride was born; when Abraham fell into his deep sleep, a nation was born. But when Christ slept deeply in death on the cross and in the tomb, death and hell were judged, and a new world was born. HMM

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March 28, 2020
Mindful of the Words
“That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour.” (2 Peter 3:2)

There has long been a tendency for certain Bible teachers to water down the doctrine of verbal inspiration by arguing that it is the “thoughts” of Scripture that count—not the precise words. They forget that the transmission of specific thoughts requires precise words. Ambiguous language is bound to produce fuzzy thinking and uncertain response.

Thus the apostle Peter, in his last chapter, urged his followers to heed the words written by the Old Testament prophets. And Paul—in his final epistle—stressed that “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2 Timothy 3:16). That is, all the writings are “God-breathed.” The “Scripture,” of course, means the writings, the actual words written down—they are “God-inspired,” not just the concepts.

Similarly John, in his last chapter, warned of the grave danger incurred by anyone who would either “add to” or “take away from,” not just the ideas, but “the words of the book of this prophecy” (Revelation 22:18-19). Actually, “he which testifieth these things” was not just John but the glorified Jesus Himself (see Revelation 22:16, 20).

In fact, Jesus frequently quoted passages from the Old Testament, sometimes basing His entire thrust on a single word (e.g., John 10:34, 37; arguing on the basis of the word “gods” in Psalm 82:6). In that connection, He stressed that “the scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35), referring to the actual words written by Moses and the prophets.

Near the end of His earthly ministry, He made a startling promise: “Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away” (Mark 13:31). Thus the actual words of the Bible have come ultimately from God, and we do well to learn them and make them a part of our lives. HMM

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March 29, 2020
An Early Confession
“And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.” (1 Timothy 3:16)

One of the specific reasons Paul wrote this letter to Timothy is contained in our text. The church is to guard and declare the “mystery of godliness.”

A “mystery” in Scripture is something that was previously hidden but that is now revealed. Here the mystery is the blessed truth that God is in the business of producing godliness in the lives of men and women; in this context, it is through the work of the church (v. 15). This ministry of the church in proclaiming this mystery was augmented by a doctrinal confession, or hymn, which was presented in:

“God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit.” “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:14), and was “declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness” (Romans 1:4). This couplet relates Christ’s human/divine nature. His humanity was evident to all; His divinity was declared through the Spirit.

“Seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles” (or nations). Angels observed, and to some degree participated in, Christ’s earthly ministry, but the salvation and godliness He offered was only to men, “which things the angels desire to look into” (1 Peter 1:12).

“Believed on in the world, received up into glory.” Other teachers have gained a following, but only Christ ascended directly into heaven following His resurrection. Doctrinal confessions or hymns can be an aid in learning and remembering truth, but the goal of each is godliness— “this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you” (Colossians 1:27). JDM

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March 30, 2020
The Sun of Righteousness
“But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.” (Malachi 4:2)

This is the very last of the numerous Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament. After this, there were four centuries of silence from heaven, as far as inspired Scriptures were concerned. Thus this prophecy must have special significance.

The Messiah (“Christ”) is called “the Sun of righteousness” in contrast to “all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly” that “shall burn as an oven” when “the day cometh” (v. 1)—that “great and dreadful day of the LORD” (v. 5), and it “shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts” (v. 1).

The “Sun of righteousness” clearly refers to the coming Savior, for He will come “with healing in his wings.” The sun does not have wings, of course, so many commentators think this word refers to the rays of the sun, with their lifesustaining energy. However, the Hebrew word means “wings,” and nothing else. It is as though the sun is rising rapidly on great wings, dispelling the world’s darkness with its light, dispensing healing to its sin-sick soul.

The “Sun of righteousness,” of course, can be none other than God Himself, for “the Lord God is a sun and shield” who “will give grace and glory” to “them that walk uprightly” (Psalm 84:11). It is the LORD Jesus Christ, the “light of the world” (John 8:12) coming “from heaven with his mighty angels [his ‘wings’?], in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God” (2 Thessalonians 1:7-8).

But “you that fear my name” in that day “shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts,…when I make up my jewels” (Malachi 3:17). In the last prophecy of the Old Testament, Christ is the rising Sun; in the last prophecy of the New Testament (Revelation 22:16), He is “the bright and morning star.” HMM

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