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March 19, 2021
Love's Longing Prayer
“And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment.” (Philippians 1:9)

Paul’s longing for the Philippian church is eloquently expressed in his prayer for their maturation in the faith. It begins simply with a prayer for their growing love—love that will “abound yet more and more.” This phrase is only used two other times: in 1 Thessalonians 4:1 and 10. Essentially, the prayer is that their love would never stop increasing.

The focus of the ever-increasing love, however, is not emotive reactions or depth of feeling. It is a nonstop, evergrowing love for “knowledge” and “judgment.” And as one might expect, the Holy Spirit’s choice of words is important.

Several Greek words could be translated as “knowledge.” This specific choice in Philippians 1:9 is epignosis, a term that emphasizes understanding of facts or truth and carries an intensive meaning with a fuller, clearer, more thorough knowledge than mere awareness of data. A person with epignosis knows both what and why they have certain facts.

“Judgment” is the translation of aisthesis, an unusual term that demands perception, understanding, and discernment of what to do with the knowledge. Both terms are intellectually based and require a growing grasp of information. But both are the product of love—not human standards of high intelligence.

We must be “rooted and grounded in love” (Ephesians 3:17), speak “the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15), and always be conscious of our relationships so that we “increase” the “edifying of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:16).

Finally, there is this overarching statement: “God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him” (1 John 4:16). HMM III

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March 20, 2021
The Price of Sparrows
“Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.” (Matthew 10:29)

This fascinating bit of first-century pricing information, seemingly so trivial, provides a marvelous glimpse into the heart of the Creator. Of all the birds used for food by the people of those days, sparrows were the cheapest on the market, costing only a farthing for a pair of them. In fact, they cost even less in a larger quantity, for on another occasion Jesus said: “Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God?” (Luke 12:6). The “farthing” was a tiny copper coin of very small value, so a sparrow was all but worthless in human terms.

And yet the Lord Jesus said that God knows and cares about every single sparrow! God had a reason for everything He created; each kind of animal has its own unique design for its own intended purpose. Modern biologists continue to waste time and talent developing imaginary tales about how all these multitudes of different kinds of creatures might have evolved from some common ancestor. Even some evolutionists have started calling these whimsical tales “just so” stories. They would really be better scientists if they would seek to understand the creative purpose of each creature rather than speculating on its imaginary evolution.

The better we comprehend the amazing complexity and purposive design of each creature, the better we realize the infinite wisdom and power of their Creator. Then all the more wonderful it is to learn that their Creator is our Father! He has placed them all under our dominion, and we need to learn to see them through His eyes if we would be good stewards of the world He has committed to us. We can also thank our heavenly Father that we “are of more value than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:31). HMM

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March 21, 2021
The Good Part
“But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:42)

The sisters Mary and Martha both loved the Lord Jesus and wanted to please Him. Jesus also loved them (John 11:5) and apparently was an occasional guest at their home in Bethany. Martha evidently felt that activity and service were pleasing to the Lord (and these, indeed, are good and important), whereas Mary simply “sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word” (Luke 10:39). To Martha’s surprise and chagrin, Jesus said that Mary had chosen the “good part”—a part more important even than service and food.

Long, long before, the patriarch Job, whom God had said was “a perfect and an upright man” with “none like him in the earth” (Job 1:8), had also chosen that good part. “I have esteemed the words of his mouth,” Job said, “more than my necessary food” (Job 23:12).

We today can sit at Jesus’ feet and hear His Word only by reading and meditating on the Scriptures. Important as our daily responsibilities may be to meet our material needs and those of our families, we should make priority time available for this “good part.” The same surely applies especially to Christian leaders. They may have many important tasks to perform in the service of God, but it is still more important for them to take time to “hear His word” in the Scriptures.

The unknown psalmist who wrote the grand 119th Psalm had learned this truth: “O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day....How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through thy precepts I get understanding” (Psalm 119:97, 103-104).

We today have a higher privilege than Job, or the psalmist, or even Mary, for we have all the Scriptures! If we truly desire “that good part,” the Lord will surely provide the time, as He did for Mary. HMM

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March 22, 2021
Love's Product
“That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.” (Philippians 1:10-11)

Knowledge and judgment that are motivated by love (Philippians 1:9) are directed very carefully to certain end products that will fulfill our Lord’s design and desire for His adopted sons and daughters while they are still on Earth.

A repository of facts can be nothing more than a curiosity and is often an arrogant distraction. A growing intellectual ability must be useful. It is no different in God’s kingdom. Our knowledge and judgment must be used to “approve things that are excellent.”

Paul’s challenge to the Roman church was that they use their minds to “prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:2). To his young son in the faith, Paul insisted that Timothy study to show himself “approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).

The “proving” (testing, affirming) has a twofold goal: that our life on this earth would be “sincere and without offence” and that we would be “filled with the fruits of righteousness.” Purity and productivity are earthly spiritual goals that are reiterated many times in the Scriptures. They, of course, are mere reflections of the holiness that our Lord creates in us when we are born again (Ephesians 4:24), but they are nonetheless an often-repeated demand for those of us who claim a kinship with Christ Jesus.

The Bible sums it up this way: “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:15-16). HMM III

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  March 23, 2021
Moses and Elijah
“And, behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias: Who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem.” (Luke 9:30-31)

This is a mysterious passage. Peter, James, and John watched in awe as Christ was “transfigured” before them as Christ had promised (Mark 9:2). But how could Moses and Elijah be there? Moses’ body had been buried by God in an unknown tomb in Moab some 1,500 years before, and no resurrection had yet taken place (Deuteronomy 34:5-6; 1 Corinthians 15:22-23). Elijah had been taken alive into heaven in a chariot of fire over 900 years previously (2 Kings 2:11).

The fact is that this whole experience was a remarkable vision! Jesus said after it was over: “Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead” (Matthew 17:9). Although they had just been awakened out of sleep (Luke 9:32), the disciples knew this was not a dream. All three had seen it together and “were sore afraid” (Mark 9:6).

This vision of the future kingdom was for the disciples’ encouragement (and for ours, as well), for the Lord had just been warning them of His coming death, as well as the cross which they, themselves, must take up to follow Him (Luke 9:23). The kingdom of God would come on Earth in all its future power and glory. But first, He must die and rise again, and they must be His witnesses of these things.

But when He did return in glory, there would be two groups of people sharing His glory with Him: Moses representing the resurrected saints, and Elijah the “raptured” saints. “The dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). HMM
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March 24, 2021
Jesus' Prayer of Thanksgiving
“In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight.” (Luke 10:21)

When the Lord Jesus was here on Earth, He was, among other things, “leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps” (1 Peter 2:21). One aspect of that example, no doubt, was His prayer life. He prayed and gave thanks before He fed the multitude (Matthew 15:36) and also when He ate with His disciples at the last supper (Luke 22:19). It is surely right, therefore, that we should give thanks in prayer before each meal, whether in a small group as with our family or in a large public dining place.

Jesus spent much time in prayer. On at least one occasion, He “continued all night in prayer to God” (Luke 6:12), and no doubt a goodly portion of His prayer was thanksgiving prayer, as well as intercession. But there seems to be only one specific item of thanksgiving by Him actually recorded in Scripture, and that is the item in our text. (The same is also given, verbatim, in Matthew 11:25, so we can infer that the Holy Spirit considered it very important.)

That is this: the wonderful truths of salvation and forgiveness— eternal life in heaven and God’s guidance and provision on Earth—are easily understood by the simplest among us, even by little children, even though they often seem difficult for “the wise and prudent” to comprehend.

Many are the intellectuals who can raise all kinds of objections to God’s revealed Word and His great plan of creation and redemption and who, therefore, will end up eternally lost. Many are the simple folk and children who just hear and believe and are saved. “Even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight.” HMM

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March 25, 2021
Not Ashamed
“Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God.” (2 Timothy 1:8)

Paul had steadfast faith. He was also a very faithful encourager for the saints to “hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering” (Hebrews 10:23). In the text verse for today, he encourages Timothy to publicly express his faith in several tangible, but risky, ways.

Timothy is exhorted to not be ashamed of the Lord. The Bible’s message is both very different from and also very convicting of the world’s thinking. Thus, many outside of Christ react to His messenger with ridicule and personal intimidation. It is hard to stand against this tide, and the believer’s embarrassment may manifest itself in silence. It could have been dangerous in Timothy’s day to claim “I am a Christian,” as is still the case in some places around the world.

But Paul’s exhortation also includes not being ashamed of “the testimony of our Lord,” which is His Word. Every day in schools, on TV, or in other media, the Bible and those who believe it are ridiculed. These attacks can be so scornful and relentless that even many evangelicals find it difficult to not be ashamed.

Next, Paul adds himself to Timothy’s list when he says “nor of me his prisoner.” Fellow believers faithfully and accurately proclaiming God’s Word—especially those in a firestorm of resistance—need other believers to support them, not back away in embarrassment. Paul is actually urging Timothy to move beyond not being ashamed and to actively “get in the fight” with him as he says, “Be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel.” Paul knew that Timothy would feel a deep and lasting shame if he withdrew out of fear to the “safety of silence,” watching others boldly proclaim the gospel in a world that can be very hostile to the message. RJG

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March 26, 2021
Reporting on the Parables
“And he began to speak unto them by parables. A certain man planted a vineyard, and set an hedge about it, and digged a place for the winefat, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country.” (Mark 12:1)

This parable of the vineyard had an obvious meaning, for even “the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders” to whom He was speaking (Mark 11:27) “knew that he had spoken the parable against them” (Mark 12:12). The same parable and the events surrounding it are reported in Matthew 21:33-46 and Luke 20:9-16.

But there is another question that has been raised about this parable, as well as all the other parables that have been reported in two or more different gospels. That is, if the Bible is inerrant in its very words as Jesus taught (e.g., Matthew 5:18; John 10:35), then why did the writers often vary in their reporting of the words of the parable?

It should be remembered, however, that Jesus probably spoke in Aramaic, whereas the written accounts were in Greek. Furthermore, two of the writers (Mark and Luke) were not present at the time so would have to obtain their accounts from someone who was there (e.g., Luke 1:1-2). Flexibility in translation and reporting is always possible with different translators and different reporters.

The doctrine of divine inspiration of the Scriptures (2 Timothy 3:16), however, applies not to the process but to the result. The Spirit of God was free to use the writer’s own research, vocabulary, and style in reporting an event so long as there were no factual errors or irrelevancies in the final result. In fact, such minor differences often give greater depth and credence to the reported event since they help in proving that the different writers were not in collusion but simply telling of a real event from different perspectives. HMM

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March 27, 2021
Life by Death
“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21)

This profound confidence comes at the conclusion of a threefold summary of Paul’s experience while serving the Lord Jesus, as well as his deep bond with the church at Philippi. The “salvation” of which Paul speaks references victory in this life as much as the eternal rescue at the end.

Initially, the confidence comes “through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:19). Christian leaders covet the prayers of those with whom they serve. Twice, Paul specifically asked the Thessalonian church to pray for him (1 Thessalonians 5:25; 2 Thessalonians 3:1). Most of us are familiar with the promise that the “effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16). Should we be surprised when such prayer brings boldness?

There is also the experience that the “supply” of the Spirit of God engenders faith. God’s providential care, experienced during the testing of our life, produces a growing hope and confidence (Romans 5:4-5). It is most often true that we learn more of God’s faithfulness in times of need than in times of plenty.

Then there is an “earnest expectation and...hope” that result in “boldness” (Philippians 1:20). Growing confidence in the Lord’s provision and protection undergirds an anticipation for God’s direction and wisdom. Expecting something to happen is the flip side of hope. Experience in kingdom work brings spiritual joy and peace (Romans 15:13).

Thus, the confident statement “now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:20- 21). HMM III

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March 28, 2021
Filled with Fruit
“Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.” (Philippians 1:11)

The unique phrase “fruits of righteousness” has many supporting teachings, the most famous of which is where the Lord Jesus compares Himself to a “vine” and we who are His adopted sons and daughters to “branches” (John 15:1-6).

Paul reminded the Philippian church that the fruits ultimately result from Jesus Christ, just as Jesus illustrated. We “cannot bear fruit” by ourselves (John 15:4). Not only does our very life come from God, but the ability to produce godly fruit can only come through and by God.

Isaiah noted that all of our self-produced righteous deeds are like “filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). The fruit for which we are “ordained” (John 15:16) has its source in the thrice-holy Godhead and its manifestation by the fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives (Galatians 5:22-23).

Those Holy Spirit character traits are the innate property of the vine that becomes instilled in the branches, or us. This enables us to bring forth the fruit that represents the “DNA” of the vine in which we are abiding. Being connected to the vine makes it possible for us to “walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Colossians 1:10).

The “husbandman” (God the Father) is superintending the vineyard (John 15:1). When branches wither and do not produce fruit (see also Matthew 13:18-23), they are taken away. The branches that do produce are purged (Greek kathairo, “cleaned up”). As Peter noted, “His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3). With God, “all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). Without Him, “[we] can do nothing” (John 15:5). HMM III

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  March 29, 2021
Remembered Through All Generations
“I will make thy name to be remembered in all generations: therefore shall the people praise thee for ever and ever.” (Psalm 45:17)

The 45th Psalm is a beautiful Messianic psalm, speaking prophetically of the coming Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, the psalm is quoted by the writer of Hebrews, calling Him “God” and promising not only eternal remembrance but also everlasting dominion: “But unto the Son, he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of thy kingdom” (Hebrews 1:8, citing Psalm 45:6).

But the writer also said He would be remembered in all generations. That has proved true so far! As others have frequently noted, this man lived on Earth only 33 years, never traveled more than a few miles from His home, never wrote a book, never raised an army, never ruled over so much as a village let alone a kingdom, never married or had children, never enrolled for any formal education, and finally was executed as a criminal.

Yet, He has indeed been remembered through all generations following His all-too-short career 2,000 years ago—and remembered with love and deep reverence and gratitude by millions of people in all nations ever since. Furthermore, though He never wrote a book, others have written innumerable books about Him, while another psalmist assured us that His words would also be preserved “from this generation for ever” (Psalm 12:7).

And all this has come to pass! Herein is a marvelous thing! Indeed, He was, and is, God, and this was demonstrated by His flawless character, His amazing teachings, His unique miracles, His volitional, sacrificial death, and His mighty defeat of death itself by His bodily resurrection and ascent into heaven. HMM
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March 30, 2021
The Transfiguration
“And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.” (Matthew 17:1-2)

This remarkable transfiguration of Christ was shown to the three disciples so that they could actually “see [Him] coming in his kingdom” (Matthew 16:28), as He will do someday when He returns to Earth “in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matthew 24:30). This would ever afterward be an unforgettable experience that would strengthen the disciples for their critical future ministry.

James would become the first martyr, but his brother, John, would survive to bear the testimony far and wide for almost 70 more years. “And we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father” (John 1:14). Peter also wrote of the amazing event: “For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount” (2 Peter 1:17-18).

It is therefore very significant that the word “transfigured” (Greek metamorphoo) is also applied to Christian believers in 2 Corinthians 3:18: “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed [read ‘transfigured’] into the same image from glory to glory.” That is, as we behold the glory of Christ in the mirror of the Scriptures, we ourselves are spiritually being metamorphosed into His own image. The marvelous transformation will be completed when He does come again and “change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body” (Philippians 3:21). HMM

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March 31, 2021
Other Preachers
“What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.” (Philippians 1:18)

This verse seems to conflict with warnings about false teachers (2 Peter 2:1) and another gospel (Galatians 1:6-9). The key is identifying what Paul is allowing on the one hand and condemning on the other.

Some teachers of his day (probably both in Philippi and in Rome) appeared to be taking advantage of Paul’s imprisonment to enhance their own reputations. Indeed, some were trying through their public preaching to “add affliction to [his] bonds” (Philippians 1:16).

Even though some with ungodly motives stood out among those preaching of “good will,” Paul was able to rejoice that “Christ is preached” (today’s text) by both categories, and therein is the source of the “power of God unto salvation” (Romans 1:16).

The stern denunciation of “another gospel” (Galatians 1:6) exposes the untruth of all hybrid messages, whether human or angelic, that would attempt to preach anything other than “Christ, and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2).

Here is the message for us. When the full gospel of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection—according to the Scriptures— is preached (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) by whatever means and even under sometimes questionable motives, the “good news” is cause for rejoicing. It is the gospel that has power, not the messenger.

However, when some people attempt to change that gospel to make it seem more attractive to those who wish to continue in sin, or change its message to allow for human works, we are to see such preachers as dangerous and under condemnation. May God keep us from both mistakes. HMM III

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April 1, 2021
The Earth Is the Lord's
“The earth is the LORD’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.” (Psalm 24:1-2)

The psalms often draw our hearts to praise the Lord for His wondrous deeds and marvelous attributes. In today’s text, we are reminded of the Lord’s role as sovereign Creator of Earth and everything in it.

The Lord Jesus Christ is Creator (Colossians 1:16; John 1:1-3), and as Creator He is the rightful owner of His creation. He created all things, and everything belongs to Him.

While some search for life beyond our solar system, our finite minds still haven’t completely fathomed the intricate designs found on our own planet. From billowing clouds to the rolling waves of the Atlantic Ocean, from the peak of Mount Everest to the depths of the Mariana Trench, the wonder and beauty of God’s creation are clearly seen (Romans 1:20).

Life is unique to our planet. The Lord designed Earth to be the exclusive home for living things. Do you remember the old hymn “All Things Bright and Beautiful?” It said, “All creatures great and small...the Lord God made them all.” Think about the largest dinosaur and the tiniest bacterium. Living things are extremely complex.

Scientists discover new creature features almost every day. Some credit nature with the power to select and direct. But God’s Word is clear: The Lord—not nature—“founded” the earth, and He alone created “they that dwell therein.”

Why does this matter? The Lord who created all things— humanity being His special creation, made in His image (Genesis 1:27)—is the same Lord who became one of us and died in our place (Philippians 2:5-9). The Lord who created earthly life is the Savior who freely offers us eternal life (John 3:16). MH

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  April 2, 2021
When Messiah Came
“Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.” (Daniel 9:25)

This remarkable prophecy, given through the angel Gabriel to Daniel the prophet, actually predicted the date of the coming of Christ nearly 500 years in advance. From the announcement to the coming of “Messiah the Prince,” there would be 69 “weeks” (literally “sevens,” meaning in this context “seven-year periods”). That is, Messiah would come as the Prince 483 years after the commandment was given to rebuild Jerusalem. There is some uncertainty about the exact date of the decree, as well as the exact length of these prophetic years, but in each calculation the termination date is at least near or, in some cases, exactly the time when Christ entered Jerusalem to be acknowledged as its promised King.

However, Gabriel’s prophecy went on to say: “And after [the] threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off” (Daniel 9:26). That is, although He would come as promised, instead of being gladly crowned as King, He would be slain. Since the 483-year period terminated long ago, it is clear that Messiah must already have come and then been put to death at that time.

The terms of this remarkable prophecy have been precisely fulfilled in Jesus Christ alone, and no one coming later could have done so. It is no wonder that He wept over Jerusalem, pronouncing her coming judgment, “because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation” (Luke 19:44).

We, like He, should weep and pray for Israel. Yet, in God’s omniscient planning, “through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles” (Romans 11:11), and in this we can rejoice. HMM
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April 3, 2021
The Father of Spirits
“Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?” (Hebrews 12:9)

Human parents transmit physical characteristics to their offspring, but our spiritual attributes come from God, for He is “the Father of spirits.” Paul recognized that all men are “the offspring of God” (Acts 17:29) and that each man is still “the image and glory of God” (1 Corinthians 11:7).

Thus, our spirit/soul nature, as distinct from our body of physical/mental flesh, has come from God, who created it and united it with our body, evidently at the moment of physical conception in the womb. It is obvious that the “image of God,” man’s spirit/soul nature, could not be transmitted genetically via the “genetic code” and the DNA molecules, for these are simply complex chemicals programmed to transmit only the physical and mental attributes of the ancestors to the children. Nevertheless, the spirit/soul attributes of each person also seem to be associated inseparably with the body from conception onward, continuing so until separated again at death, when the spirit goes “to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8), leaving the body behind.

In the meantime, however, the “image of God” in man is marred by its incorporation in man’s “sinful flesh,” for “the body is dead because of sin” (Romans 8:3, 10). By this union of flesh and spirit, man inherits Adam’s fallen nature as well as his mortal body, and both are in need of salvation. Christ “gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity” (Titus 2:14). Therefore, we, like Paul, can pray that our “whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:23). HMM

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April 4, 2021
Risen with Christ
“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.” (Colossians 3:1)

The wise believer revels in the fact of Christ’s resurrection. Some things in Scripture may be easier to identify with and apply, including Christ’s substitutionary death, but it is the resurrection that gives us power to live victoriously. “Like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4).

We have been “crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed” (Romans 6:6). Nevertheless, we are risen with Him, as our text and elsewhere clearly teaches (Romans 6; Ephesians 2:1-10; etc.). This resurrection is an inward one, of course, but our bodily resurrection is also guaranteed by Christ’s bodily resurrection, should we physically die. “Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus” (2 Corinthians 4:14).

Power to serve Him effectively comes through His resurrection, for we have access to the “exceeding greatness of 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). We have authority over all human and demonic institutions through Him who even now operates as head of the living church of His followers.

Perhaps the most precious of all benefits of the resurrection is that “we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens” who is sympathetic to “the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:14-16). JDM

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April 5, 2021
Pleasant Perplexities
“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)

As we mature in the Lord, our fear of death recedes into the background and ultimately, as this verse demonstrates, becomes a desire to leave this sin-cursed world behind and pass into the presence of the Creator.

The word choices in this passage are unusual. The verse could be translated “I am held together out of two pressures, a passion to be loosed to be with Christ; which is very much more serviceable for me: but remaining here in the flesh is, out of necessity, more critical for you.”

Thus, the tension of the true saint of God. The more that is known about the joy awaiting us in the presence of our Lord, the less we see earthly values and goals as things to work toward. Yet, the needs of churches, new Christians, troubled souls, and challenges surrounding our lives require a commitment to complete the “course” that God has given us to finish (2 Timothy 4:7).

The Lord Jesus insisted that we not worry about tomorrow because the evil of each day was “sufficient” (Matthew 6:34), since there is trouble enough in the world among those who reject God’s authority (2 Timothy 3:1-7). The evil that surrounds us should motivate us to long for the eternal rest promised to the people of God (Hebrews 4:9).

But to struggle with conflict resolution among the churches adds to the burden. Many in the ministry know this tension, as do most who serve regularly in their own churches. Perhaps our own peace comes when we finally determine that it is “far better” to serve. HMM III

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April 6, 2021
Becoming the Gospel
“Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.” (Philippians 1:27)

The Greek word translated “conversation” emphasizes “citizenship,” with all of its attendant loyalties and expectations for appropriate behavior. The structure of the introductory word “only” indicates that it is an adjective, not an adverb. Thus, the opening phrase could be rendered, “Your only citizenship must be lived out so that it becomes the gospel.”

The New Testament employs three different Greek terms that are translated “conversation.” Anastrepho is best understood as “dwelling” or “remaining” in a certain place. “Put off concerning the former conversation,” we are commanded in Ephesians 4:22. Tropos stresses the manner of life, perhaps implying the reputation one gains by the lifestyle. “Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example” (Jude 1:7). Politeuo, the term used by Paul in our text, conveys citizenship. “For our conversation is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20, politeuma). The emphasis of our text is on our lifestyle and testimony as “ambassadors” in a foreign land (2 Corinthians 5:20). As such, we are to live in a manner that “becometh” the gospel—“that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called” (Ephesians 4:1).

We are to stand fast in a unity of one spirit with one mind. Paul closed his letter to the Philippians with this: “Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved” (Philippians 4:1). HMM III

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April 7, 2021
On Being Faithful
“Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.” (Titus 1:9)

It is important to note that the adjective “faithful” can be applied both to people and to things if they are believable and trustworthy. Our text above refers to the Word of God as being faithful. Obviously, if any teacher of the Word is to hold fast the faithful Word and teach sound doctrine, he too must be faithful. Paul also teaches that church leaders should have “faithful children” (Titus 1:6) and that their wives should be “faithful in all things” (1 Timothy 3:11).

The Greek word translated “faithful” is closely related to the words “faith” and “believe.” The same relationships are even stronger in the corresponding Hebrew words used in the Old Testament. It is vital to believe God’s faithful Word, for indeed “faith cometh by...the word of God” (Romans 10:17).

But genuine faith and faithfulness are not common commodities. “Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find?” (Proverbs 20:6). The one man who is absolutely believable and trustworthy, of course, is the Lord Jesus Christ. “If we believe not [that is, are unfaithful], yet he abideth faithful” (2 Timothy 2:13). In the Bible’s climactic book, He is even introduced as “the faithful witness” (Revelation 1:5). Among His closing words, He promises that “these sayings are faithful and true” (Revelation 22:6).

We can have absolute confidence that all His promises will be fulfilled, and all His warnings must be heeded. May God help each of us also to be—like Christ and like His Word—faithful and true. Remember also that they that are truly “with him are called, and chosen, and faithful” (Revelation 17:14). HMM

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April 8, 2021
The Living Word
“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)

This is the great verse of the Incarnation, declaring to us that the Creator of all things, the eternal Word of God (John 1:1-3) actually became a man, being “made flesh” (our text). Since this verse and the following verses unequivocally refer to “Jesus Christ” (v. 17), there is no legitimate escape (though many have tried) from the great truth that the man called Jesus of Nazareth was the great God and Creator, as well as perfect man and redeeming Savior. Furthermore, He has assumed human flesh forever, while still remaining fully God. He is Immanuel, “God with us” (Matthew 1:23).

He is not part man and part God, or sometimes man and sometimes God, but is now the God-man, fully and eternally true God and perfect man—man as God created and intended man to be. See also Philippians 2:5-8 and 1 John 4:2-3.

When He first became man, He “dwelt among us” for a while. The word “dwelt,” however, is actually the Greek word for “tabernacled.” As in the tabernacle (or “tent”) prepared by Moses (Exodus 40:33) in the wilderness, the glory of God in Christ dwelled on Earth for a time in a “body” prepared by God (Hebrews 10:5). We also “beheld his glory,” says His beloved disciple, John. The Greek word for “tabernacle” (skene) is a cognate word to shakan (the Hebrew word for “dwell”), both being related to what has come to be known as the Shekinah glory cloud that filled the ancient tabernacle (Exodus 40:34).

Eventually, when the Holy City descends out of heaven to the new earth, then “the tabernacle of God” will forever be “with men,” and He will “dwell with them” and “be their God” eternally (Revelation 21:3). Thus, God’s “Living Word” is now and always our living Lord! HMM

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April 9, 2021
Pleasures at God's Right Hand
“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)

The 16th Psalm contains the Bible’s first reference to the resurrected Christ at the “right hand” of His heavenly Father, and this is important, for there are 20 other such references that follow this one. “The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool” (Psalm 110:1). This latter verse is quoted no less than five times in the New Testament (Matthew 22:44; Mark 12:36; Luke 20:42-43; Acts 2:34-35; Hebrews 1:13).

Then there are seven references to Christ being at God’s right hand in Paul’s epistles (Romans 8:34; Ephesians 1:20; Colossians 3:1; Hebrews 1:3; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2), and seven in other books of the New Testament (Matthew 26:64; Mark 14:62; 16:19; Luke 22:69; Acts 7:55-56). Lastly, “[Jesus Christ] is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him” (1 Peter 3:22). It is noteworthy that the first reference speaks of Christ’s great joy at God’s right hand; the last of His great power there.

One additional activity there is mentioned: “Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us” (Romans 8:34). In fact, His continual intercessory ministry on our behalf is His main activity in God’s immediate presence during this present age (note Hebrews 7:25; 1 John 2:1-2; etc.).

Soon He will become God’s strong right hand of power, manifested until all His enemies become His footstool and we, His people, are taken up to be with Him (1 Thessalonians 4:17). Then we shall enjoy with Him the pleasures and fullness of joy at God’s right hand forevermore. HMM

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  April 10, 2021
Privileged Suffering
“For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake.” (Philippians 1:29)

Paul wrote in the previous verses that we are to conduct ourselves as though our only citizenship was worthy of the gospel message that we proclaim, and that in doing so we should be committed to a mindset held together by the Holy Spirit. Then, he encouraged us not to be “terrified by your adversaries” (Philippians 1:28).

Such adversaries—from the devil himself (1 Peter 5:8) to business (Matthew 5:25) and family problems (Luke 12:13)—are part and parcel to those who would “live godly in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:12). We should not be surprised when such challenges come; rather, we should be alarmed if all men “speak well of you” (Luke 6:26).

Curiously, Paul wrote that we are “gifted” (Greek verb charizomai, same idea as the related noun charis) with this privilege, in the interests of our Lord Jesus, to “suffer for his sake.” The apostles understood this paradox as they left the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem “rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name” (Acts 5:41).

Peter wrote that we should follow the example set for us by the Lord Jesus, “who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously” (1 Peter 2:23). In fact, we should “rejoice” when asked to share in the same kind of sufferings that our Lord endured, and whenever we are “reproached for the name of Christ” we should be happy, “for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you” (1 Peter 4:14).

Privileged suffering indeed! James wrote that we should “count it all joy” (James 1:2) when we are tested. Those times increase our faith and allow us to demonstrate our allegiance to Christ. HMM III
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April 11, 2021
Remember His Benefits
“Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.” (Psalm 103:2)

The benefits of the Lord are, indeed, great and marvelous, and it would be an act of ingratitude not to remember and appreciate them. Note the following partial list in this psalm:

  1. Forgiveness. “Who forgiveth all thine iniquities” (v. 3). God forgives all! He “cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).
  2. Healing. “Who healeth all thy diseases” (v. 3). The greatest and ultimate disease is that of aging and death, but one day “there shall be no more death” (Revelation 21:4).
  3. Redemption. “Who redeemeth thy life from destruction” (v. 4; see also 1 Peter 1:18-19).
  4. Glorification. “Who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies” (v. 4).
  5. Provision. “Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things” (v. 5; see also James 1:17).
  6. Strength. “Thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s” (v. 5).
  7. Protection. “The LORD executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed” (v. 6).

The greatest benefit of all, of course, is the gift of salvation, by the mercy of God. Note the testimonies of God’s mercy: “Who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies” (v. 4). “The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy” (v. 8). “For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him” (v. 11). “But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him” (v. 17).

Infinite as the universe, enduring as eternity—these are the dimensions of God’s mercy! “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us” (v. 12). No wonder this great psalm both begins and ends with the inspiring exhortation: “Bless the LORD, O my soul!” HMM

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April 12, 2021
Bible Authority
“Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.” (Proverbs 30:5-6)

The Bible is unique among all books. Not only is it different in its form, structure, and history, but it takes the position of supernatural superiority to all other communication. It insists on total accuracy for its content and absolute obedience to its commands. No other book is so demanding. The whole of the Bible abounds with the teaching that it has “given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3).

It is the word of God the Father. Jesus made it clear: “I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak” (John 12:49).

It was confirmed by the Holy Spirit. “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1:21).

It is the source of faith and salvation. “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever” (1 Peter 1:23).

It is not to be changed. “Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you” (Deuteronomy 4:2).

It is the instrument by which “a young man [can] cleanse his way...by taking heed thereto according to thy word” (Psalm 119:9). It is to be reverenced and obeyed, “for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name” (Psalm 138:2). “Yea, let God be true, but every man a liar” (Romans 3:4). HMM III

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