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August 17, 2019
An Approved Workman
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)

Teaching God’s Word of truth properly and effectively is not play; it is hard work! The command to “study” means, literally, to “labor earnestly.” There are far too many unprepared teachers of the Bible today, not even to mention false teachers. “My brethren, be not many masters [that is, ‘don’t many of you try to be teachers’], knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation” (James 3:1).

A workman who has presented himself for testing, and has then passed the test, is an “approved” workman, and he will certainly have spent much time training in his profession before presuming to make application for a job. In this most important of all vocations, it is vital that the Word be “rightly divided,” for if, when the test comes, he cannot do this, he will “be ashamed” for having the presumption to engage in such a vital occupation without the necessary calling and training, or dedication.

The Lord had to train His disciples for three years before they were ready to start teaching the Word on their own. The apostle Paul also, even though he had already received the finest schooling in Israel, still had to be specially prepared for three years after becoming a Christian before he was ready (Galatians 1:15-24). The equivalent of three years’ full-time study still seems a good minimum before one should presume to take on a regular ministry of teaching or preaching the holy Scriptures.

Every Christian should seek to win people to Christ, of course, as soon as he himself meets Christ. He should also begin immediately to search the Scriptures (e.g., the Bereans, in Acts 17). But an “approved workman” needs to be thoroughly taught and to have studied in the Word himself. HMM

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phkrause

August 18, 2019
So Great Salvation
“How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him.” (Hebrews 2:3)

One of the greatest words of the Bible is “salvation,” and one could expound its glories at length. Our salvation is so costly that its price was nothing less than the shed blood of the Son of God. “Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, . . . But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:18-19).

Nevertheless, there are only three verses in the New Testament in which the word is preceded by an adjective. These three descriptive terms are, therefore, very significant. The first of these is the one in our text—“so great” salvation. The adjective here is used only one other time in the New Testament, where it is translated “so mighty” (Revelation 16:18), describing a cataclysm so great that every island and mountain will disappear from the earth!

Not only is our salvation infinitely costly, but unlike everything else in our lives, it is unending: “And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him” (Hebrews 5:9). Salvation is not merely the impartation of a better life in this life; it is everlasting life in the future life, in the presence of its divine “author” (or “cause”).

The third adjective is quite different. “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation” (Jude 1:3). Our salvation is also common! This same word is applied by Paul to “the common faith” (Titus 1:4). Basically, it means “ordinary.” Thus, despite the infinite and eternal values associated with our great salvation, it is also very common and ordinary! Salvation is for anyone, and whosoever will may come! HMM

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August 19, 2019
Delight in the Lord
“Delight thyself also in the LORD: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” (Psalm 37:4)

Psalm 37 provides cures for the fretting (Hebrew charah, “anger”) that comes in a spiritual battle. These emotions explode from the heart of the righteous saint against those who would dare lift up their hand against the Lord.

This beautiful promise and command insists that we luxuriate in our Lord. He is the Lord of inexhaustible riches (Philippians 4:19), and His inexpressible power is at work in His children (Ephesians 3:20).

Isaiah records God’s rhetorical question: “Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness” (Isaiah 55:2). God reminded Israel that the day was coming when they would “be delighted with the abundance of [Jerusalem’s] glory” (Isaiah 66:11).

Jesus also said, “How much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” (Matthew 7:11).

When we trust the Lord to give us what we need, is it any wonder that He who knows all and owns all will give us the desires of our hearts? If we long for the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, why should we marvel when the King of kings grants our desires?

The delight that we have in the work and ministry of the Lord is the key to His answering our “effectual fervent prayer” (James 5:16).

Simply stated, a human heart that is aligned with the beat of the divine heart will receive God’s bountiful answers (Deuteronomy 5:29). HMM III

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August 20, 2019
Born into God's Family
“Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.” (1 John 3:1)

One of the most motivating truths of the Bible is the doctrine that we become sons of God when we are born again through faith in Christ. God then deals with us as a father does with his beloved children. We should therefore respond as obedient children who love their father.

The little epistle of 1 John has many references to this relationship and our consequent responsibilities. In the first place, “ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him” (2:29). “Whosoever is born of God doth not [habitually] commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God” (3:9).

Another attribute of our sonship is brotherly love: “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him” (5:1). “Every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God” (4:7). Furthermore, each child of God should have a victorious faith. “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith” (5:4).

All who are truly sons of God will never lose that holy relationship. “He that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not” (5:18). This is because of the fact that “greater is he that is in [us], than he that is in the world” (4:4).

There are many such references in the Bible. All stress that we should reflect the character of the Father in our lives as His children. The glorious, ultimate promise is this: “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (3:2). HMM

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August 21, 2019
From Disobedience to Obedience
“As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance.” (1 Peter 1:14)

A graphic figure of speech often used in the Bible is the attribution of character traits to parental inheritance.

In our text, those who honor God’s laws are called “obedient children”—a term conveying the same sort of message as “children of light, and the children of the day” (1 Thessalonians 5:5), as well as “children of the kingdom” (Matthew 13:38). In contrast, note Ephesians 5:6: “Because of these things [that is, the sinful practices listed in Ephesians 5:3-5] cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.” A definitive passage is 1 John 3:10: “In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.”

Those who are “by nature the children of wrath” (Ephesians 2:3) can, of course, become children of God by the new birth. This becomes the greatest of all incentives toward a godly life. The biblical terms “regeneration” and “born again” are widely misused today, but they represent wonderful, life-changing realities: “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light” (Ephesians 5:8).

Therefore, as in our text, we must no longer “fashion” ourselves according to our former lusts but according to our new life. “Be not conformed [same Greek word as ‘fashioned’] to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). No longer in darkness and ignorance, we now “have light” as the “children of light” (John 12:36) and the “mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16) as children of wisdom (Matthew 11:19). We now have the very highest of all callings, as children of God, and we must “walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called” (Ephesians 4:1). HMM

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August 22, 2019
The Rock of Offense
“Give glory to the LORD your God, before he cause darkness, and before your feet stumble upon the dark mountains, and, while ye look for light, he turn it into the shadow of death, and make it gross darkness.” (Jeremiah 13:16)

The figurative representations of Christ as the foundation rock of the great spiritual house of God (Matthew 16:18; Ephesians 2:20; 1 Peter 2:6) and also as the water-yielding rock of sustenance in the wilderness (1 Corinthians 10:4) are two of the great symbols of the Bible.

But for those who reject Him, He becomes “a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offense. . . . And many among them shall stumble, and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken” (Isaiah 8:14-15).

Not only will the stone cause such a one to stumble, but Jesus said, “And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder” (Matthew 21:44). This figure is taken from the fall of the great image in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. “Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet . . . and brake them to pieces” (Daniel 2:34). All the kingdoms of the world were represented in the image, but “the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth” (Daniel 2:35).

“Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient” (1 Peter 2:7-8).

Thus, the stone of stumbling, which is Christ, is also the Word, and it is deadly dangerous to stumble over the holy Scriptures. One should give glory to God before darkness falls and he stumbles upon the dark mountain in the shadow of death. HMM

 

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August 23, 2019
Dead to Sin--Alive unto God
“For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:19-20)

One of the greatest doctrinal truths of the Bible is that the Christian life is one of victory over sin. The law of God has condemned us as lawbreakers (James 2:10), but Christ died for our sins, and “ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ” (Romans 7:4).

We should live in victory over sin, but somehow we still stumble. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” The remedy for such lapses is at hand, of course. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8-9).

Nevertheless, if Christ is really living in us by His Spirit, if we have really been born again, then we cannot continue to live in sin. “How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” (Romans 6:2). “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin” (vv. 6-7).

The secret to making this doctrine practical reality in our lives is simply the motivation of gratitude. In the words of our text, “the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”

We already have the necessary resources: forgiveness, freedom from guilt, eternal life, and the indwelling Spirit of Christ. We must simply avail ourselves of His power, because He loved us and saved us. “Reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:11). HMM

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August 24, 2019
The Wisdom of God
“And all Israel heard of the judgment which the king had judged; and they feared the king: for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him, to do judgment.” (1 Kings 3:28)

The “wisdom of God,” as attributed to Solomon, is an awesome concept, because God Himself is omniscient. Apparently Solomon was given a greater share of the divine wisdom than any others of his generation, and probably more than most of any generation.

God also gave him “largeness of heart” (1 Kings 4:29). Not only did he build and effectively rule a great kingdom, but “he spake three thousand proverbs: and his songs were a thousand and five” (1 Kings 4:32). Included in these, of course, were three divinely inspired books (Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon), which are now in our Bibles.

Furthermore, he was a scientist, for “he spake of trees, . . . of beasts, and of fowl, and of creeping things, and of fishes” (1 Kings 4:33-34).

Sadly, in his old age, he also acquired a goodly portion of “the wisdom of this world” (1 Corinthians 2:6) that must “come to nought,” and which led eventually to a loss of part of his kingdom.

The phrase “the wisdom of God” occurs six other times in Scripture (Ezra 7:25; Luke 11:49; 1 Corinthians 1:21, 24; 2:7; Ephesians 3:10). In the Corinthian passages, the eternal divine wisdom is being contrasted with the very temporal and often misguided wisdom of man.

In Ephesians 3:10 is found the remarkable revelation that the angels (who themselves have tremendous wisdom—note 2 Samuel 14:20) are themselves being taught “the manifold wisdom of God.” And these instructions are conveyed “by the church”—that is, by the amazing way in which God has created and redeemed man for eternal fellowship with Himself. HMM

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August 25, 2019
Only Christ Was Sinless
“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8)

Here John is writing to Christians, and his epistle is full of exhortations to the Christian to purge sin from his life, with grave warnings to any who do not. Yet, he also says that for a Christian to claim sinless perfection is self-deception. “If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us” (1 John 1:10).

Only by Jesus Christ Himself could such claims be truly made. The greatest theologian, Paul, said concerning Christ that He “knew no sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21). His closest friends, Peter and John, said that He “did no sin” (1 Peter 2:22) and that in Him is no sin (1 John 3:5). His betrayer, Judas, said, “I have betrayed the innocent blood” (Matthew 27:4); His condemning judge, Pilate, said, “I find in him no fault at all” (John 18:38); and His executioner said, “This was a righteous man” (Luke 23:47). Christ Himself claimed human perfection: “For I do always those things that please him” (John 8:29).

Jesus Christ alone was sinlessly perfect in His human life, and it was because of this that He could die for our sins. It is arrogant for one of us to claim a state of perfection, thus leading such a person into repeated assertions of boasting and self-justification, trying to explain why apparently sinful behavior is not really sinful. Even Paul himself acknowledged: “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect” (Philippians 3:12).

But between these two key verses in John’s epistle, he gives us the moment-by-moment remedy for sin in a godly believer’s life: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). “The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). HMM

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August 26, 2019
Salvation Through the Word
“And it came to pass, when the king had heard the words of the book of the law, that he rent his clothes.” (2 Kings 22:11)

This experience of Judah’s good King Josiah illustrates the convicting power of the Scriptures and points up the essential importance of the revealed Word of God in the process of repentance, forgiveness, and salvation. It is the Word of God that brings conviction of one’s need of salvation, and this is the indispensable first step leading to salvation. “For by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20).

It is also through the Scriptures that one comes to an understanding of salvation: “The holy scriptures . . . are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15). Furthermore, it is the Word that generates saving faith: “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).

Finally, the very miracle of regeneration, transforming a lost soul into a born-again child of God, is accomplished by the Holy Spirit on the basis of saving faith in Christ (as revealed in Scripture) through the Word. “Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth” (James 1:18). “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).

The result of King Josiah’s reading of the Word was that he “made a covenant before the LORD, to walk after the LORD, and to keep his commandments” (2 Kings 23:3).

In view of the transcendent importance of God’s Word in every phase of the process of salvation, it is no wonder that the apostle Paul’s great command, just before his martyrdom and just after his tremendous assertion of the full inspiration of Scripture and its sufficiency for every need (2 Timothy 3:15-17), was, simply, “preach the word” (2 Timothy 4:2). Not just preach, but preach the Word! HMM

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  August 27, 2019
Whosoever Will May Come
“And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call.” (Joel 2:32)

“God is no respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34). Yet in the above “whosoever” passage of the Old Testament, it is clear that those who “call on the name of the LORD” were the same as “the remnant whom the LORD shall call.” Those who call on the Lord have first been called by the Lord. He accepts all those who call on Him from every nation, but no doubt their geographical location to a large extent determines whether they will even hear of Him, and “how then shall they call on him . . . of whom they have not heard?” (Romans 10:14).

Theologians of great intellect have wrestled with these questions for centuries without resolving them, at least to the satisfaction of those of different mental persuasion. On the practical level, however, the Holy Spirit led Peter to quote this passage in his great sermon on the Day of Pentecost: “And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21).

Peter was speaking only to Jews, but they had assembled at Jerusalem “out of every nation under heaven” (Acts 2:5). Then Paul made it forever plain that “whosoever” applied to everyone when he also quoted Joel. “For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:12-13). The Lord Jesus Christ Himself, on the very last page of Scripture, says: “Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17). So, whosoever will may come! One can contemplate later, with deep thanksgiving, the mysteries of the divine call, but first he must come, and if he so wills, he may! HMM

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  August 28, 2019
Temptation's Threefold Nature
“And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.” (Genesis 3:6)

Satan was so successful with his first temptation when he persuaded Adam and Eve to rebel against God’s Word in the Garden of Eden that he has been using the same technique ever since. By this threefold temptation, he appeals to the body, soul, and spirit. He first appeals to whatever fleshly appetites a person may have (“good for food”), then to his emotional responses (“pleasant to the eyes”), and finally to his spiritual pride (“make one wise”).

John later would call these desires “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” (1 John 2:16). James identifies them as “earthly, sensual, devilish” (James 3:15).

Satan even brought the same three temptations to bear on Christ Himself in the wilderness: “If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread” (Matthew 4:3). That is, “satisfy your physical hunger.” “Cast thyself down” from the pinnacle of the temple, thus enjoying the exhilarating feeling of being borne up by angels (Matthew 4:5-6). “All these things I will give thee” without your going to the cross, Satan taunted (Matthew 4:9).

Christ, however, stood the test, in each case citing an appropriate verse of Scripture to gain the victory. Now, when we are tempted, we can draw on His strength and follow His example. “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him” (James 1:12). God “will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). HMM

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August 29, 2019
Life's Uncertainties
“Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?” (John 14:5)

Many times along life’s way we face uncertainties, opposition, and even doubt. When we do, it is helpful to recognize that those who lived with Christ when He was here on Earth faced the same perplexities. His answers and assurances to them in John 14 are meant for us as well.

“Let not your heart be troubled,” He said (John 14:1)—an emphatic command that could be rendered “Don’t continue to be troubled.” The solution: “Ye believe in God, believe also in me.” We believe God can supply all the answers to our troubles. But Christ is God! He is the solution. He is “the way, the truth, and the life” (14:6), and is the only solution, for “no man cometh unto the Father, but by [him].”

He is the way: “In my Father’s house are many mansions. . . . I go to prepare a place for you. And . . . I will come again, and receive you unto myself” (14:2-3). Whatever else may befall us, our destiny is  sure. His reputation is at stake, for He has promised a place in the Father’s house.

He is the truth: Peter had just been informed of his coming denial (13:38), that he would openly assert a lie. Jesus said He is “the truth.” “The words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but of the Father that dwelleth in me” (14:10). Words and thoughts not in accordance with His are not “truth,” we can be sure of that.

He is the life: Speaking of His imminent death, Christ said, “Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now; but thou shalt follow me afterwards” (13:36), indicating their own eventual persecution and martyrdom. Yet their ultimate victory, as well as comfort (14:16-18), were assured.

How can those things be? “Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name,” Christ said, “that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (14:13). JDM

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  August 30, 2019
The Believer's Judgment
“For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?” (1 Peter 4:17)

There is a terrible day of judgment coming for those who reject Christ, but for those who do believe the gospel and trust the Lord Jesus for salvation, “there is therefore now no condemnation [i.e., judgment]” (Romans 8:1). Yet, our text tells us that judgment actually begins with those who obey the gospel! This apparent contradiction vanishes when one realizes that it is merely for the purpose of preparing those who are already saved to serve Him in eternity.

When a believer sins, he should judge and confess that sin. “For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged” (1 Corinthians 11:31), and God will forgive (1 John 1:9). If he does not, however, the next phase of judgment is the chastening of God. “But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world” (1 Corinthians 11:32). The classic passage on the believer’s chastening (Hebrews 12:5-11) concludes with the assurance that its purpose is to yield “the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby” (Hebrews 12:11).

But when such chastening fails to work, the next judgment may even be physical death. “There is sin unto death” (1 John 5:16). “To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus” (1 Corinthians 5:5).

Finally, all Christians must “appear before the judgment seat of Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:10), where “every one of us shall give account of himself to God” (Romans 14:12). There, some “shall suffer loss.” Nevertheless, each person at this judgment “shall be saved” (1 Corinthians 3:14-15). But, as our text continues, “if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and sinner appear?” (1 Peter 4:18). HMM

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August 31, 2019
The Glory of the Lord
“So that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of God.” (2 Chronicles 5:14)

With the coming of the Shekinah glory cloud into the great house, God showed His acceptance of Solomon’s beautiful temple as His symbolic earthly dwelling place. This had happened once before in the wilderness. “Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle” (Exodus 40:34).

But as the glory once departed when the Ark of the Covenant was taken from the tabernacle by the Philistines (1 Samuel 4:22), so it later also departed when Solomon’s temple was plundered by the Babylonians and the people carried into exile (2 Chronicles 36:17-20; Ezekiel 10:18; 11:23).

It returned for a time when “the Word was made flesh, and dwelt [literally, ‘tabernacled’] among us, (and we beheld his glory)” at least in a spiritual sense (John 1:14). On one occasion Christ’s glory shone through even in a physical sense: “And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and . . . they saw his glory” (Luke 9:29-32) on the Mount of the Transfiguration.

There is also a great day coming when the ascended Lord will return with His heavenly temple, “coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matthew 24:30), even as “the glory of the Lord shone round about them” (Luke 2:9) at His first coming. His glory will be present forever when the heavenly tabernacle, the New Jerusalem, comes to Earth (Revelation 21:3-10), “having the glory of God” (v. 11).

In this present age, the body of each believer “is the temple of the Holy Ghost,” and he must “therefore glorify God in [his] body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). “For God . . . hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6). HMM

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September 2, 2019
Labor
“We beseech you, brethren, that ye increase more and more; And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; that ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing.” (1 Thessalonians 4:10-12)

On Labor Day, we traditionally take time to recognize the great workforce here in America. From factories to restaurants, from typing pools to machine shops, from schoolrooms to gas stations, laborers help make the economy run, and on this day America honors its workforce.

The Bible likewise frequently commends those who work. For example: “Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth” (Ephesians 4:28).

Several of the words in our text are significant. The verbs “increase . . . study . . . be . . . do . . . work . . . walk . . . lack” are all in the tense implying a habit, or lifestyle. We are thus commended to have a mindset of work, not laziness or expecting others to do for us what we can do for ourselves.

The word “honestly” elsewhere is translated “decently” or “properly” and is emphasized in the Greek. There is a proper way to walk.

Perhaps Paul was referring to his own example: “For ye remember, brethren, our labor and travail: for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you” (1 Thessalonians 2:9).

Note that an admonition to continue in “brotherly love” (v. 9) is the context of our text. For one who refuses to work and becomes a burden to society exhibits a lack of brotherly love and is a reproach to the community of Christ.

Laborers are honored in Scripture, and so is labor. JDM

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September 3, 2019
The Power of the Saints
“The exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe.” (Ephesians 1:19)

The power of the triune Creator, as displayed in the resurrection of Christ, is directed toward us! We will never fully comprehend that, but the Scriptures provide several clear statements that will help us gain a small grasp on this magnificent resource.

  • We receive power when the Holy Spirit indwells us (Acts 1:8). The Holy Spirit takes up residence in everyone who is twice-born (John 14:17) and is therefore readily accessible to all believers (Ephesians 3:20).
  • We use the power of God every time we preach the gospel (Romans 1:16), whether to one person or to thousands (1 Corinthians 1:18).
  • We learn of the power of God through “great and precious promises.” Indeed, those promises involve “all things that pertain unto life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3-4).
  • We see the results of God’s power in our lives when we are “strengthened with all might” so we demonstrate “all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness” (Colossians 1:11).

The Lord desires “that [we] might be filled with all the fulness of God” (Ephesians 3:19) and “strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man” (v. 16). The purpose of this empowering is to be “rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith” (Colossians 2:7), “able to comprehend . . . the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know [!] the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge” (Ephesians 3:18-19).

“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen” (vv. 20-21). HMM III

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September 4, 2019
Grow in Grace
“But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.” (2 Peter 3:18)

These last words of the apostle Peter urge us to grow in each of two important phases of the Christian life—grace and knowledge. Such growth into Him in all things (Ephesians 4:15) will indeed give glory to Him, now and forever.

When we first become Christians, we are newborn babes (Greek brephos, 1 Peter 2:2). Our spiritual birth has been by the Word of God (1 Peter 1:23) on the basis of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1 Peter 1:3).

As the Christian life began with the Word, it can only grow on the Word. “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2). Here, “of the word” is the Greek logikos, elsewhere used only in Romans 12:1, where it is translated “reasonable.” It is the source of our English word “logical.” New Christians must feed on unadulterated, logical truth if they are to grow, and this can be found only in the Holy Scriptures.

There is another word used for babes: Greek nepios, “without speech.” This word is used for toddlers, old enough to walk but not yet able to speak plainly or to act unselfishly. It is used for “carnal” Christians. “I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat” (1 Corinthians 3:1-2).

Carnality in Christians is arrested growth at the “babes in Christ” stage and is clearly abnormal. Such stumbling, quarrelsome babes need to be fed with meat, as well as milk, if they are to grow: “For every one that useth milk is unskillful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe” (Hebrews 5:13). May the Lord enable us to grow in His grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! HMM

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September 5, 2019
Speaking Evil of Dignities
“But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities.” (2 Peter 2:10)

In context here, Peter is speaking of the false teachers who would later come into the Christian community, leading many to “follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of” (2 Peter 2:2). Among other characteristics, these teachers would “despise government” and “speak evil of dignities.”

Again in context, it seems clear that the “government” Peter has in mind primarily is the divine government that had been established by God for the universe (the “principalities and powers in heavenly places”—Ephesians 3:10) and the “dignities” refer to the angels—even those that have rebelled and now follow Satan. Jude notes in a similar passage that even the archangel Michael spoke respectfully to Satan, the premier fallen angel (Jude 1:8-9).

Therefore, it is carnally arrogant and dangerous for men to insult or to ridicule such powerful beings. They are for God to judge and deal with, in His own time and way.

And the same must be true of human “dignities” and “government.” We must remember that “the powers that be are ordained of God” (Romans 13:1) and that “the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will,” and sometimes He even “setteth up over it the basest of men” (Daniel 4:17).

Even if we live in a republic, therefore, and can participate in the selection of our leaders, our main responsibility is to “be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work, To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men” (Titus 3:1-2). HMM

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September 6, 2019
Completing a Good Work
“Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)

In his introductory comments to the Philippian church, Paul reminds them of his thankfulness for them (v. 3), his prayer for them (v. 4), and as we see in our text, his confidence in God’s continuing work in their lives.

This “good work” is not the sort of work that men and women are able to accomplish. Paul identifies this as God’s work, as yet not completed—that is, the transforming work of grace. “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (2:13).

The work of grace takes several forms: It includes the redemption of our lost souls, having been fully accomplished by Christ on Calvary. It also includes our ultimate sanctification, transforming our character from that of a redeemed sinner to one of Christ-likeness. He is working toward this goal on a daily basis and will finish the task in His presence. But the work of grace also includes our service for Him—not our work, but His, that He does through us. He grants us, through His grace, the distinct privilege of participating in His work here on Earth.

Paul writes that the ultimate completion of this “good work” of grace awaits “the day of Jesus Christ.” In a similar prayer for the Corinthian believers, he writes of their “waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:7-8).

Meanwhile, we can rest in His faithfulness, fully convinced of His intention and ability to complete His work. “The LORD will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O LORD, endureth for ever: forsake not the works of thine own hands” (Psalm 138:8). JDM

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September 7, 2019
The Crown of Glory
“She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee.” (Proverbs 4:9)

There are five specific “crowns” mentioned in the New Testament as rewards for faithful service, presumably to be rewarded by Christ at His judgment seat (1 Corinthians 3:14). These are the “incorruptible” crown (1 Corinthians 9:25; 2 Corinthians 5:10); the “crown of righteousness” (2 Timothy 4:8); the “crown of rejoicing” (1 Thessalonians 2:19); “the crown of life” (James 1:12; Revelation 2:10); and lastly the “crown of glory” (1 Peter 5:4).

Although the crown of glory is mentioned only once in the New Testament, the phrase occurs four times in the Old Testament, each providing special insight into its character and scope. The first is Proverbs 4:9: “[Wisdom] shall give to thine head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee.” The other three are, in order, as follows:

  • “The hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness” (Proverbs 16:31).
  • “In that day shall the LORD of hosts be for a crown of glory, and for a diadem of beauty, unto the residue of his people” (Isaiah 28:5).
  • “Thou [probably a reference to the new Jerusalem] shalt also be a crown of glory in the land of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God” (Isaiah 62:3).

The one New Testament reference, in 1 Peter 5:4, is a wonderful promise to the faithful shepherds of each “little flock” (Luke 12:32) of believers: “And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.”

We do not know exactly what these crowns will be composed of, but when we see the Lord we shall lay each of them before His throne (Revelation 4:10). HMM

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September 8, 2019
Joy in Believing
“Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.” (1 Peter 1:8)

After His resurrection, the Lord acknowledged the legitimate need for evidence of such a mighty miracle, honoring the request of Thomas to see for himself that He had, indeed, returned from the grave. Nevertheless, Thomas could and should have believed the evidence from the other disciples when they testified of the empty tomb and the previous appearances of Christ. Consequently, the Lord Jesus gave a mild but loving rebuke to His doubting disciple. “Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed” (John 20:29).

It is not that the Lord wants us to be credulous, believing something with no basis except blind faith. Today we have an abundance of solid evidence, more even than the disciples themselves had, and there is no excuse not to believe. Nevertheless, we must believe; “For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it” (Romans 8:24-25).

We cannot yet see Him with our eyes, as Thomas did, but we see Him with our hearts, and that is enough. As we read of Him in the Word, we see Him on the cross, taking “our sins in his own body” (1 Peter 2:24) and it breaks our hearts. Then we read of the empty tomb and the linen clothes, and are like John, who “saw, and believed” (John 20:8). Then we “rejoice with joy” (literally, “exult with exceeding gladness”), which cannot be told vocally any more than He can be seen visually. One day soon we shall really see Him in His glory, and “when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2). HMM

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September 9, 2019
Christ: Our Example
“For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps.” (1 Peter 2:21)

Some have tried to pattern their lives after that of Jesus simply by asking in every situation, “What would Jesus do?” But in the context of our text, the primary “example” that He left us was nothing less than His own sacrificial death!

Note the context: “For this is thankworthy [same word as ‘grace’], if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully . . . if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, yet take it patiently, this is acceptable [also the same word as ‘grace’] with God” (1 Peter 2:19-20).

To follow Christ’s example, therefore, is to be willing to endure unjustified suffering—even defamation and persecution—with grace and patience.

But that is not all; we must also do it in silence! “Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not” (1 Peter 2:23). “As a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth” (Isaiah 53:7).

It is a natural reaction to want to strike back at one who has slandered or injured us, especially if such an act was an insulting response to kindness. But such a “natural” reaction was not Christ’s reaction. He could have called “twelve legions of angels” (Matthew 26:53) to His defense, but He chose to suffer in silence.

And why would He do such a thing? First, if He had not done so, we would have been lost in our sins forever. He “bare our sins in his own body on the tree” (1 Peter 2:24).

Second, He left us an example, that we “should follow his steps.” He was not just silent in His sufferings; “He suffered for us!” If we would really be like Him, we must be willing to suffer quietly on behalf of others, even when they are the ones who deserve it. This is acceptable with God! HMM

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September 10, 2019
The Power of the Gospel
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” (Romans 1:16)

In this verse we are told that God’s power resides in the gospel—and indeed, that the purpose of this power is the salvation of both Jew and Greek. This passage is intended to incorporate spreading the gospel to all humanity, which is specifically commanded by the Lord Jesus: “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).

Evidently, the event that takes place when one is twice-born is nothing less than a supernatural “creation” by the Creator Himself (Ephesians 4:24)! There is no need for salesmanship or psychology or finesse or technique; the dunamis (power) of the living God is transmitted, applied, and exercised as the gospel is spoken and a person listens.

  • Ephesians 2:8: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.”
  • Romans 10:17: “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
  • John 6:63: “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.”
  • 1 Peter 1:23: “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.”
  • 1 Corinthians 15:3-4: “Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.”

To be successful (not to mention obedient) to the Lord’s command, we must most surely use the “power” of God that has been made available to us in the Scriptures! HMM III

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September 11, 2019
Great Is the Lord
“For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised: he also is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the people are idols: but the LORD made the heavens.” (1 Chronicles 16:25-26)

This testimony is in the heart of a great hymn of thanksgiving (1 Chronicles 16:7-36) composed by David when the Ark of the Lord was brought back to Jerusalem. It is a testimony of the unique greatness of the God of Israel, with recurring expressions of gratitude for His deliverances and blessings.

This God of Israel was no mere tribal-god or nature-god, such as Dagon, the fish-god of the Philistines from whose hands the Ark had been delivered. All such “gods” of the peoples of the earth—whether wooden images in a shrine, astrological emblems in the heavens, or mental constructs of evolutionary humanistic philosophers—are nothing but idols (that is, literally, “good for nothing,” “vanities”).

It is Jehovah God who is not only in the heavens but who made the heavens! It is their Creator who one day will “let the sea roar” and “the fields rejoice,” when “the trees of the wood sing out at the presence of the LORD, because he cometh to judge the earth” (vv. 32-33).

As Creator and Savior, all His people are exhorted also to “shew forth from day to day his salvation. Declare his glory among the heathen; his marvellous works among all nations” (vv. 23-24). Because of His power, the world itself “shall be stable [that is, ‘permanently established’], that it be not moved” (v. 30). This “God of our salvation” (v. 35), and the wonderful heavens and earth He created, will be forever. The psalm ends with the exhortation: “O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever. . . . Blessed be the LORD God of Israel for ever and ever” (vv. 34-36).

Now, if Israel needed such an exhortation, our modern science-worshiping world needs it still more urgently. HMM

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