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September 24, 2020
Least in the Kingdom
“Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:19)

The Lord Jesus was evidently speaking here not of the differences between saved and unsaved people but rather of degrees of reward in His future kingdom. The criterion for achieving “greatness” in the future life is simply to believe, teach, and obey the complete Word of God in this life, not just the major doctrines and general principles. Those who undermine any part of God’s Word, either in teaching or practice, will be relegated to “least in the kingdom of heaven.” In the words of the apostle Paul, such a person “shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire” (1 Corinthians 3:15).

Thus, no Scripture is unimportant, for “all scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable” (2 Timothy 3:16). In fact, the verse just previous to our text, providing the basis for the Lord’s warning about breaking even the least commandment, is His remarkable assertion about the verbal inerrancy of Scripture: “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled” (Matthew 5:18).

There are many Christians (especially among intellectuals) who say they believe the Bible but are nevertheless quick to adapt their interpretations of Scripture to the latest speculations of scientists or to current fads of world living. This is insulting to God, who surely can say what He means! “Yea, let God be true, but every man a liar” (Romans 3:4).

If we aspire to greatness in the coming kingdom, then clearly we must believe and teach “all the counsel of God” (Acts 20:27) according to His revealed Word. HMM

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September 25, 2020
Obedience and Righteousness
“For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.” (Romans 5:19)

Certainly the focal point of all history and the climax of Christ’s earthly ministry, was His sacrificial death on the cross. Christ knew from ages past what was in store for Him, and yet He was “obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:8).

However, as we see in our text, Christ’s obedience included more than His death, for He was perfectly obedient throughout His entire life. Indeed, it is a good thing, for any act of disobedience would have invalidated His sacrificial death. Animal sacrifices in the Old Testament (which prefigured the final sacrifice of Christ) had to be “without blemish” (Leviticus 22:19). But even a perfect animal was not enough (Hebrews 10:4) to satisfy God’s justice and take away sins. “Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things.... But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:18-19).

Christ’s obedience, therefore, consisted not only of His obedience in death but in His entire earthly life—from His incarnation, “I come...to do thy will, O God” (Hebrews 10:7)—to His childhood, “[Know] ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?” (Luke 2:49)—to His healing and teaching ministry among the people, “I must work the works of him that sent me” (John 9:4)—to His preparation for death, “nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42).

Now, in His obedience, Christ calls us to a life of similar obedience. “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; and being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him” (Hebrews 5:8-9). JDM

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  September 26, 2020
Guarding the Word
“Thou art my portion, O LORD: I have said that I would keep thy words.” (Psalm 119:57)

Three stanzas within the 22 stanzas of Psalm 119 have all eight Hebrew terms used to describe the Word of God. How appropriate it is that the central theme in these verses (vv. 57- 64) provides us succinct ways to keep (guard) His Word.

Principally, our “whole heart” must be involved in seeking the “favour” of God (v. 58). The “great commandment” (Matthew 22:38) rests on loving God with “all” of our hearts. If we seek God’s blessing, both during our earthly life and in the eternity to come, we can “trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Such a heart thinks (considers, reckons) about the ways of God and turns (turns back, corrects) its “feet unto [His] testimonies” (Psalm 119:59). The godly life is not an unplanned life. The godly life seeks to understand and obey the words of God’s Word. And the godly life makes “haste” and will not delay in keeping His commandments (Psalm 119:60).

Circumstances may cause temporary difficulties in the life of a godly person (Psalm 119:61), but he will not forget the laws of God. Rather, he will rise at “midnight” (the deepest time of trouble) to give thanks to our Lord “because of thy righteous judgments” (Psalm 119:62).

The one who wants to guard the Word of God is a companion of those who fear God and keep the precepts of the Word (Psalm 119:63). The godly heart sees the mercy of the Lord everywhere and longs for the “Creator of the ends of the earth” (Isaiah 40:28) to teach it the eternal statutes of His Word (Psalm 119:64). May “such an heart” (Deuteronomy 5:29) be ours as we seek to serve Him. HMM III
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  September 27, 2020
The Discerner
“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)

The Word of God (both the written Word and the living Word, Jesus Christ) is “living and energizing” and is the double-edged sword of the Spirit, piercing into the deepest recesses of body, soul, and spirit, where it “discerns” even the very thoughts and intents of our hearts.

This discernment, however, is more than just understanding or insight. The Greek word for “discerner” is kritikos and is used only this one time in the Bible. Our word “critic” is derived from it, and this is an important dimension of its meaning. Its discernment is a critical, judging discernment—one that convicts and corrects, as well as one that understands.

It is paradoxical that people today presume to become critics of the Bible when it should really be the other way around. There are textual critics who sort through the various ancient manuscripts of the Bible, trying to arrive at the original text; there are the “higher critics” who critique vocabularies and concepts, trying to show that the traditional authors did not actually write the books attributed to them; and then there are many other purely destructive critics who criticize the Bible’s miracles, morals, and everything else, hoping thereby to justify their rebellion against the Word.

But the Bible still stands! It stands in judgment on our lives and our subconscious motives. It will have the final word when “the books [are] opened...and the dead [are] judged out of those things which were written in the books” (Revelation 20:12). It is far better to heed the constructive criticism of the Word now than to hear its condemnation later. HMM
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  September 28, 2020
Receiving from the Word
“Thou hast dealt well with thy servant, O LORD, according unto thy word.” (Psalm 119:65)

The good that comes from the hand of the Lord is “according unto thy word,” a common phrase in Psalm 119 that occurs in 11 of the 22 stanzas.

Interestingly, the psalmist twice emphasizes that it was important for him to be “afflicted” before he learned something of the gracious provision of the Lord (Psalm 119:67, 71). The Hebrew word anah is used widely in the Bible, the most famous passage prophesying about the sacrificial death of the Lord Jesus: “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted” (Isaiah 53:4).

Although affliction does not necessarily come because of personal disobedience (even though that surely happens among us), often the Lord uses an occasion to drive home a concept of holiness or obedience (according to His Word) that will bring His favor or, more properly, bring us in line with His Word so that we may experience the “peaceable fruit of righteousness” (Hebrews 12:11).

Three times the psalmist asked his Lord to teach him or let him learn from the Word about the eternal principles of righteousness (119:66, 68, 71). Three times he insisted that he will keep and delight in the holy laws and principles of which he is aware (119:67, 69, 70).

The core theme of this simple message focuses on the passionate commitment of the psalmist to learn and obey the Word of God. No past history can negate God’s faithfulness. No present difficult circumstances can thwart God’s promises. Thus, “the law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver” (Psalm 119:72). HMM III
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September 29, 2020
Lovers of Self
“For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy.” (2 Timothy 3:2)

One of the dangerous teachings of the “New Age” movement that has spilled over into modern evangelicalism is the notion of “self-love.” Many psychologists—even Christian professional counselors—are attributing society’s ills, especially among young people, to the supposed lack of a “positive self-image” or “self-esteem” on the part of those exhibiting antisocial behavior. What they need, we are told, is to learn to love themselves more, to appreciate their own self-worth. The problem with this idea is that it is both unscriptural and unrealistic. People do not hate themselves. The Bible says that “no man ever yet hated his own flesh” (Ephesians 5:29).

Instead of learning to esteem ourselves, the Scripture commands us each to “esteem other better than themselves” (Philippians 2:3). Even the apostle Paul, near the end of his life, considered himself so unworthy that he called himself the chief of sinners (see 1 Timothy 1:15).

We are told by some Christian leaders that the measure of our great value in the sight of God is the fact that Christ paid such a high price—His own death—to redeem us. The fact is, however, that His death is not the measure of our great value but of our terrible sinfulness. “Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6).

In fact, as in our text, the rise of this self-love idea is itself a sign of the last days, when people shall be “lovers of their own selves.” It is the main characteristic of New Age humanism, which is based squarely upon evolutionary pantheism.

Christ died for our sins because He loved us, not because He needed us. We should live for Him in thanksgiving for the “amazing grace, that saved a wretch like me!” HMM

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  September 30, 2020
Understanding Through the Word
“Thy hands have made me and fashioned me: give me understanding, that I may learn thy commandments.” (Psalm 119:73)

Understanding the Word of God begins with seeing God as the Creator of all things (Colossians 1:16-17). The beginning of faith rests solidly on belief in the creation (Hebrews 11:3), and even the “everlasting gospel” embraces the conscious worship of the Creator (Revelation 14:6-7). “I am the LORD, and there is none else….Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker!” (Isaiah 45:5, 9).

Scholars who distort Scripture to compromise with the atheistic naturalism of evolutionary science wind up “ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7). May God rebuke them.

The theme of this stanza (Psalm 119:73-80) weaves a series of requests around various examples of need centered around the psalmist’s leadership position. “They that fear thee will be glad when they see me; because I have hoped in thy word” (v. 74). “Let those that fear thee turn unto me, and those that have known thy testimonies” (v. 79).

Though he recognized that the Lord “afflicted” him in the past (v. 75), the psalmist also expected the Lord to bring him mercies and comfort, for the law of God was his delight (v. 77). We might view this godly leader as “set for the defence of the gospel” (Philippians 1:17) and “ready always to give an answer” (1 Peter 3:15).

In summary, the last verse of this stanza reads: “Let my heart be sound in thy statutes; that I be not ashamed” (Psalm 119:80). Would God that our hearts be driven to this level of boldness in our witness while resting in the absolute authority, integrity, and accuracy of the infallible writings of the Creator God for our salvation (2 Timothy 3:16). HMM III
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  October 1, 2020
Sufferings
“For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps.” (1 Peter 2:21)

Peter’s first epistle, written during a time of bitter persecution, deals with the matter of suffering. Peter reminds us that Christ suffered for us and that it is a privilege to suffer for Him. We are “called” to suffering and should “think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try” us (4:12).

Christ’s suffering was foretold (1:11), as is ours. We see that He had patience, humility, and submission in His sufferings (2:23) in order to bear “our sins in his own body on the tree” (2:24). He suffered unjustly, “the just for the unjust” (3:18), not only in His spirit, but “Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh” (4:1), being witnessed personally by Peter (5:1).

Since we are likewise “called” to suffer, Peter explains that we also will be “suffering wrongfully” (2:19) even “when ye do well” (v. 20). We will “suffer for righteousness’ sake” (3:14) and “for well doing” (v. 17). To avoid being taken by surprise, we are to prepare ourselves to suffer “in the flesh” (4:1), if need be. We will “be reproached for the name of Christ” (4:14) and should “not be ashamed” if we “suffer as a Christian” (4:16). It is much better to suffer in such a way than to have done something evil to deserve it (v. 15).

Suffering while following Christ’s example is “acceptable with God” (2:20), and even makes us “happy” (3:14; 4:14). Through it we can “glorify God on this behalf” (4:16) because it is “according to the will of God” (4:19). There is even a magnificent reward awaiting the sufferer (5:10).

In view of all of this, there is little wonder that Peter says, “Rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy” (4:13). JDM
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  October 2, 2020
Longing for the Word
“My soul fainteth for thy salvation: but I hope in thy word. Mine eyes fail for thy word, saying, When wilt thou comfort me?” (Psalm 119:81-82)

Those who “love the LORD” with all their heart, soul, and might (Deuteronomy 6:5) and those who seek the kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33) deeply long to “understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God” (Proverbs 2:5).

Yet in spite of such longing, the saints of God are often perplexed by the apparent success of the wicked. This psalmist is no exception:
  • “When wilt thou comfort me?” (Psalm 119:82).
  • “I am become like a bottle in the smoke” (v. 83).
  • “When wilt thou execute judgment on them that persecute me?” (v. 84).
  • “The proud have digged pits for me” (v. 85).
  • “They persecute me wrongfully” (v. 86).
  • “They had almost consumed me upon the earth” (v. 87).
Among all the heartfelt complaints, however, is the continual reliance on the promises and principles of God’s Word. The psalmist promised not to forget the statutes, though he felt invisible to God (v. 83). And though he knew that his days are not guaranteed, he expected God to judge the wicked (v. 84). He knew the “commandments are faithful,” and he promised the Lord that he would not forsake the precepts (vv. 86-87).

The final request should be ours as well: “Quicken me [enliven, revive] after thy lovingkindness” (v. 88). Even though God “hast shewed me great and sore troubles,” the confidence is that God “shalt quicken me again” (Psalm 71:20). On the basis of that assurance, our response should be like this godly man’s: “So shall I keep the testimony of thy mouth” (Psalm 119:88). HMM III
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October 3, 2020
Certain Hope
“Who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil.” (Hebrews 6:18-19)

The noun “hope,” when used in the New Testament, does not imply a wishful attitude but rather a joyous and confident expectation in something promised that will certainly come to pass—in most cases, something good. Note especially the few times it is used with a descriptive adjective.

First, in a stirring benediction, Paul tells us that our good hope comes from both “our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father” (2 Thessalonians 2:16). Furthermore, such hope is given to us along with “everlasting consolation,” or comfort, that shall last forever. The Father and Son have done this “through grace” that brings eternal salvation.

Next, we are taught to be “looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). This blessed hope can be none other than “our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope” (1 Timothy 1:1). He will certainly return, and this return will be glorious.

Furthermore, we have a hope that is actively alive. “The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3). We have been (past tense) born again from the dead just as surely as Christ has been raised from the dead, for His resurrection accomplished it.

Our hope, under grace, is guaranteed by Jesus Christ: “A better hope...by the which we draw nigh unto God” (Hebrews 7:19) than that which was possible under law. In fact, it is a glorious hope (2 Corinthians 3:11-12) by comparison. This kind of hope can be “an anchor of the soul.” JDM

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October 4, 2020
The Bible Stands!
“Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever.” (Psalm 119:160)

Very few books survive very long. Only a few survive past the first printing, and science books especially get out of date in just a few years.

But one book is eternal! The Bible stands! Even its most ancient chapters are still accurate and up to date. Furthermore, despite all the vicious attacks of both ancient pagans and modern humanists, it will continue to endure. Jesus said: “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (Matthew 24:35; Mark 13:31; Luke 21:33). Even after everything else dies and all the bombastic tirades of skeptics and secularists are long forgotten, the Word endures. “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever” (Isaiah 40:8).

Note the oft-repeated testimony to this same effect in Psalm 119. In addition to the comprehensive promise of today’s text, this great “psalm of the word” also contains these affirmations: “For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven....Thy testimonies have I taken as an heritage for ever: for they are the rejoicing of my heart....The righteousness of thy testimonies is everlasting:...Concerning thy testimonies, I have known of old that thou hast founded them for ever” (Psalm 119:89, 111, 144, 152). Founded forever, inherited forever, settled forever, lasting forever! God is eternal, and His Word was true from the beginning.

People may, in these last days, arrogantly think they can “take away from the words of the book of this prophecy” (Revelation 22:19), but such presumption will only “take away [their] part out of the book of life,” and the Bible will still stand. “The word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you” (1 Peter 1:25). HMM

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October 5, 2020
Lessons from Colossians
“To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Colossians 1:2)

Paul’s letter to the church in Colossae is especially instructive to those who would seek a close relationship with the Lord Jesus.

Chapter 1 provides a breathtaking summary of the purpose for which we are saved and the eternal changes that take place at salvation: “And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight” (Colossians 1:21-22).

Chapter 2 provides clear warnings about the spiritual battle that is taking place and precise insights on gaining victory over the world: “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving” (Colossians 2:6-7).

Chapter 3 insists that our responsibility is to take advantage of what has been provided by Christ and to live as Christ-ians: “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:1-2).

Chapter 4 gives practical instructions for our day-to-day relationships through the lives of the godly people who worked with Paul: “Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man” (Colossians 4:5-6). HMM III

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October 6, 2020
Filled with the Knowledge of His Will
“For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.” (Colossians 1:9)

Paul has chosen a particular word, pleroo, to describe an action that “fills to the top” so that the knowledge about which he prays has no more space to fill. While speaking to his friends in Rome, Paul said that he was “persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another” (Romans15:14).

This includes the kind of knowledge (Greek epignosis) of God’s will that stresses precise and complete understanding of that will for our lives. “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness.... that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature.” These “things” (the knowledge, the precious promises) enable us to escape “the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Peter 1:3-4).

This magnificent and complete knowledge of His will includes the wisdom (Greek sophia) to use the knowledge acquired by experience. And even that grace God made to abound “toward us in all wisdom and prudence” (Ephesians 1:8), which, since it comes from God, is “first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy” (James 3:17).

The wonderful knowledge and wisdom that God has provided for us includes a spiritual understanding (Greek pneumatikos sunesis), an ability to put complicated matters together with the “mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16). Indeed, “he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man” (1 Corinthians 2:15). “Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things” (2 Timothy 2:7). HMM III

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October 7, 2020
Fruitful in Every Good Work
“That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God.” (Colossians 1:10)

There are many admonitions in Scripture insisting that the child of God maintain a lifestyle that reflects the holy character of the Savior.

The unique phrase “walk worthy” appears only three times in the New Testament: once in our text today; once in Ephesians 4:1, where we are asked to “walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called”; and once in 1 Thessalonians 2:12, where we are admonished to “walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory.”

Paul’s admonition to the church at Colossae was to live in such a way that everything would be “all pleasing” to our Lord. The Galatian church was struggling with members who were trying to keep the “old” Jewish law. Paul argued, “Do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10). Paul insisted to the Thessalonians, “As we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts” (1 Thessalonians 2:4).

Since we are to “walk worthy,” we are to be “fruitful in every good work.” Indeed, “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).

None of this should be a surprise. When God drew us to Himself (John 6:44), brought the necessary conviction of our sin, Christ’s righteousness, and the judgment to come (John 16:7-8), what was “dead in trespasses and sin” (Ephesians 2:1) had to become a “new creature” (2 Corinthians 5:17), “created in righteousness and true holiness” (Ephesians 4:24). That “new man” is then empowered to “walk worthy.” HMM III

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October 8, 2020
Qualified to Inherit
“Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.” (Colossians 1:11-12)

Having been “made strong with all strength” through “his glorious power,” we are then enabled to complete the assignment that God has granted to us on Earth.

The power of God “is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20). The same power displayed when God raised Jesus “from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 1:20) is more often needed on Earth for “patience and longsuffering with joyfulness.” The word for “patience” in this text describes a quality of temper that does not easily succumb under suffering. That emphasis is not merely a contextual byproduct. Much of the godly life demands a temperament that opposes cowardice or despondence. We should “glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope” (Romans 5:3-4).

Many of our brothers and sisters in history suffered beyond human endurance, ultimately giving their lives for the Kingdom of God. “But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it” (Romans 8:25). Therein lies the longsuffering that does not hastily retaliate after a wrong. This temperament opposes wrath and revenge.

These godly traits, earned and experienced only while on Earth, reveal us to be “partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.” Now, we are “kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:5). Later, He will present us “faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy” (Jude 1:24). HMM III

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October 9, 2020
Delivered, Translated, Forgiven
“Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.” (Colossians 1:13-14)

The central message of the gospel lies in Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection. There is much more, of course, to our salvation. The immediate result is described in the two short verses of our text.

We have been delivered “from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God” (Acts 26:18). We have been delivered “from unreasonable and wicked men” (2 Thessalonians 3:2) and “from every evil work,” and are preserved “unto his heavenly kingdom” (2 Timothy 4:18). Ultimately, we have been delivered “from the wrath to come” (1 Thessalonians 1:10).

We have also been “translated” into the eternal kingdom of the Lord Jesus. We will “not come into condemnation” but have been turned “from death unto life” (John 5:24). Our life prior to salvation was darkness, but we have been made “light in the Lord” (Ephesians 5:8). No longer are we aliens outside of God’s family, but we have been “accepted in the beloved” (Ephesians 1:6).

Furthermore, all of our sins have been forgiven, and we are “justified freely by his grace” (Romans 3:24). That forgiveness and justification seal us “unto the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30). And since this is an eternal transaction brought about by a transcendent Creator, we have been raised “up together, and made [to] sit together in heavenly places” (Ephesians 2:6). Already we have the “earnest of our inheritance” (Ephesians 1:14) and the assurance that we will “obtain a better resurrection” (Hebrews 11:35).

In this life, we may struggle with human rejection. David’s comment seems appropriate: “I am as a wonder unto many; but thou art my strong refuge” (Psalm 71:7). HMM III

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  October 10, 2020
The Great Physician
“But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.” (Matthew 9:12)

It almost goes without saying that a person who is seriously ill would do anything to regain health. But the sad fact is, few people really pay attention to their health until they are threatened with its loss.

On the other hand, testimonies without number have been chronicled that relate an individual’s refusal to acknowledge the claims of Christ until he or she had been stricken with personal problems or physical illness. “You’ve got to be on your back before you will look up,” so the saying goes. But what does the Great Physician have to offer the one whose health seems to be strong from an outward perspective?

Instead of being well, however, the Bible says that everyone is born into this world with a dreadful disease in our souls called sin. “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), “and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death” (James 1:15). The sin disease is most tragic when we do not feel it and do not know we have it. “Because thou sayest, I... have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17). Jesus Christ is the only One who can heal us: “Neither is there salvation in any other” (Acts 4:12). And just as He never sent anyone away who came to Him on Earth for physical healing (Matthew 12:15), so “him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37) when he comes seeking salvation.

Certainly one of the most important steps in this process of being healed of our sin sickness is recognizing our desperate need for healing. When we say, “Be merciful unto me: heal my soul; for I have sinned against thee” (Psalm 41:4), He will respond with forgiveness, grace, and healing. JDM
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October 11, 2020
Line upon Line
“The word of the LORD was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little; that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken.” (Isaiah 28:13)

This familiar passage (repeated mostly from Isaiah 28:10 just before it) is often cited in support of a detailed, verse-by-verse method of Bible study and exposition. However, the context is one of rebuke to the people of Ephraim (that is, the Northern Kingdom of Israel) in the days of the divided kingdom. Isaiah especially castigates the priests and prophets who should have been teaching God’s Word to the people but who had instead become proud and then drunkards, leaving the people in great ignorance and spiritual confusion.

Therefore, cried Isaiah: “Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts” (v. 9). Before they can really grow in the knowledge of God, they must be built up carefully, line upon line, for they are yet carnal babes in spiritual matters.

A very similar rebuke was administered to the early Christians and would be even more appropriate today: “For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskillful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age” (Hebrews 5:12-14).

Such an admonition is greatly needed today, when Christian believers subsist almost entirely on spiritual milk—or even worse, on the froth that passes for evangelical literature in most Sunday schools and Christian bookstores today. We need to get back to the strong meat of the Word, lest we “fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken.” HMM

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October 12, 2020
The God Who Provides
“Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.” (Romans 15:13)

God’s provisions for the believer include far more than physical necessities. These are indicated by seven beautiful titles ascribed to Him in the New Testament.

The God of love: First of all, we need love, and “God is love” (1 John 4:8). Then “the fruit of the Spirit is love” in our lives (Galatians 5:22) because He Himself is “the God of love and peace” (2 Corinthians 13:11).

The God of all grace: God saves us by His grace, and then we need to “grow in grace” (2 Peter 3:18). This we can do because “the God of all grace...hath called us unto his eternal glory” (1 Peter 5:10).

The God of peace: He satisfies the need for peace in the believer’s soul, and He’s called “the God of peace” five times in the New Testament (Romans 15:33; 16:20; Philippians 4:9; 1 Thessalonians 5:23; Hebrews 13:20).

The God of all comfort: Our God is called “the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort,” because He “comforteth us in all our tribulation,” enabling us to provide comfort to others “by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).

The God of patience: We “have need of patience” (Hebrews 10:36), and this need also is supplied by “the God of patience and consolation” (Romans 15:5).

The God of glory: It was “the God of glory” who first called Abraham (Acts 7:2), and through the Word we also “are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

The God of hope: By His Spirit He fills us with joy and peace, with power, and abundant hope—blessing us “with all spiritual blessings...in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3). HMM

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October 13, 2020
Creator of All Things
“For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him.” (Colossians 1:16)

The phrase “all things” is used throughout these verses to emphasize that everything has been brought into existence by the “dear Son” (Colossians 1:13, 16-20).

  • All things were created through Him and for Him.
  • All things consist (stand together) in Him.
  • All things will give preeminence to Him.
  • All things reside in His fullness.
  • All things will be reconciled to Him.

The list of created things in verse 16 is exhaustive: heaven, Earth, visible and invisible things, and the rulers in and of the universe—thrones, dominions, principalities, powers. Jesus Christ is “far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come” (Ephesians 1:21).

The Creator existed before all things and now “approves” all things. Solomon understood this as he spoke of wisdom: “The LORD possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was” (Proverbs 8:22-23), just as He chose us “before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4).

When the Lord Jesus revealed Himself to John, He said, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty” (Revelation 1:8). These grand sweeps of eternity are anchors for our faith. But we must not lose sight that “the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word [the word of the Creator] are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men” (2 Peter 3:7). HMM III

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October 14, 2020
Head of the Church
“And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.” (Colossians 1:18)

The “head” is both “chief” and “source.” When the Lord Jesus had accomplished the work of reconciliation on Earth, God the Father “put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all” (Ephesians 1:22-23).

The church, of course, is the assembly of the Redeemer, constituted and commissioned to do “the work of the ministry,” operating on Earth under delegated leaders (Ephesians 4:11-12). Even though the human focus is the making of disciples (Matthew 28:19-20), there is a constant gallery of “principalities and powers in heavenly places” who need the display of “the manifold wisdom of God” that is only made “known by the church” (Ephesians 3:10).

Although there is a sense in which all of God’s twice-born are spiritually part of a “body” that is “knit together” by the Holy Spirit (Colossians 2:19), our participation is realized in the localized assemblies throughout the earth. One day the entire church will be completely assembled in heaven, a “general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven” (Hebrews 12:23).

Therefore, the head of the Church is preeminent and has all fullness, being the firstborn from the dead. He is “far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come” (Ephesians 1:21). The mission of the Church, commissioned over two millennia ago, embraces an ageless goal. Ultimately, He will “present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing” (Ephesians 5:27). HMM III

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  October 15, 2020
Reconciled
“And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight.” (Colossians 1:21-22)

The reconciliation act abolishes one condition and establishes another. We were “aliens...from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12) with our “understanding darkened” and ignorance due to a blindness of our heart (Ephesians 4:18). We were enemies whose “friendship of the world” made us at “enmity with God” (James 4:4).

We are reconciled now. “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6). Indeed, we are also “saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement” (Romans 5:10-11) and are to be presented as a “chaste virgin to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:2). Both individually and collectively, we are “being built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood” (1 Peter 2:5) who will “shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1 Peter 2:9).

We can be absolutely sure that once we are reconciled, our alien state abolished and our adoption secured, our Lord Jesus remains the “merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people” (Hebrews 2:17). Reconciliation ensures that the Lord Jesus Himself will “stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints” (1 Thessalonians 3:13).

“Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Psalm 16:11). HMM III
 
 
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  October 16, 2020
Continue in the Faith
“If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel.” (Colossians 1:23)

In the New Testament, the use of the definite article “the” always modifies the noun that follows. In this case, “the faith” insists on a particular body of doctrine that defines the Christian life. For instance, as Paul and Barnabas were returning from their initial missionary effort, they went back to each area “confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith” (Acts 14:22).

There are nearly 50 occurrences in the New Testament where “the faith” is used in this way. These references always speak of obedience to specific teachings that embrace the core of the godly lifestyle that represents holiness and the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). Thus, one who is “grounded and settled” in the faith will be both knowledgeable and stable in his Christian testimony and ministry.

It is necessary, of course, to build on the foundation of the Lord Jesus (1 Corinthians 3:11), but only the “gold, silver, precious stones” have any lasting value (1 Corinthians 3:12- 15)—hence the requirement in Jude: “It was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 1:3).

Furthermore, those who continue in the faith will not be “moved away from the hope of the gospel.” That hope acts as “an anchor of the soul” (Hebrews 6:19) and is the drive that motivates us to maintain a purity of lifestyle (1 John 3:3). “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58). HMM III
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October 17, 2020
Watchful Sobriety
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)

Several words are used in Scripture to imply spiritual watchfulness, and each has a slightly different meaning. Only as we compare and combine these words do we get the full force of the Scripture exhortations to watchfulness.

One such word is the Greek word agrupneo, translated “watch.” In Mark 13:33 we read, “Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.” The word literally means to be sleepless and comes from two Greek words meaning “to chase” and “sleep.” It implies a purposeful and active state of awareness.

More commonly used is gregoreo. It is a stronger word, meaning to arouse oneself and shake off lethargy, implying activity as on the part of one who is fully awake. “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith” (1 Corinthians 16:13), and “continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving” (Colossians 4:2). “Watch ye, therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh” (Mark 13:35).

A third word is nepho, which literally means to abstain from drink that would produce stupor, as well as sleep, and therefore conveys the additional idea of sobriety. By combining the teaching of these three words, we are instructed not only to keep awake but to keep active and to avoid the intoxication of this world’s seductive pleasures.

In our text, we see that we are not only to be sober (nepho) and vigilant (gregoreo), but we also see the reason why. Our “adversary the devil” is a vicious opponent. He stalks us both day and night with brutal cunning. We dare not underestimate him by figuratively closing our eyes in sleep or dulling our senses with intoxicants. “Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober” (1 Peter 1:13). JDM

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October 18, 2020
The Wisdom Mine
“Whence then cometh wisdom? and where is the place of understanding?” (Job 28:20)

In one of his monologues, the patriarch Job compares his search for spiritual understanding to human explorations for metals and precious stones. “There is a vein for the silver,” he said, “and a place for gold....Iron is taken out of the earth, and brass is molten out of the stone” (vv. 1-2).

These all are easier to find than true wisdom. “It cannot be valued with the gold of Ophir, with the precious onyx, or the sapphire. The gold and the crystal cannot equal it: and the exchange of it shall not be for jewels of fine gold. No mention shall be made of coral, or of pearls: for the price of wisdom is above rubies. The topaz of Ethiopia shall not equal it, neither shall it be valued with pure gold” (vv. 16-19).

Neither have animals discovered it. “The fierce lion passed by it....it is hid from the eyes of all living, and kept close from the fowls of the air” (vv. 8, 21). “The depth saith, It is not in me: and the sea saith, It is not with me” (v. 14).

“But where shall wisdom be found? and where is the place of understanding?” (v. 12). Job is driven to ask: “Where must one go to find and mine the vein of true wisdom?”

It is certainly “not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought” (1 Corinthians 2:6). The mine of evolutionary humanism that dominates modern education and scholarship will yield only the fool’s gold of “science falsely so called” (1 Timothy 6:20).

Job found true wisdom only through God, and so must we, for only “God understandeth the way thereof...unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the LORD, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding” (Job 28:23, 28). The Lord Jesus Christ is the ever-productive mine “in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3). HMM

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