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November 26, 2019
They Shall Never Perish
“And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.” (John 10:28-29)

What rich blessings Christ promises to those who “hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (v. 27). To think that the omnipotent Creator knows us and gives us eternal life! He is certainly powerful enough to see that this life is in no danger, either from our own weaknesses (“they shall never perish”) or from the enemy without (“pluck them out”). Temporary eternal life simply cannot be. The eternal life that He gives lasts for eternity.

Actually, the promise “they shall never perish” is very strong in the original Greek. A repeating negative precedes the word “perish,” and the specific form of the word “never” literally includes “eternally,” or “forever.” A more complete rendering would then be, “They shall not, in no wise perish, no, not for eternity.”

The word “man” is not in the original, and the word “any” is more properly translated “any one” or “any being.” This includes Satan—no match for the Savior. He is powerless to pluck or snatch us from either the Father’s or the Son’s hands. How could we be any more secure?

Note that the Father gave us to His beloved Son as gifts of His love. In turn, Christ values these precious gifts so much that He holds us securely in His hand, so tightly that no created being can snatch us away. The Father even assists in providing us this security, for we are also in the “Father’s hand,” and “I and my Father are one” (v. 30).

When we consider the size and strength of the Creator’s hand, we can understand why no one, not even Satan, can snatch us out of its protective care. JDM

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November 27, 2019
Wonderful Words of Life
“Thy testimonies are wonderful: therefore doth my soul keep them.” (Psalm 119:129)

Modern liberals may ridicule Bible-believing Christians as bibliolaters, but the fact is that it is not possible to place the Bible on too high a pedestal. “Thy testimonies are wonderful,” the psalmist says, for “his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor” (Isaiah 9:6), whose testimonies they are.

Consider just how wonderful are the Scriptures. They were written in the heart of God even before the creation. “For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven” (Psalm 119:89). Then, “at sundry times and in divers manners,” this eternal Word of God was conveyed to men, as God “spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets” (Hebrews 1:1). Finally, it was complete, and the last of the prophets concluded it with an all-embracing warning: “If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life” (Revelation 22:18-19). Critics who tamper with the words of the Bible are on dangerous ground, the psalmist said: “Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever” (Psalm 119:160). Jesus said: “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (Matthew 24:35).

Eternal in the past; inviolable in the present; forever in the future! All we shall ever need for our guidance is to be found in God’s wonderful testimonies: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable. . . . That the man of God may be perfect” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

It is not possible to have too high a view of Scripture, “for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name” (Psalm 138:2). HMM

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November 28, 2019
Being Thankful for Grace
“Moreover the law entered, that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” (Romans 5:20)

This is the day that Americans set aside to reflect on the blessings of God that have been showered on us in the previous year. All other holidays, even Christmas and Easter, can be skewed into a non-Christian meaning, but not Thanksgiving. Historically, it was a time to give thanks to God for the bountiful harvest, and experientially, while there are those to whom we should give thanks for particular favors, there is only one to whom we can give thanks for the blessings of life. Nothing else makes sense.

Christians, of course, have much more for which to give thanks than the non-believer, or at least they have the eyes with which to see and the heart with which to recognize God’s blessings. Indeed, Paul instructs us that “in every thing [we should] give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18); the tense of the verb implying a habitual, continual thanksgiving.

But specifically, we should be thankful for His grace, which, as explained in our text, completely overwhelmed our sin and instead brought salvation and freedom from guilt. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8).

Note that in our text the word “abound” appears three times. Both the offense and sin exist in abundance. But the abundance of grace comes from a different Greek word that means literally “to exist in superabundance.” But there is more. It is further modified by the prefix “much more,” implying a grace that is beyond superabundance.

On this special day of thanksgiving, let us not fail to include in those things for which we are thankful the overwhelmingly superabundant grace of God. JDM

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November 29, 2019
Our Listening God
“O thou that hearest prayer, unto thee shall all flesh come.” (Psalm 65:2)

There come times in each life when loneliness overshadows like a cloud, and no one is there to listen and provide counsel. Or perhaps there is some problem so personal and intimate that it seems unfitting or too embarrassing to share with anyone else.

But God will listen! No need is so small, no place too remote, no burden too heavy that He who is the “God of all grace” and “the God of all comfort” (1 Peter 5:10; 2 Corinthians 1:3) will not listen and care. “The LORD will hear when I call unto him” (Psalm 4:3).

Young people sometimes complain that their parents won’t listen to them; wives may say their husbands don’t listen; sometimes it seems that no one will listen to our questions or ideas about anything. But “the LORD is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth” (Psalm 145:18). Therefore, “pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us. Selah” (Psalm 62:8).

But how can He listen? After all, God is far away upon His throne. The risen Savior ascended far above all heavens to sit down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. How can the Father hear when we whisper a prayer in our hearts that no human could hear?

God is indeed up there, but He is also right here! Jesus said: “It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you” (John 16:7). Our God is a triune God, and He can be both in heaven and in our room and even, as the Holy Spirit, within our very hearts. Of course, “if I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me” (Psalm 66:18). But for those who confess and forsake their sins, “his ears are open unto their prayers” (1 Peter 3:12). HMM

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November 30, 2019
Five Commands
“Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:13)

In our text and the succeeding two verses, five commands are given to the believer striving to live a godly life. Let us look briefly at each one.

Gird up the loins of your mind: Using the long, flowing robes worn by most people in Greek societies as a word picture, Peter commands us to gird up our minds just as such a robe needed to be gathered up in preparation for strenuous activity. We need to discipline our minds for action.

Be sober: A drunken person has a disoriented mind, lacks self-control, and is not alert to his surroundings. We are commanded to maintain a calm and thoughtful state of mind, in full control of all our actions.

Hope to the end, or “patiently fix your hope”: We must recognize that He is in control and patiently wait for Him. The focus of our expectation is His grace, which we presently experience but which will be fully granted us at His return.

Not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance (v. 14): This phrase is translated “be not conformed” in Romans 12:2 and commands us not to adopt the world’s lifestyle and thought patterns, especially our “former lusts,” that enslaved us before our conversion.

But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy (v. 15): God is first and foremost a holy God, and we are called to “fashion” ourselves after Him. Complete holiness is out of our reach this side of glory, but it should be our goal.

All five are commands indeed, but commands three and five are in an emphatic position in the Greek, and these two hold the key to success in the others. Only by patiently fixing our hope on Him and His grace can we successfully strive for His holiness. JDM

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December 1, 2019
White as Snow
“I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire.” (Daniel 7:9)

In this amazing vision of the everlasting God on His fiery judgment throne, we find one of the six occurrences in the Bible of the fascinating phrase “white as snow.” As the symbol of holiness, pure white finds its clearest natural expression in the beautiful snow when it has freshly covered the ground.

Twice the phrase is used to describe the cleansing of a guilty sinner by the grace of God. David, after confessing his own sin, prayed: “Have mercy upon me, O God. . . . Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. . . . wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow” (Psalm 51:1-2, 7). Then, God promises through His prophet: “Come now, and let us reason together, . . . though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow” (Isaiah 1:18). The cleansing blood of Christ, the Lamb of God, is the only substance that can turn blood-red scarlet into snowy white.

When Christ ascended the Mount of Transfiguration, “his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow” (Mark 9:3), which confirmed to the three disciples that He was the Son of God, even as the voice from heaven had said (Matthew 17:5). At the empty tomb following His resurrection, “the angel of the Lord” also had “raiment white as snow” (Matthew 28:3). Finally, when John saw Christ in His glorified body, he testified that “his head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow” (Revelation 1:14).

It is marvelous that the raiment of the angel of God, the transfigured Christ, and the Ancient of days, as well as the head of Christ in His glory, are all described with the same phrase as the soul of one whose sins are forgiven! HMM

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December 2, 2019
Giving and Receiving
“Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only.” (Philippians 4:15)

As Paul went on his missionary journeys, he never asked for money for himself from the people to whom he preached. He later wrote to the Thessalonians, “Because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God” (1 Thessalonians 2:9). He did stress the teaching of Christ that “the labourer is worthy of his reward” (1 Timothy 5:18; Luke 10:7) and that “even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:14). But he himself said: “I have used none of these things: neither have I written these things, that it should be so done unto me” (1 Corinthians 9:15).

Thus, he was especially moved when the impoverished Christians at Philippi, without being asked, “sent once and again unto my necessity” (Philippians 4:16), and they were the only ones who did! This act of generous concern came about, Paul recognized, because they “first gave their own selves to the Lord” (2 Corinthians 8:5). As a result, Paul could assure them: “My God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). Not only their material need, but every need.

They had learned a wonderful truth that every Christian needs to learn. As Paul told the Ephesian elders: “Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). Therefore, let each of us give in His name, “not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:7-8). HMM

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December 3, 2019
Can It Be?
Christ also suffered for us. . . . Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.” (1 Peter 2:21-24)

Those who love good church music have come to love Charles Wesley’s commitment to and knowledge of his Savior and the Scriptures, for he wove into his music and poetry deep insights that challenge and thrill us even today. One of his hymns, “And Can It Be That I Should Gain?,” has unfortunately been abridged in modern hymnals. The first verse is expressed:

 

And can it be that I should gain,
An interest in the Savior’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain?
For me, who Him, to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That thou, my God, should’st die for me?


Even the Old Testament saints wondered why God loves man so. “What is man, that thou shouldest magnify him? and that thou shouldest set thine heart upon him?” (Job 7:17). The New Testament contains many similar expressions of wonder. “Behold, what manner of love [literally ‘what a different kind of love’] the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God” (1 John 3:1). “God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. . . . And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement” (Romans 5:8-11).

The point is we were desperate sinners deserving His wrath. “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love [i.e., ‘amazing love’] wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved)” (Ephesians 2:4-5). JDM

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December 4, 2019
The Immortal Dies
“Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (1 Timothy 1:17)

The second verse of “And Can It Be That I Should Gain?” poses and solves a great mystery:

 

T’is mystery all! the immortal dies!
Who can explain this strange design?
In vain the first-born seraph tries,
To sound the depths of love divine;
T’is mercy all! Let earth adore!
Let angel minds inquire no more.


Our text reminds us that God is immortal. And yet, “Christ died for our sins” (1 Corinthians 15:3) to bring us salvation. If this astounds us (and it should), we can take solace in that we are not alone. “Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things . . . which things the angels desire to look into” (1 Peter 1:10-12).

Think of it! The Creator, the Author of life, has died to offer eternal life to His creation, for “all have sinned” (Romans 3:23), and the “wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). He died so that we don’t have to die! This grand plan remains beyond our full grasp, as it always was to the prophets and the angels.

The motive behind His plan is God’s mercy. “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us; . . . Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour” (Titus 3:5-6). “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out” (Romans 11:33). JDM

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December 5, 2019
His Mercy Found Me
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8)

The third verse of the hymn “And Can It Be That I Should Gain?” sets the stage for the implementation of His majestic plan.

 

He left His father’s throne above,
So free, so infinite His grace!
Emptied Himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam’s helpless race;
T’is mercy all! Immense and free,
For, O my God, it found out me!


The plan involved the death of God the Son. The Creator dying for the creation. The righteous Judge taking on Himself the penalty of the condemned. The rejected Holy One becoming sin on behalf of the true sinner. The convicted ones, powerless to alter the situation, simply receiving the offered grace through faith (see our text).

First, God had to take on Himself the nature of the condemned, live a guiltless life so that He could die as a substitutionary sacrifice. To do so, God the Son had to leave His Father’s throne. And, although “being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God [i.e., was willing to give up his kingly status]: But made himself of no reputation [literally, ‘emptied himself’], and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: . . . and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:6-8).

Adam had rebelled against his Creator’s authority, and all of mankind suffered. “By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12), yet Christ’s work on the cross changed all that. “For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many” (v. 15). Amazing love! JDM

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December 6, 2019
My Chains Fell Off
“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.” (1 Peter 2:9)

The fourth verse of Charles Wesley’s great hymn “And Can It Be That I Should Gain?” compares Peter’s miraculous deliverance from prison with a sinner’s deliverance from bondage to sin. “Peter was sleeping, . . . bound with two chains. . . . And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: . . . And his chains fell off from his hands. And the angel said unto him . . . follow me” (Acts 12:6-8).

 

Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quick’ning ray,
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light:
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed thee.


The Bible teaches that before being delivered, “ye were the servants of sin [i.e., in bondage to sin], but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness” (Romans 6:17-18). We were powerless to gain freedom on our own.

But “God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, 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), bringing freedom and life. “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened [made alive] by the Spirit” (1 Peter 3:18). “And you, being dead in your sins . . . hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses” (Colossians 2:13). If He has done all this for us, how can we do less than follow Him? JDM

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December 7, 2019
Alive in Him
“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 2:20)

The final verse of Charles Wesley’s “And Can It Be That I Should Gain?” provides a fitting climax to what’s gone before:

 

No condemnation now I dread,
Jesus, with all in Him, is mine;
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach th’eternal throne,
And claim the crown, thru Christ, my own.


“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Romans 8:1). “Who is he that condemneth?” Not Christ! “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” (v. 34).

We’re now alive through Christ’s work on the cross, with a standing beyond our comprehension. “For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him” (Colossians 2:9-10). The song calls Him our “living Head.” Peter calls Him a “living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious. . . . The same is made the head of the corner” (1 Peter 2:4-7).

In response to His love, we “put off concerning the former conversation [way of living] of the old man . . . [and] put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Ephesians 4:22-24). Dressed in His righteousness, “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 4:16). “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day” (2 Timothy 4:8). JDM

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December 8, 2019
Hastening His Coming
“Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?” (2 Peter 3:12)

Exactly how can we “hasten unto the coming of the day of God”? The answer is by bringing its coming closer. In fact, the phrase can just as well be understood as “hastening the coming.”

Although the Scriptures give us many signs to know when Christ’s return is near, Jesus said that no one could determine the exact time—not even He Himself! “Of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father” (Mark 13:32). In His self-limited human nature, He did not know because, apparently, it depended in some way on what His disciples would do to “hasten his coming” after He went back to heaven.

When He left them, He said: “Ye shall be witnesses unto me . . . unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8). This was a command, but it was also a prophecy: “Ye shall be witnesses” to the very last tribe on earth. In His Olivet discourse, He had said: “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matthew 24:14). Sometime, somehow, every tribe will be reached, because John, in his vision, saw a great multitude “of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues” in heaven (Revelation 7:9).

“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise” to return, but He does desire “that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9), and we should “account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation” (2 Peter 3:15). No one but the Father knows just when the last convert from the last tribe will be won, but if we “love his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:8), we can “hasten his coming” by doing all we can to get the gospel to the ends of the earth. HMM

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December 9, 2019
The Good Fight
“Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.” (1 Timothy 6:12)

Scripture frequently refers to the Christian life and work in athletic or combative terms. When all things are considered, reason compels the Christian to enter into the race and fight.

First, our Commander is worth following. He leads us into battle and stands with us on the front lines receiving the fiercest fire: “Let us run with patience the race. . . . Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross” (Hebrews 12:1-2).

Second, we are well-armed and protected. The “whole armour of God” includes the girdle of “truth,” the “breastplate of righteousness,” shoes of “the preparation of the gospel of peace,” “the shield of faith,” “the helmet of salvation,” and “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:13-17). The warrior’s mouth is filled with prayers and bold speech (vv.18-20); his sword has no scabbard, and his back has no armor, for retreat is unthinkable.

The goal of our fight urges us on. We strive to undermine the kingdom of darkness and to fill it with light. Each must battle on to exalt our Leader and to champion His Word. “Consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds” (Hebrews 12:3).

To the victor belong the spoils. “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne” (Revelation 3:21). We no longer will be soldiers, but kings; we will trade our battle armor for robes, washed and made “white in the blood of the Lamb” (Revelation 7:14). Our helmet will be replaced by an “incorruptible” crown (1 Corinthians 9:25)—“a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give [us] at that day” (2 Timothy 4:8). JDM

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  December 10, 2019
Jewels
“Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.” (Malachi 3:16-17)

This precious promise occurs at the end of the Old Testament, a time of wholesale apostasy on the part of the people of Israel. But there was a believing remnant. Today, Christians again are in a minority (as always), and it does us well to study the former situations, paying attention to the nature of the remnant as well as God’s response to them.

Notice first the attitude of these believers toward God. We see that they “feared” God when they “thought upon his name.” Who could help but do the same as the work and character of God are pondered? Further, a proper attitude and walk with God lead to true fellowship. They “spake often one to another.” Too often it seems that mere friendship replaces true Christian fellowship as entertainment of guests replaces true hospitality. Human relationships can never attain the fullness possible unless they center around the Lord.

Next, note God’s response to the dear saints in our text. He hearkens and hears, evidently paying special attention to the attitudes (“feared the LORD”) and the words (“spake”) of the saints. Then He registers their history in a special “book of remembrance.” We will all give an account one day, but we may be assured that the good will be remembered, for it is in God’s special book of remembrance.

Likewise, we are assured of salvation: “They shall be mine,” He says. We will be spared while others are being judged. The mighty Lord of hosts holds us as dear to Him as “jewels.” JDM

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December 11, 2019
Ministry of the Holy Spirit
“God . . . hath also given unto us his holy Spirit.” (1 Thessalonians 4:8)

Every believer has some awareness of the presence of the Holy Spirit. Indeed, if there is no such awareness, then there is absolutely no relationship with God (Romans 8:9). Just what, then, is the ministry of God’s Holy Spirit in our lives?

All who have come to God by faith have felt the conviction of the Holy Spirit prior to salvation. From the world’s perspective, that constitutes His ministry. The Holy Spirit is commissioned by Jesus Christ to “reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” (John 16:8). Acting as God the Father’s operative Agent, the Holy Spirit draws us into a personal consciousness of our sin, Christ’s righteousness, and the absolute certainty of judgment to come.

This reproof has but one goal: to bring about regeneration (Titus 3:5) and give us witness that we are the children of God (Romans 8:16). What is born from above (John 3:3) is nothing less than a “new creature” by the triune Godhead (2 Corinthians 5:17), created like God in “righteousness and true holiness” (Ephesians 4:24). The Holy Spirit energizes our “dead” spirit and causes us to “live” (1 Peter 4:6).

And that is just the beginning! Once regenerated, the Holy Spirit sees to it, as the “Spirit of truth” (John 16:13), that we are led (Romans 8:14) into truth—because the Holy Spirit will not invent information but will take truth directly from the mind and heart of God.

With that leading, we are sanctified (both positionally and progressively), having been chosen to salvation (2 Thessalonians 2:13). With the Holy Spirit’s power (Acts 1:8), we can exhibit His fruit (Galatians 5:22-23) and come under His filling (Ephesians 5:18). May the glorious ministry of the Holy Spirit be yours both as promised and in practice. HMM III

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December 12, 2019
Zechariah's Visions: Under the Myrtle Trees
“I saw by night, and behold a man riding upon a red horse, and he stood among the myrtle trees that were in the bottom; and behind him were there red horses, speckled, and white.” (Zechariah 1:8)

The Lord divulges 10 visions to Zechariah in one night. All of them are among myrtle trees in the “bottom” of a dark, mysterious, and somewhat eerie ravine near Jerusalem. The first vision reveals a man on a red horse responding to questions from the “angel of the LORD” and “the LORD of hosts” (Zechariah 1:8-17).

It is likely that the angel of the Lord is a pre-incarnate form of Christ speaking to the First Person of the Godhead. Two other horsemen are cited, which ties these heavenly envoys to the four horsemen of Revelation and to the horsemen driving the four chariots revealed in Zechariah 6.

When Zechariah asks, “What are these?” (8:9), he is told that they are responsible to “walk to and fro” on Earth and inform the Godhead of their findings. On this specific occasion, they report that “the earth is at rest.” Immediately, the “angel of the LORD” asks the Lord of hosts how long He would wait to bring judgment on the nations that have abused Judah now that the 70 years have passed and the punishment of Israel and Judah has been accomplished.

The Lord gives “good and comfortable words,” noting that He was displeased with the nations who had carried out His judgment because they had done more damage than necessary. However, the Lord promises that He will return and build His house, restore Jerusalem to prominence, and “comfort Zion” (Zechariah 1:17).

The following visons outline the inexorable promises of God that will be fulfilled in the years to come. “For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us” (2 Corinthians 1:20). HMM III

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phkrause

December 13, 2019
Zechariah's Visions: Horns and Carpenters
“Then lifted I up mine eyes, and saw, and behold four horns. And I said unto the angel that talked with me, What be these? And he answered me, These are the horns which have scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem.” (Zechariah 1:18-19)

Immediately after seeing the horsemen that were sent to determine the state of the earth, Zechariah observes four “horns” amid the myrtle trees. Zechariah is told they represent the authorities responsible for scattering the people of the two nations of Judah and Israel, destroying Jerusalem in the process as well.

The image of horns usually refers to empires in other passages of Scripture. The horns of the goats in Daniel 7 and 8 and the horns of the seven-headed dragon used in Revelation 13 and 17 are good examples. Zechariah may have understood this specific vision as a reference to Nebuchadnezzar’s dream image recorded in Daniel 2. We would identify those horns as Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome. It is possible that the previous empires of Egypt and Assyria would have been included, but the context does not specify.

The purpose of this vision seems to lie in the task of the four carpenters that appear following the horns (Zechariah 1:20). The Hebrew could be better undersood by our words “craftsmen” or “artisans” since they were assigned the task to “fray [terrify] them, to cast out the horns of the Gentiles, which lifted up their horn over the land of Judah to scatter it” (Zechariah 1:21).

Even though human history seems to creep by, God will execute His plans for all nations. God’s sovereignty has “determined the times before appointed” (Acts 17:26), and He has often assured us that His Word “shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11). HMM III

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phkrause

December 14, 2019
Zechariah's Visions: Man's Attempt to Measure
“I lifted up mine eyes again, and looked, and behold a man with a measuring line in his hand. Then said I, Whither goest thou? And he said unto me, To measure Jerusalem, to see what is the breadth thereof, and what is the length thereof.” (Zechariah 2:1-2)

Seeing a human in the vision is a departure from the earlier visions of Zechariah. Each of the prior three visions included only angelic beings interacting with the Lord of hosts. Suddenly a man emerges holding a measuring rod, attempting to measure Jerusalem.

Immediately, a second angel is sent to the angel who has been explaining the visions to Zechariah, instructing him to “run, speak to this young man, saying, Jerusalem shall be inhabited as towns without walls for the multitude of men and cattle therein” (Zechariah 2:4). Obviously, whatever time is anticipated by the vision, it is not the time of the present Jerusalem. God sees a vast Jerusalem that cannot be measured (Zechariah 14:8-11).

Not only will the city grow beyond historical memory, but the Lord “will be unto her a wall of fire round about, and will be the glory in the midst of her” (Zechariah 2:5). No longer will Jerusalem be the pawn of other nations, no longer will she be subject to the whims of rival nations and competing religions. The Lord Himself will become a wall around her similar to the way God protected them as they fled from Egypt (Exodus 13:21-22).

Yet beyond even that wonderful promise, the Lord insists that “many nations shall be joined to the LORD in that day, and shall be my people: and I will dwell in the midst of thee, and thou shalt know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto thee” (Zechariah 2:11). Not only will God restore the city to prominence, but the nation itself will become the center of His global government. “Be silent, O all flesh, before the LORD: for he is raised up out of his holy habitation” (Zechariah 2:13). HMM III

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phkrause

December 15, 2019
Zechariah's Visions: Joshua and the Branch
“And he shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him.” (Zechariah 3:1)

Joshua is pictured standing before the face of the angel of the Lord, who (as before) is the Second Person of the Godhead. Satan is there to “resist” (the same word) the angel of the Lord. “Satan” is a title—a noun to describe the character of an adversary. The Hebrew term satan appears 30 times in Scripture, sometimes applying to human adversaries as well as that chief angelic being.

In this vision, Joshua appears in “filthy” clothing unfit to come before the presence of the Lord—a picture of the human sinful condition (Psalm 14:2-3; Isaiah 64:6). But, since Joshua is a “brand plucked from the fire” by the Lord Himself (Zechariah 3:2), Joshua has the filthy garments taken away and a change of clothing given.

Suddenly, the scene shifts as the angel of the Lord announces the promise of the Lord of hosts: “I will bring forth my servant the BRANCH. For behold the stone that I have laid before Joshua; upon one stone shall be seven eyes: behold, I will engrave the graving thereof, saith the LORD of hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day” (Zechariah 3:8-9).

Many previous prophetic promises must have passed through Zechariah’s mind as he heard these words. Jeremiah spoke of a “Branch of righteousness” (Jeremiah 33:15-16). Isaiah promised the son who would rule the world (Isaiah 9:6-7). Even Hanani the seer spoke of “the eyes of the LORD” that would “shew himself strong” (2 Chronicles 16:9). These visions were given to encourage the returning remnant (and us) to reset their focus on the timeless promises of the everlasting God. HMM III

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