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  January 28, 2021
Thou Hast Made Me Glad
“For thou, LORD, hast made me glad through thy work: I will triumph in the works of thy hands.” (Psalm 92:4)

“It is a good thing to give thanks unto the LORD, and to sing praises unto thy name, O Most High” (Psalm 92:1). So begins this “Song for the Sabbath day” (heading), the psalmist extolling the virtues of praising God both day and night (v. 2). The true believer, with a proper understanding of God’s majesty, can see, in every situation, His lovingkindness and faithfulness. There is no better way to begin and end the day than to rehearse manifestations of His loving control over each event and circumstance and express confidence in His ability to handle new situations. “O LORD, how great are thy works! and thy thoughts are very deep” (v. 5).

Vexation over the seeming prosperity of the enemies of God is understandable, but we must rest in the fact that God will act justly at the proper time, when it best suits His purpose. “The wicked...shall be destroyed for ever: But thou, LORD, art most high for evermore. For, lo, thine enemies, O LORD,...shall perish; all the workers of iniquity shall be scattered” (vv. 7-9).

Conversely, the righteous will ultimately flourish. Whether in this lifetime or in the next, God’s justice will prevail. “Those that be planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God” (v. 13).

The claim of ultimate victory must not be considered as vague, insufficient, and improbable, as skeptics have always claimed. The reputation of God Himself is on the line. He will not allow His name to be tarnished. He must act “to shew that the LORD is upright: he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him” (v. 15). As in our text, we can even now be “glad” and “triumph” in His works, whether we see them in this life or in the life to come. “O LORD, how great are thy works! and thy thoughts are very deep” (v. 5). JDM
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  January 29, 2021
Children in Heaven
“And [David] said, While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept: for I said, Who can tell whether GOD will be gracious to me, that the child may live? But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.” (2 Samuel 12:22-23)

The death of a loved one is always a time of great sorrow, but the death of a beloved child is perhaps the keenest sorrow of all. Nevertheless, for the Christian believer, we “sorrow not, even as others which have no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13).

Our text verse makes it clear that when a child dies (even one born of a sinful relationship such as this child of David and Bathsheba), that child goes to be with the Lord in heaven. Jesus said: “Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:14).

Heaven is thus a place where there are many “little children.” Their inherited sin-nature never yet had generated acts of willful sin, and their Maker is Himself “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29), so they are safe in Him. Although there are few specific Scriptures on this subject, what we do know, both from the love of God and the Word of God, suggests that the souls of all deceased little children are with the Lord in heaven, but also those who died in early childhood (and even before birth) from every time and place since the world began. There they, along with all those who were saved by personal faith in Christ and are now awaiting the resurrection, will receive new bodies when Christ returns to Earth. The old and lame will be young and strong again, and the children will grow to perfect maturity, for all will become “like him” (1 John 3:2). “God shall wipe away all tears” (Revelation 21:4), and all will say: “As for God, his way is perfect” (Psalm 18:30). HMM
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January 30, 2021
Treasure in Heaven
“Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth.” (Luke 12:33)

The Lord Jesus frequently warned us against trying to accumulate wealth here on Earth. “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth,” He said. Rather, “lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven” (Matthew 6:19-20). In our text above, He even says to sell what we have and give it away. To the rich young ruler, He said: “If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven” (Matthew 19:21).

God’s Word cannot contradict itself, however, so this teaching must also be balanced against a man’s responsibility to “provide...for his own, and specially for those of his own house” (1 Timothy 5:8). Similarly, “the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children” (2 Corinthians 12:14).

We are also encouraged to “give to him that needeth” (Ephesians 4:28) and to sow “bountifully” as “a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:6-7). Such instructions imply that by faithful labor in the vocations God has given us, we shall have the wherewithal to do such things. Ananias and Sapphira were punished not for retaining part of their possessions for their own needs, but rather because they lied about it (Acts 5:1-10). Our giving should be done “with simplicity”—that is, with “singleness” of heart (Romans 12:8).

All we have is of the Lord and should be used in ways that honor Him, in accord with His Word and His providential leading. We should provide judiciously for the needs of those dependent on us, but our own personal needs and wants should be kept minimal so that more can be used in His service and to meet the needs of others. HMM

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  January 31, 2021
Outward Appearances
“But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)

Man does, indeed, look on the outward appearance rather than inward convictions. This has always been true, but never more so than in these latter days, even among evangelical Christians.

There is very little emphasis in the Bible on such things, however. As far as dress and adornment are concerned, Paul said: “I will therefore that....women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works” (1 Timothy 2:8-10). The same principle surely would apply also to men.

With respect to physical conditioning and development, the following is almost the only reference in the Bible: “Bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things” (1 Timothy 4:8). The apostle Paul himself (probably the most effective and fruitful Christian of all) was a man of most unimpressive appearance (2 Corinthians 10:10). “I was with you in weakness,” he reminded them, but nevertheless it was “in demonstration of the Spirit and of power” (1 Corinthians 2:3-4).

There is nothing wrong, of course, with physical beauty or athletic prowess, unless they center attention on self rather than Christ, but it is the “inner man” of the heart where true strength and beauty should be sought. Therefore, as Jesus said: “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment” (John 7:24). The Lord looks on the heart, and so should we. HMM
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February 1, 2021
The Wonderful Angel
“And the angel of the LORD said unto him, Why askest thou thus after my name, seeing it is secret?” (Judges 13:18)

This intriguing encounter occurred during one of Israel’s periods of apostasy and servitude, when the people had been ruled for 40 years by the pagan Philistines. There was one godly couple in the tribe of Dan, however, who evidently had long been praying for a son, and God finally answered their prayers. “The angel of the LORD” came to give the good news to Manoah and his wife. The remarkable son who was to come was mighty Samson, who later would free his people.

But it is the Angel Himself who is most intriguing here. His name was “Secret,” meaning “too marvelous even to comprehend.” The same word is translated “Wonderful” in Isaiah 9:6, where it is cited as a name of the coming divine Son, whose name would also be “mighty God” and “everlasting Father.”

This “angel of the LORD” was thus none other than God the Son in one of His rare pre-incarnate appearances, or theophanies, when the invisible God manifested Himself visibly to man. There are many created angels (Hebrews 12:22), or “messengers,” of God, but on certain occasions, this One who is called “the angel of the LORD” (also “the angel of his presence,” as in Isaiah 63:9, and “the Angel which redeemed me,” as in Genesis 48:16), is clearly none other than God Himself. In such cases, it could only have been the pre-incarnate Christ, for the Bible says: “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him” (John 1:18).

God had already revealed Himself in this way to great men of God, and now even to an unknown couple. Eventually this Angel, whose name is Wonderful, “was made flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:14), and will one day dwell with His people forever (Revelation 21:3). HMM

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  February 2, 2021
Prophets from the Beginning
“That the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation; From the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias which perished between the altar and the temple: verily I say unto you, It shall be required of this generation.” (Luke 11:50-51)

God’s true prophets have been persecuted from the beginning. Abel, son of Adam and Eve, was the first, according to Jesus, for his blood was shed by Cain “from the foundation of the world.” A “prophet” in biblical terms was a man who proclaimed inspired words from God (not necessarily predictions of the future, but words inspired by the Holy Spirit—note 1 Peter 1:10-11; 2 Peter 1:19-21).

Evidently Abel was speaking God’s own words to Cain when the latter slew him in jealous wrath. The Zacharias mentioned is probably “Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest,” who was stoned when he prophesied against the people under King Joash (2 Chronicles 24:20-22), for he was the last prophet actually mentioned in the Old Testament as having been slain for his testimony.

Thus, the period encompassed by the Lord’s statement was the entire Old Testament period, “from the foundation of the world” to the coming of Christ. The same experience awaited most of the prophets used by God to pen the New Testament Scriptures. Thus does the world react to God’s inspired Word!

There is another important truth in this passage. The blood of God’s prophets began to be shed “from the foundation of the world,” not just beginning almost five billion years after the foundation of the world, as modern evolutionists allege! This is striking confirmation that the world was made from start to finish in six literal days. See also Mark 10:6, Acts 3:21, etc., for similar incidental confirmations of this truth. HMM
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  February 3, 2021
The Awesome Word
“Princes have persecuted me without a cause: but my heart standeth in awe of thy word.” (Psalm 119:161)

This stanza of Psalm 119 is rich in descriptions of the way God’s Word envelops the believer in awe and wonder. This initial focus is of the heart rather than the mind. Our minds are key to growth and maturity in Christ (Romans 12:1-2), but the heart must be engaged in our relationship with our heavenly Father (Luke 10:27).

The psalmist rejoiced in the Word of God “as one that findeth great spoil” (Psalm 119:162). Peter taught that the Word “liveth and abideth for ever” (1 Peter 1:23). It is far more than written text; it is the very God-breathed words by which the Lord Jesus will ultimately judge the world (John 12:48).

Love for the Word of God can cause the godly to “hate and abhor lying” (Psalm 119:163) and begin to recognize the way that God exercises His “righteous judgments” (v. 164) on those who dare to flaunt their wickedness. Nothing, the psalmist noted, “shall offend them” (v. 165). That mature perception brings praise “seven times a day” (v. 164). It also brings “great peace” (v. 165), the “peace of God, which passeth all understanding” (Philippians 4:7).

Reveling in the wonder and awe of the Scriptures brings a stable “[hope] for [our] salvation” (Psalm 119:166), which in turn produces an open obedience to the commandments of God and a “soul” commitment to guard the Word (v. 167). This godly lifestyle is assured by those who understand that “all [our] ways are before thee” (v. 168). “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). HMM III
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February 4, 2021
Prophecy
“I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.” (Deuteronomy 18:18)

Two types of prophecy must be distinguished. When a prophet foretells or predicts, he represents the future in light of the present. But frequently the prophetic message consisted of rebuking, reproving, counseling, or admonishing, i.e., forth-telling rather than foretelling. As such, he portrays the present in light of the future.

It is the predictive type of prophecy that provides such a strong argument for rational faith. Neither human intuition about the future nor limited Satanic control of the future can account for the hundreds of specific biblical prophecies that have been literally and specifically fulfilled. These could only come by divine revelation from the One who both knows and controls the future.

Actually, predictive prophecy provides a double defense: Not only does it prove the divine origin, inspiration, and authority of Scripture, but since over half of the prophecies converge on the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ, it advocates His deity and Messiahship. One could hardly read Isaiah 52:13–53:12 or Psalm 22 without recognizing that these are prophetic portraits of Christ on the cross. Others, equally specific, deal with other aspects of His life and ministry.

Still others predict the coming Kingdom to be set up by Christ, in which we as believers will have a part. Having seen so many prophecies literally fulfilled, we can have complete confidence that these others will come to pass as well. “We shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure” (1 John 3:2-3). JDM

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February 5, 2021
The Worldwide Flood
“And I will establish my covenant with you, neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth.” (Genesis 9:11)

Those Christians who accept the concept of the “geological ages” commonly have to explain away the great deluge by assuming it was not really a global flood. They realize that any flood that would rise until “all the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered” and in which “every living substance was destroyed which was upon the face of the ground” (Genesis 7:19, 23) would undoubtedly eliminate any evidence of the supposed geological ages. Therefore, they have suggested modifying the Bible record to mean an overflow of the Euphrates River or some such phenomenon that would destroy just the peoples of the “known” world at that time.

There are numerous problems with this “local flood” notion, however. Appendix 6 of The Henry Morris Study Bible, for instance, lists 100 reasons why the biblical Flood must be understood as worldwide and cataclysmic.

But probably the best argument is that such an argument makes God out to be a liar! God promised Noah that this kind of flood would never be sent on the earth again. There have been innumerable river floods, tsunamis, torrential regional rains, etc., in the more than four millennia since Noah’s day. If God’s promise referred only to some such flood as one of these, then He has not kept His Word!

But God does not lie, and He has kept His promise. There has never been another such Flood. “He that believeth not God hath made him a liar” (1 John 5:10). Theistic evolutionists, progressive creationists, and all others who believe the geological ages instead of God’s Word should, it would seem, seriously rethink their position. HMM

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  February 6, 2021
Neither Wine nor Strong Drink
“For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb.” (Luke 1:15)

Whether or not the Bible clearly commands total abstinence from alcohol for Christians, it is increasingly being recognized that alcohol is the most widely abused and dangerous drug of all—causing more fatal accidents and injuries, more broken homes, more sexual promiscuity, more job absenteeism, and more disease than cocaine or any other drug. Yet it is widely promoted socially and increasingly is being accepted even among evangelical Christians.

But the example of John the Baptist is worth considering. The angel Gabriel testified that he would be “great in the sight of the Lord” and then added that he would “drink neither wine nor strong drink,” implying a connection between the two. Indeed, Christ called John the greatest man who had ever lived up to that time (Matthew 11:11)—that is, greater than even Abraham, Moses, or Daniel!

Then the very same verse says that John would “be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb,” and he is the only man of whom that was ever said. Again there seems to be a connection, for no one could simultaneously drink wine or strong drink and also be filled with the Spirit. The apostle Paul also warned concerning this conflict when he said: “Be not drunk [literally, ‘begin to be drunk’] with wine...but be filled [that is, ‘be continually being filled’] with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18).

Drinking alcoholic beverages in moderation may or may not be permissible, but that does not make it right. “All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient” (1 Corinthians 6:12). At least in John’s case, being great in God’s sight and being filled with the Spirit were closely associated with abstinence from alcohol. HMM
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February 7, 2021
Labor—The Gift of God
“And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God.” (Ecclesiastes 3:13)

Some people may have the feeling that having to work for a living is an imposition of a corrupt society. Since they were brought into this world through no choice of their own, therefore the world owes them a living, they think. Is working a punishment because of our sins?

Well, God did “curse” the ground because of sin, but in an important sense it was for man’s own good. “Cursed is the ground,” He told Adam, “for thy sake” (Genesis 3:17). It would require “the sweat of thy face” (v. 19) before man could eat his bread, and even then it would be “in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life” (v. 17).

But the work itself would not be a punishment, for even before Adam sinned, God had given him the responsibility in the Edenic garden “to dress it and to keep it” (Genesis 2:15). Furthermore, we shall have work to do in the new earth in the ages to come, for we are told that “his servants shall serve him” there (Revelation 22:3), even though there will be no remnant of sinfulness there at all.

Even in this life, work is a blessing when we see it as “the gift of God.” If we see it only as drudgery and hardship, then it can indeed be “in sorrow.” But the Lord Jesus said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

If having to work for a living will encourage us to come to Christ for salvation and peace of soul, then it is truly “for thy sake” that God’s curse was pronounced on the ground. The key to joy in labor, instead of sorrow, is noted by the apostle Paul. “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men....for ye serve the Lord Christ” (Colossians 3:23-24). HMM

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  February 8, 2021
A Model Church
“Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father.” (1 Thessalonians 1:3)

Paul had begun the work at Thessalonica, and when forced to leave, he maintained an active interest in and contact with the Thessalonian believers. The book of 1 Thessalonians contains both encouragement and commendation for these believers. In the context of our text verse, he mentions some of their strengths, and it would behoove us to take note and apply these strengths to our churches.

Paul mentions the triad of faith, love, and hope so common in New Testament writings. The “work of faith,” that past work of salvation in the believer’s life, is amplified in verses 4-6, where we see that God has chosen to work His work of grace in them through the Word of God and the ministry of the Holy Spirit (v. 5). Their reception of the Word had been with both affliction and joy (v. 6).

Next, Paul commends their “labour of love.” They were committed to both outreach and missions, as we see in verses 7 and 8. Their testimony had not only affected the local area but was “spread abroad.” Moreover, they had entered into proper worship of God, maintaining purity of doctrine (v. 9). The “labour of love” to others will inevitably follow as a means of serving God.

Lastly, Paul commends their “patience of hope”—their expectant joyful outlook on the future, waiting for Christ’s return (v. 10).

May our own churches have this same perspective on the past, present, and future work of Christ. May our own lives give attention to the same details and have the same goals and outlook as those of the Thessalonian church. Purity in doctrine and a life of service constitute the best way to wait for our Lord’s return. JDM
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  February 9, 2021
Selah
“Many there be which say of my soul, There is no help for him in God. Selah.” (Psalm 3:2)

The word Selah occurs 74 times in the Bible (three of which are in the prophetic psalm of Habakkuk, with the other 71 in the book of Psalms). The first of these occurrences is here in Psalm 3:2, and it also occurs at the end of verses 4 and 8, thus in effect dividing Psalm 3 into three “stanzas.”

However, its exact meaning is uncertain. Most authorities think it is some kind of musical notation, to be applied when the psalm was being sung with accompanying musical instrumentation. It suggests a pause of some kind, perhaps to allow the instruments to play a few notes while the singers were silent before proceeding with the next portion, possibly changing to a different key.

When the psalm is merely being read, however, as must often be the case, this explanation would be pointless. Thus, some think it indicates a brief pause for reflection on the truth just revealed before proceeding to the next point. Selah might, therefore, mean something like “Think of that!”

In Psalm 3, as the first instance, verse 2 notes that many (perhaps originally those involved in Absalom’s rebellion against King David) are saying: “Not even God can help him now!” But then the psalmist remembers God’s promises and he prays, and God answers, so now he can say: “Well, what do you think about that?” Both exclamations are implied by his Selah.

Then in the third stanza, he stresses his security in his Lord. He can sleep and “not be afraid of ten thousands of people, that have set themselves against me round about...Salvation belongeth unto the LORD: thy blessing is upon thy people” (Psalm 3:6, 8). “So, what can you say about that, you enemies of God and His Word?” (Selah.) HMM
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  February 10, 2021
According to the Word
“Let my cry come near before thee, O LORD: give me understanding according to thy word.” (Psalm 119:169)

The closing 22nd stanza of Psalm 119 repeats many of the themes of the previous 21 and summarizes this epic to the majesty of the Word of God.

Seven passages contain prayer for “understanding,” which depends on the gracious ministry of the Holy Spirit in our hearts and minds (John 14:26). Our finite minds cannot understand God’s eternal truths apart from revelation and the “mind of Christ” granted at salvation (1 Corinthians 2:16).

Thirteen passages use “according to thy word.” Nothing that we can do pleases God more than our efforts to “magnify” His Word in our lives and ministries (Psalm 138:2). Every sentient creature will be judged by what is “written in the books, according to their works” (Revelation 20:12).

Eight stanzas include the prayer to have God “teach.” Again, apart from the Holy Spirit in our “new creature” (2 Corinthians 5:17), we would be empty of both understanding and wisdom. Through reading and meditating on God’s Word after salvation, we grow effective and gain maturity.

The writer also promised in eight stanzas to “not forget.” Our minds need to become stabilized with memorized Scripture and our hearts ready and sanctified with the stored Word of God so that we can “give an answer” both to those who ask us (1 Peter 3:15) and when we need guidance for our own life decisions (Colossians 1:10).

The psalm ends with a prayer for all: “Let thine hand help me; for I have chosen thy precepts. I have longed for thy salvation, O LORD; and thy law is my delight. Let my soul live, and it shall praise thee; and let thy judgments help me. I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek thy servant; for I do not forget thy commandments” (Psalm 119:173-176). HMM III
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  February 11, 2021
The Living and the Written Word
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1)

The holy Scriptures and the person of our Lord Jesus Christ are so inseparably bound together that whatever calls into question the integrity and authority of one correspondingly casts aspersions on the other. Let us not be guilty of saying that the written Word and the incarnate Word are in all aspects the same, but the Bible does clearly reveal Christ as “the Word... made flesh, [who] dwelt among us” (John 1:14). “And his name is called The Word of God” (Revelation 19:13).

In carefully worded arguments, Christ time and again called attention to the fact that the teachings of the Old Testament Scriptures were actually teaching about Him. “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me....For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me; for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?” (John 5:39, 46-47). “If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead” (Luke 16:31).

Therefore, those who diligently search the Scriptures find in them sufficient testimony to Christ, and where there is faith in the witness of Scripture, there will be faith in Christ and His words. But if men reject the testimony of Scripture, they will not even be convinced by His miraculous resurrection from the dead.

Christ claimed that all of Scripture pointed to Him. On the road to Emmaus, He taught that all three popular divisions of the Old Testament traced one progressive Messianic revelation. To understand the New Testament, we must know the Old, for both tell the same story, each amplifying the other. They are forever inseparable. JDM
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  February 12, 2021
Our Ministry to Angels
“To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God.” (Ephesians 3:10)

There is “an innumerable company of angels” in heaven (Hebrews 12:22) who serve as “ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation” (Hebrews 1:14).

At the same time, it is instructive to realize we also have a ministry to the angels. Despite their great power and knowledge, angels are not the “heirs of salvation” themselves and so will never personally experience that peculiar type of love and fellowship that we share with our Lord and Savior. Nevertheless, as personal beings with the free will to reject their role as God’s servants if they choose, they are intensely interested in our salvation. “Which things the angels desire to look into” (1 Peter 1:12).

In addition to serving for the protection and guidance of individual believers, apparently certain angels are also assigned by God to serve Christian congregations functioning corporately, especially in true local churches. Paul mentions the observing presence of angels in the Corinthian church (1 Corinthians 11:10), for example.

In His letters to the seven representative churches, Christ addressed the individual angels of each church (Revelation 2:1, etc.). That these are heavenly angels (not human pastors or other human church leaders) seems probable from the fact that the word “angel” is used 65 other times in Revelation and always refers to real angels.

Finally, the words of our text for the day give a special incentive for our lives, for there we are reminded that it is through God’s dealings with “the church” that His holy angels are able to learn for themselves “the manifold wisdom of God.” HMM
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February 13, 2021
Confirmation of the Gospel
“Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace.” (Philippians 1:7)

The gospel, of course, embraces all the truths concerning the person and work of Jesus Christ, from creation to consummation. Since these truths have been under Satanic attack throughout all the ages, it is vital that the gospel both be defended against its enemies and confirmed in the hearts and minds of its friends.

The word for “defense” (Greek apologia) is the same as “answer” in 1 Peter 3:15, where we are commanded to “be ready always to give an answer...a reason of the hope that is in you.” The word for “confirmation,” on the other hand, is essentially the same as “established,” or “stabilized,” as in Colossians 2:7: “Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith.” Thus, the saving gospel of Christ—from its foundation in genuine creationism to its consummation in His coming kingdom with its central focus on the crucifixion and resurrection—is both to be defended against false teaching and established as truth. These two aspects correspond in general to apologetics in defending the faith and Christian evidences in establishing the faith.

This is not merely a job for certain theological or scientific specialists, however. All believers need to be “partakers” of this grace (literally “convinced co-participants”). Real “partakers” do not just go along for the ride but are firmly committed and fully comprehending supporters. However, both those who lead out in such a work, as well as those who are “partakers,” are exhorted to do so in grace! “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man” (Colossians 4:6). HMM

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February 14, 2021
The Greatest Love
“And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.” (Genesis 22:2)

There are many types of love in the world—romantic love, marital love, erotic love, brotherly love, maternal love, patriotic love, family love, and love for all kinds of things—pets, food, money, sports, and on and on. But what is the greatest love?

Love is probably the greatest word of the Bible, and, by the principle of first mention of important biblical words, the first time the word “love” occurs should be a key to its use all through the Bible. Rather surprisingly, love is first encountered here in our text, speaking of the love of a father for his son, of Abraham for Isaac, the son of promise. Furthermore, the father is being told by the very God who made the promise to offer his beloved son as a sacrifice!

From the New Testament (see Hebrews 11:17-18), we know that this entire scene is a remarkable type of the heavenly Father and His willingness to offer His own beloved Son in sacrifice for the sin of the world. This tells us that the love of this human father for his human son is an earthly picture of the great eternal love of the Father in heaven for His only begotten Son.

And that means that this love of God the Father for God the Son is the ultimate source of all love, for that love was being exercised before the world began. When Jesus prayed to His Father the night before His sacrificial death, He confirmed this great truth; “for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world,” He prayed (John 17:24). Indeed, “God is love” (1 John 4:8), and the eternal love within the triune Godhead is the fountainhead of all true human love here on Earth. HMM

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February 15, 2021
The Righteous in Authority
“When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.” (Proverbs 29:2)

Many can remember when the nation observed holidays on both the birthday of President Lincoln (February 12) and that of President Washington (February 22). These two men were widely revered as our nation’s greatest presidents, and their birthdays were patriotic holidays. But modern intellectuals have been actively tarnishing their reputations, while our people have become more and more enamored of recreation, so this situation has now “devolved” into a three-day holiday theoretically honoring all presidents.

We are thankful, of course, that most of our presidents have indeed been God-fearing men. None were atheists and almost all have professed belief in Christ and the Bible. God surely led our founders when they formed our constitutional republic, and our presidents and most other leaders have diligently supported it. Christianity has thrived in our country as a result, and we have become acknowledged everywhere as the world’s greatest nation.

But signs of deterioration are abounding, and Christians need to pray. If Paul were here today, he would surely repeat (and slightly rephrase) his first-century admonition to young pastor Timothy: “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For [presidents], and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:1-3). We can also heed Peter’s advice: “Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the [president]” (1 Peter 2:17). HMM

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February 16, 2021
All Things Well
“And were beyond measure astonished, saying, He hath done all things well: he maketh both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak.” (Mark 7:37)

Jesus indeed “hath done all things well.” One strong evidence of His deity is this very fact. No matter how carefully we study His deeds, we can find no flaw in any of them—no deficiency, nothing He should have done differently or left undone. He never had to apologize or express regrets, as we often at least ought to do. He was always master of every situation. Peter said that He just “went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him” (Acts 10:38).

The same truth would apply—perhaps even more emphatically— to His words. He never had to speculate or equivocate: “And they were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes” (Mark 1:22). Jesus never guessed about anything or merely expressed an opinion, as we frequently do. He never suggested a “possible” interpretation. Everything He taught was with absolute authority, for He was (and is) the very Word of God (John 1:1, 14).

His words occasionally were harsh and judgmental when dealing with hypocrisy and false teaching (e.g., Matthew 23:29-33), but more often were kind and forgiving. In fact, “all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth” (Luke 4:22). Even the soldiers sent to arrest Jesus returned empty-handed, for as they said: “Never man spake like this man” (John 7:46).

Indeed, “his word was with power” (Luke 4:32). He was “Jesus of Nazareth...a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people” (Luke 24:19). In fact, He was more than a man; He was the perfect man and the only-begotten Son of God! HMM

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February 17, 2021
Created and Made
“These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens.” (Genesis 2:4)

There are two accounts of creation in Genesis, with the above text marking the dividing point. In the first (Genesis 1–2:4), the name used for the Creator is “God” (Hebrew Elohim), and its termination is the summarizing “signature,” as it were: “These are the generations [Hebrew toledoth] of the heavens and of the earth when they were created.”

The second account (Genesis 2:4–5:1) normally uses the name “LORD God” (Jehovah Elohim) in chapters 2 and 3 (except where the serpent and Eve used Elohim when she was being tempted) and then simply “LORD” (Hebrew Jehovah) in chapter 4. This second creation account ends with Adam’s signature: “This is the book of the generations [i.e., toledoth] of Adam.”

Critics claim that the two accounts are contradictory. Actually they are complementary, the second merely giving more details of the events of the fifth and sixth days of the creation week. The Lord Jesus (who was there as the Creator!) used them both, quoting from each (Matthew 19:4-6) at the same time in the same context.

Note also that “create” (Hebrew bara) is used seven times in Genesis 1, never in Genesis 2–4. In that second account, “made” and “formed” (Hebrew asah, yatsar) are the words used. Genesis 2:3 stresses the fact that “create” and “make” are different when it tells us that God rested “from all his work which God created and made.” Evidently the verb “create,” which always has the Creator as its subject, refers to His work in calling entities into existence; “make” refers to systems constructed (by either God or men) out of previously created entities. The heavens and the earth were both “created” and “made” (see our text). HMM

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  February 18, 2021
The Higher Ways
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9)

God’s thoughts and ways are by no means equivalent to man’s. How, then, can we hope to understand those things that He has communicated to us in His Word? To be sure, God has not told us all He knows, but what He has provided is sufficient for our faith, and He has also given clues as to the nature of many things we can only fully know in eternity. We know enough now to trust Him for the things we can’t verify. But the aspect of Scripture that sets it apart from all other “religious” writings is that its truths are surrounded by and based on historical and scientific facts that are verifiable. The fact that we find Scripture to be accurate wherever it can be checked gives us reason to believe that those teachings that we can’t check are accurate as well.

What are some of God’s favorite object lessons? Certainly His creation is one. A God who can call something into existence that didn’t exist before can do anything. “Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things” (Isaiah 40:26). Another standard is God’s deliverance of Israel from Egypt. “According to the days of thy coming out of the land of Egypt will I shew unto him marvellous things” (Micah 7:15). Yet another is the second regathering of Israel in the last days. “The LORD liveth, that brought up the children of Israel from...all the lands whither he had driven them” (Jeremiah 16:15; cf. v. 14). The final great guarantee that He will work on our behalf is the fact of the resurrection. “His power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead” (Ephesians 1:19-20).

Make no mistake! God is capable of solving any problem we have. And what’s more, He wants us to know it! JDM
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  February 19, 2021
With Christ
“Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:2-3)

The apostle Paul, looking forward to the time when we shall “ever be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:17), wrote: “For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you” (Philippians 1:23-24).

The fact is, however, that we can be “with Christ” even while still abiding in the flesh, as Paul himself emphasized. This is the great principle called positional truth. “Positionally,” we are already “with Christ,” for that is where God sees us and how He relates to us. He has “raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6).

Before we could be raised up with Christ, however, we first had to die with Him. “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me” (Galatians 2:20). God even saw us as buried with Christ when He was buried, and this is the great truth symbolized in our baptism. “We are buried with him by baptism into death” (Romans 6:4).

“Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more” (Romans 6:8-9). He died for us, so our deserved death became His substitutionary death, and His victorious resurrection becomes our own unmerited deliverance from death in eternal resurrection life. This is our position now, and our assured everlasting possession then, for we are with Christ, who “dieth no more.”

This truth is not only a wonderful doctrine, but as we see in our text, a focus for our thoughts, and real incentive for godly living. HMM
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February 20, 2021
Fear of Witnessing
“And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.” (Acts 4:18)

Every Christian knows that he or she should witness for Christ, but most are very reluctant to speak in His name very often. The most obvious reason for this hesitancy is fear. Sometimes we may be actually forbidden, as were the apostles, to teach of Him, but their courageous answer was: “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29), and so they prayed: “Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word” (Acts 4:29).

More common than fear of physical persecution or personal harm, however, is fear of ridicule, or loss of prestige or position. Such fear is out of character for real Christians, “for God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). If we love the Lord and those for whom He died, we must learn to conquer our fear of men.

One of the saddest rebukes that could come to a Christian is the indictment lodged against those believers who, because of their high position, refused to take an open stand for Christ: “Among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God” (John 12:42-43). How often do modern professional and business men—even theologians— compromise their stand for Christ and His inerrant Word because of fear of peer pressure in what should be their spheres of influence and testimony?

May God give us the courage of Paul. “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ,” he wrote, “for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth” (Romans 1:16). HMM

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February 21, 2021
Not This Man
“Then cried they all again, saying, Not this man, but Barabbas. Now Barabbas was a robber.” (John 18:40)

Unfortunately, this is the attitude of every generation toward its Creator and Redeemer. Jesus Christ “was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not” (John 1:10-11).

“Not this man!” they cried, and still cry today. “We will not have this man to reign over us” (Luke 19:14). Even in a nation founded as a Christian nation, the name of Jesus Christ is banished from the schools, ignored in the halls of government, and blasphemed on the streets.

And whom did they choose instead of “this man”? They preferred Barabbas, who was not only a robber, but also a revolutionary and murderer (Luke 23:19). Today, they idolize the atheist Darwin, or the robber Lenin, or the revolutionary Mao, or the murderer Hitler, or any one of a thousand antichrists; but they will not have Christ.

What, then, will they do with Christ? “Away with him, away with him, crucify him” (John 19:15) was the cry even of the religious leaders during His life here on Earth, and it is little different today. “Ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you,” proclaimed Peter (Acts 3:14). “The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ” (Acts 4:26).

The rejection of Christ today is often more subtle, but it is just as real. Rulers, industrialists, scientists, educators, and commentators all say in deed, if not in word, that “[they] will not have this man to reign over [them]” (Luke 19:14). “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:12). HMM

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