ENCOURAGEMENT TODAY, CONQUERING DOUBT! PART 20






12/14/17

Christ's Superior Nature

"Of the angels He says, 'Who makes His angels winds, and His ministers a flame of fire.' But of the Son He says, 'Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever'" (Heb. 1:7-8).

Jesus Christ is God, and He created the angels.

People today who claim that Jesus was just a man, an angel, a prophet, or some inferior god are in error and bring upon themselves the curse of God. The Bible, and especially the writer of Hebrews, are clear about who Christ is.

First, the writer deals with the nature of angels when he says, "Who makes His angels winds, and His ministers a flame of fire." "Makes" simply means "to create." The antecedent of "who" is Christ. Therefore it is obvious that Christ created the angels.

They are also His possession: "His angels." They are His created servants, who do not operate on their own initiative, but on the direction of Christ.

But the greatest difference between the nature of angels and Christ is that He is the eternal God. The Father says to the Son, "Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever." That is one of the most powerful, clear, emphatic, and irrefutable proofs of the deity of Christ in Scripture.

Jesus throughout His ministry claimed equality with God. He said, "I and the Father are one" (John 10:30). The apostle John closed his first epistle by saying, "We know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding, in order that we might know Him who is true, and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life" (1 John 5:20).

God the Son came to help us understand that God is truth and that Christ Himself is the true God. Our faith is based on the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Suggestion for Prayer

Ask God to give you a greater understanding of the reality that Jesus is in fact God.

For Further Study

Read John 1:1-18 and mark the verses that define Christ's relationship to God. If an unbeliever were to ask you what that passage means, how would you answer him or her?


PART II

Christ's Resurrection and Ascension

“God highly exalted Him” (Philippians 2:9).

Christ’s resurrection and ascension were the first two steps of His exaltation.

The first step on Christ’s progress from humiliation to exaltation was His resurrection. In Acts 13 Paul preached on the resurrection of Christ, declaring: “[God] raised up Jesus. . . . And as for the fact that He raised Him up from the dead, no more to return to decay, He has spoken in this way: ‘I will give you the holy and sure blessings of David.’ Therefore He also says . . . ‘Thou wilt not allow Thy holy one to undergo decay.’ For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep, and was laid among his fathers, and underwent decay; but He whom God raised did not undergo decay. Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses” (vv. 33-39). Christ’s death and resurrection provided forgiveness and freedom from sin, the law, and death.

Acts 1:9-11 records the second step in the exaltation of Christ. After Christ finished His final instructions to His disciples, ”He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was departing, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them; and they also said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.’” Acts 2:33 says that the result of His ascension was exaltation to the right hand of God.

Just before He ascended, Christ spoke these final words to His disciples: “You shall be My witnesses” (Acts 1:8). Until He comes again, let’s be witnesses who maintain a positive testimony for the sake of the gospel.

Suggestions for Prayer

Praise God “who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3).

For Further Study

According to John 16:7, why is the ascension of Christ to your advantage?


PART III

The Wheat and the Tares

“‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went away. But when the wheat sprouted and bore grain, then the tares became evident also. The slaves of the landowner came and said to him, “Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?” And he said to them, “An enemy has done this!” The slaves said to him, “Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?” But he said, “No; for while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them. Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, ‘First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn’”’” (Matthew 13:24–30; see vv. 36–43).

Throughout redemptive history, our Lord has planted believers (“good seed”) in the world as His witnesses, to be faithful to Him, become fruitful plants of righteousness, and reflect His will before a corrupt world. The tares, by contrast, are the children of Satan—unbelievers spread throughout the world until they thoroughly outnumber the wheat by a large margin.

“The harvest” represents the Father’s judgment at the end of the age, when His angels will execute sentence on the many unbelievers, just as the human reapers separated the tares from the wheat and burned them.

The apostles likely were ready and eager to separate out the tares immediately, as seen by James’ and John’s attitudes toward the unbelieving Samaritans (Luke 9:54). But that was and is not God’s plan, lest some of the good plants (believers) get inadvertently uprooted with the tares.

During His incarnation Jesus did nothing to destroy His enemies. He even appealed to Judas right to the end that he believe (John 13:26). On the cross He asked forgiveness for those who orchestrated His execution (Luke 23:34). Therefore we also should be instruments of truth and grace toward unbelievers.

Ask Yourself

This is not the age of God’s judgment—certainly not by the church—but rather the age for evangelism. What does this mean concerning the way we are called to perform ministry in this generation?


Reading for Today:

Notes:

Amos 5:25, 26 In addition to worshiping the Lord in the wilderness, Israel also worshiped other gods, carrying along “Sikkuth [or “tabernacle”] your king [or “Molech”] and Chiun, your idols.” Molech worship included the astrological worship of Saturn and the host of heaven and the actual sacrificing of children (2 Kin. 17:16, 17). Warned against Molech worship (Deut. 18:9–13), Israel nevertheless pursued all facets of it, continuing with Solomon (1 Kin. 11:7) and his descendants (1 Kin. 12:28; 2 Kin. 17:16, 17; Jer. 32:35) until Josiah (2 Kin. 23:10). Stephen recited Amos 5:25–27 when he recounted the sins of Israel in Acts 7:42, 43.

Revelation 4:4 twenty-four elders. Their joint rule with Christ, their white garments (19:7, 8), and their golden crowns (2:10) all seem to indicate that these 24 represent the redeemed (vv. 9–11; 5:5–14; 7:11–17; 11:16–18; 14:3; 19:4). The question is, Which redeemed? Not Israel, since the nation is not yet saved, glorified, and coronated. That is still to come at this point in the events of the end. Their resurrection and glory will come at the end of the 7-year tribulation time (Dan. 12:1–3).Tribulation saints aren’t yet saved (7:9, 10). Only one group will be complete and glorified at that point—the church. Here elders represent the church, which sings the song of redemption (5:8–10). They are the overcomers who have their crowns and live in the place prepared for them, where they have gone with Jesus (John 14:1–4).






DAY 14: Are there different approaches to interpreting the Book of Revelation?



No other New Testament book poses more serious and difficult interpretive challenges than Revelation. The book’s vivid imagery and striking symbolism have produced 4 main interpretive approaches:

The preterist approach interprets Revelation as a description of first-century events in the Roman Empire. This view conflicts with the book’s own often repeated claim to be prophecy (1:3; 22:7, 10, 18, 19). It is impossible to see all the events in Revelation as already fulfilled. The Second Coming of Christ, for example, obviously did not take place in the first century.

The historicist approach views Revelation as a panoramic view of church history from apostolic times to the present—seeing in the symbolism such events as the barbarian invasions of Rome, the rise of the Roman Catholic Church, the emergence of Islam, and the French Revolution. This interpretive method robs Revelation of any meaning for those to whom it was written. It also ignores the time limitations the book itself places on the unfolding events (11:2; 12:6, 14; 13:5). Historicism has produced many different—and often conflicting—interpretations of the actual historical events contained in Revelation.

The idealist approach interprets Revelation as a timeless depiction of the cosmic struggle between the forces of good and evil. In this view, the book contains neither historical allusions nor predictive prophecy. This view also ignores Revelation’s prophetic character and, if carried to its logical conclusion, severs the book from any connection with actual historical events. Revelation then becomes merely a collection of stories designed to teach spiritual truth.

The futurist approach insists that the events of chapters 6–22 are yet future and that those chapters literally and symbolically depict actual people and events yet to appear on the world scene. It describes the events surrounding the Second Coming of Jesus Christ (chaps. 6–19), the Millennium and final judgment (chap. 20), and the eternal state (chaps. 21; 22). Only this view does justice to Revelation’s claim to be prophecy and interprets the book by the same grammatical-historical method as chapters 1–3 and the rest of Scripture.


GOD BLESS YOU!


MAXIMILIANO 


12/13/2017

Elements of Christ's Exaltation

“God highly exalted Him” (Philippians 2:9).

Christ followed the path to glory so that we could follow Him.

Because Christ humbled Himself, the Father wonderfully exalted Him. His exaltation includes the elements of both His resurrection and His coronation—His exaltation to the right hand of God. The apostle Peter said Jesus was “raised up again” and “exalted to the right hand of God” (Acts 2:3233).Peter and the other apostles preached, “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus. . . . He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins” (5:30-31). Thus, the New Testament affirms both the resurrection and coronation of Christ (see also Eph. 1:20), as well as the forgiveness of sins that comes with Christ’s intercession for His people.

Paul described Christ’s coronation as placing Him “far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come” (v. 21). The final element is described in Hebrews 4:14: “We have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God.” That alludes to the ascension of Christ. He “always lives to make intercession for [believers]” (7:25).

Christ’s exaltation was thus fourfold: resurrection, ascension, coronation, and intercession. He rose from the dead and ascended into Heaven. Then He was seated on the throne of God to intercede as High Priest of His people.

As a believer, you will follow Christ in His exaltation. You will rise from the grave and ascend to Heaven. There you will experience coronation, for you will sit with Christ on His throne. You will no longer need our Lord’s intercessory ministry, for the work of transformation will be complete.

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank Christ for establishing the path to glory so you can follow after Him.

For Further Study

Meditate on Revelation 22:1-5. What in this passage helps you think about your future glory?


PART II

Worship of Distinction

"When He again brings the first-born into the world, He says, 'And let all the angels of God worship Him'" (Heb. 1:6).

Jesus Christ is greater than angels because He is worshiped.

Even though Jesus Christ humbled Himself and was made lower than the angels for a time, angels are still to worship Him. Since angels are to worship Him, then Christ must be greater than them.

Angels have always worshiped Christ, only they worshiped Him as God. It wasn't until His incarnation that angels were commanded to worship Him as God's Son. It is a sin to worship anyone or anything but God—in fact, note how sternly the apostle John was rebuked for worshiping angels (Rev. 19:10; 22:8-9). So the very fact that angels are to worship Christ verifies that Christ is indeed God.

At present, the angels don't fully understand the entire picture of God's redemptive plan. Peter tells us that the prophets didn't understand all that they wrote, "seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow" (1 Pet. 1:11). Then he added, "Things into which angels long to look" (v. 12). They are still trying to figure out things they don't understand.

But that won't always be the case. Notice that Hebrews 1:6 says, "When He again brings the first-born into the world" (emphasis added). God already brought Christ into the world once—at the second coming He will bring Him into the world in blazing glory. Then the fullness of the prophecy of Psalm 97:7 quoted in Hebrews 1:6 will come to pass: "Let all the angels of God worship Him."

In His second coming Christ is revealed in full glory as the Son. More than ever we have reason to join the heavenly chorus in declaring, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing" (Rev. 5:12).

Suggestion for Prayer

Thank God for His wonderful plan of salvation. Ask Him to make it more real to you every day.

For Further Study

Read Revelation 5:1-11 and note the reactions of the angels to the Lamb of God. What specific event motivated their response?


PART III

Parable of the Sower: Receptive Hearers

“‘And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty’” (Matthew 13:23).

The ultimate barrier to salvation is unbelief, and anyone willing to receive the gospel on Christ’s terms proves he or she is “good soil.” God honors the humble faith of receptive hearers and opens their spiritual ears, minds, and hearts, allowing them to understand the gospel.

The example of the receptive hearers ought to encourage everyone who has ever witnessed in Christ’s name. Despite the nature and prevalence of the other hearers, there are always some whose hearts have good soil in which the gospel can take root and flourish—people prepared by the Spirit to receive the truth.

Spiritual fruit is the inevitable by-product of spiritual life. Receptive hearers will demonstrate fruitfulness in both attitude—“love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal. 5:22–23)—and behavior, which Paul calls “the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:11; cf. Col. 1:6). We are not saved by bearing fruit or doing good works, but we are saved to become fruitbearers (Eph. 2:10).

Jesus not only assures us here that believers will bear fruit, but that we will bear it abundantly: “some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.” These figures represent an extraordinarily abundant yield for the regions Jesus ministered in. They do not guarantee that we all will produce that much; but they do show the productive results of sowing the Word and emphasize that true believers will indeed produce fruit. That’s the point of Jesus’ parable.

Ask Yourself

Besides the obvious blessings and service opportunities created by fruitbearing, what other benefits pour into the lives of those who hear the Word and take it to heart?


PART IV

Reading for Today:

Notes:

Revelation 3:10 keep you from the hour of trial. Christ’s description must refer to the time of tribulation, the 7-year period before Christ’s earthly kingdom is consummated, featuring the unleashing of divine wrath in judgments expressed as seals, trumpets, and bowls. This period is described in detail throughout chapters 6–19. The latter half is called “the Great Tribulation” (7:14; Matt. 24:21) and is identified as to time in 11:2, 3; 12:6, 14; 13:5. The verb “to keep” is followed by a preposition whose normal meaning is “from” or “out of”—this phrase, “keep…from” supports the pretribulational Rapture of the church. This period is the same as Daniel’s 70th week (Dan. 9:24–27) and “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7).

Revelation 3:16 lukewarm. I.e., tepid. Nearby Hierapolis was famous for its hot springs, and Colosse for its cold, refreshing mountain stream. But Laodicea had dirty, tepid water that flowed for miles through an underground aqueduct. Visitors, unaccustomed to it, immediately spat it out. The church at Laodicea was neither cold, openly rejecting Christ, nor hot, filled with spiritual zeal. Instead, its members were lukewarm, hypocrites professing to know Christ, but not truly belonging to Him (Matt. 7:21ff.). I will vomit you out of My mouth. Just like the tepid water of Laodicea, these self-deceived hypocrites sickened Christ.






DAY 13: Who was the prophet Amos, and what is the background behind his messages?



Amos was from Tekoa, a small village 10 miles south of Jerusalem. He was the only prophet to give his occupation before declaring his divine commission. He was not of priestly or noble descent, but worked as a “sheep breeder” (1:1; 2 Kin. 3:4) and a “tender of sycamore fruit” (7:14) and was a contemporary of Jonah (2 Kin. 14:25), Hosea (Hos. 1:1), and Isaiah (Is. 1:1).

Amos was a Judean prophet called to deliver a message primarily to the northern tribes of Israel (7:15). Politically, it was a time of prosperity under the long and secure reign of Jeroboam II who, following the example of his father Joash (2 Kin. 13:25), significantly “restored the territory of Israel” (2 Kin. 14:25). It was also a time of peace with both Judah (5:5) and her more distant neighbors. The ever-present menace of Assyria was subdued earlier that century because of Nineveh’s repentance at the preaching of Jonah (Jon. 3:10). Spiritually, however, it was a time of rampant corruption and moral decay (4:1; 5:10–13; 2 Kin. 14:24).

Amos addresses Israel’s two primary sins: 1) an absence of true worship and 2) a lack of justice. In the midst of their ritualistic performance of worship, they were not pursuing the Lord with their hearts (4:4, 5; 5:4–6) nor following His standard of justice with their neighbors (5:10–13; 6:12). This apostasy, evidenced by continual, willful rejection of the prophetic message of Amos, is promised divine judgment. Because of His covenant, however, the Lord will not abandon Israel altogether, but will bring future restoration to the righteous remnant (9:7–15).


GOD BLESS YOU!


MAXIMILIANO 


12/12/17

A More Excellent Name

"He has inherited a more excellent name than they. For to which of the angels did He ever say, 'Thou art My Son, today I have begotten Thee'? And again, 'I will be a Father to Him, and He shall be a Son to Me'?" (Heb. 1:4-5).

Jesus is better than the angels because Christ was more than a messenger—He was a Son.

In our culture, the names we pick for our children don't have much connection with the child's character. But in the Bible, God chose specific names that related to some character quality of the individuals who bore them.

The writer of Hebrews was well aware of that when He asked this rhetorical question: "To which of the angels did [God] ever say, 'Thou art My Son, today I have begotten Thee'? and again, 'I will be a Father to Him, and He shall be a Son to Me'?" quoting Psalm 2:7 and 2 Samuel 7:14. Of course, the answer is no angel.

The title Son refers to Jesus Christ in His incarnation. Though His sonship was anticipated in the Old Testament (Prov. 30:4), He did not become a Son until He was begotten into time. Prior to that He was eternal God with God. Presenting Jesus as the Son is God's analogy to help us understand the relationship between the First and Second Persons of the Trinity.

Christ became a Son in two different ways. First, He was not a Son until He came into the world through the virgin birth (Luke 1:35; 3:22). But second, His sonship came to full bloom in His resurrection (Rom. 1:3-4).

The Old Testament prophesied that Christ would come as a Son. In the New Testament He came as a Son in His virgin birth and was declared to be the Son by His resurrection from the dead. Don't ever get trapped into the heresy of those who claim that Jesus Christ is eternally subservient to God. For a temporary period of time, He set aside what was rightfully His and humbled Himself to become a Son for our sakes.

Suggestion for Prayer

  • Thank God for His amazing plan to redeem man through the incarnation of the Second Person of the Trinity.
  • Praise Him that He became Man to redeem you.

For Further Study

Read Acts 13:33 and Romans 1:3-4 noting the reason that Christ can be considered God's Son.


PART II

Exaltation Follows Humility

“Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11).

God will exalt the humble.

Having plumbed the depths of Christ’s humiliation (Phil. 2:5-8), Paul now soars to the heights of His exaltation (vv. 9-11). Like Paul, the apostle Peter affirmed that the great theme of Old Testament prophecy was the sufferings of Christ and the glory to follow (1 Peter 1:11). Regarding Christ, the writer of Hebrews says that “for the joy set before Him [He] endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2). Christ understood His sufferings in light of His exaltation.

Paul’s purpose in Philippians 2 was not simply to detail the humiliation and exaltation of Christ but to use those truths as a practical illustration. He was calling for unity produced by humility (vv. 2-4), with Christ as the preeminent example of humility (vv. 5-11). But beyond the humiliation of Christ, Paul also affirms that He was exalted. The implication is that when we willingly humble ourselves as Christ did, God will lift us up. As James 4:10 says, “Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.”

It is true that the man who humbles himself is the one whom God exalts, and the man who exalts himself is the one whom God will humiliate. In the divine economy, it is by giving that one receives, by serving that one is served, by losing one’s life that one finds life, and by dying to self that one lives. These principles follow one another as surely as night follows day.

Like Christ, you will be exalted in Heaven one day. Meditate on that truth, and be encouraged by it as you go through your earthly trials.

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank the Lord for the exaltation that awaits you in Heaven.

For Further Study

Read the following verses: Matthew 23:12; Luke 14:11; 18:14; 1 Peter 5:6. What principle do they all teach?


PART III

Parable of the Sower: Worldly Hearers

“‘And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful’” (Matthew 13:22).

Few things obstruct the gospel’s reception in someone’s heart more than the general love of the world and wealth. Note these warnings:

For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. (1 Tim. 6:10)

Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. (1 John 2:15–16)

The worldly hearer in this parable is oblivious to the deception of money and its inability to give lasting satisfaction. He or she doesn’t notice how worldliness—the worshipful priority of money, possessions, career, and other temporary affairs—can smother the Word. Such a reality shows that the individual has a heart full of sinful weeds that cannot coexist for long with the Word of God. If faith is genuine, it will forsake the world; otherwise, sin will choke out the Word.

Christ’s cleansing is thorough in true conversion. Salvation removes sin’s weeds from the heart and prepares it to receive the seed of the Word. Genuine believers will continually confess sin and allow the Lord to be “faithful and righteous to forgive” (1 John 1:9), freeing them from sin’s domination.

Ask Yourself

Does this mean money is a bad thing? Should it be avoided by people who bear the name of Christ? How would you define a proper, biblical perspective on wealth and possessions?


PART IV

Reading for Today:

Notes:

Joel 1:2 Hear…give ear. The gravity of the situation demanded the undivided focus of their senses, emphasizing the need to make a conscious, purposeful decision in the matter. The terminology was commonly used in “lawsuit” passages (Is. 1:2; Hos. 4:1), intimating that Israel was found guilty and that the present judgment was her “sentence.” elders…all you inhabitants. The former term refers to the civil and religious leaders, who, in light of their position, were exhorted to lead by example the entire population toward repentance.

Joel 2:28 afterward. The abundance of material blessings would be followed by the outpouring of spiritual blessings. When coupled with the other temporal phrases within the passage (“in those days” [v. 29] and “before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD” [v. 31]), the term points to a Second Advent fulfillment time frame. all flesh. Since the context is “your sons and your daughters,” “all flesh” best refers to the house of Israel only. The nations are the recipients of God’s wrath, not the effusion of His Spirit (3:2, 9ff.).

Revelation 2:4 left your first love. To be a Christian is to love the Lord Jesus Christ (John 14:21, 23; 1 Cor. 16:22). But the Ephesians’ passion and fervor for Christ had become cold, mechanical orthodoxy. Their doctrinal and moral purity, their undiminished zeal for the truth, and their disciplined service were no substitute for the love for Christ they had forsaken.

Revelation 2:8 Smyrna. Smyrna means “myrrh,” the substance used for perfume and often for anointing a dead body for aromatic purposes. Called the crown of Asia, this ancient city (modern Izmir, Turkey) was the most beautiful in Asia Minor and a center of science and medicine. Always on the winner’s side in the Roman wars, Smyrna’s intense loyalty to Rome resulted in a strong emperor-worship cult. Fifty years after John’s death, Polycarp, the pastor of the church in Smyrna, was burned alive at the age of 86 for refusing to worship Caesar. A large Jewish community in the city also proved hostile to the early church.

Revelation 2:13 where Satan’s throne is. The headquarters of satanic opposition and a Gentile base for false religions. On the acropolis in Pergamos was a huge, throne-shaped altar to Zeus. In addition, Asklepios, the god of healing, was the god most associated with Pergamos. His snakelike form is still the medical symbol today. The famous medical school connected to his temple mingled medicine with superstition. One prescription called for the worshiper to sleep on the temple floor, allowing snakes to crawl over his body and infuse him with their healing power.

Revelation 2:24 the depths of Satan. This unbelievable libertinism and license was the fruit of prognostic teaching that one was free to engage and explore the sphere of Satan and participate in evil with the body without harming the spirit.


DAY 12: Who was the prophet Joel, and what was he writing about?

The author identified himself only as “Joel the son of Pethuel” (1:1).The prophecy provides little else about the man. Even the name of his father is not mentioned elsewhere in the Old Testament. Although he displayed a profound zeal for the temple sacrifices (1:9; 2:13–16), his familiarity with pastoral and agricultural life and his separation from the priests (1:13, 14; 2:17) suggest he was not a Levite. Extra-biblical tradition records that he was from the tribe of Reuben, from the town of Bethom or Bethharam, located northeast of the Dead Sea on the border of Reuben and Gad. The context of the prophecy, however, hints that he was a Judean from the Jerusalem vicinity, since the tone of a stranger is absent.

The theme of Joel is the Day of the Lord. It permeates all parts of Joel’s message, making it the most sustained treatment in the entire Old Testament (1:15; 3:14).The phrase is employed 19 times by 8 different Old Testament authors (Is. 2:12; 13:6, 9; Ezek. 13:5; 30:3; Joel 1:15; 2:1, 11, 31; 3:14; Amos 5:18 [2x],20; Obad. 15; Zeph. 1:7, 14 [2x]; Zech. 14:1; Mal. 4:5). The phrase does not have reference to a chronological time period, but to a general period of wrath and judgment uniquely belonging to the Lord. It is exclusively the day which unveils His character—mighty, powerful, and holy, thus terrifying His enemies. The Day of the Lord does not always refer to an eschatological event; on occasion it has a near historical fulfillment, as seen in Ezekiel 13:5, where it speaks of the Babylonian conquest and destruction of Jerusalem. As is common in prophecy, the near fulfillment is a historic event upon which to comprehend the more distant, eschatological fulfillment.


GOD BLESS YOU!


MAXIMILIANO 



12/11/17

Christ Is Superior to Angels

"Having become . . . much better than the angels" (Heb. 1:4).

Through a deft use of the Old Testament, the writer proves that Christ is the mediator of a greater covenant.

Man is a wonderful and amazing creation—higher than plants, animals, and any other material creation in this world. But there are created beings even higher than man—angels.

Hebrews 2:9 shows this to be the case because when Jesus became a man, He was "made for a little while lower than the angels." After the fall of the rebellious angels under Lucifer, the angels in heaven were no longer subject to sin. These angels are holy, powerful, and wise. They are special beings created by God before He created man.

The Jewish people understood the exalted position of angels because they knew that the Old Covenant was brought to men and maintained by angelic mediation. Galatians 3:19 says, "Why the Law then? It was added because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator, until the seed should come to whom the promise had been made."

Because of this high regard for angels by his readers, the writer of Hebrews was faced with a problem. If he was to show that Christ was the mediator of a better covenant, he would have to prove that Christ is better than angels. To do so, he used seven Old Testament passages to verify his claim.

If he had tried to prove from Christian writings that Christ is a better mediator, his unbelieving Jewish readers would have said, "We don't accept these writings as being from God." So in effect he wisely replies, "Open up your own Scriptures and I'll prove my claim from them." It results in a powerful and irresistible argument.

For the next several days, we'll see in what ways Christ is superior to angels and how He could mediate a better covenant for us.

Suggestion for Prayer

Because much of our understanding of the New Testament is based on the writings of the Old Testament, thank God for how He has brought His complete Word to us intact throughout the centuries.

For Further Study

Read Galatians 3:8, Romans 9:15, and Matthew 4:4.

  • What Old Testament verses to those passages quote?
  • What truth does each of them verify?


PART II

God's Unfathomable Ways

“Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8).

Christ’s humiliation displayed God’s wisdom.

Somewhere along the path of Christ’s descent, you’d think He would have said to Himself, These people really aren’t worth redeeming. This is too degrading and humiliating! But the grace and love of God toward sinners was such that Christ stooped to die for you and me. At the end of Paul’s doctrinal survey of salvation in Romans, he said, “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!” (11:33). He was in awe of God’s plan of salvation—a plan no man would have devised.

If we had planned the Incarnation, we probably would have wanted Christ to be born in a palace. His family would have been wealthy and prominent, and He would have been educated in the finest universities with elite teachers and the best tutors. We would have orchestrated events so that everyone loved, revered, honored, and respected Him. He would have been in all the prominent places and met all the prominent people.

We would not have had Him born in a stable to a poor family. He would not have spent His youth in a carpenter’s shop in an obscure town. Rather than a ragtag band of followers, we would have made sure He had only the best people as His disciples, and they would have had to pass stiff qualifying tests for the privilege.

We would not have allowed Him to be humiliated. We would have imprisoned or executed anyone who spit on Him, pulled His beard, mocked Him, or hurt Him. Our plan for the Messiah would have been very different from God’s plan, and, as a result no one could have been saved. It’s no wonder the psalmist said, “Thy judgments are like a great deep” (Ps. 36:6). God’s ways are unsearchable, His truths profound. And His plan to redeem us was accomplished by Christ’s humiliation.

Suggestions for Prayer

Daniel prayed, “Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever, for wisdom and power belong to Him” (Dan. 2:20). Like Daniel, worship the only wise God, who saved you.

For Further Study

Read 1 Peter 2:21-24. What did Christ leave you (v. 21)?


PART III

Parable of the Sower: Superficial Hearers, Part 2

“‘The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away’” (Matthew 13:20–21).

Those who only superficially receive the gospel might be baptized, join a church, and seem for a long time to be Christians. But trials and testings will eventually expose such persons’ spiritual lifelessness. Such difficulties are not the ordinary hardships of life but the problems encountered “because of the word.” When the Christian life’s demands get too severe, the person discontinues any pretense of following the Lord.

“Falls away” is the translation of skandalizo–, the Greek verb that means to cause to stumble and can include the concept of offending someone. We get the English scandalize from it. All these ideas fit the superficial hearer because when something really tests his or her faith, they stumble, become offended, and abandon the gospel (cf. John 8:31; 1 John 2:19).

If a person’s profession of salvation doesn’t include real conviction of sin, a strong desire for the Lord, and a love for His Word, along with willingness to suffer for Him if need be, it’s only a matter of time before that one renounces any previous profession of faith.

It is encouraging, however, that the same kind of tribulation that makes the false believer wither makes the true believer stronger. “All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim. 3:12); but “after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you” (1 Peter 5:10).

Ask Yourself

Everything of real value comes with a cost. Why should Christianity be any different? Where do we get the idea that following Christ should require little effort and be met with little resistance, both from within and without?


PART IV

Reading for Today:

Notes:

Hosea 13:14 Placing the strong affirmation of deliverance so abruptly after a denunciation intensified the wonder of His unrequited love (11:8, 9; Lev. 26:44). This can apply to God’s restoration of Israel from Assyria, and in future times from all the lands of the Dispersion, preserving them and bringing them back to their land for the kingdom of Messiah (Ezek. 37). It also speaks of the time of personal resurrection as in Daniel 12:2, 3. Repentant Israelites will be restored to the land and even raised from death to glory. Paul uses this text in 1 Corinthians 15:55 to celebrate the future resurrection of the church. The Messiah’s great victory over death and the grave is the firstfruits of the full harvest to come, when all believers will likewise experience the power of His resurrection.

Revelation 1:4 seven churches which are in Asia. Asia Minor, equivalent to modern Turkey, was composed of 7 postal districts. At the center of those districts were 7 key cities which served as central points for the dissemination of information. It is to the churches in those cities that John writes. who is and who was and who is to come. God’s eternal presence is not limited by time. He has always been present and will come in the future. the seven Spirits. There are 2 possible meanings: 1) a reference to Isaiah’s prophecy concerning the 7-fold ministry of the Holy Spirit (Is. 11:2); or 2) more likely, it is a reference to the lamp stand with 7 lamps (a menorah) in Zechariah—also a description of the Holy Spirit (4:5; 5:6; Zech. 4:1–10). In either case, 7 is the number of completeness, so John is identifying the fullness of the Holy Spirit.

Revelation 1:10 in the Spirit. This was not a dream. John was supernaturally transported out of the material world awake—not sleeping—to an experience beyond the normal senses. The Holy Spirit empowered his senses to perceive revelation from God (Acts 10:11). Lord’s Day. This phrase appears in many early Christian writings and refers to Sunday, the day of the Lord’s resurrection. Some have suggested this phrase refers to “the Day of the Lord,” but the context doesn’t support that interpretation, and the grammatical form of the word “Lord” is adjectival, thus “the Lord’s day.” loud voice. Throughout Revelation, a loud sound or voice indicates the solemnity of what God is about to reveal.

Revelation 1:17 fell at His feet. A common response to seeing the awesome glory of the Lord (Gen. 17:3; Num. 16:22; Ezek. 1:28; Is. 6:1–8; Acts 9:4). First and the Last. Jesus Christ applies this Old Testament name for Yahweh (22:13; Is. 41:4; 44:6; 48:12) to Himself, clearly claiming to be God. Idols will come and go. He was before them, and He will remain after them.


DAY 11: What is the background for the Book of Revelation?

Revelation begins with John, the last surviving apostle and an old man, in exile on the small barren island of Patmos, located in the Aegean Sea southwest of Ephesus. The Roman authorities had banished him there because of his faithful preaching of the gospel (1:9). While on Patmos, John received a series of visions that laid out the future history of the world.

When he was arrested, John was in Ephesus, ministering to the church there and in the surrounding cities. Seeking to strengthen those congregations, he could no longer minister to them in person and, following the divine command (1:11), John addressed Revelation to them (1:4). The churches had begun to feel the effects of persecution; at least one man—probably a pastor—had already been martyred (2:13), and John himself had been exiled. But the storm of persecution was about to break in full fury upon the 7 churches so dear to the apostle’s heart (2:10). To those churches, Revelation provided a message of hope: God is in sovereign control of all the events of human history; and though evil often seems pervasive and wicked men all-powerful, their ultimate doom is certain. Christ will come in glory to judge and rule.

Unlike most books of the Bible, Revelation contains its own title: “The Revelation of Jesus Christ”(1:1). “Revelation” (Greek, apokalupsis) means “an uncovering,” “an unveiling,” or “a disclosure.” In all its uses, “revelation” refers to something or someone, once hidden, becoming visible. What this book reveals or unveils is Jesus Christ in glory. Truths about Him and His final victory, that the rest of Scripture merely allude to, become clearly visible through revelation about Jesus Christ.


GOD BLESS YOU!


MAXIMILIANO 


12/10/17

The Sustaining Power of Christ

"[Christ] upholds all things by the word of His power" (Heb. 1:3).

Christ, by His almighty power, holds together all creation.

We base our entire lives on the constancy of physical laws. When something like an earthquake disrupts the normal condition or operation of things even a little, the consequences are often disastrous. Can you imagine what would happen if Jesus Christ relinquished His sustaining power over the laws of the universe for it is He in whom "all things hold together" (Col. 1:17)? We would go out of existence, our atoms scattering throughout the galaxy.

If He suspended the laws of gravity only for a brief moment, we would lose all points of reference. If any of the physical laws varied slightly, we could not exist. Our food could turn to poison; we ourselves could drift out into space or get flooded by the ocean tides. Countless other horrible things could happen.

But the universe remains in balance because Jesus Christ sustains and monitors all its movements and interworkings. He is the principle of cohesion. He is not the deist's "watchmaker" creator, who made the world, set it in motion, and has not bothered with it since. The reason the universe is a cosmos instead of chaos—an ordered and reliable system instead of an erratic and unpredictable muddle—is the upholding power of Jesus Christ.

The entire universe hangs on the arm of Jesus. His unsearchable wisdom and boundless power are manifested in governing the universe. And He upholds it all by the word of His power. The key to the Genesis creation is in two words: "God said." God spoke and it happened.

When I contemplate Christ's power to uphold the universe, I'm drawn to the wonderful promise of Philippians 1:6: "I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus." When Christ begins a work in your heart, He doesn't end there. He continually sustains it until the day He will take you into God's very presence. A life, just as a universe, that is not sustained by Christ is chaos.

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask God to remind you of Christ's sustaining power when you endure your next trial.

For Further Study

Read Job 38-39 for a greater appreciation of what Christ does to uphold the universe.


PART II

Christ's Outward Appearance

“. . . Being found in appearance as a man” (Philippians 2:8).

Many people view Christ only as a man, but He is God.

After winning a gold medal at the 1924 Olympics in Paris, Scottish runner Eric Liddell served as a missionary in China; he died in a prison camp during World War II. The camp’s prisoners loved Eric, for he served them so unselfishly. It was only at his funeral that they first learned he was an Olympic hero. They had had no idea of his full identity.

Most people didn’t realize Christ’s full identity either, for He was “found in appearance as a man” (Phil. 2:8). At first glance that phrase seems like a repetition of the end of verse 7, “being made in the likeness of men.” We could paraphrase verse 8 to read, “He was discovered to appear as a man.” The difference between that and verse 7 is a shift in focus. In verse 8 we view the humiliation of Christ from the viewpoint of those who saw Him. Christ was the God-man, but as people looked at Him, they saw the “appearance” (Greek, schema, “outward form”) of a man. Paul was implying that though Christ appeared to be a man, there was much more to Him that could not naturally be seen.

For Christ to become man was humbling enough. For Him not to have been recognized must have been humiliating. He performed miracles and taught authoritatively, yet the typical responses were: “You are a Samaritan and have a demon” (John 8:48) and, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does He now say, ‘I have come down out of heaven’?” (John 6:42). Because their minds were darkened by sin, people recognized His humanity but could not see His deity. They could not recognize who He really was. They not only treated the King of kings as a man but as the worst of men—a criminal.

Unlike people who don’t recognize Christ’s true identity, let’s honor Him through a life of worship and obedience.

Suggestions for Prayer

Worship Christ for who He really is—the King of kings and Lord of lords. Praise Him for this truth in your prayer time.

For Further Study

Christ was not only fully man but also fully God. Read the following verses in which Christ Himself bears testimony that He is God: Luke 22:69-70; John 10:30, 37-38; 12:45; 14:7-10. What else should one find in these verses?


PART III

Parable of the Sower: Unresponsive Hearers

A + A - RESET

“‘When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road’” (Matthew 13:19).

The hard-packed soil beside the road represents the unresponsive hearer who “does not understand” the gospel, solely because of his or her own hardheartedness. The person has continually resisted the gospel or anything else related to true spirituality because of an insensitive, impervious heart.

The Word lies on the surface of the unresponsive heart, exposed to attack by Satan. Such a hearer’s lack of repentance insulates him or her from Christ’s help and leaves them victim to assault by the enemy of the soul.

Such people remind us of the fools who hate wisdom and instruction (Prov. 1:7) and say there is no God (Ps. 14:1). They are often self-satisfied and self-righteous, and the gospel is simply veiled to them because “the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel” (2 Cor. 4:4).

Satan uses various means to snatch away the seed sown: false teachers who promote spiritual lies, fear of human opinion that opposes Christianity, pride that blinds people to their real needs, and all sorts of other sinful prejudices against the truth of God’s Word. All of these realities ought to prompt us toward prayer for and reaching out to the lost so that God may save some.

Ask Yourself

If lack of repentance is the key ingredient in shielding people from their need for Christ, we must continually guard ourselves from this hardened condition, even after being saved. Would this be a good time to deal directly with any unconfessed sin, turning away from it and back to the mercies of God?


PART IV

Reading for Today:

Notes:

Hosea 9:7,8 The prophets were God’s inspired messengers and watchmen (Ezek. 3:17; 33:1–7), yet Israel considered them fools and madmen.

Hosea 10:8 Cover us!…Fall on us! The captivity would be so severe that the people would pray for the mountains and hills to fall on them, similar to the last days (Luke 23:30; Rev. 6:16).

Psalm 139:13 formed…covered. By virtue of the divinely designed period of pregnancy, God providentially watches over the development of the child while yet in the mother’s womb.

Psalm 139:16 Your book. This figure of speech likens God’s mind to a book of remembrance. none of them. God sovereignly ordained David’s life before he was conceived.

3 John 4 I have no greater joy. John’s personal affection for Gaius radiated especially from his personal conduct (Luke 6:46). my children. The word “my” is emphatic in the original. John’s heart delighted in the proper conduct of his spiritual children in the faith. Those who walk (conduct) in the truth (belief) have integrity—there is no dichotomy between professing and living. He had strong fatherly affection for them (1 Cor. 4:14–16; 1 Thess. 2:11; 3:1–10).


What was the problem with Diotrephes in 3 John 9,10?

John apparently had written a previous letter to the church (v. 9), perhaps on the subject of hospitality, but it was lost. Perhaps Diotrephes never read it to the church because he rejected John’s authority (vv. 9, 10). “Diotrephes, who loves to have the preeminence.” The word “preeminence” has the idea of “desiring to be first.” It conveys the idea of someone who is selfish, self-centered, and self-seeking. The language suggests a self-promoting demagogue, who served no one, but wanted all to serve only him. Diotrephes’ actions directly contradict Jesus’ and the New Testament’s teaching on servant leadership in the church (Matt. 20:20–28; Phil. 2:5–11; 1 Tim. 3:3; 1 Pet. 5:3). “Diotrephes,…does not receive us.” Diotrephes modeled the opposite of kindness and hospitality to God’s servants, even denying John’s apostolic authority over the local congregation, and as a result, denying the revelation of God that came through that authority. His pride endeavored to supplant the rule of Christ through John in the church. Diotrephes’ character was the very opposite of the gentle and loving Gaius who readily showed hospitality.

“If I come, I will call to mind his deeds” (v. 10). John’s apostolic authority meant that Diotrephes had to answer for his behavior. The apostle did not overlook this usurping of Christ’s place in the church. Verse 10 indicates that Diotrephes was guilty of 4 things: 1) “prating against us.” The word “prating” comes from a word meaning “to bubble up” and has the idea of useless, empty jabber, i.e., talking nonsense. The charges against John were completely unjustified; 2) “with malicious words.” Not only were Diotrephes’ charges false, they were evil; 3) “does not receive the brethren.” He not only slandered John but also deliberately defied other believers; and 4) “putting them out of the church.” The original language indicates that Diotrephes’ habit was to excommunicate those who resisted his authority. To accept John’s authority (v. 9), as well as being hospitable to the traveling ministers, directly threatened the authority that Diotrephes coveted.


GOD BLESS YOU 


MAXIMILIANO 


12/09/17

Christ's Radiance and Representation

"He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature" (Heb. 1:3).

Jesus is both God manifest and God in substance.

Just as the rays of the sun give light, warmth, life, and growth to the earth, so Jesus Christ is the glorious light of God shining into the hearts of men and women. As "the radiance of God's glory," Jesus expresses God to us. No one can see God in HIs full glory; no one ever will. The radiance of that glory that reaches us from God appears in the Person of Jesus Christ.

Just as the sun was never without and can never be separated from its brightness, so God was never without and cannot be separated from the glory of Christ. Never was God without Him or He without God, and never in any way can He be separated from God. Yet the brightness of the sun is not the sun, and neither is Jesus exactly the same as God in that sense. He is fully and absolutely God, yet as a distinct Person within the triune Godhead.

Jesus said, "I am the light of the world; he who follows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life" (John 8:12). As the radiance of God's glory, Christ can transmit that light into your life and mine so that we can radiate the glory of God to a dark world.

In using the term "exact representation" to describe Christ's relationship to God's nature, the writer employs terminology usually associated with an impression reproduced on a seal by a die or stamp. Jesus Christ is the reproduction of God—the perfect, personal imprint of God in time and space.

How wonderful to realize that Jesus Christ, who is both the full expression of God and exact reproduction of God's nature in human history, can come into our lives and give us light to see and to know God! His light is the source of our spiritual life. And His light gives us purpose, meaning, happiness, peace, joy, fellowship, everything—for all eternity.

Suggestion for Prayer

Thank God that He determined to become a man so we could know what He is like.

For Further Study

Read 2 Corinthians 4:3-6 and note who allows people to see or not see spiritually.


PART II

Christ's Identification with Sinners

“. . . Made in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:7).

Christ was fully God and fully man.

In his Systematic Theology theologian Charles Hodge wrote, “The Scriptures teach that Christ had a complete human nature. That is, He had a true body and a rational soul. By a true body is meant a material body which in everything essential was like the bodies of ordinary men. . . . It is no less plain that Christ had a rational soul. He thought, reasoned, and felt.”

Hodge’s assessment is correct, for Christ was given all the essential attributes of humanity. He was more than God in a body. He became the God-man, being fully God and fully man. Like a man, Jesus was born and increased in wisdom and physical maturity (Luke 2:52). Hebrews 2:14 says, “Since then the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same.” Christ had the same flesh and blood that we have. When He came into the world, He came in normal human flesh that experienced all the effects of the Fall. He knew sorrow, suffering, pain, thirst, hunger, and death. He felt all effects of the Fall without ever knowing or experiencing the sin of the Fall.

Hebrews 2:17 points out how Christ’s humanity has a direct bearing on your life: Jesus “had to be made like His brethren in all things, that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest.” For Christ to feel what you feel, He needed to be made like you. He experienced all the tests and temptations you do, but He never gave in to sin. That’s why He is such a faithful and understanding High Priest. Be encouraged, for we “do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15).

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank Christ for being your faithful High Priest.

For Further Study

What human characteristics did Christ show in the following verses: Matthew 4:2; 9:36; 23:37; John 4:6-7; 11:34-35; 19:30?


PART III

Parable of the Sower: Main Elements

“‘Hear then the parable of the sower . . .’” (Matthew 13:18).

The Bible is God’s written Word, but His Son is the Living Word who gives Scripture life. Christ told the Jewish leaders, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me” (John 5:39).

This parable centers on proclaiming the gospel and, perhaps more important, concerns the “heart soils” on which that truth, in seed form, falls as the sower preaches. Our Lord goes on to describe four such soils, representing four different hearts that hear the gospel.

Although every human heart is essentially hostile toward God (Rom. 8:7; Eph. 2:15–16), every one has the potential for redemption. If a heart does not respond savingly, it is because of its own sin and refusal to believe. Jesus declares, “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out” (John 6:37).

In a general sense, any of us who preaches or testifies to the gospel is a sower of God’s Word. This parable thus reminds us of the need to be faithful in truly presenting the gospel, given the wonderful results that can occur. As William Arnot wrote: “As every leaf of the forest and every ripple on the lake, which itself receives a sunbeam on its breast, may throw the sunbeam off again, and so spread the light around; in like manner, everyone, old or young, who receives Christ into his heart may and will publish with his life and lips that blessed name.”

Ask Yourself

How have you experienced one or more of the various soils’ responses to your sharing of gospel truth? What have you learned about the reasons why various people respond to Christ’s message of salvation in different ways?


PART IV

Reading for Today:

Notes:

Hosea 7:4–7 The civil leaders’ evil lust burned so passionately all night, that the prophet repeatedly described it like a consuming oven (vv. 4, 6, 7), so hot that the baker could forego stirring the fire during the entire night and still have adequate heat for baking the next morning.

Psalm 139:9 the wings of the morning. In conjunction with “the uttermost parts of the sea,” David uses this literary figure to express distance.

2 John 1 The Elder. John uses this title to emphasize his advanced age, his spiritual authority over the congregations in Asia Minor, and the strength of his own personal eyewitness testimony to the life of Jesus and all that He taught (vv. 4–6). the elect lady and her children. Some think that this phrase refers metaphorically to a particular local church, while “her children” would refer to members of the congregation. The more natural understanding in context, however, is that it refers to a particular woman and her children (i.e., offspring) who were well known to John. whom I love in truth. The basis of Christian hospitality is the truth (vv. 1–3). John accentuates the need for truth by repeating the term “truth” 5 times in the opening 4 verses. Truth refers to the basics or fundamentals of the faith that John has discussed in 1 John, as well as the truths expressed in 2 John 4–6. Truth is the necessary condition of unity and, as a result, the basis of hospitality.

2 John 10 do not receive him into your house nor greet him. John’s prohibition is not a case of entertaining people who disagree on minor matters. These false teachers were carrying on a regular campaign to destroy the basic, fundamental truths of Christianity. Complete disassociation from such heretics is the only appropriate course of action for genuine believers. No benefit or aid of any type (not even a greeting) is permissible. Believers should aid only those who proclaim the truth (vv. 5–8).


Why is it so important to John to “confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh” (2 John 7)?

John’s purpose was to strengthen Christians to resist the tide of heresy that was rising against the church. Much of this false teaching was an early form of Gnosticism.

The gnostic idea that matter was evil and only spirit was good led to the idea that either the body should be treated harshly, a form of asceticism (Col. 2:21–23), or that sin committed in the body had no connection or effect on one’s spirit. In other words, the false teaching sought to drive a wedge between body and soul. This is why it often maintained that Jesus could not have been God and man at the same time.

The result of this error in teaching was compounded when some, including John’s opponents, concluded that sins committed in the physical body did not matter. Absolute indulgence in immorality was permissible. One could deny sin even existed (1 John 1:8–10) and disregard God’s law (1 John 3:4).

As a bulwark against this heresy, John lifted the confession that “Jesus Christ [came] in the flesh” (v. 7). What Christians do in their physical life is directly connected with what they do in their spiritual life. John emphasized the need for obedience to God’s laws, for he defined the true love for God as obedience to His commandments (1 John 5:3). Jesus, in His human living, offered the perfect example of that kind of love.


GOD BLESSES YOU!


MAXIMILIANO 


12/08/17

The Creator of the World

"In these last days [God] has spoken to us in His Son . . . through whom also He made the world" (Heb. 1:2).

Christ is the agent through whom God created the world.

John 1:3 testifies, "All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being." Jesus has the ability to create something out of nothing (cf. Rom. 4:17), and that sets Him apart from mere creatures. Only God can create like that; we can't. If you could create, you'd live in a different house, drive a different car, and probably have a different job—if you had any job at all. You could just sit in your backyard and make money. Fortunately, God didn't give depraved men and women the right to be creators.

The ability to create ex nihilo belongs to God alone and the fact that Jesus creates like that indicates He is God and establishes His absolute superiority over everything. He created everything material and spiritual. Though man has stained His work with sin, Christ originally made it good, and the very creation itself longs to be restored to what it was in the beginning (Rom. 8:22).

The common Greek word for "world" is kosmos, but that's not the one used in Hebrews 1:2. The word here is aionas, which does not refer to the material world but to "the ages," as it is often translated. Jesus Christ is responsible for creating not only the physical earth, but also time, space, energy, and matter. The writer of Hebrews does not restrict Christ's creation to this earth; he shows us that Christ is the Creator of the entire universe and of existence itself. And He made it all without effort.

What about you? If you don't recognize God as the Creator, you'll have difficulty explaining how this universe came into being. Where did it all come from? Who conceived it? Who made it? It cannot be an accident. Someone made it, and the Bible tells us who He is: Jesus Christ.

Suggestion for Prayer

Praise God for the wonder of His creation, which we can so easily take for granted.

For Further Study

Read Colossians 1:16-23 to discover the relationship between the creation and your salvation.


PART II

Christ as a Servant

“Taking the form of a bond-servant” (Philippians 2:7).

Christ submitted Himself to the Father’s will.

When Christ emptied Himself, He not only gave up His privileges but also became a servant. First, He was a servant by nature. Paul used the Greek word morphe (“form”) again to indicate that Christ’s servanthood was not merely external but His essence. It was not like a cloak that could be put on and taken off. Christ was truly a servant. The only other New Testament use of morphe is in Mark 16:12. There Jesus appears in a resurrection morphe—a form fully expressing the nature of a resurrection body. In Philippians 2 Christ is shown as a true bond-servant, doing the will of the Father. He submitted to the Father and to the needs of men as well. Jesus was everything that Isaiah 52:13-14 depicted—a Messiah who was a servant.

Second, Christ was a servant by position. As God, Christ owns everything. But when He came into this world, He borrowed everything: a place to be born, a place to lay His head, a boat to cross the Sea of Galilee and preach from, an animal to ride into the city when He was triumphantly welcomed as King of kings and Lord of lords, and a tomb to be buried in. The only Person ever to live on this earth who had the right to all its pleasures instead wound up with nothing and became a servant. Although He was the rightful heir to David’s throne and God in human flesh, He had no advantages or privileges in this world. He owned little but served everyone.

Christ, the perfect servant, said to His disciples, “Whoever wishes to become first among you shall be your slave” (Matt. 20:27). What about you? Are you seeking greatness by wanting others to serve you, or are you being truly great by serving God and others? Make it your ambition to be a true servant.

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask the Lord to help you be like Christ—a true servant of God.

For Further Study

What can you learn from Luke 2:41-52 about Christ’s submission and humility?


PART III

Parables Reveal

“‘But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. For truly I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it’” (Matthew 13:16–17).

As believers, we can understand God’s profoundest revelation, whether parables or other teachings, because biblical writers have recorded them and the Spirit has illumined them for us (cf. 1 Cor. 2:9–10). When Christ finished explaining some parables to the apostles and asked if they understood them, they could honestly answer “Yes” (Matt. 13:51). That’s not because they were more intelligent than the educated yet unbelieving Jewish leaders, but because the apostles’ eyes and ears were opened to God’s truth by way of their belief.

In part, our Lord’s ministry was to provide understanding of His Word to His followers (see Mark 4:34). Right to the end of His time on earth, Jesus “explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures” (Luke 24:27; cf. v. 45).

Not even the most faithful Old Testament believers had the insights to revelation that the disciples and every believer since have had.

As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. (1 Peter 1:10–12)

Ask Yourself

The psalmist prayed, “Open my eyes, that I may behold wonderful things from Your law” (Ps. 119:18). Make this your heartfelt prayer today, knowing that God will delight in answering you.


PART IV

Reading for Today:

Notes:

Psalm 139:1 searched me. As it has been in David’s life, he prays later that it will continue to be (vv. 23, 24). David understands that nothing inside of him can be hidden from God.

1 John 5:4 overcomes. John clearly defines who these overcomers are: they are all who believe that Jesus is God’s Son, and all that means. The overcomers are believers—all of them (2:13). The word for “overcomer” comes from a Greek word meaning “to conquer,” “to have victory,” “to have superiority,” or “conquering power.” The word reflects a genuine superiority that leads to overwhelming success. The victory is demonstrable; it involves overthrowing an enemy so that the victory is seen by all. Jesus also used this word to describe Himself (John 16:33). Because of believers’ union with Christ, they too partake in His victory (Rom. 8:37; 2 Cor. 2:14). The word “overcomes” in the original language conveys the idea that the believer has continual victory over the world.

1 John 5:13 These things. This has reference to all that John has written in his letter. that you may know that you have eternal life. Assurance of eternal life constitutes the first Christian certainty. While John wrote his Gospel to bring unbelievers to faith (John 20:31), he wrote the epistle to give believers confidence that they possessed eternal life. The false brethren’s departure left John’s congregations shaken (2:19). He assured those who remained that since they adhered to the fundamentals of the faith (a proper view of Christ, obedience, love), their salvation was sure. eternal life. This does not refer primarily to a period of time but a person (v.20; John 17:3). Eternal life is a relationship with the Person of Jesus Christ and possessing His nature (vv. 11, 12).

1 John 5:21 keep yourselves from idols. John contrasts the term “idols” with “the true God” of v. 20. He has reference here to the false teachers that withdrew from the brotherhood with which they had been formerly associated (2:19). Their false beliefs and practices are the idols from which the readers are commanded to protect themselves. The false teachers upheld the world’s philosophy as superior to God’s revelation as demonstrated in their perversion of basic Christian teaching. In closing, John once again highlights the importance of adherence to the fundamentals of the faith.


DAY 7: What are the 3 characteristics of an “overcomer”?

“Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God”(1 John 5:1).Saving faith is the first characteristic of an overcomer. The term “believes” conveys the idea of continuing faith, making the point that the mark of genuine believers is that they continue in faith throughout their life. Saving belief is not simply intellectual acceptance, but wholehearted dedication to Jesus Christ that is permanent. The object of the believer’s faith is Jesus, particularly that He is the promised Messiah or “Anointed One” whom God sent to be the Savior from sin. Whoever places faith in Jesus Christ as the only Savior has been born again and, as a result, is an overcomer (v. 5). To be “born of God” is a reference to the new birth and is the same word that Jesus used in John 3:7.The tense of the Greek verb indicates that ongoing faith is the result of the new birth and, therefore, the evidence of the new birth. The sons of God will manifest the reality that they have been born again by continuing to believe in God’s Son, the Savior. The new birth brings us into a permanent faith relationship with God and Christ.

“And everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him” (v. 1). Love is the second characteristic of the overcomer. The overcomer not only believes in God, but loves both God and fellow believers. The moral test is again in view.

“By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments” (v. 2). John repeats this phrase twice in these 2 verses. Obedience is the third characteristic of an overcomer. In these verses, John weaves faith, love, and obedience all together inextricably. They exist mutually in a dynamic relationship—as the genuine proof of love is obedience, so the genuine proof of faith is love. The word “keep” conveys the idea of constant obedience (John 8:31, 32; 14:15, 21; 15:10).


GOD BLESS YOU!


MAXIMILIANO 


12/07/17

The Heir of All Things

"In these last days [God] has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things" (Heb. 1:2).

Since Jesus is the Son of God, He is the heir of all that God possesses.

When Christ first came to earth He became poor for our sakes, that we, through His poverty, might be made rich (2 Cor. 8:9). He had nothing for Himself—He had "nowhere to lay His head" (Luke 9:58). Even His clothes were taken from Him when He died, and He was buried in a tomb that belonged to someone else.

It is beyond our understanding to imagine that the Galilean carpenter who was crucified like a common criminal, naked and bleeding on a cross outside the city of Jerusalem, is the King of kings and Lord of lords. But He is!

As the Son of God, Jesus is the heir of all that God possesses. The apostle Paul explains that all things not only were created by Christ but also for Him (Col. 1:16). Everything that exists will find its true meaning only when it comes under the final control of Christ.

The psalms predicted that Christ would one day be the heir to all that God possesses. The Father, speaking to the Son, says, "Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Thine inheritance, and the very ends of the earth as Thy possession'" (Ps. 2:8). God also declared, "I also shall make Him My first-born, the highest of the kings of the earth" (Ps. 89:27; cf. Col. 1:15). "First-born" refers to legal rights—especially those of inheritance and authority.

When Christ comes to earth again, He will completely and eternally inherit all things (Rev. 11:15). And because we have trusted in Him, we are to be "fellow heirs with Christ" (Rom. 8:16-17). When we enter into His eternal kingdom, we will jointly possess all that He possesses. We will not be joint Christs or joint Lords, but will be joint heirs. His marvelous inheritance will be ours as well.

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank God for making you a joint heir with Christ. Thank your Lord for allowing that to happen through His death on the cross.

For Further Study

Read Revelation 5:1-14 and 11:15-18, noting how the inhabitants of heaven respond to Christ.


PART II

The Emptying of Christ

“[Christ] emptied Himself” (Philippians 2:7).

Christ renounced His divine privileges.

Although Christ never surrendered His deity, He did empty Himself in certain ways. One such way was to give up His heavenly glory. That’s why in John 17:5 Jesus prays, “Glorify Thou Me together with Thyself, Father, with the glory which I ever had with Thee before the world was.” Christ gave up the glory of a face-to-face relationship with God for the muck of this earth. He gave up the adoring presence of angels for the spittle of men.

Christ also emptied Himself of His independent authority. He completely submitted Himself to the will of the Father and learned to be a servant. Philippians 2:8 says He was obedient, and we see that illustrated when He said in the garden, “Not as I will, but as Thou wilt” (Matt. 26:39). He came to do His Father’s will, not His own (John 5:30).

Another way Christ emptied Himself was by setting aside the prerogatives of His deity—the voluntary display of His attributes. He didn’t give up His deity, but He did give up the free exercise of His attributes, limiting Himself to the point of saying that even He did not know the time of His second coming (Matt. 24:36).

Christ also emptied Himself of His personal riches. “Though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich” (2 Cor. 8:9). Christ was poor in this world; He owned very little.

Finally, Christ emptied Himself of a favorable relationship with His Father. God “made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf” (2 Cor. 5:21). As a result our Lord cried out on the cross, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” (Matt. 27:46).

Though Christ renounced all those privileges, He never ceased to be God. At any moment He could have blasted His enemies off the face of the earth, but He didn’t. He voluntarily emptied Himself for you and me.

Suggestions for Prayer

Christ submitted Himself completely to His Father’s will. Regularly ask for the Lord’s perfect will to be reflected in your life as well.

For Further Study

Every now and then men glimpsed Christ’s glory. Read Luke 9:28-36 as one example, reminding yourself that Christ emptied Himself of the continuous outward manifestation and personal enjoyment of heavenly glory.


PART III

Parables Conceal

“‘Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. In their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says, “You will keep on hearing, but will not understand; you will keep on seeing, but will not perceive; for the heart of this people has become dull, with their ears they scarcely hear, and they have closed their eyes, otherwise they would see with their eyes, hear with their ears, and understand with their heart and return, and I would heal them”’” (Matthew 13:13–15).

Jesus quoted this passage from Isaiah 6:9–10 to describe the unbelieving Jews of His day. Isaiah pronounced judgment on the people of Judah for their pervasive sin and rebellion. As part of the Lord’s judgment, they were led away into captivity by Babylon, yet still they refused to repent and trust God’s mercies. Because the people in the prophet’s day intentionally closed their eyes and ears and refused any heartfelt understanding of truth, God judicially sealed them in their unbelief.

Christ’s parables served as similar forms of judgment on unbelief. Those who refused His previous, straightforward teachings would not be able to grasp His deeper, parabolic instructions.

Paul also quotes from Isaiah in reference to another first-century judgment on unbelievers: “In the Law it is written, ‘By men of strange tongues and by the lips of strangers I will speak to this people, and even so they will not listen to Me,’ says the Lord. So then tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers; but prophecy is for a sign, not to unbelievers but to those who believe” (1 Cor. 14:21–22). God allowed tongues (various human languages) to play a dramatic role on Pentecost and periodically thereafter as a testimony against those who refused to accept the gospel. Thus the Lord sometimes conceals His word to those predisposed to reject it.

Ask Yourself

Is there any pattern of rejection or disbelief in your mind as you deal with the holy Scriptures? Praise the Lord that He makes His Word plain to those called to be His children.


PART IV

Reading for Today:

Notes:

Hosea 3:1 Go again, love. Having been previously separated, Hosea was commanded to pursue his estranged wife, Gomer, thereby illustrating God’s unquenchable love for faithless Israel. raisin cakes. Eaten as a part of special occasions (2 Sam. 6:19), they may have been used in idolatrous ceremonies, possibly as an aphrodisiac (Song 2:5).

Hosea 3:2 bought her. Probably from a slave auction, Hosea purchased Gomer for 15 shekels of silver and 1 1/2 homers of barley. Together, the total may have equaled 30 pieces of silver, the price paid for a common slave (Ex. 21:32). Barley was the offering of one accused of adultery (Num. 5:15).

Proverbs 29:18 no revelation. This proverb looks both to the lack of the Word (1 Sam. 3:1) and the lack of hearing the Word (Amos 8:11, 12), which leads to lawless rebellion (Ex. 32:25; Lev. 13:45; Num. 5:18). The proverb then contrasts the joy and glory of a lawful society (28:14; Mal. 4:4).

1 John 4:1 do not believe every spirit. The mention of the Holy Spirit in 3:24 prompts John to inform his readers that those other spirits exist, i.e., demonic spirits, who produce false prophets and false teachers to propagate their false doctrine (1 Tim. 4:1, 2). Christians are to have a healthy skepticism regarding any teaching, unlike some among John’s congregations who were too open-minded to anyone claiming a new teaching regarding the faith. test. The word “test” is a metallurgist’s term used for assaying metals to determine their purity and value. Christians must test any teaching with a view to approving or disapproving it, rigorously comparing any teaching to the Scripture. the spirits,…many false prophets. By juxtaposing “spirits” with “false prophets,” John reminds his readers that behind human teachers who propagate false doctrine and error are demons inspired by Satan. Human false prophets and teachers are the physical expressions of demonic, spiritual sources (Matt. 7:15; Mark 13:22).

1 John 4:17 Love…perfected among us. John is not suggesting sinless perfection, but rather mature love marked by confidence in the face of judgment. Confidence is a sign that love is mature. as He is, so are we. Jesus was God’s Son in whom He was well pleased on earth. We also are God’s children (3:11) and the objects of His gracious goodness. If Jesus called God Father, so may we, since we are accepted in the Beloved (Eph. 1:6). In v. 18, the same truth is stated negatively. The love that builds confidence also banishes fears. We love God and reverence Him, but we do not love God and come to Him in love and at the same time hide from Him in terror (Rom. 8:14, 15; 2 Tim. 1:7). Fear involves torment or punishment, a reality the sons of God will never experience, because they are forgiven.


What are the 5 reasons that John gives us for why believers love?

In stark contrast to the self-centered and destructive philosophies and practices of the false teachers, John unfolds the powerful reasons why Christians practice love. In 1 John 4:7–21, the apostle includes 5 such reasons:

1. Christians habitually practice love because God, who indwells them, is the essence of love. The Gnostics believed that God was immaterial spirit and light, but never defined the source of love as coming from His inmost being. As God is Spirit (John 4:24), light (1:5), and a consuming fire (Heb. 12:9), so He is love (4:7, 8). Love is inherent in all He is and does. Even His judgment and wrath are perfectly harmonized with His love.

2. Christians habitually practice love because they desire to imitate the supreme example of God’s sacrificial love in sending His Son for us (4:9).

3. Christians habitually practice love because love is the heart of Christian witness (4:12). Nobody can see God loving since He is invisible. Jesus no longer is in the world to manifest the love of God. The only demonstration of God’s love in this age is the church. That testimony is critical (John 13:35; 2 Cor. 5:18–20).

4. Christians habitually practice love because love is the Christian’s assurance (4:13–16; 3:21). Love banishes self-condemnation. When a Christian recognizes in his life the manifestation of love in actions, it results in confidence about his relationship with God.

5. Christians habitually practice love because love is the Christian’s confidence in judgment (4:17–20; 3:16–23). Confidence is a sign that love is mature. This is not to suggest sinless perfection in a Christian’s life, but rather a habitual practice of love marked by confidence in the face of judgment. Christians love, not in order to escape judgment, but because they have escaped judgment.


GOD BLESS YOU!


MAXIMILIANO


12/06/17

God's Final Revelation

"God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son" (Heb. 1:1-2).

Jesus not only brought but in fact was God’s full and final revelation.

A Samaritan woman declared, "I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us" (John 4:25). The expectation of that day, even among the Samaritans, was that Messiah would unfold the full and final revelation of God. The Holy Spirit, through the writer of Hebrews, affirms that to be true: "God . . . in these last days has spoken to us in His Son" (Heb. 1:1-2).

The Old Testament had given divine revelation in bits and pieces. Every piece was true, yet incomplete. But When Jesus came, the whole picture became clear, and though rejected by His own people, He was, in fact, the fulfillment of the messianic hope they had cherished for so many centuries.

The Old Testament age of promise ended when Jesus arrived. He is God's final word: "As many as may be the promises of God, in Him they are yes; wherefore also by Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us" (2 Cor. 1:20).

God fully expressed Himself in His Son. That's why John said, "The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. . . . No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him" (John 1:14, 18). Paul added that in Christ "all the fulness of Deity dwells in bodily form" (Col. 2:9).

The practical implications of that truth are staggering. Since Christ is the fullness of divine revelation, you need nothing more. In Him you have been made complete (Col. 2:10), and have been granted everything pertaining to life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3). His Word is sufficient, needing no additions or amendments.

Suggestion for Prayer

Ask God to teach you how to rely more fully on your resources in Christ.

For Further Study

Read John 1:1-18 as a reminder of the fullness of God's revelation in His Son.


PART II

Christ Remained God

“Although He existed in the form of God, [Christ] did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself” (Philippians 2:6-7).

Christ emptied Himself without ever surrendering His deity.

Note the contrast in Philippians 2 between verses 6 and 7: Christ didn’t think equality something to be grasped but instead emptied Himself. Paul used the contrasting connective “but” to show that being equal with God didn’t lead Christ to fill Himself up but instead to empty Himself.

The Greek verb translated “emptied” (kenoo) is where we get the theological term kenosis—the doctrine of Christ’s self-emptying as part of His incarnation. The verb expresses Christ’s self-renunciation, His refusal to cling to His advantages and privileges as God.

What did Christ empty Himself of? Certainly not His deity. He coexists with the Father and the Spirit. For Him to become less than God would mean the Trinity would cease to exist. Christ could not become less than who He truly is.

Professor Paul Enns, in his Moody Handbook of Theology, explains the emptying of Christ this way: “The emptying was not a subtraction but an addition. The four following phrases (Phil. 2:7-8) explain the emptying: ‘(a) taking the form of a bond-servant, and (b) being made in the likeness of men. And (c) being found in appearance as a man, (d) He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death.’ The ‘emptying’ of Christ was taking on an additional nature, a human nature with its limitations. His deity was never surrendered.” Christ didn’t exchange deity for humanity; He retained His divine nature.

In his hymn “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” Charles Wesley correctly presented the truths of Christ’s deity when he wrote:

Veiled in flesh the God-head see;

Hail th’ incarnate Deity,

Pleased as man with men to dwell,

Jesus, our Emmanuel.

May those words be the song of your heart as well.

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank the Lord for emptying Himself for your sake.

For Further Study

  • Read 2 Corinthians 8:9. Why did Christ become “poor”?
  • Look at Romans 8:3. Why did God send “His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh”?


PART III

Measuring Progress: Revealing and Concealing

“‘For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him’” (Matthew 13:12).

Just prior to this statement, Jesus told the disciples the twofold reason for His using parables: “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted” (Matt. 13:11). To believers, parables reveal kingdom truth; to unbelievers, they conceal it.

Those to whom God has sovereignly given eternal life through Christ are the true citizens of His kingdom. Of such persons Jesus says, “to him more shall be given.” Believers receive additional light of truth as they grow in obedience and maturity in the Lord. As believers remain faithful, God reveals more and more light until they “have an abundance.”

In contrast, false citizens of the kingdom, because of their unbelief, have whatever amount of divine truth that is nearby concealed from them. Thousands heard Jesus’ teachings (including the parables) and saw His miracles, but most did not recognize Him as Messiah or receive Him as Lord and Savior. Because such unbelievers refuse God’s light as it shines on them, He conceals it from them and they drift further into spiritual darkness.

All people are either progressing or regressing spiritually—there is no such thing as remaining static. The longer that believers serve Christ, the more He reveals His truth and power to them. And the longer unbelievers reject what little knowledge they may have of the gospel, the less of God’s truth they will understand. It’s vitally important to be on the right side of the revealing/concealing equation.

Ask Yourself

When have you experienced the exponential blessing of seeing your small amount of knowledge and insight transformed into increasing quantities? What does this tell you about the value of even small strides in study and learning?


PART IV

Reading for Today:

Notes:

Hosea 1:2 children of harlotry. This points to the future unfaithfulness of their mother. The children were possibly not fathered by Hosea. That Hosea’s marriage to Gomer was to depict God’s marriage to Israel is clearly set forth and becomes the key to the theme of the book.

Hosea 2:19, 20 I will betroth you. Repeated 3 times, the term emphasizes the intensity of God’s restoring love for the nation. In that day, Israel will no longer be thought of as a prostitute. Israel brings nothing to the marriage; God makes all the promises and provides all the dowry. These verses are recited by every orthodox Jew as he places the phylacteries on his hand and forehead (Deut. 11:18). The regeneration/ conversion of the nation is much like that of an individual (2 Cor. 5:16–19).

1 John 3:3 purifies himself, just as He is pure. This is the key verse to 2:28–3:3. Living in the reality of Christ’s return makes a difference in a Christian’s behavior. Since Christians someday will be like Him, a desire should grow within the Christian to become like Him now. That was Paul’s passion, expressed in Philippians 3:12–14. That calls for a purifying of sin, in which we play a part (2 Cor. 7:1; 1 Tim.5:22; 1 Pet. 1:22).

1 John 3:16 By this we know love. With this phrase, John introduces the standard of love that is reflected in genuine Christianity. It becomes the measuring stick for every expression of love (see v. 18). John presents this characteristic of Satan’s children in terms of their lack of love. Satan’s children are marked by indifference toward others’ needs. He laid down His life for us. This expression is unique to John (John 10:11, 15, 17, 18; 13:37, 38; 15:13) and speaks of divesting oneself of something. Christian love is self-sacrificing and giving. Christ’s giving up His life for believers epitomized the true nature of Christian love (John 15:12, 13; Phil. 2:5–8; 1 Pet. 2:19–23). we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. God calls Christians to that same standard of love for one another as He had for us.


What 4 reasons does John give for why believers cannot habitually practice sin (1 John 3:4–10)?

This passage begins with the phrase “Whoever commits sin” (v. 4). “Commits” translates a Greek verb that conveys the idea of habitual practice. Although genuine Christians have a sin nature (1:8) and do behave sinfully, their confession of sin (1:9; 2:1) and acceptance of forgiveness prevent sin from becoming the unbroken pattern of their lives (John 8:31, 34–36; Rom. 6:11; 2 John 9). God builds a certain growing awareness about sin that provides 4 effective reasons why true Christians cannot habitually practice sin:

1. Genuine Christians cannot practice sin because sin is incompatible with the law of God, which they love (3:4; Ps. 119:34, 77, 97; Rom.7:12, 22); whereas habitual sin betrays the ultimate sense of rebellion—living as if there were no law or ignoring what laws exist (James 4:17)—in short, lawlessness.

2. Genuine Christians cannot practice sin because sin is incompatible with the work of Christ (3:5). Christ died to sanctify (make holy) the believer (2 Cor. 5:21; Eph. 5:25–27). Habitual sin contradicts Christ’s work of breaking the dominion of sin in the believer’s life (Rom. 6:1–15).

3. Genuine Christians cannot practice sin because Christ came to destroy the works of the arch-sinner, Satan (3:8). The devil is still operating, but he has been defeated, and in Christ we escape his tyranny. The day will come when all of Satan’s activity will cease in the universe, and he will be sent to hell forever (Rev. 20:10).

4. Genuine Christians cannot practice sin because sin is incompatible with the ministry of the Holy Spirit, who has imparted a new nature to the believer (3:9; John 3:5–8).This new nature shuns sin and exhibits the habitual character of righteousness produced by the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22–24).


GOD BLESS YOU!


MAXIMILIANO 



12/05/17

Progressive Revelation

"God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son" (Heb. 1:1-2). 

The Old Testament is but a sample of what is revealed in the New Testament.

When Jesus said, "Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets [the Old Testament]; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill" (Matt. 5:17), He was affirming that Scripture progressed from promise to fulfillment, from partial to complete. We call that progressive revelation.

For example, the Old Testament anticipated Christ's coming; the New Testament records His coming. The Old Testament writers didn't understand everything they wrote because it didn't always apply to their day. That's why Peter said, "As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful search and inquiry, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit" (1 Pet. 1:10-12).

Progressive revelation doesn't at all imply that the Old Testament is inaccurate. The distinction isn't in the rightness or wrongness of the revelation, but in its completeness. Just as a child progresses from letters to words to sentences, so God's revelation progressed from types, ceremonies, and prophecies to final completion in Jesus Christ and the New Testament.

Though incomplete by New Testament standards, the Old Testament is nonetheless fully inspired by God. That's affirmed often in the New Testament. Peter tells us that no human writer of the Old Testament wrote of his own will, but only as he was directed by the Holy Spirit (2 Pet. 1:21). Paul added that "all Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, [and] for training in righteousness" (2 Tim. 3:16, emphasis added).

The Old Testament isn't all of God's truth, but all of it is true. And as you progress from the Old to the New, you see God's character and redemptive plan unfolding in greater detail.

Suggestion for Prayer

Praise God for the fullness of revelation you enjoy in Scripture.

For Further Study

Memorize 2 Timothy 3:16-17.


PART II

Christ's Equality with God

“[Christ] did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped” (Philippians 2:6).

Christ is equal with God but willingly yielded His divine privileges for our sake.

At the time Christ lived, even His worst enemies, the apostate religious leaders, knew what Jesus claimed about Himself. John 5:18 says, “The Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but was also calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.” In Philippians 2:6 Paul affirms Christ’s claim of equality with God. The Greek word translated “equality” (isos) describes things that are exactly equal in size, quantity, quality, character, and number. Isomorph(equal form), isometric (equal measures), and isosceles triangle (a triangle with two sides of equal measure) are all English terms that describe equality. Christ is equal to God, and He exists in the form of God. A literal English rendering of the Greek text is: “He did not regard the being equal with God”— a tremendous affirmation of the deity of Christ.

The first step in the humiliation of Christ was that He did not hold on to equality with God. Though He had all the rights, privileges, and honors of Godhood, Christ didn’t grasp them. The word translated “grasp” originally meant “robbery” or “a thing seized by robbery.” It eventually came to mean anything clutched, embraced, held tightly, clung to, or prized. Paul meant that though He was always and forever God, Christ refused to cling to His favored position with all its rights and honors. He was willing to give them up for a season.

The Incarnation expresses the humility and unselfish nature of the Second Person of the Trinity. Christ looked down on wretched sinners who hated Him and willingly yielded His privileges to give Himself for their sake. Let us follow His example by being humble and living unselfishly for others.

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank the Lord for His example of humility and unselfishness.

For Further Study

Read John 10:38; 14:9.

  • What did Christ say about His relationship with the Father?
  • In John 20:28 how did Thomas address Christ?


PART III

The Kingdom of Heaven

“‘To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven’” (Matthew 13:11).

In the Lord’s Prayer (Matt. 6:10) we see two aspects of the kingdom of heaven. “On earth” refers to the present kingdom, mediated through God’s servants, and “in heaven” refers to God’s universal, direct reign.

Through the centuries the present kingdom has attracted both true and false citizens. Only God can infallibly distinguish true citizens (the redeemed) from false ones. Jesus shows that many branches that seem to belong to the vine actually do not. The spurious ones will be pruned away and thrown into the fire (John 15:2, 6). Such people only superficially identify with Christ but are never really citizens of the kingdom of heaven or part of the body of Christ. They appear to be true citizens only from an imperfect human perspective.

Paradoxically, Scripture uses terms such as Israel, God’s people, and disciples that can include both nominal and genuine believers. Paul does make it clear, however, that “he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart” (Rom. 2:29; cf. 9:6–7). Only at the very end of the age, when the eternal kingdom begins, will those who are true citizens of God’s kingdom be clear to everyone. (Even during the Millennium, when Christ directly rules on earth, there will be disloyal citizens; cf. Rev. 20:7–8.)

The only way now to ensure your kingdom citizenship is to repent, trust in Jesus Christ, and pursue the sanctification that new life in Him brings (cf. Mark 1:15).

Ask Yourself

What should churches do to discern and encourage those who are Christians in name only to put their faith in Christ wholeheartedly? Why do we tend to avoid dealing in touchy matters like these? And what is the result of our reticence?


PART IV

Reading for Today:

Notes:

Daniel 11:2–45 As in 8:3–26, this prophecy sweeps all the way from the history of spiritual conflict in Israel (11:2–35) to the Tribulation (vv. 36–42) when Michael aids in fully delivering Israel (12:1). The detail of this history is so minute and accurate, so confirmed by history, that unbelieving critics have, without evidence, insisted that it was actually written 400 years later than Daniel, after it had happened, which would make the prophet a deceiver. The prophecy actually looks ahead from Daniel to the final Antichrist.

Daniel 11:31 defile the sanctuary. Antiochus’s soldiers, no doubt working with apostate Jews, guarded the temple, halting all worship, while others attacked the city on the Sabbath, slaughtering men, women, and children. Soldiers desecrated Israel’s temple, banned circumcision and daily sacrifices (1 Macc. 1:44–54), and sacrificed a pig on the altar. The Syrians on Chislev (Dec. 15, 167 B.C.) even imposed an idol statue in honor of the Olympian god Zeus into the temple. Jews called it “the abomination that causes desolation,” i.e., emptying or ruining for Jewish worship. abomination of desolation. Antiochus’s soldiers profaned God’s temple by spreading sow’s broth on the altar and banning daily sacrifices (8:14) as described in 1 Maccabees 1:44–54. Both Daniel and Jesus said this atrocity was only a preview of the abomination that would happen later under the final Antichrist (9:27; Matt. 24:15).

1 John 2:16 all that is in the world. While the world’s philosophies and ideologies and much that it offers may appear attractive and appealing, that is deception. Its true and pervasive nature is evil, harmful, ruinous, and satanic. Its deadly theories are raised up against the knowledge of God and hold the souls of men captive (2 Cor. 10:3–5). lust. John uses the term negatively here for a strong desire for evil things. flesh. The term refers to the sin nature of man; the rebellious self dominated by sin and in opposition to God (Rom. 7:15–25; 8:2–8; Gal. 5:19–21). Satan uses the evil world system to incite the flesh. eyes. Satan uses the eyes as a strategic avenue to incite wrong desires (Josh. 7:20, 21; 2 Sam. 11:2; Matt. 5:27–29). Satan’s temptation of Eve involved being attracted to something beautiful in appearance, but the result was spiritual death (Gen. 3:6, “pleasant to the eyes”). the pride of life. The phrase has the idea of arrogance over one’s circumstances, which produced haughtiness or exaggeration, parading what one possessed to impress other people (James 4:16).

1 John 2:19 They went out from us,…none of them were of us. The first characteristic mentioned of antichrists, i.e., false teachers and deceivers (vv. 22–26), is that they depart from the faithful. They arise from within the church and depart from true fellowship and lead people out with them. The verse also places emphasis on the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints. Those genuinely born again endure in faith and fellowship and the truth (1 Cor. 11:19; 2 Tim. 2:12). The ultimate test of true Christianity is endurance (Mark 13:13; Heb. 3:14). The departure of people from the truth and the church is their unmasking.


How does 1 John help us understand some of the destructive teaching that attacked Christianity in the first century?

Paul, Peter, and John all faced early forms of a system of false teaching that later became known as Gnosticism. That term (derived from the Greek word “knowledge”) refers to the habit that gnostics had of claiming an elevated knowledge, a higher truth known only to those in on the deep things. Those initiated into this mystical knowledge of truth had a higher internal authority than Scripture. This resulted in a chaotic situation in which the gnostics tried to judge divine revelation by human ideas rather than judging human ideas by divine revelation (1 John 2:15–17).

Philosophically, the heresy relied on a distortion of Platonism. It advocated a dualism in which matter was inherently evil and spirit was good. One of the direct errors of this heresy involved attributing some form of deity to Christ but denying His true humanity, supposedly to preserve Him from evil (which they concluded He would be if He actually came in the flesh). Such a view destroys not only the true humanity of Jesus, but also the atonement work of Christ. Jesus must not only have been truly God, but also the truly human (physically real) man who actually suffered and died upon the cross in order to be the acceptable substitutionary sacrifice for sin (Heb. 2:14–17). The biblical view of Jesus affirms His complete humanity, as well as His full deity.

The gnostic heresy, even in John’s day, featured two basic forms: 1) Docetism; and 2) the error of Cerinthus. Docetism (from a Greek word that means, “to appear”) asserted that Jesus’ physical body was not real but only “seemed” to be physical. John forcefully and repeatedly affirmed the physical reality of Jesus. He reminded his readers that he was an eyewitness to Him (“heard,” “seen,” “handled,” “Jesus Christ has come in the flesh”; 1 John 1:1–4; 4:2,3). The other form of early Gnosticism was traced back to Cerinthus by the early church apologist Irenaeus. Cerinthus taught that Christ’s “spirit” descended on the human Jesus at His baptism but left Him shortly before His crucifixion. John asserted that the Jesus who was baptized at the beginning of His ministry was the same Person who was crucified on the cross (1 John 5:6).

John does not directly specify the early gnostic beliefs, but his arguments offer clear clues about his targets. Further, John’s wisdom was to avoid direct attacks on rapidly shifting heresies, but to provide a timely, positive restatement of the fundamentals of the faith that would provide timeless truth and answers for later generations of Christians.


GOD BLESSED YOU!


MAXIMILIANO 



12/04/17

Penetrating the Box

"God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son" (Heb. 1:1-2).

Man can’t discover God on his own; God must reveal Himself to man.

Since the beginning of time, man has deceived himself by thinking he can discover God through various religions. But in reality, man lives in a box enclosed within the walls of time and space. God is outside the box, and man senses He's there but can't get to Him. Each new religion is but another futile attempt to penetrate the walls of the box and catch a glimpse of God.

Man's only hope is for God to enter the box, which Hebrews 1:1-2 declares He did: first by letter (the Old Testament), then in person (in Jesus Christ). Regarding God's Word David said, "The Spirit of the Lord spoke by me, and His word was on my tongue" (2 Sam. 23:2). Jeremiah added, "The Lord stretched out His hand and touched my mouth, and the Lord said to me, 'Behold, I have put My words in your mouth'" (Jer. 1:9). Of Christ, the apostle John said, "The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. . . . No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him" (John 1:14, 18).

The irony of people thinking they can discover God on their own is that apart from the Holy Spirit's leading, no one really wants to find Him. They merely want to add a cosmic good luck charm to their lives or satiate their guilty consciences. Paul said, "There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God" (Rom. 3:10-11, emphasis added).

God could have left us in our sin and ignorance, but He penetrated the box and revealed everything we need to know for redemption and fellowship with Him. What a privilege we have to study His Word and live by its principles! Be diligent to do so each day.

Suggestion for Prayer

Praise God for granting you the ability to appreciate His Word.

For Further Study

Read 1 Corinthians 2:6-16, noting how natural (unregenerate) people respond to divine revelation.


PART II

Christ's Deity Defended

“[Christ] existed in the form of God” (Philippians 2:6).

Scripture makes clear that Christ is God.

The deity of Christ is the heart of the Christian faith. Inevitably when people attack the Christian faith, they attack the deity of Christ. Scripture makes clear, however, that such attacks are unfounded. The apostle John said, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he began his Gospel by affirming the deity of Christ. John further declared Christ’s deity when he wrote, “All things came into being through [Christ], and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life; and the life was the light of men” (vv. 3-4). In John 8:58 Jesus said, “Before Abraham was born, I AM.” Jesus appropriated to Himself the name of God, who said, “I AM WHO I AM” (Ex. 3:14).

In Colossians 1:15-17 the apostle Paul wrote of Christ’s deity: “He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” Christ is God, the Creator. The writer of Hebrews says, “[Christ] is the radiance of [God’s] glory and the exact representation of His nature” (1:3). Christianity begins with the recognition that Jesus Christ is in essence the eternal God.

Whenever someone confronts you by attacking the deity of Christ, be sure to defend the faith, “holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching” (Titus 1:9).

Suggestions for Prayer

At the core of defending God’s Word is an accurate interpretation of Scripture. Ask Him to help you interpret His Word accurately (see 2 Tim. 2:15).

For Further Study

John 1:1 says, “In the beginning was the Word,” which undoubtedly reminded John’s readers of Genesis 1:1: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” What do the following verses demonstrate about Christ: 1 Corinthians 8:6; Ephesians 3:19; Hebrews 1:1-2?


PART III

To Speak in Parables

“He spoke many things to them in parables” (Matthew 13:3).

The parable was one of the staple teaching tools the Lord Jesus used to convey spiritual truth in an understandable way. The word parable contains the idea of placing something alongside something else to make a comparison. In this way, Jesus would place a moral truth alongside a physical example that people could more easily grasp. By this common form of Jewish teaching, He used a common object or practice to elucidate an intangible truth or principle.

From His earliest teaching sessions, Christ used graphic analogies to instruct on divine truth. He likened believers to salt and light in this world (Matt. 5:13–16), pointed to the example of the birds and flowers concerning life’s essentials (6:26–30), and said Christians must build on the rock-solid foundation of Scripture rather than the loose sand of human philosophy (7:24–27). These and other illustrations contain clear meanings. They resonate with listeners. And they served the purpose of setting the stage for Jesus’ use of full-fledged parables.

Parables and other symbolic and figurative communication methods, when correctly understood, are genuine friends of the student of God’s Word. They make abstract truths more concrete, interesting, easier to remember, and easier to apply to life. Those were always the goals our Lord envisioned as He related any parables, such as the series of kingdom parables.

Ask Yourself

What can we learn from Jesus’ teaching style to help us improve our own spiritual communication, whether in formal lessons and sermons or simply in the ordinary vehicles of conversation?


PART IV

Reading for Today:

Notes:

Daniel 9:24–26 Seventy weeks…until. These are weeks of years, whereas weeks of days are described in a different way (10:2, 3). The time spans from the Persian Artaxerxes’ decree to rebuild Jerusalem, ca. 445 B.C. (Neh. 2:1–8), to the Messiah’s kingdom. This panorama includes: 1) 7 weeks or 49 years, possibly closing Nehemiah’s career in the rebuilding of the “street and wall,” as well as the end of the ministry of Malachi and the close of the Old Testament; 2) 62 weeks or 434 more years for a total of 483 years to the First Advent of Messiah. This was fulfilled at the Triumphal Entry on 9 Nisan, A.D. 30 (Matt. 21:1–11). The Messiah will be “cut off”(a common reference to death); and 3) the final 7 years or 70th week of the time of Antichrist (v. 27). Roman people, from whom the Antichrist will come, will “destroy the city” of Jerusalem and its temple in A.D. 70.

Daniel 10:13 prince of…Persia. The 3-week delay was due to an evil angel opposing Gabriel in heavenly warfare (Rev. 16:12–14). This angel was specially anointed with Persian power in an effort to thwart the work of God. This tells us that Satan engages in heavenly warfare to influence generations and nations against God and His people (Eph. 6:10ff.). Michael. This is the chief angel of heaven (10:21; 12:1; Jude 9; Rev. 12:7). Michael remained to assure that the Jews would be free to return to their land.

Daniel 10:21 Scripture of Truth. God’s plan of certain and true designs for men and nations, which He can reveal according to His discretion (11:2; Is. 46:9–11). except Michael. The angel with Michael intended to handle the demons of Persia and Greece. This actually forms the heavenly basis for the earthly unfolding of history in 11:2–35.

1 John 1:2, 3 manifested,…seen,…bear witness,…declare. John dramatically reemphasizes through repetition of these terms in vv. 2, 3 (v.1) the authority of his own personal experience as an eyewitness of Jesus’ life. Such repetition pointedly reminds his readers that John’s personal testimony refutes the false teachers who boasted arrogantly and wrongly about the Christ they had never seen or known.


Contrast how the lives of true believers and false teachers differ.


In 1 John 1:7, a genuine Christian walks habitually in the light (truth and holiness), not in darkness (falsehood and sin). Their walk also results in cleansing from sin as the Lord continually forgives His own. Since those walking in the light share in the character of God, they will be habitually characterized by His holiness (3 John 11), indicating their true fellowship with Him (James 1:27). A genuine Christian does not walk in darkness but only in the light (2 Cor. 6:14; Eph. 5:8; Col. 1:12, 13).

Not only did the false teachers walk in darkness (v. 8), but they went so far as to deny totally the existence of a sin nature in their lives. If someone never admits to being a sinner, salvation cannot result. Not only did the false teachers make false claims to fellowship and disregard sin (v. 6), they are also characterized by deceit regarding sinlessness (Eccl. 7:20; Rom. 3:23).

In the lives of genuine believers, a continual confession of sin is an indication of genuine salvation (v. 9). While the false teachers would not admit their sin, the genuine Christian admitted and forsook it (Ps. 32:3–5; Prov. 28:13). The term “confess” means to say the same thing about sin as God does—to acknowledge His perspective about sin. While v. 7 is from God’s perspective, v. 9 is from the Christian’s perspective. Confession of sin characterizes genuine Christians, and God continually cleanses those who are confessing (v. 7). Rather than focusing on confession for every single sin as necessary, John has especially in mind here a settled recognition and acknowledgment that one is a sinner in need of cleansing and forgiveness (Eph. 4:32; Col. 2:13).


GOD BLESS YOU!


MAXIMILIANO 


12/03/17

The Deity of Christ

“[Christ] existed in the form of God” (Philippians 2:6).

Christ possesses the very nature of God.

In the second part of John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, Christiana and her children travel toward the Celestial Country. During their pilgrimage, Interpreter introduces them to one of his male servants, whose name is Great-heart. When Christiana asks Great-heart to explain the nature of Christ’s forgiveness, part of his answer is: “He [Christ] has two natures in one Person, easy to distinguish but impossible to divide. There is a righteousness that belongs to both of these natures, and each righteousness is essential to that nature, so that one might as easily kill that nature as to separate its righteousness from it.” Bunyan was affirming through his character Great-heart what Scripture says of Christ: He is God.

The apostle Paul stated the same truth, saying that Christ “existed in the form of God” (Phil. 2:6). The Greek word translated “existed” (huparcho) is not the common verb for “being” (eimi). Huparcho stresses the essence of a person’s nature—his continuous state or condition. It expresses what one is, unalterably and inalienably, by nature. Paul’s point was that Jesus Christ is unalterably and continuously existing in the form of God.

Clarifying the meaning of the Greek word translated “form” (morphe) is crucial to a proper understanding of this verse. According to respected Greek scholars Moulton and Milligan, morphe “always signifies a form which truly and fully expresses the being which underlies it.” The word describes essential being or nature—in this case the essential being of God.

In using the word morphe in Philippians 2, Paul was saying Jesus possessed the unchangeable, essential nature of God. That interpretation of the first phrase of verse 6 is strengthened by the second phrase, which says Jesus was equal with God. Being in the form of God speaks of Christ’s equality with God.

Perhaps, like Great-heart, you know someone who needs to be grounded in the fundamental doctrines of God’s Word. Just as Great-heart helped Christiana, so also you can help someone learn about the deity of Christ and other great truths of God’s Word.

Suggestions for Prayer

Pray for an opportunity to teach someone the basic doctrine of Christ’s nature.

For Further Study

Memorize Colossians 2:9, a verse that proves the deity of Christ.


PART II

Jesus: Our Great High Priest

"The point in what has been said is this: we have such a high priest, who has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens" (Heb. 8:1).

Since Jesus serves as our High Priest, we have access to God.

Access to God was always a problem for the Jewish people. Exodus 33:20 declares that no man can see God and live. Once each year, on the great Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), the Jewish high priest entered into the Holy of Holies, where God's presence dwelt in a unique sense, to approach God on behalf of the people.

God's covenant with Israel was the basis for their communion with Him. And the sacrificial system that accompanied the Old Covenant gave the people an outward act to represent their inner repentance. But their sacrifices were incessant because their sin was incessant. They needed a perfect priest and sacrifice to provide access to God permanently. That's exactly what Jesus was and did.

Hebrews 10 says that Jesus offered His body as a sacrifice for mankind's sins once for all, then sat down at the right hand of the Father (vv. 10, 12). That was a revolutionary concept to Jewish thinking. A priest on duty could never sit down because his work was never done. But Jesus introduced a new and wonderful element into the sacrificial system: one sacrifice, offered once, sufficient for all time. That was the basis of the New Covenant.

Our Lord's priesthood is permanent and perpetual: "Because He abides forever, [He] holds His priesthood permanently. Hence, also, He is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them" (Heb. 7:24-25). That's the central message of the book of Hebrews.

It wasn't easy for the Jewish people to accept the need for a new covenant. Most rejected Christ outright. Similarly, many people today reject His priesthood, supposing they can gain access to God on their own terms. But they're tragically mistaken. Jesus Himself said, "No one comes to the Father, but through Me" (John 14:6).

Suggestion for Prayer

Praise God for receiving you into His presence through His Son, Jesus Christ.

For Further Study

Read Hebrews 10:19-25, noting how God wants you to respond to Christ's priesthood.


PART III

Meekness from Jesus, Comfort for the Weak

A + A - RESET

“‘He will not quarrel, nor cry out; nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets. A battered reed He will not break off, and a smoldering wick He will not put out’” (Matthew 12:19–20).

The Lord Jesus did not cajole or browbeat people with the gospel like some inflammatory demagogue who stirs up his listeners by pandering to their emotions and prejudices. Christ always spoke plainly, with dignity and control—His only persuasive technique was the truth. He never resorted to the lies and scheming of His enemies. As the Son of God and Messiah, He never attempted to gain a hearing or a following by appealing to political power or using physical force.

Christ’s approach was the way of meekness, gentleness, and lowliness, because many of His hearers were like the battered reed or smoldering wick. They were people whose lives were broken or worn out, and the world wanted to discard them. An unbelieving society nearly always wants to cast off such people as useless or worthless.

The nature of sinful humanity is to destroy—people commit murder, arson, vandalism, and viciously slander one another in business, politics, the family—but God’s nature is to restore. Jesus will not “break off” or “put out” the least of those who sincerely come to Him. He also issues a strong warning to any who would cause vulnerable people to fall: “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matt. 18:6).

Our Lord will always restore the battered reed and rekindle the smoldering wick.

Ask Yourself

Is gentleness a trait that comes hard for you? In what way have you been aware of a hardness or coldness in your approach to other people—an insensitivity that dearly needs the restorative touch of Christ’s nature in your heart and mind?


PART IV

Reading for Today:

Notes:

Daniel 8:3–9 This imagery unfolded historically. The ram pictures the Medo-Persian Empire as a whole, its two horns standing for the two entities (the Medes and the Persians) that merged into one. The history of this empire is briefly noted in v. 4, as it is seen conquering from the east to the west, south and north, under Cyrus, as predicted also by Isaiah 150 years earlier (Is. 45:1–7).The higher horn, which appeared last, represents Persia. The goat (v. 5) represents Greece with its great horn Alexander, who with his army of 35,000 moved with such speed that he is pictured as not even touching the ground. The broken horn is Alexander in his death; the 4 horns are generals who became kings over 4 sectors of the Grecian Empire after Alexander (7:6). The small horn is Antiochus Epiphanes, who rose from the third empire to rule the Syrian division in 175–164 B.C. and is the same king dominant in 11:21–35. In 7:8, 24–26, a similar “little horn” clearly represents the final Antichrist. The reason both are described as “little horns” is because one prefigures the other.

Psalm 137:1 the rivers of Babylon. The Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. we wept. They even wept when the exile was over and the second temple was being built (Ezra 3:12), so deep was their sorrow. Zion. The dwelling place of God on earth (Pss. 9:11; 76:2) which was destroyed by the Babylonians (2 Chr. 36:19; Pss. 74:6–8; 79:1; Is. 64:10, 11; Jer. 52:12–16; Lam. 2:4).

2 Peter 3:3 knowing this first. “First” here means the preeminent matter, not the first in a list. Peter’s priority in this section of his letter is to warn Christians about how the false teachers would try to deny this judgment and steal the hope of believers. scoffers will come. False teachers argue against the Second Coming of Christ or any teaching of Scripture through ridicule (Is. 5:19; Jude 18). in the last days. This phrase refers to that entire period of time from the arrival of the Messiah to His return (Acts 2:17; Gal. 4:4; 2 Tim. 3:1; Heb. 1:2; 1 Pet. 1:20; 1 John 2:18, 19; James 5:3; Jude 18).The entire age will be marked by saboteurs of the Christian truth and especially the hope of Christ’s return.

2 Peter 3:16 hard to understand. Since Paul had (by the time Peter wrote) written all his letters and died, the readers of 2 Peter would have already received letters about future events from Paul. Some of Paul’s explanations were difficult (not impossible) to interpret. Nevertheless, Peter uses Paul as a support for his teaching.


DAY 2: How can we answer those who doubt Daniel’s authorship because his prophecies are so astonishingly accurate?

Confidence in the divine origin of Scripture does not rely on blind faith. There are reasonable explanations and acceptable corroborating evidence that point to the trustworthiness of the Bible. Daniel’s use of what is now called Imperial Aramaic in writing the book points to an early date. The Dead Sea Scrolls offer evidence that also pushes back the date for Daniel.

When accurate prophecy and possible miracles are discounted by definition as unacceptable, proving Daniel’s value becomes challenging. But the problem has little to do with lack of evidence and much to do with willful unbelief. Skeptical interpreters, unwilling to acknowledge supernatural prophecies in Daniel that came to pass (over 100 in chapter 11 alone that were fulfilled), attempt to replace miraculous foresight with simple observation. They assume that the writer of Daniel was actually living in the time of Antiochus and reported current events in prophetic form. That is, the writer wrote as though he was predicting certain events, when, in reality, he was writing after the events had occurred. For scholars like these, no amount of fulfilled prophecy will be enough to convince them. They actually become a reminder to believers that people are not argued into the kingdom of God. The most compelling evidence as well as the most resistant people both need the assistance of God’s Spirit in arriving at genuine faith.


GOD BLESSES YOU!


MAXIMILIANO 



12/02/17

The Preeminence of Christ

"God . . . has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high" (Heb. 1:1-3).

Christ is superior to everyone and everything.

The book of Hebrews was addressed to an audience composed of Jewish Christians, Jewish non-Christians who were intellectually convinced about Jesus but hadn't yet committed themselves to Him, and Jewish non-Christians who didn't believe the gospel at all.

The author's goal was to demonstrate Christ's superiority over everyone and everything that had preceded Him, whether Old Testament persons, institutions, rituals, or sacrifices. He specifically contrasted Christ with angels, Moses, Joshua, Aaron and his priesthood, the Old Covenant, and the sacrificial system.

The Jewish believers needed this focus on Christ's superiority because most of them were suffering some form of persecution because of their Christian testimony. Some were in danger of confusing the gospel with Jewish ceremonies and legalism, and drifting back into their former practices.

Those who were intellectually convinced but spiritually uncommitted needed to be warned not to stop at that point, but to go all the way to saving faith. They were in danger of committing the greatest sin any person can commit: rejecting Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.

Those who didn't believe in Christ at all needed to see that Jesus was in fact who He claimed to be. To such people the author explains the unique priesthood of Christ, and the urgency of turning to Him in faith.

Within your circle of friends and associates, you probably have Christians who are weak of faith and need your encouragement and instruction. Be available to minister to them whenever possible.

Undoubtedly you also know people who are intellectually convinced that Jesus is who He claimed to be, but aren't willing to embrace Him as their Lord. Don't be shy about urging them to move on to salvation.

To those who reject Christ outright, boldly proclaim the gospel and trust the Holy Spirit to convict their hearts.

Suggestion for Prayer

Praise Christ for His preeminence and surpassing grace.

For Further Study

Read Hebrews 1-2. To whom does the writer compare Christ? Be specific.


PART II

The Incarnation of Christ

“Although [Christ] existed in the form of God, [He] did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:6-8).

Christ is the perfect example of humility.

In his book Miracles, English scholar C.S. Lewis used this analogy to describe the incarnation of Christ:

One may think of a diver, first reducing himself to nakedness, then glancing in mid-air, then gone with a splash, vanished, rushing down through green and warm water into black and cold water, down through increasing pressure into the death-like region of ooze and slime and old decay; then up again, back to colour and light, his lungs almost bursting, till suddenly he breaks surface again, holding in his hand the dripping, precious thing that he went down to recover. He and it are both coloured now that they have come up into the light: down below, where it lay colourless in the dark, he lost his colour, too.

That was how Lewis illustrated the Incarnation, the central miracle of Christianity, which is also addressed in Philippians 2:5-8. In those verses Jesus is shown to be the perfect model of humility—the perfect illustration of Paul’s instructions in verses 3-4. He did nothing out of selfishness or conceit but regarded others as more important than Himself.

We are to imitate Christ’s perfect example of humility. James 4:10 says, “Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.” What about your life? Does it demonstrate a Christlike humility that God will delight to honor by exaltation?

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank the Lord for Christ, whose life exemplifies the perfect pattern of humility for you to follow.
  • Think of areas in your life where you are especially prone to exalt yourself at the expense of others.
  • Acknowledge your sin to God and ask Him to help you be humble in those areas.

For Further Study

Read Isaiah 14:12-17 and Ezekiel 28:12-19, which tell of Lucifer’s fall from his exalted position in the presence of God. Write down ways his attitude is opposite Christ’s in Philippians 2:5-8.


PART III

December 1 - Jesus’ Message Is for Everyone

“‘And He shall proclaim justice to the Gentiles’” (Matthew 12:18).


Contrary to Jewish thinking and expectations, the Messiah would be the Redeemer for all nationalities, not just the Jews. In fact, the Jews were to be the ones to proclaim God’s grace to the rest of the world. God told Abraham, “In you all the families of the earth will be blessed” (Gen. 12:3). It is therefore rather ironic that the Jews would resist the concept that God’s good news was for all peoples.

The reality that Jesus’ message would be for all mankind was readily apparent early in His ministry. The first woman He reached was a Samaritan (John 4:26). Concerning the Roman centurion whose servant He healed, the Lord said, “Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel” (Matt. 8:10).

But the idea of Messiah coming to preach to and redeem some Gentiles was still anathema to the Jews. When Paul addressed a large number of Jews in Jerusalem and told them God had commanded him, “Go! For I will send you far away to the Gentiles,” that sparked an intense reaction from them: “Away with such a fellow from the earth, for he should not be allowed to live!” (Acts 22:21, 22).

A real gospel stumbling block for the Jews was the truth that redemption and fellowship with God were for Gentiles as well as for them. But the saving message Jesus proclaimed has always been for people from every part of the world, without distinction—a fact over which we can all rejoice.

Ask Yourself

Increasingly each day, the makeup of America’s population reflects the faces of numerous nationalities and people groups. How open is your heart to their need for Christ’s salvation?


PART IV

Reading for Today:

Notes:

Daniel 5:25–29 MENE, MENE. This means “counted” or “appointed” and is doubled for stronger emphasis. Tekel means “weighed” or “assessed” by the God who weighs actions (1 Sam. 2:3; Ps. 62:9). Peres denotes “divided,” i.e., to the Medes and Persians. Pharsin in v. 25 is the plural of peres, possibly emphasizing the parts in the division. The “U” prefix on pharsin has the idea of the English “and.”

Daniel 6:3 an excellent spirit. Daniel, over 80, had enjoyed God’s blessing throughout his life (1:20, 21; 2:49; 4:8; 5:12). over the whole realm. Daniel was the favorite of the king. He had experience, wisdom, a sense of history, leadership, a good reputation, ability, attitude, and revelation from the God of heaven. Apparently, God wanted him in the place of influence to encourage and assist in the Jews’ return to Judah, since the return was made in Cyrus’s first year (539–537 B.C.), right before the lions’ den incident. From the record of Ezra 1 and 6, all the basic elements of the return appear: 1) the temple was to be rebuilt with the cost paid from Cyrus’s treasury; 2) all Jews who visited could return, and those who stayed were urged to assist financially; and 3) the gold and silver vessels stolen from the temple by Nebuchadnezzar were to be taken back. To account for such favor toward the Jews, it is easy to think of Daniel not only influencing Cyrus to write such a decree, but even formulating it for him.

2 Peter 2:11 angels, who are greater in power. A reference to the holy angels, who are greater in power than human beings. do not bring a reviling accusation. Unlike false teachers who are defiant toward higher powers, the holy angels so revere their Lord that they will not speak insults against any authority. Even the archangel Michael, recognizing the great presence and power of Satan, refused to speak evil of him (Jude 8, 9), but called on the Lord to do so. No believer should be so boldly foolish as to mock or command the power of supernatural demons, especially Satan.

2 Peter 2:19 promise them liberty. False teachers promise those “trying to escape” the struggles of life the very freedom they seek. slaves of corruption. The false teachers can’t deliver the freedom they promise, because they themselves are enslaved to the very corruption which people are trying to escape. overcome,…bondage. Whoever puts himself, in the name of freedom, into the hands of a false teacher, who is a prisoner himself, also becomes a prisoner. Bondage to corruption awaits all followers of false teachers.


Who were the false teachers that Peter describes in 2 Peter 2:1?

Peter described false teachers in detail in this chapter so that Christians would always recognize their characteristics and methods. The greatest sin of Christ-rejecters and the most damning work of Satan is misrepresentation of the truth and its consequent deception. Nothing is more wicked than for someone to claim to speak for God to the salvation of souls when in reality he speaks for Satan to the damnation of souls.

Peter says they will be from “among the people.” “The people” is used in the New Testament of Israel (Acts 26:17, 23). Peter’s point, though, is that Satan has always endeavored to infiltrate groups of believers with the deceptions of false teachers (John 8:44). Since Eve, he has been in the deceit business (2 Cor. 11:3, 4). The false teachers parade themselves as Christian pastors, teachers, and evangelists and “secretly bring in destructive heresies.” “Heresies” means self-designed religious lies which lead to division and faction (1 Cor. 11:19; Gal. 5:20).The Greek word for “destructive” basically means damnation. This word is used 6 times in this letter and always speaks of final damnation (vv. 1–3; 3:7, 16).This is why it is so tragic when a church makes a virtue out of the toleration of unscriptural teachings and ideas in the name of love and unity (2 Thess. 3:14; 1 Tim. 4:1–5; Titus 3:9–11).

“Denying the Lord.” This phrase exposes the depth of the crime and guilt of the false teachers. This unusual Greek word for “Lord” appears 10 times in the New Testament and means one who has supreme authority, whether human authority or divine authority. Peter here warns that false prophets deny the sovereign lordship of Jesus Christ. Though their heresies may include the denial of the virgin birth, deity, bodily resurrection, and Second Coming of Christ, the false teachers’ basic error is that they will not submit their lives to the rule of Christ. All false religions have an erroneous Christology.


GOD BLESS YOU!


MAXIMILIANO



12/01/17

The Motive for True Wisdom

“The wisdom from above is first pure” (James 3:17).

A pure life is necessary for a wise life.

A person whose life is characterized by true wisdom will seek to be pure. The Greek word translated “pure” in James 3:17 refers to spiritual integrity and moral sincerity. It is freedom from bitter jealousy, selfish ambition, and arrogant self-promotion. Christ is the perfect example of purity (1 John 3:3).

A true believer will have pure desires. The deepest part of him desires to do God’s will, serve God, and love God. In Romans 7:15-21 the apostle Paul testifies that when he sinned, he was doing what he didn’t want to do. In Psalm 51:7 David cries out, “Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” The true believer hates his sin. Rising out of his innermost being is a longing for what is clean, pure, holy, and honest.

Purity of heart is the motive of someone who seeks to live a life of godly wisdom (cf. Ps. 24:3-4). God says he will “take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 11:19); that new heart will be consumed with purity rather than self. You do still sin because your new heart is incarcerated in your old flesh. 

But your new heart fights against your flesh. That’s why Paul said, “I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind, and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members” (Rom. 7:22-23).

In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). As you persevere in battle against the world, the flesh, and the Devil, be encouraged by reminding yourself that one day the fight will be finished. The apostle John said it this way: “We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is” (1 John 3:2).

Suggestions for Prayer

Read Psalm 51:1-17, making David’s prayer your own.

For Further Study

According to Matthew 5:48 and 1 Peter 1:15-16, what is God’s standard of purity?


Building a Picture of Salvation

"By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household" (Heb. 11:7).

The ark is a beautiful picture of salvation by grace through faith.

God called Noah to a gargantuan task. Conservative figures estimate that the ark was about 438 feet long, 73 feet wide, and 44 feet high. That makes it almost one-and-a-half times the length of a football field and more than four stories high. Its three decks totaled almost 96,000 square feet with a total volume of about 1.3 million cubic feet. Naval engineers concur that its shape and dimensions constitute an incredibly stable ship design.

But beyond the enormity of its size and precision of its measurements, the ark is a wonderful illustration of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. For example, Noah was instructed to cover the ark inside and out with pitch (Gen. 3:14). The Hebrew word for pitch has the same root as the word for atonement. The pitch kept the waters of judgment from entering the ark just as Christ's atoning blood keeps judgment from the repentant sinner.

The ark was large enough to hold two of each species of animals plus every person who turned to God for safety. Only eight persons chose to be saved on God's terms, but had more come, surely He would have accommodated them. It is His desire that none perish, but that all come to repentance (2 Pet. 3:9). Those who perished in the Flood did so because they rejected God's means of salvation.

Similarly, Jesus's blood is sufficient to atone for every sinner and every sin since man's fall in the Garden of Eden. No one who comes to Him will be cast out (John 6:37), yet so few avail themselves of His gracious provision (Matt. 7:14).

Noah was a man who "walked with God" (Gen. 6:9), yet he wasn't without sin. That's obvious from his drunken and immodest behavior after the Flood (9:20-21). But Noah, like every true believer, was justified by God's grace, his faith being counted as righteousness. That has always been the basis of salvation (Gen. 15:6;Rom. 4:5).

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank God for His amazing grace, by which He saved you and continues to cleanse you from every sin.

For Further Study

Read Romans 4:1-8.


Jesus Opens His Great Invitation

“At that time Jesus said, ‘I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth’” (Matthew 11:25).

When all life’s rhetoric, rationalizations, and routines are swept aside, a person is either for Jesus Christ or against Him (cf. Mark 9:40). After performing many miracles (Matt. 4:23–24) and preaching in detail the gospel and sanctification (chaps. 5–7), Jesus more specifically urged people either to accept Him or reject Him. Here begins a final appeal of grace and mercy during His first Galilean ministry.

This opening address to God calls our attention both to Christ’s unique relationship to His Father and to the Father’s sovereignty over all things, including salvation. Through the Holy Spirit, salvation is a divine provision and not a result of human wisdom, purposes, or ability, and Jesus is thankful for that.

Everyone who evangelizes is sometimes disappointed that so few people respond. We wonder how we can make the message clearer or more convincing, and what things we ought to change. But we also should remind ourselves that some will reject the gospel no matter how effectively we seem to present it. If people rebuffed the Lord when He was in their midst, we have to expect some will also refuse our imperfect witness to them.

We are sad and prayerful for those who don’t want the gospel, but like Jesus we must praise our heavenly Father that He has sovereign control over the universe and that His plan for us and others—saved and unsaved—will not be thwarted. Men and women who reject Christ show their sinful disobedience, not any failure by God.

Ask Yourself

Seeing worship as such a natural reaction of Jesus—not in purely religious settings, but right in the middle of any moment—should spurn us on to make godly praise a frequent occupant in our heart and on our lips. How often does worship just well up inside you?


Reading for Today:


Notes:

Ezekiel 20:37 pass under the rod. God used a shepherd figure here, apt since He was their Great Shepherd (34:11–13; Jer. 23:5–8). As a shepherd, God brings His sheep home to their fold (Jer. 33:13), has them file in, separating sheep from goats (Matt. 25), passing under His shepherd’s rod to be noted and checked for injury. He will bring them into the bond of the New Covenant by giving them His Spirit with life (36:24–27; 37:14; 39:29). This is Israel’s final salvation (Rom. 11:26–33).

Ezekiel 20:39 If they persist in their stubborn idolatry, God will allow them to follow it to their doom. He would also rather have them as out-and-out idolaters rather than hypocritical patronizers of His worship like they had been (Amos 5:21–26).

Hebrews 10:5, 6 You did not desire. God was not pleased with sacrifices given by a person who did not give them out of a sincere heart (Ps. 51:17; Is.1:11; Jer. 6:20; Hos. 6:6; Amos 5:21–25). To sacrifice only as a ritual, without obedience, was a mockery and worse than no sacrifice at all (Is. 1:11–18).

Hebrews 10:10 sanctified. “Sanctify” means to “make holy,” to be set apart from sin for God (1 Thess. 4:3). When Christ fulfilled the will of God, He provided for the believer a continuing, permanent condition of holiness (Eph. 4:24; 1 Thess. 3:13). This is the believer’s positional sanctification as opposed to the progressive sanctification that results from daily walking by the will of God (Rom. 6:19; 12:1, 2; 2 Cor. 7:1). body. Refers to His atoning death, as the term “blood” has been used to do (9:7, 12, 14, 18, 22). Mention of the body of Christ in such a statement is unusual in the New Testament, but it is logically derived from the quotation from Psalm 40:6.

What was the problem with the Old Testament sacrificial system?

“For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image” (Heb. 10:1). The Greek term translated “shadow” refers to a pale reflection, as contrasted with a sharp, distinct one. The term behind “very image,” on the other hand, indicates an exact and distinct replica (Col. 2:17). “Can never…make those who approach perfect.” This term is used repeatedly in Hebrews to refer to salvation. As much as those living under the law desired to approach God, the Levitical system provided no way to enter His holy presence (Pss. 15:1; 16:11; 24:3, 4).

If sin had really been overpowered by that system of sacrifices, the Old Testament believers’ consciences would have been cleansed from condemning guilt (v. 2). There was not freedom of conscience under the Old Covenant. The Old Testament sacrifices not only could not remove sin, but their constant repetition was a constant reminder of that deficiency (v. 3). The promise of the New Covenant was that the sin would be removed and even God would “remember” their sins “no more” (8:12, quoting Jer. 31:34).

“For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins” (v.4). The Levitical system was not designed by God to remove or forgive sins. It was preparatory for the coming of the Messiah (Gal. 3:24) in that it made the people expectant (1 Pet. 1:10). 

It revealed the seriousness of their sinful condition, in that even temporary covering required the death of an animal. It revealed the reality of God’s holiness and righteousness by indicating that sin had to be covered. Finally, it revealed the necessity of full and complete forgiveness so that God could have desired fellowship with His people.

GOD BLESS YOU, MY BELOVED ROYAL FAMILY

BLESSED BE 

LORD CHRIST JESUS

OUR KING AND SAVIOR. 


MAXIMILIANO


11/30/17

An Unlikely Heroine

"By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace" (Heb. 11:31).

Rahab illustrates the depth and breadth of God’s amazing grace.

Our final Old Testament hero of faith is an unlikely addition to the list. Not only was she a prostitute, she also was a Gentile—and a Canaanite at that.

The Canaanites were an idolatrous, barbaric, debauched people, infamous even among pagans for their immorality and cruelty. Yet in the midst of that exceedingly wicked society, Rahab came to faith in the God of Israel.

Joshua 2:9-11 records her confession of faith to the two men Joshua had sent into Jericho as spies: "I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land have melted away before you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. And when we heard it, our hearts melted and no courage remained in any man any longer because of you; for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath" (emphasis added).

Rahab demonstrated the genuineness of that profession by risking her life to hide the spies from the king of Jericho, who sought to capture them.

Because Rahab lied to protect the spies (vv. 4-5), some people question the validity of her faith. Surely genuine believers wouldn't lie like that—or would they? Abraham did. Sarah did. Isaac did. Jacob did. But the important thing to understand is that God honored their faith, not their deception.

As with all the heroes of faith before her, Rahab's faith wasn't perfect, nor was her knowledge of God's moral law. But because she trusted God, she was spared during Jericho's conquest, then given an even greater honor. She became the mother of Boaz, who married Ruth, the great-great-grandmother of David, thereby becoming an ancestor of the Lord Jesus Christ (Matt. 1:5).

Suggestions for Prayer

Praise God for receiving even the vilest sinner who turns to Him in faith.

For Further Study

Read all about Rahab in Joshua 2:1-24, 6:22-25, and James 2:25.


PART II

Knowing God's Will

“Do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:17).

God’s will is revealed in His Word.

How can a Christian walk wisely and know the will of God for his life? The will of God is explicitly revealed to us in the pages of Scripture. God’s will is that we be:

Saved—“This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:3-4; compare 2 Peter 3:9).

Spirit-filled—“Do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:17-18).

Sanctified—“This is the will of God, your sanctification” (1 Thess. 4:3). Submissive—“Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. For such is the will of God” (1 Peter 2:13-15).

Suffering for His sake—“It is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong” (1 Peter 3:17).

Saying thanks—“In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess. 5:18).

You may say, “Those are good principles, but they don’t tell me where I ought to go to school or whom I should marry.” But if you’re saved, sanctified, submissive, suffering, and saying thanks, you can do whatever you want! That’s what the psalmist meant when he said, “Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart” (Ps. 37:4). Does that mean He fulfills the desire? Yes, but before He fulfills it, He puts it in your heart. If you are living a godly life, He will give you the right desires and then fulfill them.

Suggestions for Prayer

Give thanks to God for revealing His will in His Word so that you can live wisely, not foolishly.

For Further Study

Christ acted only in accordance with His Father’s will. Read the following verses, and note how that was so: Matthew 26:42; John 4:34; 5:30; 6:38.


PART III

November 30

Reading for Today:

Notes:

Daniel 3:1 image of gold. The statue, which the king arrogantly made, represented himself as an expression of his greatness and glory and reflected the dream where he was the head of gold (2:38). It was not necessarily made of solid gold, but more likely would have been overlaid with gold, like many objects found in the ruins of Babylon. The word for “image” usually means a human form. The height of the figure was about 90 feet and the width 9 feet; it would have been comparable in height to date palms found in that area. The self-deifying statue of the king need not have been grotesquely thin in proportion to the height since a massive base could have contributed to the height. This established the worship of Nebuchadnezzar and the nation under his power, in addition to the other gods.

Daniel 3:15 who is the god…? The king’s challenge would return to embarrass him. The true God was able to deliver, just as He was able to reveal a dream and its meaning. Nebuchadnezzar had earlier called him “the God of gods” (2:47); but having let that fade from his attention, he soon would be shocked and humiliated when God took up his challenge (3:28, 29).

2 Peter 1:4 partakers of the divine nature. This expression is not different from the concepts of being born again, born from above (John 3:3; James 1:18; 1 Pet. 1:23), being in Christ (Rom. 8:1), or being the home of the Trinity (John 14:17–23).The precious promises of salvation result in becoming God’s children in the present age (John 1:12; Rom. 8:9; Gal. 2:20; Col. 1:27), and thereby sharing in God’s nature by the possession of His eternal life.

2 Peter 1:21 by the will of man. As Scripture is not of human origin, neither is it the result of human will. The emphasis in the phrase is that no part of Scripture was ever at any time produced because men wanted it so. The Bible is not the product of human effort. The prophets, in fact, sometimes wrote what they could not fully understand (1 Pet. 1:10, 11), but were nonetheless faithful to write what God revealed to them. moved by the Holy Spirit. Grammatically, this means that they were continually carried or borne along by the Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit thus is the divine author and originator, the producer of the Scriptures. In the Old Testament alone, the human writers refer to their writings as the words of God over 3,800 times (e.g., Jer. 1:4; 3:2; Rom. 3:2; 1 Cor. 2:10). Though the human writers of Scripture were active rather than passive in the process of writing Scripture, God the Holy Spirit superintended them so that, using their own individual personalities, thought processes, and vocabulary, they composed and recorded without error the exact words God wanted written. The original copies of Scripture are therefore inspired, i.e., God-breathed (2 Tim. 3:16) and inerrant, i.e., without error (John 10:34, 35; 17:17; Titus 1:2). Peter defined the process of inspiration which created an inerrant original text (Prov. 30:5; 1 Cor. 14:36; 1 Thess. 2:13).


DAY 30: Who was the fourth person in the fiery furnace of Daniel 3:19–25?

The delivery of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego from the flames was an astonishing, miraculous event. The furnace was real, and the flames were hot. The guards who carried the young men close enough to cast them in the furnace were killed. Why complicate this miracle with a fourth person in the furnace? Because the king himself noticed the discrepancy between the number he had thrown into the flames and the number he saw strolling about. The truth usually includes unexpected complications.

The king concluded the fourth person was a heavenly being. He identified the visitor in two different ways: 1) “like the Son of God” (3:25); 2) “Angel” (3:28). When he commanded the three friends to exit the furnace, the king did not extend an invitation to God’s special servant.

Viewed from the context of all of Scripture, the fourth person could possibly have been the Second Person of the Godhead (Jesus Christ) in a preincarnate appearance. For other similar Old Testament instances, see Exodus 3:2, Joshua 5:13–15, and Judges 6:11ff. While the term “Angel” is used in these reports, the person had a special connection with the Lord. He wasn’t an angel, but the Angel of the Lord. His presence may be startling but He does not have the stunning and awe-inspiring appearance of an angel. The king saw four men in the furnace. The one who appeared miraculously he identified as the Son of God. It may well have been an inspired exclamation.


PART IV

Reading for Today:

Notes:

Daniel 3:1 image of gold. The statue, which the king arrogantly made, represented himself as an expression of his greatness and glory and reflected the dream where he was the head of gold (2:38). It was not necessarily made of solid gold, but more likely would have been overlaid with gold, like many objects found in the ruins of Babylon. The word for “image” usually means a human form. The height of the figure was about 90 feet and the width 9 feet; it would have been comparable in height to date palms found in that area. The self-deifying statue of the king need not have been grotesquely thin in proportion to the height since a massive base could have contributed to the height. This established the worship of Nebuchadnezzar and the nation under his power, in addition to the other gods.

Daniel 3:15 who is the god…? The king’s challenge would return to embarrass him. The true God was able to deliver, just as He was able to reveal a dream and its meaning. Nebuchadnezzar had earlier called him “the God of gods” (2:47); but having let that fade from his attention, he soon would be shocked and humiliated when God took up his challenge (3:28, 29).

2 Peter 1:4 partakers of the divine nature. This expression is not different from the concepts of being born again, born from above (John 3:3; James 1:18; 1 Pet. 1:23), being in Christ (Rom. 8:1), or being the home of the Trinity (John 14:17–23).The precious promises of salvation result in becoming God’s children in the present age (John 1:12; Rom. 8:9; Gal. 2:20; Col. 1:27), and thereby sharing in God’s nature by the possession of His eternal life.

2 Peter 1:21 by the will of man. As Scripture is not of human origin, neither is it the result of human will. The emphasis in the phrase is that no part of Scripture was ever at any time produced because men wanted it so. The Bible is not the product of human effort. The prophets, in fact, sometimes wrote what they could not fully understand (1 Pet. 1:10, 11), but were nonetheless faithful to write what God revealed to them. moved by the Holy Spirit. Grammatically, this means that they were continually carried or borne along by the Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit thus is the divine author and originator, the producer of the Scriptures. In the Old Testament alone, the human writers refer to their writings as the words of God over 3,800 times (e.g., Jer. 1:4; 3:2; Rom. 3:2; 1 Cor. 2:10). Though the human writers of Scripture were active rather than passive in the process of writing Scripture, God the Holy Spirit superintended them so that, using their own individual personalities, thought processes, and vocabulary, they composed and recorded without error the exact words God wanted written. The original copies of Scripture are therefore inspired, i.e., God-breathed (2 Tim. 3:16) and inerrant, i.e., without error (John 10:34, 35; 17:17; Titus 1:2). Peter defined the process of inspiration which created an inerrant original text (Prov. 30:5; 1 Cor. 14:36; 1 Thess. 2:13).


DAY 30: Who was the fourth person in the fiery furnace of Daniel 3:19–25?

The delivery of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego from the flames was an astonishing, miraculous event. The furnace was real, and the flames were hot. The guards who carried the young men close enough to cast them in the furnace were killed. Why complicate this miracle with a fourth person in the furnace? Because the king himself noticed the discrepancy between the number he had thrown into the flames and the number he saw strolling about. The truth usually includes unexpected complications.

The king concluded the fourth person was a heavenly being. He identified the visitor in two different ways: 1) “like the Son of God” (3:25); 2) “Angel” (3:28). When he commanded the three friends to exit the furnace, the king did not extend an invitation to God’s special servant.

Viewed from the context of all of Scripture, the fourth person could possibly have been the Second Person of the Godhead (Jesus Christ) in a preincarnate appearance. For other similar Old Testament instances, see Exodus 3:2, Joshua 5:13–15, and Judges 6:11ff. While the term “Angel” is used in these reports, the person had a special connection with the Lord. He wasn’t an angel, but the Angel of the Lord. His presence may be startling but He does not have the stunning and awe-inspiring appearance of an angel. The king saw four men in the furnace. The one who appeared miraculously he identified as the Son of God. It may well have been an inspired exclamation.


GOD BLESS YOU!


MAXIMILIANO 


11/29/17

Conquering in Conflict

"By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they had been encircled for seven days" (Heb. 11:30).

Faith is the key to spiritual conquest.

Forty years had lapsed since the Israelites refused to enter the Promised Land. That unbelieving generation had perished in the wilderness. Now Joshua was leading a new generation into the land. The first obstacle they faced was Jericho—a well- fortified city that was near the mouth of the Jordan River.

Some city walls of that day were wide enough at the top to allow two chariots to ride side-by-side. That was probably true of Jericho because of its strategic location. That, coupled with the caliber of its army, made the city virtually impregnable— especially to unsophisticated Israelites, who lacked military training.

But what is impossible for man is easy for God. And the stage was set for Him to demonstrate His power and for the Israelites to demonstrate their faith and humility.

One can only imagine how embarrassed the Hebrew people felt as they marched around Jericho once a day for six days. That certainly is not your typical military strategy. But on the seventh day, after marching around the city seven times with the priests blowing their rams' horns, the priests gave one final blast, the people all shouted out loud, and the walls of the city collapsed (Josh. 6:20). Faith had reduced a formidable obstacle to a crumbled ruin.

Can you identify some spiritual obstacles you've faced recently? How did you handle them? You'll always have them to deal with in your Christian walk, but don't fret. See them as opportunities to exercise faith and see God's power on display in your life. Continue to trust the Lord and demonstrate your faith by courageously doing what He has called you to do.

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask God to help you humbly trust in God's power when you face spiritual conflicts.

For Further Study

Read about the conquest of Jericho in Joshua 6:1-21. Note each occasion where the people obeyed one of Joshua's commands without hesitation.


PART II

Living Unselfishly

“Making the most of your time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16).

Time will tell whether you’re unselfish or selfish.

In 1842 Robert Murray M’Cheyne, pastor of St. Peter’s Church in Dundee, Scotland, wrote a pastoral letter to an individual who was an unbeliever. The following is an excerpt from his letter:

I was reading this morning (Luke ii. 29), what old Simeon said when he got the child Jesus into his arms: “Now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace, according to Thy word: for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation.” If you get a firm hold of the Lord Jesus, you will be able to say the same. . . . God is leading you to the very spot where the Redeemer is,—a lowly, despised, spit-upon, crucified Saviour. Can this be the Saviour of the world? Yes, dear soul; kneel down and call Him your Redeemer. He died for such as you and me.

M’Cheyne lived unselfishly, caring for the spiritual welfare of both believers and unbelievers. Because of poor health, he died at age twenty-nine after ministering but a short seven and a half years. His spiritual legacy of passionate love for the Lord and pastoral love for people continues to serve as an inspiring example for believers today.

M’Cheyne’s life illustrates what the apostle Paul was saying to the Ephesian believers: make the most of your time. In Ephesians 5:16 the Greek term translated “making the most of” means “buy up for yourself.” That doesn’t mean you’re to hoard your time for your own use; rather, you’re to buy up for yourself time that will give God glory. Every day brings new opportunities to be seized for God—opportunities for good, for righteousness, for holiness.

Like M’Cheyne, buy up opportunities daily for God’s glory and the good of others. Be committed to minister to the spiritual needs of believers and unbelievers. By doing so, you will make your time count for eternity.

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask God to help you be unselfish and serve others effectively by His grace.

For Further Study

Read the following verses: Galatians 6:10; 1 Corinthians 10:24; Philippians 2:3-4. How do they say you are to live?


PART III

November 29 - Jesus Commended by His Father

“‘Behold, My Servant whom I have chosen; My Beloved in whom My soul is well-pleased’” (Matthew 12:18).

Jesus Christ is God’s ultimate Servant, the one and only Son chosen by the Father to die for fallen sinners. The divine commendation here is a modified quotation of Isaiah 42:1–4, one of the most beautiful descriptions of our Lord anywhere in the Bible. The Father’s choice of Jesus to be His Servant was decisive and irrevocable—Christ was the one and only person perfectly qualified for the work of redemption.

As the perfect choice of God, Jesus is also completely pleasing in His Father’s eyes. Although the world hated and rejected Him, Christ is God’s Beloved—and in that role He brings us salvation by divine grace (Eph. 1:6–7).

This is not the only mention in the gospels of God’s approval of His Son. The Father used similar words at Jesus’ baptism (Matt. 3:17) and at His transfiguration (Matt. 17:5). Jesus Himself elaborates further: “If I alone testify about Myself, My testimony is not true. There is another who testifies of Me, and I know that the testimony which He gives about Me is true. . . . And the Father who sent Me, He has testified of Me” (John 5:31–32, 37).

If we want to be well-pleasing to God as Jesus is, we must come to the Father through His Son, drawn by the Holy Spirit. “Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you” (Rom. 8:8–9).

Ask Yourself

Have you grown “weary and heavy-laden” trying to please God with your best efforts? Will your heart ever find peace and satisfaction in knowing that your faith has been counted as righteousness, that the Father is already satisfied with the Son’s sacrifice in your place?


PART IV

Reading for Today:

Notes:

Daniel 1:8 Daniel purposed. The pagan food and drink was devoted to idols. To indulge was to be understood as honoring these deities. Daniel “purposed in his heart” (Prov. 4:23) not to engage in compromise by being untrue to God’s call of commitment (Ex. 34:14, 15). Also, foods that God’s law prohibited (Lev. 1:1) were items that pagans consumed; to partake entailed direct compromise (Dan. 1:12). Moses took this stand (Heb. 11:24–26), as did the psalmist (Ps. 119:115) and Jesus (Heb. 7:26).

Daniel 2:36–45 we will tell the interpretation. Five empires in succession would rule over Israel, here pictured by parts of a statue (body). In Daniel 7, the same empires are represented by 4 great beasts. These empires are Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome, and the later revived Rome, each one differentiated from the previous as indicated by the declining quality of the metal. A stone picturing Christ (Luke 20:18) at His Second Coming (as the Son of Man also does in Dan. 7:13, 14) will destroy the fourth empire in its final phase with catastrophic suddenness (2:34, 35, 44, 45). Christ’s total shattering of Gentile power will result in the establishment of His millennial kingdom, the ultimate empire, and then continuing on eternally (2:44; 7:27).

1 Peter 5:6 under the mighty hand of God. This is an Old Testament symbol of the power of God working in the experience of men, always accomplishing His sovereign purpose (Ex. 3:19, 20; Job 30:20, 21; Ezek. 20:33, 37; Mic. 6:8). The readers of Peter’s letter were not to fight the sovereign hand of God, even when it brought them through testings. One of the evidences of lack of submission and humility is impatience with God in His work of humbling believers. exalt you in due time. God will lift up the suffering, submissive believers in His wisely appointed time. See Job 42.


DAY 29: How are pastors to care for their congregations?

First Peter 5:2 gives this exhortation to the elders: “Shepherd the flock of God.” After the motivation (v. 1) comes the exhortation (vv. 2–4). Since the primary objective of shepherding is feeding, or teaching, every elder must be able to teach (John 21:15–17; 1 Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:9). Involved with the feeding of the flock is also protecting the flock (Acts 20:28–30). In both duties, it must be remembered that the flock belongs to God, not to the pastor. God entrusts some of His flock to the pastor of a church to lead, care for, and feed (v. 3).


“Not by compulsion but willingly.” Specifically, Peter may be warning the elders against a first danger—laziness. The divine calling (1 Cor. 9:16), along with the urgency of the task (Rom. 1:15), should prevent laziness and indifference. “Not for dishonest gain.” False teachers are always motivated by a second danger, money, and use their power and position to rob people of their own wealth (2 Pet. 2:1–3). Scripture is clear that churches should pay their shepherds well (1 Cor. 9:7–14; 1 Tim. 5:17, 18); but a desire for undeserved money must never be a motive for ministers to serve (1 Tim. 3:3; 6:9–11; 2 Tim. 2:4; Titus 1:7; 2 Pet. 2:3; see also Jer. 6:13; 8:10; Mic. 3:11; Mal. 1:10).

“Nor as being lords” (v. 3). This is the third major temptation for a pastor: demagoguery. In this context, “lords” means to dominate someone or some situation. It implies leadership by manipulation and intimidation. Rather, true spiritual leadership is by example (1 Tim. 4:12).


GOD BLESSES YOU!


MAXIMILIANO


11/28/17

Accepting God's Provisions

"By faith [Moses] kept the Passover and the sprinkling of the blood, so that he who destroyed the first-born might not touch them. By faith they passed through the Red Sea as though they were passing through dry land; and the Egyptians, when they attempted it, were drowned" (Heb. 11:28-29).

The man or woman of faith gratefully accepts all God’s provisions, no matter how pointless some of them may seem.

When the time came for Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, everything on the human level said it couldn't be done. Pharaoh wasn't about to let two to three million slaves just pack up and leave. His formidable army was ready to insure that no such exodus occurred.

But when God devises a plan, He always makes the necessary provisions for carrying it out. On this occasion, His provision came in the form of ten terrifying plagues designed to change Pharaoh's mind.

The tenth and worst plague was the death of all the first- born (Ex. 11:5). To protect themselves from this plague, the Israelites sprinkled the blood of a lamb on the doorposts and lintels of their homes. When the angel of death saw the blood, he passed over that house. Thus the Passover was instituted.

The blood from those first Passover lambs had no intrinsic power to stave off the death angel, but its presence demonstrated faith and obedience, thus symbolizing the future sacrifice of Christ (cf. John 1:29).

Pharaoh got the message and allowed the Israelites to leave. But soon afterward he changed his mind and commanded his army to pursue them. Again God intervened by parting the Red Sea, allowing His people to walk across on dry land. He then drowned the entire Egyptian army when it followed the Israelites into the sea.

That was a graphic demonstration of a lesson every believer must learn: God's provisions are always best. They may sometimes seem foolish to the human intellect—just as "the word of the cross is to those who are perishing foolishness" (1 Cor. 1:18)—but the man or woman of faith trusts God and receives His provisions gratefully.

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank God for the wise and gracious provisions He has made for your salvation and ongoing Christian walk.

For Further Study

Read the account of the Passover and the parting of the Red Sea in Exodus 11-14.


PART II

Sensing the Urgency

“‘“You have left your first love”’” (Revelation 2:4).

A wise person loves Christ supremely.

Because the days were evil, the apostle Paul wanted the church at Ephesus to make the most of their time and walk wisely (Eph. 5:15-16). A little more than thirty years after Paul wrote his letter to the Ephesian church, the apostle John wrote more to them, saying, “You have left your first love. . . . Repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I [Christ] am coming to you, and will remove your lampstand out of its place—unless you repent” (Rev. 2:4-5). But the Ephesians did not repent, and the lampstand was removed. Their time was shorter than they believed, because the evil was so great. Their church fell prey to the time in which they lived and, not sensing the urgency to return to its first love, eventually went out of existence.

I believe we need to have a sense of urgency in the evil days in which we live. I don’t know what’s going to happen to Christianity in America, but I’ve asked God that if it takes persecution to bring us to the place where we get a grip on what we ought to be, then let it happen. In many cases throughout history,the church has thrived better under persecution than it has under affluence. As the church father Tertullian once said, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.”

I’m not specifically asking that the church be persecuted. I’m saying that sometimes we don’t sense the urgency of our evil day because we are sucked into the world’s system, and the lines of conviction aren’t clearly drawn. It’s an evil day in which we live, and the time is short. We need to realize that “evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse” (2 Tim. 3:13). The situation is not going to become better. The world is blacker and more expressive of its vices than ever before. We must have a sense of urgency and redeem the time.

Suggestions for Prayer

In Psalm 145, King David expressed his love for the Lord. Make his psalm your prayer and an expression of your love to God.

For Further Study

Read in Revelation 2—3 what the Lord says to the seven churches in Asia, noting what He approves and disapproves.


PART III

November 28 - The Perils of Legalism

“But the Pharisees went out and conspired against Him, as to how they might destroy Him” (Matthew 12:14).

Sometimes neither the most persuasive arguments nor the most convincing deeds will change someone’s hard-hearted opposition. Such was the case for the Pharisees’ challenge to Jesus in considering the proper significance and use of the Sabbath. He had irrefutably connected the divine virtues of benevolence, kindness, mercy, goodness, and compassion with scriptural Sabbath observance. But the Phari-sees stubbornly rejected His exhortations and clung to their legalistic works and self-styled traditions. Not even God’s Word or the powerful demonstration by His Son would change their hard hearts.

Such legalism has always been an implacable enemy of grace. Even the law of Moses, with all its demands, reflected a strong measure of God’s grace in that it pointed men and women toward Christ as the only true hope of salvation. Paul says this about it: “Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith” (Gal. 3:24). If the very law of God has this more secondary role, how much less place does human tradition have in pleasing God?

Legalism and man-centered customs are also barriers to faithful, biblical sanctification after we are saved. The apostle again asked the Galatians, “Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” (3:3). We must make sure that we, too, can answer this question rightly, bearing in mind Paul’s later admonition to the Galatian believers: “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery” (5:1).

Ask Yourself

What do you plan to do to any remaining vestiges of legalism in your heart? And how do you intend to encourage others to do the same purifying work?


PART IV

Reading for Today:

Notes:

Ezekiel 48:35 the name. The city is called YHWH Shammah, “The LORD Is There.” The departed glory of God (chaps. 8–11) has returned (44:1, 2), and His dwelling, the temple, is in the very center of the district given over to the Lord. With this final note, all of the unconditional promises which God had made to Israel in the Abrahamic Covenant (Gen. 12), the Levitic Covenant (Num. 25), the Davidic Covenant (2 Sam.7),and the New Covenant (Jer. 31) have been fulfilled. So this final verse provides the consummation of Israel’s history—the returned presence of God!

Proverbs 29:9 contends. A fool may respond to wisdom with anger or laughter; but in either case, no agreement can be reached.

1 Peter 4:9 Be hospitable to one another. The Greek word means “love of strangers.” Love is intensely practical, not just emotional. In Peter’s day, love included opening one’s home and caring for other needy Christians, such as traveling preachers. It also included opening one’s home for church services. Scripture also teaches that Christians should be hospitable to strangers (Ex. 22:21; Deut. 14:28, 29; Heb. 13:1, 2).

1 Peter 4:12 the fiery trial. Peter probably wrote this letter shortly before or after the burning of Rome and at the beginning of the horrors of a 200-year period of Christian persecution. Peter explains that 4 attitudes are necessary in order to be triumphant in persecution: 1) expect it (v. 12); 2) rejoice in it (vv. 13, 14); 3) evaluate its cause (vv. 15–18); and 4) entrust it to God (v. 19). some strange thing happened. “Happened” means “to fall by chance.” A Christian must not think that his persecution is something that happened accidentally. God allowed it and designed it for the believer’s testing, purging, and cleansing.



DAY 28: What did Peter mean when he said “the end of all things is at hand” (1 Pet. 4:7)?


The Greek word for “end” is never used in the New Testament as a chronological end, as if something simply stops. Instead, the word means a consummation, a goal achieved, a result attained, or a realization. Having emphasized triumphant suffering through death, Peter here begins to emphasize triumphant suffering through the Second Coming of Christ (1:3; 2:12), which is the goal of all things. He is calling believers to live obediently and expectantly in the light of Christ’s return. “Is at hand.” The idea is that of a process consummated with a resulting nearness, i.e., “imminent.” Peter is reminding the readers of this letter that the return of Jesus Christ could be at any moment (Rom. 13:12; 1 Thess. 1:10; James 5:7, 8; Rev. 22:20).

“Be serious and watchful.” To be “serious” implies here not to be swept away by emotions or passions, thus maintaining a proper eternal perspective on life. The doctrine of the imminent return of Christ should not turn the Christian into a zealous fanatic who does nothing but wait for it to occur. Instead, it should lead the believer into a watchful pursuit of holiness. Moreover, a watchful attitude creates a pilgrim mentality (2:11). It reminds the Christian that he is a citizen of heaven only sojourning on earth. It should also remind him that he will face the record of his service to God and be rewarded for what stands the test at the judgment seat of Christ, which follows the return of Christ to rapture His church. “And watchful in your prayers.” A mind victimized by emotion and passion, out of control, or knocked out of balance by worldly lusts and pursuits, is a mind that cannot know the fullness of holy communion in prayer with God (3:7). A mind fixed on His return is purified (1 John 3:3) and enjoys the fullness of fellowship with the Lord.


GOD BLESS YOU!


MAXIMILIANO 


11/27/17

Bearing the Reproach of Christ

Moses considered "the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward. By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen" (Heb. 11:26-27).

When you suffer for Christ, you bear His reproach.

How could Moses, who lived 1,500 years before Christ, bear His reproach? Christ is the Greek form of the Hebrew title Messiah, the Anointed One. Many Old Testament personalities were spoken of as being anointed for special service to the Lord. Some have suggested that Moses was thinking of himself as a type of messiah, for he delivered his people from the Egyptian bondage. They would translate verse 26 as, "Considering the reproach of his own messiahship as God's deliverer."

However, it seems best to see this verse as a reference to Jesus Himself, the future great Deliverer. We don't know how much knowledge Moses had of Jesus, but certainly it was more than Abraham, of whom Jesus said, "Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad" (John 8:56).

The Messiah has always been identified with His people. When they suffer for righteousness' sake, they suffer in His place. That's why David said, "The reproaches of those who reproach Thee have fallen on me" (Ps. 69:9). Speaking from a New Testament perspective, Paul made a similar statement: "I bear on my body the brand-marks of Jesus" (Gal. 6:17).

There's also a sense in which Christ suffers with His people. When Jesus confronted Paul, who was heavily persecuting the church, He said, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? . . . I am Jesus whom you are persecuting" (Acts 9:4-5).

Moses chose to turn his back on Pharaoh's household and identify with God's people because he knew that suffering for Christ was far better than enjoying the riches of Egypt. At some point in time you too will be persecuted for Christ's sake (2 Tim. 3:12), so be prepared. When that time comes, follow Moses' example of faith and courage, knowing that God will be your shield and your reward (cf. Gen. 15:1).

Suggestions for Prayer

Follow the examples of the apostles by thanking God for the privilege of bearing a small portion of the reproach that the world aims at Christ (Acts 5:27-41).

For Further Study

Memorize Psalm 27:1 as a source of encouragement when facing difficulty.


PART II

Living in Evil Days

“Making the most of your time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16).

Evil days call for good behavior.

The days we live in are certainly full of evil. Read any newspaper, and you’ll know what I mean. Can you imagine how it breaks God’s heart to create a perfect world, filled with every good thing, and then see it become as corrupt, debauched, and vile as it is today? Can you imagine how it must be for God to watch Christians who, in the midst of this evil world, are given opportunities to do good, yet bypass them without notice? The days are evil, and God gives us these opportunities to make things happen that matter—to fill up at least one moment of every day with something good, something righteous, something for Him.

“Because the days are evil,” the apostle Paul says in Ephesians 5:16, it’s important to walk wisely and make the most of our time. When opportunities for goodness do come, we should seize them. When God gives us an occasion to glorify Him (which in turn will bring a blessing on us), we must take the opportunity for His name’s sake. We must seize it in the midst of an evil day.

When I think of how God’s heart is broken over the evil of a world that He made for His own glory, I say to myself, If God gives me one small opportunity in the midst of an evil day to do something good, something to honor Him, or something to glorify Him, I’m going to grab that opportunity. Since the days are evil and it seems as though goodness is so scarce, you and I need to take every opportunity we can for manifesting goodness.

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask the Lord to help you be aware of more opportunities that you can seize for manifesting goodness.

For Further Study

  • According to Genesis 6:5, what did the Lord see in the days of Noah?
  • What effect did that have on God (v. 6)?
  • According to Hebrews 11:7, what did Noah do?
  • What effect did Noah have on the world?


PART III

November 27 - The Sabbath in Perspective: An Illustration

“He said to them, ‘What man is there among you who has a sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will he not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable then is a man than a sheep! So then, it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.’ Then He said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand!’ He stretched it out, and it was restored to normal, like the other” (Matthew 12:11–13).

One of the tragedies of Hinduism in India is its distorted disregard for human welfare. You should not give food to a beggar because that might interfere with his karma and keep him from suffering on a higher level of existence. You should not kill a fly because it could be the reincarnation of a person. For the same reason, you must allow rats to live and eat whatever they want. Hindus consider cows sacred and feed them whatever food is available. At the same time, they let certain people starve.

Similarly, the Jewish leaders in Jesus’ time despised other people and showed more compassion for their sheep than for the handicapped man here. Mark’s account says Jesus asked, “‘Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save a life or to kill?’ But they kept silent” (Mark 3:4). The Pharisees couldn’t say anything because they would have been forced either to contradict their tradition or advocate murder. Their only external response was to remain silent, but undoubtedly they “were filled with rage” (Luke 6:11).

Our Lord answered His own question with the clear declaration, “So then, it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” He then healed the man’s deformed hand as the Pharisees’ resentment no doubt rose to new heights. Christ not only approved of doing good on the Sabbath, He went ahead and actually performed good on behalf of another. If anything, this set forth the Sabbath as the supreme day for doing good.

Ask Yourself

What teachings of Scripture do you still mainly follow out of dutiful habit, not with an eye toward honoring God or being used as a blessing to others? What has your legalistic adherence gained for you, and what has it cost you?


PART IV

Reading for Today:

Notes:

Ezekiel 45:9–12 The leaders of the land are urged to be thoroughly honest in their commercial dealings. This warning shows that there will be sin in the Millennium. The believing Jews who entered the 1,000-year reign of Christ on earth and inherited the promised kingdom will be fully human and capable of such sins. There also will be children who do not necessarily believe, as the final rebellion against King Messiah and His temple proves (Rev. 20:7–9).

1 Peter 3:1 likewise. In chapter 2, Peter taught that living successfully as a Christian in a hostile world would require relating properly in two places: the civil society (2:13–17) and the workplace (2:18–25). At the start of this chapter, he added two more places: the family (vv. 1–7) and the local church (vv. 8, 9). be submissive. Peter insisted that if Christians are to be a witness for their Lord, they must submit not only to the civil, but also to the social order which God has designed. own husbands. Women are not inferior to men in any way, any more than submissive Christians are inferior to pagan rulers or non-Christian bosses (Gal. 3:28). But wives have been given a role which puts them in submission to the headship which resides in their own husbands (1 Cor. 11:1–9; Eph. 5:22; Col. 3:18; Titus 2:4, 5).

1 Peter 3:7 Husbands, likewise. Submission is the responsibility of a Christian husband, as well (Eph. 5:21). Though not submitting to his wife as a leader, a believing husband must submit to the loving duty of being sensitive to the needs, fears, and feelings of his wife. In other words, a Christian husband needs to subordinate his needs to hers, whether she is a Christian or not. Peter specifically notes consideration, chivalry, and companionship. weaker vessel. While she is fully equal in Christ and not inferior spiritually because she is a woman (Gal. 3:28), she is physically weaker and in need of protection, provision, and strength from her husband. heirs together of the grace of life. Here the “grace of life” is not salvation, but marriage—the best relationship earthly life has to offer. The husband must cultivate companionship and fellowship with his wife, Christian or not (Eccl. 9:9).

1 Peter 3:15 sanctify the Lord God in your hearts. “Christ” is to be preferred here, so the reading is “set apart in your hearts Christ as Lord.” The heart is the sanctuary in which He prefers to be worshiped. Live in submissive communion with the Lord Jesus, loving and obeying Him—and you have nothing to fear. always be ready to give a defense. The English word “apologetics” comes from the Greek word here translated “defense.” Peter is using the word in an informal sense (Phil. 1:16, 17) and is insisting that the believer must understand what he believes and why one is a Christian, and then be able to articulate one’s beliefs humbly, thoughtfully, reasonably, and biblically. the hope that is in you. Salvation with its anticipation of eternal glory.


DAY 27: How does Peter use familiar terms such as “spirit,” “abyss,” “flood,” and “baptism” in 1 Peter 3:18–22?


This passage proves to be one of the most difficult texts in the New Testament to translate and interpret. The line between Old Testament allusions and New Testament applications gets blurred. Peter’s overall purpose of this passage, which was to encourage his readers in their suffering, must be kept in mind during interpretation. The apostle repeatedly reminded them that even Christ suffered unjustly because it was God’s will (vv. 17, 18) and accomplished God’s purposes.

Therefore, although Jesus experienced a violent physical execution that terminated His earthly life when He was “put to death in the flesh” (v. 18; Heb. 5:7), nevertheless He was “made alive by the Spirit” (v. 18). This is not a reference to the Holy Spirit, but to Jesus’ true inner life, His own spirit. Contrasted with His flesh (humanness) which was dead for three days, His spirit (Deity) remained alive, literally “in spirit” (Luke 23:46).

Part of God’s purpose in Christ’s death involved His activities between His death and resurrection. His living spirit went to the demon spirits bound in the Abyss and proclaimed victory in spite of death. Peter further explained that the Abyss is inhabited by bound demons that have been there since the time of Noah. They were sent there because they overstepped the limits of God’s tolerance with their wickedness. Not even 120 years of Noah’s example and preaching had stemmed the tide of wickedness in his time (Gen. 6:1–8). Thus God bound these demons permanently in the Abyss until their final sentencing.

Peter’s analogy spotlights the ministry of Jesus Christ in saving us as surely as the ark saved Noah’s family. He is not referring to water baptism here but to a figurative immersion in Christ that keeps us safe from the flood of God’s sure judgment. The resurrection of Christ demonstrates God’s acceptance of Christ’s substitutionary death for the sins of those who believe (Acts 2:30, 31; Rom. 1:4). God’s judgment fell on Christ just as the judgment of the floodwaters fell on the ark. The believer who is in Christ is thus in the ark of safety that will sail over the waters of judgment into eternal glory (Rom. 6:1–4).


GOD BLESS YOU!


MAXIMILIANO 



11/26/27

Rejecting the World's Passing Pleasures

"By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God, than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin" (Heb. 11:24-25).

The world has little to offer compared to the riches of Christ.

For forty years Moses enjoyed the best of everything Egypt had to offer: formidable wealth, culture, education, and prestige (Acts 7:22). Yet he never forgot God's promises toward his own people, Israel.

Then, "when he was approaching the age of forty, it entered his mind to visit his brethren, the sons of Israel. And when he saw one of them being treated unjustly, he defended him and took vengeance for the oppressed by striking down the Egyptian. And he supposed that his brethren understood that God was granting them deliverance through him; but they did not understand" (vv. 23-25).

Somehow Moses knew he was to deliver his people from Egyptian oppression. Although it would be another forty years before he was fully prepared for the task, by faith he forsook the pleasures and prestige of Egypt and endured ill-treatment with God's chosen people.

Humanly speaking, Moses made a costly choice. He seemed to be sacrificing everything for nothing. But the opposite was much more the case since Moses considered "the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the [greater] reward" (Heb. 11:26).

Sometimes obedience to Christ seems very costly, especially when evil people prosper while many who faithfully serve God suffer poverty and affliction. Asaph the psalmist struggled with the same issue: "Behold, these are the wicked; and always at ease, they have increased in wealth. Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure" (Ps. 73:12-13).

But be assured that the eternal rewards of Christ far outweigh the passing pleasures of sin. The wicked have only judgment and hell to look forward to; you have glory and heaven. So always choose obedience, and trust God to guide your choices, just as He did with Moses.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Praise God that the righteous will one day be fully rewarded.
  • Seek God's grace to be obedient when you're faced with difficult choices.

For Further Study

Read Stephen's account of Moses in Acts 7:20-39.


PART II

Seizing Opportunities

“Making the most of your time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16).

Seize opportunities every day to glorify God.

In one of the cities of ancient Greece stood a statue carved by Lysippos, a famous Greek sculptor from the fourth century B.C. The statue had wings on its feet and a great lock of hair on its forehead and was bald on the back of its head. This is how it was described:

Who . . . was thy sculptor?

Lysippos . . .

And who art thou?

Occasion [or opportunity], the all-subduer . . .

Why hast thou wings . . . on thy feet?

I fleet on the wings of the wind . . .

And thy hair, why grows it in front?

For him that meets me, to seize . . .

And why is the back of thy head bald?

Because none may clutch me from behind, howsoe’er he desire it, when once my winged feet have darted past him.

That fictional character knew how to make the most of every opportunity. In real life, the apostle Paul is calling for you to take advantage of opportunities by “making the most of your time” (Eph. 5:16). The Greek word translated “time” isn’t the Greek word chronos, which refers to time in terms of a clock or calendar. It’s the word kairos, which means “eras,” “epochs,” or “periods.” Making the most of your time is another way of saying you are to make the most of your opportunities—opportunities that can be grasped for God, for His glory.

The psalmist had the right perspective when he prayed, “Teach us to number our days, that we may present to Thee a heart of wisdom” (Ps. 90:12). Wisdom numbers the days, sees the limited time, and buys the opportunity. Don’t be foolish—shun opportunities for evil, but seize opportunities for good.

Suggestions for Prayer

Pray through Psalm 90:12 and apply it to yourself.

For Further Study

In Colossians 4:5, what does Paul tell the believers to do?


PART III

November 26 - The Sabbath and Acts of Mercy

“‘But if you had known what this means, “I desire compassion, and not a sacrifice,” you would not have condemned the innocent. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath’” (Matthew 12:7–8).

God has not hesitated to set aside His laws for the sake of mercy toward sinners. Otherwise none of them would be saved or even born, because He would have destroyed them right after they sinned. God’s plan was not to condemn all sinners but to save from its penalty those who believe in His Son. And if a righteous and just God displays that kind of love and mercy, how much more ought His children reflect the same quality of mercy?

Because the Old Testament Sabbath was God’s special day, faithful Jews would have wanted to show mercy on that day. But the leaders, due to their wrong-headed interpretation of the Sabbath and their basic unbelief, actually violated the spirit of the Sabbath. They refused acts of mercy on that day, not because of biblical devotion to the law, but because they lacked compassion.

Since the “Lord of the Sabbath” has come, the obligation of a Sabbath rest is no longer applicable to believers. Under the new covenant, they have the freedom as to whether or not they honor any day above others. Whatever position they take, they must glorify the Lord (Rom. 14:5–6), but not impose their thinking on fellow believers (Gal. 4:9–10; Col. 2:16).

Strict Sabbath observance was never to supplant sincere mercy and compassion by believers. God is merciful and commands us as Christians to be merciful.

Ask Yourself

Rather than looking at the Sabbath as a day for not doing certain things, what might be some deliberate actions you could undertake on the Sabbath, whether in hospitality or compassion or service?


PART IV

Reading for Today:

Notes:

Ezekiel 44:5–9 Mark well who may enter. Since the Lord’s glory fills the temple, it is sanctified (v. 4), and God is particular about what kind of people worship there. Sins of the past, as in chapters 8–11, must not be repeated, and if they are, those sins will exclude their perpetrators from the temple. Only the circumcised in heart may enter (Deut. 30:6; Jer. 4:4; Rom. 2:25–29), whether of Israel or another nation (vv. 7, 9). Many peoples other than Jews will go into the kingdom in unresurrected bodies, because they have believed in Jesus Christ and are ready for His coming. They will escape His deadly judgment and populate and reproduce in the 1,000-year kingdom. Such circumcision pertains to a heart which is sincere about removing sin and being devoted to the Lord (Jer. 29:13). In the Millennium, a Jew with an uncircumcised heart will be considered a foreigner (v. 9). “Uncircumcised in flesh” refers to sinners, and “foreigner” identifies rejecters of the true God.

1 Peter 2:2 desire the pure milk of the word. Spiritual growth is always marked by a craving for and a delight in God’s Word with the intensity with which a baby craves milk (Job 23:12; Pss. 1:1, 2; 19:7–11; 19:16, 24, 35, 47, 48, 72, 92, 97, 103, 111, 113, 127, 159, 167, 174; Jer. 15:16). A Christian develops a desire for the truth of God’s Word by: 1) remembering his life’s source (1:25; Is. 55:10, 11; John 15:3; Heb. 4:12); 2) eliminating sin from his life (v. 1); 3) admitting his need for God’s truth (v.2, “as newborn babes”; Matt. 4:4); 4) pursuing spiritual growth (v. 2, “that you may grow thereby”); and 5) surveying his blessings (v. 3, “Lord is gracious”).

1 Peter 2:11 abstain from fleshly lusts. Perhaps more literally, “hold yourself away from fleshly lusts.” In order to have an impact on the world for God, Christians must be disciplined in an inward and private way by avoiding the desires of the fallen nature (Gal. 5:19–21, where “fleshly lusts” include much more than sexual temptations). which war against the soul. “War,” i.e., to carry on a military campaign. Fleshly lusts are personified as if they were an army of rebels or guerrillas who incessantly search out and try to destroy the Christian’s joy, peace, and usefulness (4:2, 3).

1 Peter 2:13 submit yourselves. “Submit” is a military term meaning “to arrange in military fashion under the commander,” “to put oneself in an attitude of submission.” As citizens in the world and under civil law and authority, God’s people are to live in a humble, submissive way in the midst of any hostile, godless, slandering society (vv. 21–23; Prov. 24:21; Jer. 29:4–14; Matt. 22:21; Rom. 13:1ff., 1 Tim. 2:1; Heb. 10:32–34). for the Lord’s sake. Though the Christian’s true citizenship is in heaven, he still must live as an obedient citizen in this world so that God will be honored and glorified. Rebellious conduct by a Christian brings dishonor on Christ.


DAY 26: How are Christians described in 1 Peter 2:9?

Believers there are described as “a chosen generation.” Peter uses Old Testament concepts to emphasize the privileges of New Testament Christians (Deut. 7:6–8). In strong contrast to the disobedient who are appointed by God to wrath (v. 8), Christians are chosen by God to salvation (1:2).

They are also called “a royal priesthood.” The concept of a kingly priesthood is drawn from Exodus 19:6. Israel temporarily forfeited this privilege because of its apostasy and because its wicked leaders executed the Messiah. At the present time, the church is a royal priesthood united with the royal priest, Jesus Christ. A royal priesthood is not only a priesthood that belongs to and serves the king, but is also a priesthood which exercises rule. This will ultimately be fulfilled in Christ’s future kingdom (1 Cor. 6:1–4; Rev. 5:10; 20:6).

And they are described as “a holy nation.” Another allusion to Exodus 19:6 (Lev. 19:2; 20:26; Deut. 7:6; Is. 62:12). Tragically, Israel temporarily forfeited the great privilege of being the unique people of God through unbelief. Until Israel’s future acceptance of its Messiah, God has replaced the nation with the church. “His own special people.” This combines phraseology found in Exodus 19:5; Isaiah 43:21;Malachi 3:17. “That you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you.” To “proclaim” means to tell forth, to tell something not otherwise known. “Praises” are excellencies, virtues, eminent qualities.


GOD BLESS YOU!


MAXIMILIANO Part 



11/25/17

Accepting God's Plan

"By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king's edict" (Heb. 11:23).

God makes His plans; you walk in them by faith. He doesn’t need your help or counsel—just your obedience and trust.

It has been wisely said that trying to improve on God's plan is more pretentious than trying to improve the Mona Lisa with an ink pen. All you'd do is ruin the masterpiece.

The story of Amram and Jochebed, the parents of Moses, is about two people who refused to ruin the masterpiece. They trusted God implicitly and did everything possible to see His plan for their son come to fruition.

Because of the number and might of the Hebrew people in Egypt, the pharaoh enslaved them and ordered that all male Hebrew babies be put to death. In direct defiance of that wicked edict, Moses' parents hid their baby for three months, then placed him in a waterproofed basket along the banks of the Nile River near the place where Pharaoh's daughter bathed. One can only imagine the faith it took for them to risk their own lives, as well as the life of their baby, by placing him into that basket and introducing him into the very household of the one who wanted all male Hebrew babies slain.

By God's providence, Pharaoh's daughter found the baby, took pity on him, and adopted him into her family. More than that, the Lord used Moses' quick-thinking sister, Miriam, to arrange for Jochebed to nurse and care for her own son! That gave Moses' family the opportunity to teach him of God's promises for Israel to inherit the Promised Land, become a mighty nation, and be a blessing to all nations. They helped instill within Moses the faith in God that would later characterize his life.

You may never be called on to make the kind of sacrifice that Moses' parents made, but no matter what the risks, remember God always honors your obedience.

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank God for His plan for your life. Seek wisdom and grace to live accordingly.

For Further Study

Read of Israel's oppression and Moses' birth in Exodus 1:1—2:10.


PART II

Finishing the Race

“Making the most of your time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16).

God expects the believer to use his time wisely.

Many people never finish what they begin. There are unfinished symphonies, unfinished paintings, and unfinished sculptures (sometimes because the composer or artist died). There are relationships that never become all they could be, ministries that never come to fruition, dreams that always remain dreams, and hopes that always remain hopes. For a lot of people, life can be an unfinished symphony or a dream without reality. But it doesn’t have to be that way. I believe the answer can be found in the phrase “making the most of your time” (Eph. 5:16).

If we are ever to turn our dreams into realities and our hopes into facts—to finish our symphonies, paint our paintings, and sculpt our sculptures—it will be only when we have made the most of our time. I believe that in eternity past, God prescribed the specific time that we are to live. And only as we maximize that time can we maintain its potential for fulfillment.

The apostle Paul knew firsthand the importance of redeeming his time. In Acts 20:24 he says, “I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, in order that I may finish my course, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus.” In other words, God has given us a time boundary, and within that time He has defined a course. Paul in effect said, “I want to finish the specific course and specific ministry in the specific time given to me.” At the end of his life Paul could say, “I have finished the course” (2 Tim. 4:7). He completed the race because he made the most of his time.

I believe God has sovereignly given you and me a specific period of time. He knows the beginning and the end because He predetermined both. Be sure to finish your prescribed race by walking wisely and living for His glory.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank the Lord for sovereignly giving you a course to run in life.
  • Pray for His perfect will to be reflected in your life as you run the course.

For Further Study

Read 1 Peter 1:17-19. According to verse 17, how are you to live “during the time of your stay upon earth”? Why?


PART III

November 25 - The Sabbath and Service to God

“‘Or have you not read in the Law, that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple break the Sabbath and are innocent? But I say to you that something greater than the temple is here’” (Matthew 12:5–6).

Seldom would any Christian today, even the most fastidious and rule-oriented among us, consider preaching, teaching Sunday school, leading youth ministry, or other similar work as profaning the Lord’s Day. Yet these activities require much time and effort—on Sunday. Likewise, the most scrupulous of the Jewish leaders in Jesus’ time viewed the priests as innocent of any Sabbath breaking, even though such men worked in the temple twice as hard as on other days. For instance, sacrifices offered on the Sabbath were actually double sacrifices, requiring double the work of offering the normal daily sacrifice (Num. 28:9–10; cf. Lev. 24:8–9).

In this encounter, Jesus embarrassed and upset the Pharisees by showing how inconsistent their legalistic logic was. But they were even more upset and angry when He told them that something far greater and more important than the temple was in their midst. This was somewhat of an oblique reference, but the Jews had no doubt that Jesus was referring to Himself and again claiming to be God (cf. Matt. 9:2–6; 11:3–5, 25–27).

Our Lord’s main purpose, however, was not to prove His deity to the Jewish leaders. It was to argue that, in light of that deity, He had the right and authority to set aside Sabbath regulation as He saw fit—even more prerogative than did David or the temple priests. And above all, no human traditions or customary ways of doing things could or should ever hinder genuine service for God.

Ask Yourself

Some may view this as saying that Jesus was flippant about the commandments of God, as if they weren’t actually that important and could be ignored if desired. How would you respond to a person who saw an inconsistency in the meaning of this passage?


PART IV

Reading for Today:

Notes:

Psalm 133:2 oil upon. Most likely refers to the anointing of Aaron as high priest of the nation (Ex. 29:7; 30:30), which would picture a rich spiritual blessing as a first priority.

1 Peter 1:4 inheritance. Peter showed those persecuted Christians how to look past their troubles to their eternal inheritance. Life, righteousness, joy, peace, perfection, God’s presence, Christ’s glorious companionship, rewards, and all else God has planned is the Christian’s heavenly inheritance (v. 5; Matt. 25:34; Acts 26:18; Eph. 1:11; Col. 1:12; Heb. 9:15; also Pss. 16:5; 23; 26; 72; Lam. 3:24). According to Ephesians 1:14, the indwelling Holy Spirit is the resident guarantee of that inheritance. incorruptible. The inheritance is not subject to passing away nor liable to decay. The word was used in secular Greek of something that was unravaged by an invading army (Matt. 6:19–21). undefiled. This word means unpolluted, unstained with evil. The undefiled inheritance of the Christian is in marked contrast to an earthly inheritance, all of which is corrupted and defiled. does not fade away. “Fading” was often used of flowers that wither and decay. Though earthly inheritances eventually fade away, the eternal inheritance of a Christian has no decaying elements.

1 Peter 1:7 genuineness of your faith. God’s purpose in allowing trouble is to test the reality of one’s faith. But the benefit of such a testing, or “fire,” is immediately for the Christian, not God. When a believer comes through a trial still trusting the Lord, he is assured that his faith is genuine (Gen. 22:1–12; Job 1:20–22). revelation of Jesus Christ. The revelation or unveiling of Christ refers to His Second Coming, particularly focusing on the time when He comes to call and reward His redeemed people (v. 13; 4:13; 1 Cor. 1:7), i.e., the Rapture (1 Thess. 4:13–18).



DAY 25: Why did Peter write his first epistle?


When the city of Rome burned, the Romans believed that their emperor, Nero, had set the city on fire, probably because of his incredible lust to build. In order to build more, he had to destroy what already existed.

The Romans were totally devastated. Their culture, in a sense, went down with the city. All the religious elements of their life were destroyed—their great temples, shrines, and even their household idols were burned up. This had great religious implications because it made them believe that their deities had been unable to deal with this conflagration and were also victims of it. The people were homeless and hopeless. Many had been killed. Their bitter resentment was severe, so Nero realized that he had to redirect the hostility.

The emperor’s chosen scapegoat was the Christians, who were already hated because they were associated with Jews, and because they were seen as being hostile to the Roman culture. Nero spread the word quickly that the Christians had set the fires. As a result, a vicious persecution against Christians began, and soon spread throughout the Roman Empire, touching places north of the Taurus mountains, like Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia (1:1), and impacting the Christians, whom Peter calls “pilgrims.” These “pilgrims” were probably Gentiles, for the most part (1:14, 18; 2:9, 10; 4:3), possibly led to Christ by Paul and his associates and established on Paul’s teachings. But they needed spiritual strengthening because of their sufferings. Thus the apostle Peter, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote this epistle to strengthen them.


GOD BLESSES YOU!


MAXIMILIANO 


11/24/17

Acknowledging God's Sovereignty

"By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the exodus of the sons of Israel, and gave orders concerning his bones" (Heb. 11:22).

God uses your present circumstances to accomplish His future purposes.

Like Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Joseph was an heir to the covenant promises of God. His hope was firmly fixed on God, and he knew that some day his people would be at home in the Promised Land.

Although he spent all his adult life in Egypt, never seeing the Promised Land for himself, Joseph's faith never wavered. At the end of his life, he instructed his brothers to remove his bones from Egypt and bury them in their future homeland (Gen. 50:25). That request was fulfilled in the Exodus (Ex. 13:19).

But Joseph's faith wasn't in the promises of future events only, for his life was marked by exceptional trust in God and personal integrity. His understanding of God's sovereignty was unique among the patriarchs. Even though he suffered greatly at the hands of evildoers (including his own brothers, who sold him into slavery), Joseph recognized God's hand in every event of his life and submitted to His will.

Joseph said to his brothers, "Do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life . . . and to keep you alive by a great deliverance. Now, therefore, it was not you who sent me here, but God" (Gen. 45:5, 7-8). Later, after their father's death, he reassured them again: "Do not be afraid, for am I in God's place? And as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to . . . preserve many people alive" (Gen. 50:19- 20).

The genius of Joseph's faith was understanding the role that present circumstances play in fulfilling future promises. He accepted blessing and adversity alike because he knew God would use both to accomplish greater things in the future.

Joseph is the classic Old Testament example of the truth that God works all things together for good to those who love Him (Rom. 8:28). That's a promise you can rely on too.

Suggestions for Prayer

Reaffirm your trust in God's sovereign work in your life.

For Further Study

Read of Joseph's life in Genesis 37-50.


PART II

Disciplining Yourself for a Purpose

“Bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (1 Timothy 4:8).

Godliness should be the believer’s priority in life.

I’m amazed at how devoted people can be to what they believe is important. There are many people outside Christianity who live in rigid conformity to a lot of meaningless rules. People in totalitarian countries, for example, live in rigid conformity to rules predicated on a denial of biblical truth. They walk circumspectly and toe the mark.

 

Some cultists are so rigid and walk so circumspectly according to the principles dictated to them that if they’re told they can’t get married or can’t be with their spouses, they conform. They’re made to live in abstinence from physical relationships, follow strict diets, fast, and so on. Some attempt to attain spirituality through such self-disciplined acts as lying on a bed of nails or walking through hot coals.

Others, such as athletes, go through tremendous self-discipline through dieting, running, weight training, and other means that involve great sacrifice.

People disciplined in things that are ultimately meaningless may be lax in things that count. I know people who run three miles every day but will not bother to read the Bible regularly. I know other people who cannot discipline themselves to feed on the Word of God but stick rigorously to a diet. Many Christians worship physical fitness and health and are so conformed to the world’s system that they’re careless and lazy about conforming to Christ.

If you are a wise Christian, you’ll be sure to discipline yourself for godliness. You’ll know what pleases God, watch for Satan’s traps, resist the Devil, defeat temptation, and be selective about your behavior. In other words, you’ll not walk as a fool; you’ll walk in wisdom—living by God’s standards.

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank God for His Son, the perfect example of spiritual discipline and godliness. Ask God to help you be like Him.

For Further Study

  • According to 1 Timothy 4:7, what is the purpose of spiritual discipline?
  • According to 2 Peter 1:3, what has God’s divine power granted us?


PART III

November 24 - The Sabbath and Deeds of Necessity

“But He said to them, ‘Have you not read what David did when he became hungry, he and his companions, how he entered the house of God, and they ate the consecrated bread, which was not lawful for him to eat nor for those with him, but for the priests alone?’” (Matthew 12:3–4).

David the great king, psalmist, and warrior was a true hero of the Jews, even more so than the prophets and patriarchs were. Jesus here reminds the Pharisees of what happened when David and his men sought to escape the vengeful and jealous King Saul south of Gibeah. They asked for food when they came to the town where the tabernacle was located.

Ahimelech the priest gave David and his men the bread of the Presence because there was “no ordinary bread on hand” (1 Sam. 21:4). That consecrated bread was baked weekly, and each Sabbath day twelve new loaves (representing the twelve tribes of Israel) replaced the previous ones. Only the priests could eat these loaves.

On that unusual occasion, however, God allowed an exception for the sake of David and his companions, who were weakened by hunger. This exceptional action did not offend the Lord, and consequently He did not discipline either David or Ahimelech. It was better for the men to violate a ceremonial regulation if it was necessary to meet their basic needs.

If God allowed His people to sometimes disregard His own law in order to bene-fit their welfare, how could He not allow the purposeless and silly traditions of men and women to be broken so a work of necessity could take place?

Ask Yourself

How does this picture of a practical God square with your perception of Him? Are we sometimes protective and provincial about the name of God for reasons all our own—or perhaps as excuses for not dirtying our hands with human need?


PART IV

Reading for Today:

  • Ezekiel 39:1–40:49
  • Psalm 132:10-18
  • Proverbs 29:5
  • James 5:1-20

Notes:

Psalm 132:10 A prayer that God’s promise and favor would not be withheld from David’s descendants on the throne of Judah. Your Anointed. As David had been anointed king (1 Sam. 16:13), so a greater King had been anointed, namely Christ, but not yet seated on the throne (Is. 61:1; Luke 4:18, 19).

James 5:7 patient. The word emphasizes patience with people (1 Thess. 5:14), not trials or circumstances (as in 1:3). Specifically, James has in mind patience with the oppressive rich. the coming. The Second Coming of Christ. Realizing the glory that awaits them at Christ’s return should motivate believers to patiently endure mistreatment (Rom. 8:18). the early and latter rain. The “early” rain falls in Israel during October and November and softens the ground for planting. The “latter” rain falls in March and April, immediately before the spring harvest. Just as the farmer waits patiently from the early rain to the latter for his crop to ripen, so must Christians patiently wait for the Lord’s return (Gal. 6:9; 2 Tim. 4:8; Titus 2:13).

James 5:14 anointing him with oil. Literally, “rubbing him with oil”: 1) possibly this is a reference to ceremonial anointing (Lev. 14:18; Mark 6:13); 2) on the other hand, James may have had in mind medical treatment of believers physically bruised and battered by persecution. Perhaps it is better to understand the anointing in a metaphorical sense of the elders’ encouraging, comforting, and strengthening the believer.

James 5:14,15 sick. James directs those who are “sick,” meaning weakened by their suffering, to call for the elders of the church for strength, support, and prayer.

James 5:15 prayer of faith. The prayer offered on their behalf by the elders. save the sick. Deliver them from their suffering because they have been weakened by their infirmity, not from their sin, which was confessed. committed sins…be forgiven. Not by the elders, since God alone can forgive sins (Is. 43:25; Dan. 9:9; Mark 2:7). That those who are suffering called for the elders implies they had a contrite, repentant heart, and that part of their time with the overseers would involve confessing their sins to God.


DAY 24: What warning does James give to the rich?

In James 5:1, he begins: “Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you!” James condemns them not for being wealthy, but for misusing their resources. Unlike the believing rich in Timothy’s congregation (1 Tim. 6:17–19), these are the wicked wealthy who profess Christian faith and have associated themselves with the church, but whose real god is money.

“Indeed the wages…you kept back” (v. 4). The rich had gained some of their wealth by oppressing and defrauding their day laborers—a practice strictly forbidden in the Old Testament (Lev. 19:13; Deut. 24:14, 15). The One who hears the cries of the defrauded laborers, James warns, is the Lord of hosts, the commander of the armies of heaven (angels). The Bible teaches that angels will be involved in the judgment of unbelievers (Matt. 13:39–41, 49; 16:27; 25:31; 2 Thess. 1:7, 8).

“You have lived on the earth in pleasure and luxury” (v. 5). After robbing their workers to accumulate their wealth, the rich indulged themselves in an extravagant lifestyle .“Pleasure” has the connotation of wanton pleasure. “Luxury” leads to vice when a person becomes consumed with the pursuit of pleasure, since a life without self-denial soon becomes out of control in every area. Like fattened cattle ready to be slaughtered, the rich that James condemns had indulged themselves to the limit.

“You have condemned…murdered the just” (v. 6). This describes the next step in the sinful progression of the rich. Hoarding led to fraud, which led to self-indulgence. Finally, that overindulgence has consumed the rich to the point that they will do anything to sustain their lifestyle. “Condemned” comes from a word meaning “to sentence.” The implication is that the rich were using the courts to commit judicial murder (2:6).


GOD BLESSES YOU!


MAXIMILIANO



11/23/17

Playing the Fool

“Behold, I have played the fool” (1 Samuel 26:21).

A Christian should not act like a fool.

In Deuteronomy 32:6 Moses looked out at the belligerent children of Israel who had failed God so many times and said, “Do you thus repay the Lord, O foolish and unwise people?” The children of Israel were playing the fool. Sadly, God’s people today continue to play the fool.

One way they do so is through disbelief. On the road to Emmaus, Jesus appeared to two disciples who didn’t believe that He had risen from the dead. Jesus said to them, “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!” (Luke 24:25). To disbelieve God and His Word is to play the fool.

Another way believers play the fool is through disobedience. In Galatians 3:1 the apostle Paul says, “You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified?” And in verse 3 he says, “Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” They started out well but were disobedient and got caught up in the works of the law.

Still another way Christians play the fool is through desire for the wrong things. First Timothy 6:9 says, “Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires.” If you desire the wrong things, you play the fool.

Finally, you can play the fool through doing the wrong things. James 3:1317 says that there are two kinds of wisdom. Godly wisdom produces “good behavior” (v. 13), but foolish wisdom produces “jealousy and selfish ambition” (v. 16). A self-centered person plays the fool.

It’s sad to see so many Christians playing the fool. It doesn’t make any sense. Why should Christians live as blind, ignorant, foolish people when they have the wisdom of God?

Paul says at the end of Romans, “I want you to be wise in what is good, and innocent in what is evil” (16:19). If you have to be a fool at all, be a fool (unknowing, unacquainted) about evil.

Suggestions for Prayer

Make Paul’s exhortation in Romans 16:19 your prayer.

For Further Study

Read Proverbs 2:1-22 as a reminder of what benefits you’ll receive from following true wisdom instead of playing the fool.


PART II

From Jacob to Israel

"By faith Jacob, as he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshiped" (Heb. 11:21).

Jacob’s life typifies the spiritual pilgrimage from selfishness to submission.

Jacob's life can be outlined in three phases: A stolen blessing, a conditional commitment, and a sincere supplication.

From the very beginning it was God's intention to bless Jacob in a special way. But Jacob, whose name means "trickster," "supplanter," or "usurper," tricked his father into blessing him instead of his older brother, Esau (Gen. 27:1-29). As a result, Jacob had to flee from Esau and spend fourteen years herding flocks for his Uncle Laban.

As Jacob traveled toward Laban's house, God appeared to him in a dream (Gen. 28:10-22) and made him the recipient of the covenant promises first made to his grandfather, Abraham, then to his father, Isaac.

Jacob's response is revealing, for he "made a vow, saying, 'If God will be with me and will keep me on this journey that I take, and will give me food to eat and garments to wear, and I return to my father's house in safety, then the Lord will be my God'" (vv. 20-21, emphasis added). Jacob's conditional vow said in effect, "God, if you'll give me what I want, I'll be your man."

Despite Jacob's selfish motives, God did bless him, but He humbled him too. By the time he left Laban's house, Jacob was ready to yield to God's will unreservedly. Note his change of heart in Genesis 32:10: "I am unworthy of all the lovingkindness and of all the faithfulness which Thou hast shown to [me]."

Then the Lord appeared in the form of a man and wrestled with Jacob all night (v. 24). Jacob refused to let Him go until he received a blessing. That wasn't a selfish request, but one that came from a heart devoted to being all God wanted him to be. That's when the Lord changed Jacob's name to "Israel," which means "he fights or persists with God."

Like Abraham and Isaac before him, Jacob never saw the fulfillment of God's covenant promises. Yet on his spiritual journey from Jacob to Israel, from selfishness to submission, he learned to trust God and await His perfect timing.

Suggestions for Prayer

Pray for grace to consistently pursue God's will, and patience to wait on His perfect timing.

For Further Study

Read Jacob's story in Genesis 27-35.


PART III

November 23 - Grainfields and the Sabbath

“At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath, and His disciples became hungry and began to pick the heads of grain and eat. But when the Pharisees saw this, they said to Him, ‘Look, Your disciples do what is not lawful to do on a Sabbath’” (Matthew 12:1–2).

Keeping the Sabbath was still a binding ceremonial duty for the Jews of Jesus’ day, but most of them had little idea of God’s original purpose for the day. Instead of being a day of rest, it had become a day of burden with thousands of man-made restrictions. Ironically it became harder to “rest” than to work the other six days.

The Sabbath had ceased being a delight for people but had become oppressive and frustrating. They were undoubtedly tired of the unscriptural system imposed on the day and welcomed any proper teaching about the Sabbath.

It’s difficult to know what the Pharisees were doing in the fields this day, other than to be watchdogs over the human traditions of the Sabbath. Their accusation that Jesus’ disciples had broken the Sabbath law was simply wrong because it elevated human tradition to the level of God’s Word. Centuries of observing rabbinic ritual had given it the status of legitimate law in the legalistic minds of the Pharisees. They gave only lip service to Scripture and merely used it to justify their traditions, many of which “invalidated the word of God” (Matt. 15:6).

The Jewish leaders’ indictment of Jesus and His disciples on this occasion illustrates a desire to merely protect their distorted, man-made conventions. In that way it perverted God’s original purpose for the Sabbath, which was to give humanity a special day to rest and serve Him, not to deal with an exasperating list of regulations.

Ask Yourself

How do you deal with others’ expectations, even when you know they’re forcing unreasonable requirements on you? Do you fulfill them out of a need to be thought highly of? How does a person balance freedom with proper responsibility?


PART IV

Reading for Today:

Notes:

Ezekiel 37:3 can these bones live? The many dry bones (v. 2) picture the nation Israel (v. 11) as apparently dead in their dispersion and waiting for national resurrection. The people knew about the doctrine of individual resurrection; otherwise, this prophecy would have had no meaning (1 Kin. 17; 2 Kin. 4; 13:21; Is. 25:8; 26:19; Dan. 12:2; Hos. 13:14).

Ezekiel 37:4–6 Prophesy to these bones. Ezekiel is to proclaim God’s pledge to reassemble Israelites from the world and restore the nation of Israel to life (v. 5) and give them His Spirit (v. 14) in true salvation and spiritual life. Clearly, God is promising the resurrection of the nation of Israel and its spiritual regeneration (36:25–27).

James 4:4 friendship. Appearing only here in the New Testament, the Greek word describes love in the sense of a strong emotional attachment. Those with a deep and intimate longing for the things of the world give evidence that they are not redeemed (1 John 2:15–17). enmity with God. The necessary corollary to friendship with the world. The sobering truth that unbelievers are God’s enemies is taught throughout Scripture (Deut. 32:41–43; Pss. 21:8; 68:21; 72:9; 110:1, 2; Is. 42:13; Nah. 1:2, 8; Luke 19:27; Rom. 5:10; 8:5–7; 1 Cor. 15:25).

James 4:6 more grace. The only ray of hope in man’s spiritual darkness is the sovereign grace of God, which alone can rescue man from his propensity to lust for evil things. That God gives “more grace” shows that His grace is greater than the power of sin, the flesh, the world, and Satan (Rom. 5:20). The Old Testament quote (from Prov. 3:34; 1 Pet. 5:5) reveals who obtains God’s grace—the humble, not the proud enemies of God. The word “humble” does not define a special class of Christians, but encompasses all believers (Is. 57:15; 66:2; Matt. 18:3, 4).



DAY 23: What do the 10 commands that fill James 4:7–10 have to do with grace?


These verses contain a series of 10 commands that prepare a person to receive saving grace. These commands delineate a person’s response to God’s gracious offer of salvation and reveal what it means to be humble. Each command uses a Greek imperative to define the expected action:

1. Submit to God (v. 7)—James used the word to describe a willing, conscious submission to God’s authority as sovereign ruler of the universe.

2. Resist the devil (v. 7)—those who consciously “take [their] stand against” Satan and transfer their allegiance to God will find that Satan “will flee from” them; he is a defeated foe.

3. Draw near to God (v. 8)—pursue an intimate love relationship with God (Phil. 3:10).

4. Cleanse your hands (v. 8)—the added term “sinners” addresses the unbelievers’ need to recognize and confess their sin (5:20).

5. Purify your hearts (v. 8)—cleansing the hands symbolizes external behavior; this phrase refers to the inner thoughts, motives, and desires of the heart (Ps. 24:3, 4).

6. Lament (v.9)—to be afflicted, wretched, and miserable. This is the state of those truly broken over their sin (Matt. 5:4).

7. Mourn (v. 9)—the internal experience of brokenness over sin (Ps. 51:17; Matt. 5:4).

8. Weep (v. 9)—the outward manifestation of inner sorrow over sin (Mark 14:72).

9. Grieve without laughter or joy (v. 9)—the signs of denial; the flippant laughter of those foolishly indulging in worldly pleasures without regard to God, life, death, sin, judgment, or holiness.

10. Humble yourself (v. 10)—this final command sums up the preceding 9. The word “humble” comes from a word meaning “to make oneself low.” Those conscious of being in the presence of the majestic, infinitely holy God are humble (Is. 6:5).


GOD BLESSES YOU!



11/22/17

The Reluctant Patriarch

"By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau, even regarding things to come" (Heb. 11:20).

When you disobey God, you forfeit joy and blessing.

Isaac is a fascinating Old Testament character. He was Abraham's long-awaited son, the covenant child, the child of promise. Yet aside from that, he was rather ordinary, passive, and quiet. Just over two chapters of Genesis center on him, whereas the other patriarchs (Abraham, Jacob, and Joseph) command about twelve chapters each.

In the final analysis, Isaac believed God and submitted to His will. But overall, his spiritual character seems more reluctant than resolute.

After a famine prompted Isaac to move his family to Gerar (a Philistine city on the border between Palestine and Egypt), he received a vision from the Lord. In it God passed on to Isaac the covenant promises He had made to Abraham: "Sojourn in this land and I will be with you and bless you, for to you and to your descendants I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath which I swore to your father Abraham. And I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven, and will give your descendants all these lands; and by your descendants all the nations of the earth shall be blessed" (Gen. 26:3-4).

You would think such promises would infuse Isaac with boldness and confidence, yet no sooner had he received them, then he lied to the men of Gerar about his wife, Rebekah, because he feared they might kill him to have her (v. 7).

It was only with great difficulty and prodding that the Lord finally brought Isaac into the Promised Land, where He once again repeated the covenant promises (vv. 23-24).

Later in his life Isaac even sought to bless his son Esau after Esau had sold his birthright to Jacob (25:33). Only after he realized that God's choice of Jacob was irreversible did Isaac acquiesce.

Isaac is a vivid reminder of how believers can forfeit joy and blessing by disobeying God. But he's also a reminder of God's faithfulness—even toward reluctant saints.

Is your obedience reluctant or resolute?

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank God for His unwavering faithfulness to you.
  • Seek His forgiveness when your obedience is reluctant or withheld altogether.
  • Ask Him to teach you to love Him in the same unwavering, resolute way He loves you.

For Further Study

Read of Isaac in Genesis 25:19—26:34.


PART II

Watch Your Step

“Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise” (Ephesians 5:15).

Walking wisely is a step in the right direction.

Sometimes a soldier has the thankless task of clearing mine fields from enemy territory. If you’re aware of the procedure, you know the work is both dangerous and tedious. To proceed in an orderly fashion, a soldier marks areas that are considered dangerous and areas that have been cleared. Above all, he makes sure he is careful where he’s walking!

 

In the spiritual realm, Paul is telling believers in Ephesians 5:15 to walk carefully. The Greek term translated “careful” speaks of looking carefully from side to side and being alert to what is going on. We need to be extremely alert because the world we’re walking through is a mine field of sin and temptation. Therefore, we must walk carefully, exactly, and accurately. The wise Christian carefully charts his course according to life principles designed by God. He doesn’t trip over the obstacles that Satan puts in his path or fall into the entanglement of the world’s system. He is “careful.”

 

The Greek word translated “walk” means “daily conduct,” “daily pattern,” or “daily life.” The daily pattern of our lives must reflect wisdom. The Greeks saw wisdom primarily as head knowledge. They tended to spin off theories that had no practical implications. To them, the wise people were the intellectuals and the philosophers. The Hebrew mind, however, defined wisdom only in terms of behavior. When a person becomes a Christian, it’s more than a change in theory—it’s a change in how he lives.

Paul is saying in verse 15, “If you used to be a fool, but you’ve been made wise in Christ, then walk wisely.” In other words, we’re to practice our position, to live in accordance with who we are. When we became Christians, we came out of foolishness into wisdom. Therefore, we need to act like it!

Be careful not to act foolishly and step on Satan’s mines. Your spiritual transformation demands that you live your life with care.

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank the Lord for helping you obey His Word and avoid Satan’s destructive mines.

For Further Study

Read Titus 3:1-8. What are you to be careful to do (v. 8)? Why?


PART III

November 22 - Submission to Jesus Christ

“‘Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light’” (Matthew 11:29–30).

Jesus’ great invitation includes a call to submission, which inherently includes obedience and is symbolized by a yoke. The “yoke” was made of wood and designed to fit comfortably on the neck and shoulders of a work animal to prevent chafing. An ancient aphorism says, “Put your neck under the yoke and let your soul receive instruction.”

By analogy, Christ wants His disciples to be submissive and learn from Him. They must submit for many reasons, but foremost is to be taught by Him through the Word.

But in the process of submission, Jesus is “gentle and humble in heart” and graciously gives rest, not weariness, to His obedient disciples. Our Lord will never give us burdens too heavy to carry, because His burdens have nothing to do with works of the law or the human tradition of good deeds.

If we are faithful and submissive, our work of obedience to Christ will be joyful and happy. The apostle John explains, “This is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3). Submission to Jesus Christ is the only true liberation anyone can experience, because only then can one become what God intended.

Thy precious will, O conquering Saviour,

Doth now embrace and compass me;

All discords hushed, my peace a river,

My soul a prisoned bird set free.

Sweet will of God still fold me closer,

Till I am wholly lost in Thee.

Ask Yourself

Jesus’ purpose in calling you to submission is not to embitter you but to better you. Is anything keeping you from trusting that?


PART IV

Reading for Today:

Notes:

Ezekiel 36:1 This chapter presents the prerequisite regeneration which Israel must experience before they can nationally enter into the promised blessings. This chapter must be understood to speak of a literal Israel, a literal land, and a literal regeneration, leading to a literal kingdom under Messiah. prophesy to the mountains. vv. 1, 4, 6, 8. Ezekiel addresses Israel’s mountains as symbolic of the whole nation. He promises: 1) to give these mountains again to dispersed Israel (v. 12); 2) to cause fruit to grow on them (v. 8); 3) to rebuild cities and to multiply people there (v. 10); and 4) to bless in a greater way than in the past (v. 11). This promise can only be fulfilled in future millennial blessing to Israel that she has not yet experienced, because it includes the salvation of the New Covenant (vv. 25–27, 29, 31, 33).

Ezekiel 36:25–27 I will cleanse you. Along with the physical reality of a return to the land, God pledged spiritual renewal: 1) cleansing from sin; 2) a new heart of the New Covenant (Jer. 31:31–34); 3) a new spirit or disposition inclined to worship Him; and 4) His Spirit dwelling in them, enabling them to walk in obedience to His word. This has not happened, because Israel has not trusted Jesus Christ as Messiah and Savior, but it will before the kingdom of Messiah (Zech. 12–14; Rom. 11:25–27; Rev. 11:13).

Ezekiel 36:26, 27 What was figuratively described in v. 25 is explained as literal in vv. 26, 27. The gift of the “new heart” signifies the new birth, which is regeneration by the Holy Spirit (11:18–20). The “heart” stands for the whole nature. The “spirit” indicates the governing power of the mind which directs thought and conduct. A “stony heart” is stubborn and self-willed. A “heart of flesh” is pliable and responsive. The evil inclination is removed and a new nature replaces it. This is New Covenant character as in Jeremiah 31:31–34.

James 3:6 tongue is a fire. Like fire, the tongue’s sinful words can spread destruction rapidly; or as its accompanying smoke, those words can permeate and ruin everything around it. defiles. This means “to pollute or contaminate” (Mark 7:20; Jude 23). the course of nature. Better translated “the circle of life,” this underscores that the tongue’s evil can extend beyond the individual to affect everything in his sphere of influence. hell. A translation of the Greek word gehenna (or valley of Hinnom). In Christ’s time, this valley that lay southwest of Jerusalem’s walls served as the city dump and was known for its constantly burning fire. Jesus used that place to symbolize the eternal place of punishment and torment (Mark 9:43, 45). To James “hell” conjures up not just the place but the satanic host that will some day inherit it—they use the tongue as a tool for evil.


DAY 22: How does James explain the difference between the two kinds of wisdom in the world (3:13–18)?

The term “wise” in v. 13 is the common Greek word for speculative knowledge and philosophy, but the Hebrews infused it with the much richer meaning of skillfully applying knowledge to the matter of practical living. This passage points out that two groups of people can be called wise; but in each case, the source of wisdom and the character of the “wise” are entirely opposite.

Wisdom from above (v. 17) includes the following characteristics: 1) pure. This refers to spiritual integrity and moral sincerity. Every genuine Christian has this kind of heart motivation (Pss. 24:3, 4; 51:7; Matt. 5:8; Rom. 7:22, 23; Heb. 12:14); 2) peaceable. Means “peace loving” or “peace promoting” (Matt. 5:9); 3) gentle. This word is difficult to translate, but most nearly means a character trait of sweet reasonableness. Such a person will submit to all kinds of mistreatment and difficulty with an attitude of kind, courteous, patient humility, without any thought of hatred or revenge (Matt. 5:10, 11); 4) willing to yield. The original term described someone who was teachable, compliant, easily persuaded, and who willingly submitted to military discipline or moral and legal standards. For believers, it defines obedience to God’s standards (Matt. 5:3–5); 5) full of mercy. The gift of showing concern for those who suffer pain and hardship, and the ability to forgive quickly (Matt. 5:7; Rom. 12:8); 6) without partiality. The Greek word occurs only here in the New Testament and denotes a consistent, unwavering person who is undivided in his commitment and conviction and does not make unfair distinctions.


GOD BLESSES YOU!


MAXIMILIANO 



11/21/17

Defeating Death

"By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau, even regarding things to come. By faith Jacob, as he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff. By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the exodus of the sons of Israel, and gave orders concerning his bones" (Heb. 11:20-22).

Faith triumphs over death.

Commentator Matthew Henry said, "Though the grace of faith is of universal use throughout the Christian's life, yet it is especially so when we come to die. Faith has its great work to do at the very last, to help believers to finish well, to die to the Lord so as to honor Him, by patience, hope and joy so as to leave a witness behind them of the truth of God's Word and the excellency of His ways."

God is honored when His people die triumphantly. When we've lived a life to His glory, and joyfully left the world behind to enter into His presence for all eternity, He is pleased, for "precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His godly ones" (Ps. 116:15).

Many believers who have dreaded facing death have experienced a special measure of God's grace that made their final hours the sweetest and most precious of their lives.

Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph are examples of men who faced death with great faith and confidence. Each "died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth" (Heb. 11:13). They hadn't seen all God's promises fulfilled, but by faith they passed them on to their children.

These men didn't have perfect faith. Joseph was exemplary, but Isaac and Jacob often vacillated in their walk with God. Yet each ended his life triumphantly. That's the reward of all who trust God and cling to His promises.

Like every believer before you, you haven't seen the fulfillment of all God's promises. But certainly you've seen far more than Isaac, Jacob, or Joseph did. How much more then should you trust God and encourage those who follow you to do the same?

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank God for His marvelous grace, which triumphs over sin and death.

For Further Study

Read the final words of Jacob and Joseph in Genesis 48:1—49:33 and 50:22-26.


PART II

Growing in Wisdom

“Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).

Growing in wisdom means growing in Christlikeness.

Perhaps you’re asking, “Shouldn’t believers acquire more wisdom?” Yes, we should. No matter how much of God’s wisdom we have, we should always hunger for more. The Bible tells us that we have all the principles we need to walk in wisdom, and yet there’s much more available to us. We should “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18), and we should be more and more conformed to the image of Christ by the transforming work of the Spirit of God. Our wisdom should increase, as should our godliness, but we are given the basic principles at salvation. Even though a person may not know all the truths in the Bible, God’s Spirit, who is resident in him from the moment of salvation, will convict and convince him of righteousness and sin.

What do you do if you want more wisdom? First, worship. Proverbs 9:10 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Make it your goal to have a worshipful heart throughout each day and to be faithful in attending the Lord’s house regularly (see Heb. 10:25). Second, pray. James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” Make it your continual prayer to ask God for more of His wisdom. Third, receive instruction. The apostle Paul encouraged “admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom” (Col. 1:28). If you want more wisdom, one good way to receive it is to be instructed by someone who is wise. Finally, study Scripture. In 2 Timothy 2:15 Paul says, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth.” Set up a regular Bible study time, and let the Holy Spirit teach you.

What about you? Are you growing in wisdom? If not, make it your priority.

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask God to help you grow in wisdom.

For Further Study

Make it your daily goal to implement the four ways mentioned in today’s lesson for growing in wisdom.


PART III

November 21 - The Nature of True Rest

“‘. . . and I will give you rest’” (Matthew 11:28).

Jesus promises genuine, unsurpassed spiritual rest to every person who turns to Him in repentance and humble faith. God’s rest is a key scriptural theme, and the writer of Hebrews warns we must not take it for granted and miss it—especially if we think we’re safe and yet do not believe, much as the Jews:

Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it. For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard. For we who have believed enter that rest, just as He has said, “As I swore in My wrath, they shall not enter My rest,” although His works were finished from the foundation of the world. (Heb. 4:1–3)

The dictionary provides us several definitions of “rest” that remarkably parallel God’s spiritual rest. First, rest is a cessation from activity and exertion. By analogy, divine rest means stopping all efforts at earning salvation. Second, rest means freedom from all that wearies or disturbs. And God’s rest gives believers freedom from every worry.

Third, the dictionary calls rest a fixed, settled quality. Likewise spiritual rest means our eternal destiny is secure in Christ. And finally, rest means someone can be confident and trustful. The spiritual parallel is the assurance that “He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6).

Ask Yourself

Are you suffering from a lack of rest and contentment in your life? What are the main culprits for this? Even if your current circumstances were to change very little, is it possible that God’s brand of rest could still settle down among it all?


PART IV

Reading for Today:

Notes:

Ezekiel 33:2–9 watchman. Such men as Jeremiah and Ezekiel (3:16–21) were spiritual watchmen (33:7–9), warning that God would bring a sword on His people so that they had opportunity to prepare and be safe. This analogy came from the custom of putting guards on the city wall watching for the approach of danger, then trumpeting the warning.

Ezekiel 33:4 his blood…on his own head. Once the watchman did his duty, the responsibility passed to each person. Each person is accountable for his own response to God’s warnings, whether to die in judgment or to live as one who heeded and repented. Ezekiel had been a very faithful and obedient “watchman.”

James 2:1 the faith. This refers not to the act of believing, but to the entire Christian faith (Jude 3), which has as its central focus Jesus Christ. the Lord of glory. Christ is the One who reveals the glory of God. In His Incarnation, He showed only impartiality (Matt. 22:16)—for example, consider the non-elite people included in His genealogy, His choice of the humble village of Nazareth as His residence for 30 years, and His willingness to minister in Galilee and Samaria, both regions held in contempt by Israel’s leaders. partiality. Originally, this word referred to raising someone’s face or elevating the person, but it came to refer to exalting someone strictly on a superficial, external basis, such as appearance, race, wealth, rank, or social status.

James 2:8 royal law. This is better translated “sovereign law.” The idea is that this law is supreme or binding. love your neighbor as yourself. This sovereign law (quoted from Lev. 19:18), when combined with the command to love God (Deut. 6:4, 5), summarizes all the Law and the Prophets (Matt. 22:36–40; Rom. 13:8–10). James is not advocating some kind of emotional affection for oneself—self-love is clearly a sin (2 Tim. 3:2). Rather, the command is to pursue meeting the physical health and spiritual well-being of one’s neighbors (all within the sphere of our influence; Luke 10:30–37) with the same intensity and concern as one does naturally for oneself (Phil. 2:3, 4).

James 2:19 You believe that there is one God. A clear reference to the passage most familiar to his Jewish readers: the Shema (Deut. 6:4, 5), the most basic doctrine of the Old Testament. demons believe. Even fallen angels affirm the oneness of God and tremble at its implications. Demons are essentially orthodox in their doctrine (Matt. 8:29, 30; Mark 5:7; Luke 4:41; Acts 19:15). But orthodox doctrine by itself is no proof of saving faith. They know the truth about God, Christ, and the Spirit, but hate it and them.


DAY 21: If salvation is by faith in Christ alone, how can James write “faith without works is dead” (2:20)?

“Do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?” Literally, “empty, defective.” The objector’s claim of belief is fraudulent, and his faith is a sham. James is not contrasting two methods of salvation (faith versus works). Instead, he contrasts two kinds of faith: living faith that saves and dead faith that does not (1 John 3:7–10).

“Was not Abraham our father justified by works…?” (v. 21). This does not contradict Paul’s clear teaching that Abraham was justified before God by grace alone through faith alone (Rom. 3:20; 4:1–25; Gal. 3:6, 11). For several reasons, James cannot mean that Abraham was constituted righteous before God because of his own good works: 1) James already stressed that salvation is a gracious gift (1:17, 18); 2) in the middle of this disputed passage (v. 23), James quoted Genesis 15:6, which forcefully claims that God credited righteousness to Abraham solely on the basis of his faith (Rom. 1:17; 3:24; 4:1–25); and 3) the work that James said justified Abraham was his offering up of Isaac (Gen. 22:9, 12), an event that occurred many years after he first exercised faith and was declared righteous before God (Gen. 12:1–7; 15:6). Instead, Abraham’s offering of Isaac demonstrated the genuineness of his faith and the reality of his justification before God. James is emphasizing the vindication before others of a man’s claim to salvation. James’s teaching perfectly complements Paul’s writings; salvation is determined by faith alone (Eph. 2:8, 9) and demonstrated by faithfulness to obey God’s will alone (Eph. 2:10).

“And by works faith was made perfect” (v. 22). This refers to bringing something to its end or to its fullness. Just as a fruit tree has not arrived at its goal until it bears fruit, faith has not reached its end until it demonstrates itself in a righteous life.


GOD BLESS YOU!


MAXIMILIANO 


11/20/17

Passing the Test

"By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac; and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son; it was he to whom it was said, 'In Isaac your descendants shall be called.' He considered that God is able to raise men even from the dead" (Heb. 11:17-19).

A willingness to sacrifice something precious to you is proof of genuine faith.

John Bunyan had a little blind daughter, for whom he had a special love. When he was imprisoned for preaching the gospel, he was deeply concerned about his family, especially that little girl. He wrote, "I saw in this condition I was a man who was pulling down his house upon the head of his wife and children. Yet, thought I, I must do it; I must do it. The dearest idol I have known, what ere that idol be, help me to tear it from Thy throne and worship only Thee."

Despite his personal grief, Bunyan was willing to sacrifice the most precious thing he had, if God so willed. So it was with Abraham. Every promise God had made to him was bound up in his son Isaac.

Abraham believed God's promises, and his faith was reckoned to him as righteousness (Gen. 15:6). But the moment of truth came when God instructed him to offer his son as a sacrifice. Abraham realized that to kill Isaac was to put to death God's covenant. So he reasoned that surely God would raise Isaac from the dead. He believed in resurrection before the doctrine was revealed in clear terms.

God tested Abraham, and Abraham passed the test: He was willing to make the sacrifice. And that's always the final standard of faith. Jesus said, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me" (Matt. 16:24). Romans 12:1 says, "I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship."

I pray that you are willing to sacrifice whatever is necessary to minister most effectively for Christ.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank God for those you know who are passing the test of a sacrificial faith.
  • Pray for the courage and grace to follow their example.

For Further Study

Read the account of Abraham's test in Genesis 22.


PART II

Acting Responsibly

“Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise” (Ephesians 5:15).

Every believer is responsible to walk wisely.

I believe the moment an individual becomes saved, God deposits enough wisdom in him to make him absolutely responsible for his behavior. Someone may say, “Wait a minute! How can a brand-new believer walk in wisdom? Doesn’t he grow into that? Haven’t wise Christians been saved for many years?”

Such questions miss the point of Ephesians 5:15. The first word in this verse takes us back to Paul’s invitation to become saved in verse 14: “Awake, sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” In other words, Paul is saying, “Because you are saved, you are to walk in wisdom.” When you received Christ, you simultaneously received wisdom and therefore are responsible to walk wisely. First Corinthians 1:30 says, “By [God’s] doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption.” At the moment of salvation you are made wise, righteous, and sanctified. You don’t get redeemed first and receive those things later. Colossians 2:3 says, “In [Christ] are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” You are in Christ, and all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are in Him; consequently, “in Him you have been made complete” (v. 10).

If you’re redeemed, you have wisdom. You don’t have to wait till you’ve been saved five, ten, or forty years. You’re no longer a fool— you’re wise. And on that basis Paul says, “Walk as wise. Live according to the wisdom that you possess.”

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank God for blessing you with His great salvation so that you can walk wisely.

For Further Study

Read Ephesians 1:7-8.

  • What did you receive at the moment of your salvation (v. 7)?
  • In what two ways were the riches of God’s grace lavished on you (v. 8)?
  • According to Titus 2:11-12, what does God’s grace teach you?


PART III

November 20 - The Condition of Those Called

“‘All who are weary and heavy-laden’” (Matthew 11:28).

Everyone whom Jesus specially invites for salvation already realizes their distress, that they are “weary and heavy-laden.” The Lord mentions this after He refers to faith (“come to Me”), but chronologically it precedes faith—it is the repentance that prompts the person to trust in Jesus for salvation.

“Weary” refers symbolically to strenuous work in trying to find the divine path to salvation. Christ invites all to come to Him who have exhausted themselves in searching for salvation by their own resources. Whereas “weary” denotes internal exhaustion, “heavy-laden” implies that past heavy burdens dumped on the person caused him or her to engage in the futility of works righteousness to please God.

Any person in the condition Jesus describes despairs of his or her own ability to obtain salvation. They will realize the end of their own resources and want to turn to the Savior. The desperation implicit here is part of genuine salvation. Those not desperate will continue to rely on their own confidence, but those who are spiritually desperate will repent of the old burdensome life of sin and embrace the true redemption Christ offers. Such persons are the only ones God receives into His kingdom (cf. Matt. 3:2; 4:17; Acts 2:38; 2 Tim. 2:25).

Ask Yourself

What are the most common causes for that “weary and heavy-laden” feeling in our world today? Why are Jesus’ ways of dealing with these problems infinitely superior to any other so-called solution?


PART IV

Reading for Today:

Notes:

Ezekiel 31:2–18 Whom are you like…? Ezekiel filled this chapter with a metaphor/analogy comparing Egypt to a huge tree that dominates a forest to a king/nation that dominates the world (17:22–24; Dan. 4:1–12, 19–27). He reasoned that just as a strong tree like Assyria (v. 3) fell (ca. 609 B.C.), so will Egypt (ca. 568 B.C.). If the Egyptians tend to be proud and feel invincible, let them remember how powerful Assyria had fallen already.

James 1:6 ask in faith. Prayer must be offered with confident trust in a sovereign God (Heb. 11:1). with no doubting. This refers to having one’s thinking divided within himself, not merely because of mental indecision but an inner moral conflict or distrust in God. wave of the sea. The person who doubts God’s ability or willingness to provide this wisdom is like the billowing, restless sea, moving back and forth with its endless tides, never able to settle (Josh. 24:15; 1 Kin. 18:21; Rev. 3:16).

James 1:14 drawn away. This Greek word was used to describe wild game being lured into traps. Just as animals can be drawn to their deaths by attractive baits, temptation promises people something good, which is actually harmful. his own desires. This refers to lust, the strong desire of the human soul to enjoy or acquire something to fulfill the flesh. Man’s fallen nature has the propensity to strongly desire whatever sin will satisfy it (Rom. 7:8–25). “His own” describes the individual nature of lust—it is different for each person as a result of inherited tendencies, environment, upbringing, and personal choices. The Greek grammar also indicates that these “desires” are the direct agent or cause of one’s sinning. enticed. A fishing term that means “to capture” or “to catch with bait” (2 Pet. 2:14, 18). It is a parallel to “drawn away.”



DAY 20: How can James expect Christians to “count it all joy” when they face difficulties and trials (1:2)?


The Greek word for “count” may also be translated “consider” or “evaluate.” The natural human response to trials is not to rejoice; therefore the believer must make a conscious commitment to face them with joy. “Trials” connote troubles or things that break the pattern of peace, comfort, joy, and happiness in someone’s life. The verb form of this word means “to put someone or something to the test,” with the purpose of discovering that person’s nature or that thing’s quality. God brings such tests to prove—and increase—the strength and quality of one’s faith and to demonstrate its validity (vv. 2–12). Every trial becomes a test of faith designed to strengthen. If the believer fails the test by wrongly responding, that test then becomes a temptation or a solicitation to evil.

“Knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience” (v. 3). This means “proof” or “proving.” This testing produces “endurance” or “perseverance.” Through tests, a Christian will learn to withstand and even cherish the benefit of the pressure of a trial until God removes it at His appointed time.

“But let patience have its perfect work” (v. 4). This is not a reference to sinless perfection (3:2), but to spiritual maturity (1 John 2:14). The testing of faith drives believers to deeper communion and greater trust in Christ—qualities that in turn produce a stable, godly, and righteous character. “That you may be…complete.” From a compound Greek word that means “all the portions whole.”


GOD BLESS YOU!


MAXIMILIANO 


11/19/17

Living a Satisfied Life

"All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. "And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them" (Heb. 11:13-16).

Resting in God’s promises brings true satisfaction.

I remember watching in horror and disgust as angry mobs swept through Los Angeles, killing people and setting thousands of buildings on fire. Under the cover of chaos, countless people ransacked and looted every store in sight. I saw entire families—moms, dads, and little children—loading their cars and trucks with anything they could steal.

That was the most graphic demonstration of lawlessness I've ever seen. It was as if they were saying, "I'm not satisfied with the way life's treating me, so I'm entitled to grab everything I can—no matter who gets hurt in the process."

Perhaps we don't realize how selfish and restless the human heart can be until the restraints of law and order are lifted and people can do whatever they want without apparent consequences. Then suddenly the results of our godless "me first" society are seen for what they are. Instant gratification at any cost has become the motto of the day.

That's in stark contrast to people of faith like Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who trusted in God even when their circumstances were less than they might have expected. God promised them a magnificent land but they never possessed it. They were, in fact, strangers and refugees in their own land. But that didn't bother them because they looked forward to a better place—a heavenly city.

Their faith pleased God and He was not ashamed to be called their God. What a wonderful testimonial! I pray that's true of you. Don't let earthbound hopes and dreams make you dissatisfied. Trust in God's promises and set your sights on your heavenly home.

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank God for the blessing of a satisfied heart.

For Further Study

Memorize Psalm 27:4.


PART II

Being Different from the World

“Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men,  but as wise” (Ephesians 5:15).

Living wisely will set you apart from the world.

Walking in wisdom is an element of the worthy walk that Paul has been describing since the beginning of Ephesians 4. He says in verse 1, “Walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called” and then proceeds to describe this worthy walk with the following characteristics: It’s a humble walk (4:1-3), a united walk (4:4-16), a unique walk (4:17-32), a loving walk (5:1-7), an illuminated walk (5:8-14), and a wise walk (5:15-17). The point that Paul is making in describing the various elements of the worthy walk is that Christians are different from the world. The world can’t be humble because everyone is fighting for his rights. The world can’t be united because it celebrates and exalts differences. The world can’t be unique because it’s trapped in its own self-destruction. The world can’t love because it doesn’t have the life of God—the source of real love. The world can’t know light because it lies in the system of darkness. And the world can’t be wise because the wisdom of God is hidden from the mind of man. As Paul says in 2 Timothy 3:7, “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

Realize that being different from the world is an asset to your Christian witness, not a hindrance. When others see you obeying Scripture—when they see you walking in wisdom—they’ll notice you’re not like them. That difference can create opportunities to tell them about your Savior. Jesus said, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). Keep walking in wisdom, and let others be attracted to the light of Christ!

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask God to help you be a witness whose testimony shines brightly for Christ.

For Further Study

How does 1 Peter 2:12 say you are to live? Why?


PART III

November 19 - Jesus Calls for Saving Faith

“‘Come to Me . . .’” (Matthew 11:28).

Although infinitely beyond human comprehension, God’s sovereignty and human responsibility are inseparable in salvation. God sovereignly provides the grace that draws sinners, but they must humbly come in faith and commit to obey the Lord Jesus before salvation becomes complete. Christ makes this clear when He says, “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out” (John 6:37).

Redemption comes not through human creed, denominational preferences, favorite rituals, certain pastors, priests, or theological gurus—but only through the atoning work of Jesus Christ. When He says “Come to Me,” it means we must come to Him having trusted in His substitutionary death and having reached the point of willingness to submit to His lordship. The Lord teaches, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst” (John 6:35). Coming to Jesus means believing in Him, and that results in no longer hungering or thirsting from a lack of salvation’s blessings.

Jesus gave this summary of salvation, which includes the most well-known verse in Scripture: “Even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:14–16).

Ask Yourself

There are so many internal squabbles over the actual transaction of salvation. But can’t we all agree that no one is saved unless Jesus does it—and that no one is given salvation unless the person receives it? May we be more concerned about men than we are about talks and meetings.


PART IV

Reading for Today:

Notes:

Ezekiel 29:21 I will cause the horn…to spring forth. God caused Israel’s power to return and restored her authority as the power in an animal’s horn (1 Sam. 2:1). Though other nations subdued her, her latter end in messianic times will be blessed. I will open your mouth. Most likely this refers to the day when Ezekiel’s writings would be understood by looking back at their fulfillment. His muteness had already ceased in 586/585 B.C. when Jerusalem fell (33:21, 22).

Hebrews 13:4 honorable. God highly honors marriage, which He instituted at creation (Gen. 2:24); but some people in the early church considered celibacy to be holier than marriage, an idea Paul strongly denounces in 1 Timothy 4:3. Sexual activity in a marriage is pure, but any sexual activity outside marriage brings one under divine judgment. God will judge. God prescribes serious consequences for sexual immorality.

Hebrews 13:17 rule over you. The pastors/elders of the church exercise the very authority of Christ when they preach, teach, and apply Scripture (Acts 20:28; 1 Thess. 5:12, 13). They serve the church on behalf of Christ and must give Him an account of their faithfulness. These may include both secular and spiritual rulers. Even those who do not acknowledge God are nevertheless ordained and used by Him (Rom. 13:1, 4). joy. The church is responsible to help its leaders do their work with satisfaction and delight.

Hebrews 13:21 make you complete. This is not the Greek word for “perfect” or “perfection” used throughout Hebrews to indicate salvation but is a word which is translated “prepared” in 10:5 and “framed” in 11:3. It refers to believers being edified. The verb has the idea of equipping by means of adjusting, shaping, mending, restoring, or preparing (11:3; 1 Cor. 1:10; 2 Cor. 13:11; 2 Tim. 3:17).



DAY 19: Did the writer of Hebrews actually think Christians might entertain angels (13:2)?


The last chapter of the epistle focuses on some of the essential practical ethics of Christian living. These ethics help portray the true gospel to the world, encourage others to believe in Christ, and bring glory to God. The first of these is love for fellow believers (John 13:35).Although the primary reference would be to Christians, the writer must have had emotions similar to those of the apostle Paul when it came to considering his fellow Hebrews (see Rom. 9:3, 4).

“Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels” (v. 2).The second grace needing development was the extension of love to those who were strangers (Rom. 12:3; 1 Tim. 3:2). Hospitality in the ancient world often included putting up a guest overnight or longer. This is hardest to do when experiencing a time of persecution. The Hebrews would not know whether a guest would prove to be a spy or a fellow believer being pursued. To bring up “angels” was not given as the ultimate motivation for hospitality but to reveal that one never knows how far-reaching an act of kindness might be (Matt. 25:40,45).This is exactly what happened to Abraham and Sarah (Gen. 18:1–3), Lot (Gen. 19:1, 2), Gideon (Judg. 6:11–24), and Manoah (Judg. 13:6–20).


GOD BLESS YOU!


MAXIMILIANO 


11/18/17

The Preeminence of Christ

“[Christ] is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the first-born from the dead; so that He Himself might come to have first place in everything. For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fulness to dwell in Him” (Colossians 1:18-19).

Christ has preeminence in everything.

The apostle Paul presents four great truths in Colossians 1:18 about Christ’s relation to the church. The first is that Christ is the head of the church. This concept looks at the church as a living organism, inseparably tied together by the living Christ. He controls every part of it and gives it life and direction (cf. 1 Cor. 12:12-20).

Christ is also the source of the church. The Greek word translated “beginning” (arche) is used here in the twofold sense of source and primacy. The church has its origins in Jesus. God “chose us in Him before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4). As head of the Body, Jesus holds the chief position or highest rank in the church. As the beginning, He is its originator.

Another truth is that Christ is the first-born from the dead. Of all those who have been raised from the dead or ever will be, Christ is the highest in rank. Furthermore, it is Christ who will cause the resurrection of others (John 5:28-29; 6:40).

Finally, Christ is the preeminent One. As a result of His death and resurrection, Jesus has come to have first place in everything. Paul states that truth to drive home as forcefully as he can that Jesus is not merely another emanation from God.

Paul then summarizes his argument by saying that all the fullness of deity dwells in Christ alone (Col. 1:19). It is not spread out in small doses to a group of spirits, as the false teachers were saying. Rather, in Christ, and Him alone, believers are “complete” (2:10).

What should be your response to the glorious truths about Christ in Colossians 1:15-19? Be encouraged to meditate on the glory of Christ as revealed in this passage. Doing so will help you be transformed into Christ’s image and will prepare you to behold His glory in Heaven.

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank the Lord for each of the four truths discussed above.

For Further Study

According to John 1:16, what have you received?


PART II


Our Sympathetic High Priest

"Assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham. Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted" (Heb. 2:16-18).


Jesus came to sympathize with us, so He could be our merciful and faithful High Priest.


In his letters to Timothy, Paul counseled and encouraged his young associate about many things—his health, his critics, his moral and spiritual warfare. His counsel is well summed up in these words: "Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David" (2 Tim. 2:8).


Like Timothy, we need to be reminded of Christ's humanity, especially when life becomes particularly tough. Then we can pray, "Lord, You know what You endured while You were here. I'm going through it now." We can be sure He knows and will encourage us.


Jesus came not only to save us but also to sympathize with us. He experienced what we experience so He could be a "merciful and faithful high priest." After all, "we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin" (Heb. 4:15).


Jesus felt everything we will ever feel—and more. Most of us will never know the full degree of any given temptation because we usually succumb long before we reach it. But since Jesus never sinned, He took the full measure of every temptation.


Ours is not a cosmic God, powerful and holy, but indifferent. He knows when we hurt, where we are weak, and how we are tempted. Jesus is not just our Savior, but our loving Lord who sympathizes with us. Rejoice in the greatness of His love for us.


Suggestion for Prayer

Ask God to remind you of your need of Him at all times, not just when times are tough.


For Future Study

Memorize 1 Corinthians 10:13 for quick recall whenever you are faced with any trial.


PART III


The Parable of the Householder


“‘Have you understood all these things?’ They said to Him, ‘Yes.’ And Jesus said to them, ‘Therefore every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a head of a household, who brings out of his treasure things new and old’” (Matthew 13:51–52).


Jesus’ twelve disciples would eventually become His twelve apostles (Matthias replacing Judas, Acts 1:23). Through these men, and later Paul, our Lord entrusted the continued revelation of His Word and the extension of His church. Like “head[s] of a household,” which was analogous to being disciples in Christ’s kingdom, they drew from the old treasures of previous revelation and received additional, new truths. And these faithful men would proclaim both.


“Brings out” conveys the concept of scattering or distributing widely. Here it also connotes generosity—giving out God’s truth of the gospel wisely and liberally. Second only to their Lord, the apostles would be supreme scholars of Scripture, preachers, and teachers—scribes and disciples without equal (cf. Matt. 11:11) and superb evangelists.


With a slightly lesser degree of authority, the Lord’s charge to His apostles applies to every Christian (Matt. 28:16–20), and especially to those pastors, teachers, and missionaries He has called to spread His Word. It is a tremendous responsibility to warn the lost about hell and to offer them salvation through the blood of Jesus Christ. Paul stated it this way, “Knowing the fear [terror] of the Lord, we persuade men” (2 Cor. 5:11). The believer’s heart is cold indeed that is not profoundly concerned about those all around who are without Christ and headed for hell. Pray that you would genuinely warm to the task of reaching the lost in your community and beyond with saving gospel treasure.


Ask Yourself

The end of a year and the dawn of a new is always a time of reflection and renewed hope. What have you gleaned from walking with Jesus through these past months and seasons? What are your priorities for the coming year? May the Lord bless you as you follow Him there.


PART IV


Reading for Today:


Notes:

Malachi 3:1 My messenger. It was a custom of the Near Eastern kings to send messengers before them to remove obstacles to their visit. Employing a wordplay on the name of Malachi, “the LORD’s messenger”, the Lord Himself announced He was sending one who would “prepare the way before Me.” This is “the voice of one crying in the wilderness” (Is. 40:3) and the Elijah of 4:5 who comes before the Lord. The New Testament clearly identifies him as John the Baptist (Matt. 3:3; 11:10, 14; 17:12ff.; Mark 1:2; Luke 1:17; 7:26, 27; John 1:23).


Malachi 4:2 Sun of Righteousness. While the wicked will be devoured by the heat of the Lord’s wrath, those who fear Him will feel His warmth with healing in His “rays” or “beams” (Is. 30:26; 60:1, 3). The reference is to the Messiah; He is “the Lord our Righteousness” (Ps. 84:11; Jer. 23:5, 6; 1 Cor. 1:30). healing. 


The reference should not be limited to the physical recovery from the harm done by the wicked (3:5).This sickness is inextricably linked with sin, with healing coming only through the suffering of the Servant (Ps. 103:3; Is. 53:5; 57:18, 19; 1 Pet. 2:24).


Proverbs 31:10–31 This poem offers a beautiful description of the excellent wife as defined by a wife and mother (v. 1). Spiritual and practical wisdom plus moral virtues mark the character of this woman in contrast to the immoral women of v. 3. While the scene here is of a wealthy home and the customs of the ancient Near East, the principles apply to every family. They are set forth as the prayer of every mother for the future wife of her son, and literarily arranged with each of the 22 verses beginning with the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet in consecutive order.


Revelation 21:2 New Jerusalem. This is the capital city of heaven, a place of perfect holiness. It is seen “coming down out of heaven,” indicating it already existed; but it descends into the new heavens and new earth from its place on high. This is the city where the saints will live (John 14:1–3). bride. An important New Testament metaphor for the church (Matt. 25:1–13; Eph. 5:25–27). John’s imagery here extends from the third part of the Jewish wedding, the ceremony. Believers (the bride) in the New Jerusalem come to meet Christ (the bridegroom) in the final ceremony of redemptive history (19:7). The whole city, occupied by all the saints, is called the bride, so that all saints must be finally included in the bride imagery and bridal blessing. God has brought home a bride for His beloved Son. All the saints live with Christ in the Father’s house (a promise made before the church began; John 14:2).


What is the Book of Malachi about?

Only 50,000 exiles had returned to Judah from Babylon (538–536 B.C.). The temple had been rebuilt under the leadership of Zerubbabel (516 B.C.) and the sacrificial system renewed. Ezra had returned in 458 B.C., followed by Nehemiah in 445 B.C. After being back in the land of Palestine for only a century, the ritual of the Jews’ religious routine led to hard-heartedness toward God’s great love for them and to widespread departure from His law by both people and priest. Malachi rebuked and condemned these abuses, forcefully indicting the people and calling them to repentance. When Nehemiah returned from Persia the second time (ca. 424 B.C.), he vigorously rebuked them for these abuses in the temple and priesthood, for the violation of the Sabbath rest, and for the unlawful divorce of their Jewish wives so they could marry Gentile women (Neh. 13).


As over two millennia of Old Testament history since Abraham concluded, none of the glorious promises of the Abrahamic, Davidic, and New Covenants had been fulfilled in their ultimate sense. Although there had been a few high points in Israel’s history, e.g., Joshua, David, and Josiah, the Jews had seemingly lost all opportunity to receive God’s favor. Less than 100 years after returning from captivity, they had already sunk to a depth of sin that exceeded the former iniquities which brought on the Assyrian and Babylonian deportations. Beyond this, the long-anticipated Messiah had not arrived and did not seem to be in sight.


So, Malachi wrote the capstone prophecy of the Old Testament in which he delivered God’s message of judgment on Israel for their continuing sin and God’s promise that one day in the future, when the Jews would repent, the Messiah would be revealed and God’s covenant promises would be fulfilled. There were over 400 years of divine silence, with only Malachi’s words ringing condemnation in their ears, before another prophet arrived with a message from God. That was John the Baptist preaching, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (Matt. 3:2). Messiah had come.


LORD BLESS HIS ELECT

My Royal Family


LOVINGLY IN THE LOVE OF OUR LORD JESUS

E+1DAY


MAXIMILIANO



11/17/17

Focusing on Heaven

"By faith [Abraham] lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God" (Heb. 11:9-10).

Focusing on Heaven is the best way to endure difficulties on earth.

Following God's call isn't always easy. He expects us to trust Him explicitly, yet doesn't ask our advice on decisions that may impact us dramatically. He doesn't tell us His specific plans at any given point in our lives. He doesn't always shelter us from adversity. He tests our faith to produce endurance and spiritual maturity—tests that are sometimes painful. He makes some promises that we'll never see fulfilled in this life.

If following God's call is a challenge for us, imagine how it was for Abraham, who had no Bible, no pastor, no sermons, no commentaries, and no Christian encouragement or accountability. But what he did have was the promise of a nation, a land, and a blessing (Gen. 12:1-3). That was good enough for him.

Abraham never settled in the land of promise. Neither did his son Isaac or grandson Jacob. They were aliens, dwelling in tents like nomads. Abraham never built houses or cities. The only way he would possess the land was by faith. Yet Abraham patiently waited for God's promises to be fulfilled.

As important as the earthly land was to him, Abraham was patient because his sight was on his heavenly home, "the city . . . whose architect and builder is God" (Heb. 11:10). He knew beyond any doubt that he would inherit that city, whether or not he ever saw his earthly home in his lifetime.

Similarly, being heavenly minded gives you the patience to continue working for the Lord when things get tough. It's the best cure I know for discouragement or spiritual fatigue. That's why Paul says to set your mind "on the things above, not on the things that are on earth" (Col. 3:2). If your mind is set on heaven, you can endure whatever happens here.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Praise God for your heavenly home.
  • Seek His grace to help you keep a proper perspective amid the difficulties of this life.

For Further Study

Read the portion of Abraham's life recorded in Genesis 12-17.


PART II

Living in a World of Fools

“Wisdom is too high for a fool” (Proverbs 24:7).

A fool wants his own way.

There’s no question in my mind that we live in a world of fools. In fact, everyone born into this world comes in with congenital foolishness—otherwise known as the sin nature. Proverbs 22:15 says, “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child.” Since we live in a world of fools, let’s look at a few of their characteristics.

A fool denies God. Psalm 14:1 says, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, they have committed abominable deeds; there is no one who does good.” I call this practical atheism. A fool lives as if there were no God—denying God with his actions.

A fool becomes his own god. Proverbs 12:15 says, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes.” No man can live without a god. It isn’t a question of, does he worship? It’s a question of, whom does he worship? If a person doesn’t worship the true God, he will worship a false god—which inevitably will be a reflection of himself. He becomes the one who determines truth and error, articulating his own standards for living.

A fool mocks sin. Proverbs 14:9 says, “Fools mock at sin.” Since a fool makes his own rules, he wants to justify his own behavior to make sure he’s going to be all right in the end. He attempts to eliminate sin along with its consequences.

A fool, then, begins by living as if there were no God, substituting himself as god and determining his own style of life. Then he denies the existence of sin because he cannot tolerate guilt.

When God saved you, you stopped your foolishness and became His wise child. Be encouraged, knowing God will continue to help you grow in wisdom through your understanding of and obedience to His Word.

Suggestions for Prayer

Pray for the salvation of a family member, friend, or neighbor who is living foolishly.

For Further Study

Read Matthew 7:24-27. What is the difference between a wise man and a foolish man?


PART III

November 17 - Jesus Is God

“‘All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him’” (Matthew 11:27).

Any genuine invitation to salvation such as Jesus gives here must include mention of God’s revelation. Nobody, even the most sincerely religious or philosophically determined, has ever obtained real salvation unless God sovereignly revealed it—and such revelation has to include the truth that Jesus Christ is God.

Jesus without doubt or qualification equates Himself with God and calls Himself the Son of the Father. The Jews of His day would never have used the expression about divine fatherhood unless they were referring to God’s fatherhood over their nation. Jesus’ statement was and is one of His clearest declarations of deity, and it discloses an intimate, unique, and inseparable relationship with the Father.

Without question, Jesus’ audience knew that His statements about a relationship with His heavenly Father meant He was claiming to be the Son of God. The unbelieving Jews did not at all accept this claim. On other similar occasions they would want to kill Him for such “blasphemous” assertions (see John 5:18; 10:30–38).

That Jesus is God is an essential component of the gospel, because apart from deity no savior could redeem a single soul. The heresy of making Christ just another human teacher or martyr devalues the gospel and robs it of its true saving power.

Ask Yourself

To trust God completely means also knowing that He is fully capable of revealing Himself to anyone He desires, any time He desires. Our task is merely to be faithful to reveal what we have heard and seen in Him, trusting the Lord to save His people. Are you being true to that calling?


PART IV

Reading for Today:

Notes:

Psalm 128:1 who fears the LORD. A good working definition is provided by the parallel line, “who walks in His ways.” Fathers (Ps. 128:1, 4), mothers (Prov. 31:30), and children (Ps. 34:11) are to fear the Lord. This psalm may have been the basis for Jesus’ illustration of the two builders (Matt. 7:24–27).

Hebrews 11:19 even from the dead. Believing that God’s promise regarding Isaac was unconditional, Abraham came to the conclusion that God would fulfill that promise even if it required raising Isaac from the dead (Gen. 22:5). figurative sense. The word is the same as in 9:9, which is the basis for the English word “parable.” Abraham received Isaac back from the dead, as it were, even though Isaac had not been slain.



DAY 17: How did faith shape the life of Moses?


In Hebrews 11:24, we are told that “By faith Moses, when he became of age,” refused the fame he could have in Egypt if he would have capitalized on his position as the adopted son of Pharaoh’s daughter (Ex. 2:10). “Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God” (v. 25). Moses would have sinned had he refused to take on the responsibility God gave him regarding Israel, and he had a clear and certain conviction that “God would deliver them by his hand” (Acts 7:25). Moses repudiated the pleasures of Egypt.

“Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt” (v. 26). Moses suffered reproach for the sake of Christ in the sense that he identified with the Messiah’s people in their suffering (v. 25). In addition, Moses identified himself with the Messiah because of his own role as leader and prophet (12:2; Deut. 18:15; Pss. 69:9; 89:51). Moses knew of the sufferings and glory of the Messiah (John 5:46; Acts 26:22,23; 1 Pet. 1:10–12).

“By faith he forsook Egypt” (v. 27). Moses left Egypt for the first time when he fled for his life after killing the Egyptian slave master (Ex. 2:14, 15). That time he did fear Pharaoh’s wrath. On the second occasion, he turned his back on Egypt and all that it represented. This leaving was not for fear of Pharaoh, so it is the one in view here. “Seeing Him who is invisible.” Moses’ faith was such that he responded to God’s commands as though God were standing visibly before him. This was the basis for his loyalty to God, and it should be a believer’s example for loyalty (2 Cor. 4:16–18).


GOD BLESS YOU!


MAXIMILIANO 


11/16/17

Stepping out in Faith

"By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going" (Heb. 11:8).

The life of faith begins with a willingness to forsake everything that displeases God.

Abraham is the classic example of the life of faith. As the father of the Jewish nation, he was the most strategic example of faith available to the writer of Hebrews. But the people to whom Hebrews was written needed to understand that Abraham was more than the father of their race; he also was, by example, the father of everyone who lives by faith in God (Rom. 4:11).

Contrary to popular first-century Jewish thought, God didn't choose Abraham because he was righteous in himself. When called by God, Abraham was a sinful man living in an idolatrous society. His home was in the Chaldean city of Ur, which was located in ancient Mesopotamia between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.

God's call to Abraham is recorded in Genesis 12:1-3: "Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father's house, to the land which I will show you; and I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing; and I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."

Note Abraham's response: "So Abram went forth as the Lord had spoken to him" (v. 4). He listened, trusted, and obeyed. His pilgrimage of faith began when he separated himself from the pleasures of a pagan land to pursue God's plan for his life.

So it is with you if you're a man or woman of true faith. You've forsaken sinful pleasures to follow Christ. And as your love for Christ increases, there's a corresponding decrease in worldly desires.

I pray your focus will continually be on fulfilling God's will for your life, and that you'll always know the joy and assurance that comes from following Him.

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask God for the grace and spiritual fortitude to walk by faith today.

For Further Study

Memorize 1 John 2:15 as a reminder to remain separate from the world.


PART II

The Results of True Wisdom

“The seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace” (James 3:18).

A wise life is a righteous life.

Puritan minister Richard Baxter said, “Wisdom is honorable because it is the skill of doing good.” Like Baxter, James also sees a connection between wisdom and doing good. James 3:18 is in the present tense and literally reads, “The fruit of righteousness is being sown in peace by them that make peace.” At first glance it seems strange that James would say the “fruit of righteousness is being sown” because usually seed is sown. But harvested fruit also becomes seed for the next crop. The fruit of righteousness is sown again in peace by those who make peace.

Where true wisdom exists, true righteousness follows. And that becomes seed and generates more righteousness. That’s the law of sowing and reaping. It is a continual cycle: one righteous act harvested from the field of true wisdom becomes the seed to grow another righteous act. Those who make peace receive the benefit from it, and righteousness flourishes in a climate of peace. The bottom line is that peacemakers aren’t preoccupied with themselves.

The life of a farmer illustrates what James is saying. The seeds that a farmer plants in the spring are what he eventually harvests in the fall. Similarly, by sowing righteous deeds each day of your life, you can be assured of what you’ll reap: a life that reflects true wisdom. Make it your aim to live righteously!

Suggestions for Prayer

Worship the Lord for being righteous, and ask Him to help you obey His Word and live a righteous life.

For Further Study

James follows a clear line of thought: if one professes to be a Christian, he must prove it by living like a Christian. According to 1 John 3:7-10, what proves a person is a true believer?


PART III

November 16 - Those Who Accept the Invitation

“‘You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight’” (Matthew 11:25–26).

An infant is completely dependent on others for everything he or she needs. A baby has no resources of its own to draw upon for help. The same Greek word (for “infants”) is used of those who can’t eat solid food (1 Cor. 3:1; Heb. 5:13). It is also used of those who can’t speak (1 Cor. 13:11) and of those who are helpless (Eph. 4:14).

To such spiritual babes, those who realize they are utterly unable to save themselves, God wants to reveal the truths of His kingdom. As seen in the Sermon on the Mount, the “poor in spirit” who humbly confess their dependency on the Father and the Son receive a clear and irrevocable invitation to salvation.

Infants mentioned here are precisely the opposite kind of persons from the proud Jewish leaders who opposed Jesus at every turn. They are also the antitheses of supposed ideal practitioners of religion who glory in their own self-worth and success.

God is totally satisfied to offer a gospel of grace because that glorifies Him. “For thus says the high and exalted One who lives forever, whose name is Holy, ‘I dwell on a high and holy place, and also with the contrite and lowly of spirit in order to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite’” (Isa. 57:15).

Ask Yourself

Would you say you’ve maintained this same spirit of contrition and trust since you’ve entered into saving relationship with Jesus Christ? What tempts us to claim more confidence in our own identity and our perceived deservedness?


PART IV

Reading for Today:

Notes:

Ezekiel 24:16–27 Ezekiel’s wife died as a sign to Israel. All personal sorrow was eclipsed in the universal calamity. Just as Ezekiel was not to mourn the death of his wife (v. 17), so Israel was not to mourn the death of her families (vv. 19–24). Though the text emphasizes how precious his wife was, the “desire of [his] eyes” (vv. 16, 21), his “boast” and “delight” (v. 21), he was obedient and submitted to God’s will. He became a heartbreaking sign to his people.

Psalm 127:3 heritage…reward. Children are a blessing from the Lord. There are overtones of God’s promise to Abraham to make his offspring like the dust of the earth and the stars of heaven (Gen. 13:16; 15:5).

Hebrews 11:6 impossible to please. Enoch pleased God because he had faith. Without such faith it is not possible for anyone to “walk with God” or “please Him” (10:38). He is. The emphasis here is on “He,” the true God. Genuine faith does not simply believe that a divine being exists, but that the God of Scripture is the only real and true God who exists. Not believing that God exists is equivalent to calling Him a liar (1 John 5:10). rewarder. A person must believe not only that the true God exists, but also that He will reward men’s faith in Him with forgiveness and righteousness, because He has promised to do so (10:35; Gen. 15:1; Deut. 4:29; 1 Chr. 28:9; Ps. 58:11; Is. 40:10).

Hebrews 11:13–16 strangers and pilgrims. See Genesis 23:4. Their faith was patient and endured great hardships because they believed God had something better. They had no desire to go back to Ur, but did long for heaven (Job 19:25, 26; Ps. 27:4).



DAY 16: Why are so many Old Testament people listed in chapter 11?


The eleventh chapter of Hebrews offers a moving account of faithful Old Testament saints who remain models of faith. The chapter has received such titles as “The Saint’s Hall of Fame,” “The Honor Roll of Old Testament Saints,” and “Heroes of the Faith.” Their lives attest to the value of living by faith. They compose the “cloud of witnesses” (12:1) who give powerful testimony to the Hebrews that they should come to faith in Christ.

This passage begins with an emphatic statement about the nature of faith. Faith involves the most solid possible conviction—the God-given present assurance of a future reality. True faith is not based on empirical evidence but on divine assurance and is a gift of God (Eph. 2:8).

The names, accomplishments, and sufferings described in this chapter illustrate the range of faithfulness in the lives of saints. Some experienced great success in this world; whereas others suffered great affliction. The point is that they all courageously and uncompromisingly followed God, regardless of the earthly outcome. They placed their trust in Him and in His promises (see 6:12; 2 Tim. 3:12).


GOD BLESSES YOU!


MAXIMILIANO 


11/15/17

Rebuking the World

"By faith Noah . . . condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith" (Heb 11:7).

Your actions and words should rebuke our godless society.

Genesis 6:5 says, "The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." Before moving in judgment against the most evil and corrupt society in history, God appointed Noah to build an ark, which became a symbol of life and salvation to all who believed God. For those who disbelieved, it represented impending death and judgment.

Concurrent with constructing the ark, Noah preached about coming judgment. Peter called him "a preacher of righteousness" (2 Pet. 2:5), and every board he cut and nail he drove in was a living illustration of the urgency of his message.

God's warning was stern and His message horrifying, but His patience and mercy prevailed for 120 years. As Peter said, "The patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark" (1 Pet. 3:20). The people had ample warning of judgment, but they chose to disregard Noah's message.

As sad as the account of Noah's day is, perhaps the greatest tragedy is that man's attitude toward God hasn't changed since then. Jesus said, "The coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. For as in those days which were before the flood they were eating and drinking, they were marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away, so shall the coming of the Son of Man be" (Matt. 24:37-39).

Like Noah, you are to proclaim righteousness to an evil and perverse generation by your works and your life. Be faithful to do so even if people don't want to listen. After 120 years of diligent work and faithful preaching by Noah, only eight people entered the ark. But God's purposes were accomplished and the human race was preserved.

Suggestions for Prayer

Sometimes you'll encounter people who scoff at God's judgment and mock your testimony. Don't be discouraged. Pray for them and be available to minister to them whenever possible.

For Further Study

Read 2 Peter 3. What effect should the prospect of future judgment have on your present behavior?


PART II

The Qualities of True Wisom

“The wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy” (James 3:17).


True wisdom is evident in a person’s behavior.

What is true wisdom? James answers that question in verse 17 by pointing out the characteristics or qualities of true wisdom. After purity, the next quality is “peaceable,” which means “peace loving” or “peace promoting.” It refers to someone who doesn’t create confusion or disorder. He doesn’t promote himself or compromise truth but makes peace.

True wisdom is also “gentle.” A gentle person will submit to dishonor, disgrace, mistreatment, and persecution with an attitude of humility, courteousness, kindness, patience, and consideration. He will not display hatred, malice, or revenge.

True wisdom is also characterized as “reasonable.” It refers to someone who is willing to yield, who is easily persuaded, teachable, and compliant. It was used of a person who willingly submitted to military discipline or who observed legal and moral standards in life and willingly submitted to them. A wise person manifests such “reasonable” traits concerning God’s standards for life.

“Full of mercy” refers to someone who shows concern for people who suffer and is quick to forgive. He demonstrates kindness and compassion toward others.

“Good fruits“ refer to all good works in general or a wide variety of spiritual deeds. The Christian demonstrates the genuineness of his salvation through his good deeds—works that are produced by faith (James 2:14-20) and are called “the fruit of the Spirit” (Gal. 5:22-23) or “the fruit of righteousness” (Phil. 1:11).

“Unwavering” refers to someone who is consistent and doesn’t vacillate. He is undivided in his commitment, doesn’t make unfair distinctions, and is sincere in his faithfulness to God.

“Without hypocrisy” is the climax of true wisdom and speaks of someone who is utterly genuine. He isn’t a phony or fake. A truly wise person manifests sincere behavior.

If true wisdom is part of your life, it will be evident in your behavior. Make it your aim to reflect the qualities of true wisdom so that others may see Christ in you.

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask God to help you develop the qualities of true wisdom in your life. But before you do, make sure you’re being motivated by a pure heart.

For Further Study

Read Matthew 5:1-16, noting how the words of Christ parallel James 3:17.


PART III

November 15 - Those Who Miss the Invitation

“‘You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight’” (Matthew 11:25–26).

God does not exclude intelligent people from His kingdom but those who rely on their own intelligence for salvation. The apostle Paul was a scholar, but he didn’t abandon that brilliance to become a Christian. However, he did stop relying on that training to understand the things of God. Intellect is a gift from God, but it becomes an impediment to authentic knowledge of Him when trust in it supersedes trust in the One who gave it.

The means God uses to hide things from certain people who relish their own intelligence is the darkness of their proud hearts. God’s truth is not knowable by mere empirical means. Instead, it must be known and received through the faithful heart, as God graciously reveals it. No amount of human insight can grasp God’s saving truths since the unregenerate “cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised” (1 Cor. 2:14).

Of those who miss the divine invitation, the apostle John writes that, “though He had performed so many signs before them, yet they were not believing in Him. This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet which he spoke: ‘Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?’. . . ‘He has blinded their eyes and He hardened their heart, so that they would not see with their eyes and perceive with their heart, and be converted’” (John 12:37–38, 40). Those who reject the gospel will one day have their unwise choice confirmed by God, the all-wise Judge.

Ask Yourself

Yes, God’s heart moves at the sight of simple trust, honest dependence, and awareness of need. Does your heart likewise bend toward those who are the least deserving yet the most impoverished?


PART IV

Reading for Today:

Notes:

Ezekiel 21:27 Until He comes. The 3-fold mention of “overthrown” expresses the severest degree of unsettled and chaotic conditions. Israel was to experience severe instability and even the kingly privilege will not be Israel’s again until the Messiah comes, “to whom it rightly belongs,” or “whose right it is” (Gen. 49:10). God will give the kingship to Him (Jer. 23:5–8), the greater “David” (Ezek. 37:24). His “right” is that perfect combination of priestly and royal offices (Heb. 5–7).

Ezekiel 22:30 So I sought for a man. Ezekiel and Jeremiah were faithful, but apart from them God sought a man capable of advocacy for Israel when its sin had gone so far. But no one could lead the people to repentance and draw the nation back from the brink of the judgment that came in 586 B.C. (Jer. 7:26, 36; 19:15). Only God’s Messiah, God Himself, will have the character and the credentials sufficient to do what no man can do, intercede for Israel (Is. 59:16–19; 63:5; Rev. 5). He was rejected by them in His earthly ministry, so the effects of this judgment continue today, until they turn to Him in faith (Zech. 12:10; 13:1).

Hebrews 10:20 new. In Greek, this word originally meant “newly slain,” but was understood as “recent” when the epistle was written. The way is new because the covenant is new. It is not a way provided by the Levitical system. living way. Though it is the path of eternal life, it was not opened by Christ’s sinless life—it required His death. The Hebrews were invited to embark on this way which is characterized by the eternal life of the Son of God who loved them and gave Himself for them (John 14:6; Gal. 2:20). The Christian faith was known as “the Way” among the Jews of Jerusalem (Acts 9:2), as well as among the Gentiles (Acts 19:23).Those receiving this epistle understood quite clearly that the writer was inviting them to become Christians—to join those who had been persecuted for their faith. True believers in their midst were even then suffering persecution, and those who had not committed themselves to the Way were asked to become targets of the same persecution.



DAY 15: How do we draw near to God?

“Let us draw near with a true heart”(Heb. 10:22). Based on what had been written, this was the heart of the invitation to those in the assembly who had not come to Christ. The same invitation is found in the first New Testament book to be written (James 4:8), where James reveals the corollary of drawing near to God: God will draw near to you. Asaph taught that it is a good thing to draw near to God (Ps. 73:28). The full restoration of Israel to God’s blessing is dependent upon their drawing near to Him (Jer. 30:18–22). In other words, it is an eschatological invitation coming to them in “these last days” (Heb. 1:2). This verse describes the prerequisites for entering the presence of God (Ps. 15): sincerity, security, salvation, and sanctification. The Greek term behind “true” carries the ideas of being sincere, genuine, and without ulterior motive (Jer. 24:7; Matt. 15:8). This one thing these particular Hebrews lacked: genuine commitment to Christ.

“In full assurance of faith.” Utter confidence in the promises of God is intended by the phrase. Such confidence will result in heartfelt assurance or security which will allow them to persevere through the coming trials. This is the first of a familiar triad: faith, hope (v. 23), and love (v. 24). “Having our hearts sprinkled…with pure water.” The imagery in this verse is taken from the sacrificial ceremonies of the Old Covenant, where blood was sprinkled as a sign of cleansing, and the priests were continually washing themselves and the sacred vessels in basins of clear water. The “washing with pure water” does not refer to Christian baptism, but to the Holy Spirit’s purifying one’s life by means of the Word of God (Eph. 5:25,26; Titus 3:5). This is purely a New Covenant picture (Jer. 31:33; Ezek. 36:25, 26).


GOD BLESSES YOU!


MAXIMILIANO 


11/14/17

Building a Picture of Salvation

"By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household" (Heb. 11:7).

The ark is a beautiful picture of salvation by grace through faith.

God called Noah to a gargantuan task. Conservative figures estimate that the ark was about 438 feet long, 73 feet wide, and 44 feet high. That makes it almost one-and-a-half times the length of a football field and more than four stories high. Its three decks totaled almost 96,000 square feet with a total volume of about 1.3 million cubic feet. Naval engineers concur that its shape and dimensions constitute an incredibly stable ship design.

But beyond the enormity of its size and precision of its measurements, the ark is a wonderful illustration of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. For example, Noah was instructed to cover the ark inside and out with pitch (Gen. 3:14). The Hebrew word for pitch has the same root as the word for atonement. The pitch kept the waters of judgment from entering the ark just as Christ's atoning blood keeps judgment from the repentant sinner.

The ark was large enough to hold two of each species of animals plus every person who turned to God for safety. Only eight persons chose to be saved on God's terms, but had more come, surely He would have accommodated them. It is His desire that none perish, but that all come to repentance (2 Pet. 3:9). Those who perished in the Flood did so because they rejected God's means of salvation.

Similarly, Jesus's blood is sufficient to atone for every sinner and every sin since man's fall in the Garden of Eden. No one who comes to Him will be cast out (John 6:37), yet so few avail themselves of His gracious provision (Matt. 7:14).

Noah was a man who "walked with God" (Gen. 6:9), yet he wasn't without sin. That's obvious from his drunken and immodest behavior after the Flood (9:20-21). But Noah, like every true believer, was justified by God's grace, his faith being counted as righteousness. That has always been the basis of salvation (Gen. 15:6;Rom. 4:5).

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank God for His amazing grace, by which He saved you and continues to cleanse you from every sin.


PART II

The Motive for True Wisdom

“The wisdom from above is first pure” (James 3:17).

A pure life is necessary for a wise life.

A person whose life is characterized by true wisdom will seek to be pure. The Greek word translated “pure” in James 3:17 refers to spiritual integrity and moral sincerity. It is freedom from bitter jealousy, selfish ambition, and arrogant self-promotion. Christ is the perfect example of purity (1 John 3:3).

A true believer will have pure desires. The deepest part of him desires to do God’s will, serve God, and love God. In Romans 7:15-21 the apostle Paul testifies that when he sinned, he was doing what he didn’t want to do. In Psalm 51:7 David cries out, “Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” The true believer hates his sin. Rising out of his innermost being is a longing for what is clean, pure, holy, and honest.

Purity of heart is the motive of someone who seeks to live a life of godly wisdom (cf. Ps. 24:3-4). God says he will “take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 11:19); that new heart will be consumed with purity rather than self. You do still sin because your new heart is incarcerated in your old flesh. But your new heart fights against your flesh. That’s why Paul said, “I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind, and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members” (Rom. 7:22-23).

In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). As you persevere in battle against the world, the flesh, and the Devil, be encouraged by reminding yourself that one day the fight will be finished. The apostle John said it this way: “We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is” (1 John 3:2).

Suggestions for Prayer

Read Psalm 51:1-17, making David’s prayer your own.

For Further Study

According to Matthew 5:48 and 1 Peter 1:15-16, what is God’s standard of purity?


PART III

November 14 - Jesus Opens His Great Invitation

“At that time Jesus said, ‘I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth’” (Matthew 11:25).

When all life’s rhetoric, rationalizations, and routines are swept aside, a person is either for Jesus Christ or against Him (cf. Mark 9:40). After performing many miracles (Matt. 4:23–24) and preaching in detail the gospel and sanctification (chaps. 5–7), Jesus more specifically urged people either to accept Him or reject Him. Here begins a final appeal of grace and mercy during His first Galilean ministry.

This opening address to God calls our attention both to Christ’s unique relationship to His Father and to the Father’s sovereignty over all things, including salvation. Through the Holy Spirit, salvation is a divine provision and not a result of human wisdom, purposes, or ability, and Jesus is thankful for that.

Everyone who evangelizes is sometimes disappointed that so few people respond. We wonder how we can make the message clearer or more convincing, and what things we ought to change. But we also should remind ourselves that some will reject the gospel no matter how effectively we seem to present it. If people rebuffed the Lord when He was in their midst, we have to expect some will also refuse our imperfect witness to them.

We are sad and prayerful for those who don’t want the gospel, but like Jesus we must praise our heavenly Father that He has sovereign control over the universe and that His plan for us and others—saved and unsaved—will not be thwarted. Men and women who reject Christ show their sinful disobedience, not any failure by God.

Ask Yourself

Seeing worship as such a natural reaction of Jesus—not in purely religious settings, but right in the middle of any moment—should spurn us on to make godly praise a frequent occupant in our heart and on our lips. How often does worship just well up inside you?


PART IV

Reading for Today:

Notes:

Ezekiel 20:37 pass under the rod. God used a shepherd figure here, apt since He was their Great Shepherd (34:11–13; Jer. 23:5–8). As a shepherd, God brings His sheep home to their fold (Jer. 33:13), has them file in, separating sheep from goats (Matt. 25), passing under His shepherd’s rod to be noted and checked for injury. He will bring them into the bond of the New Covenant by giving them His Spirit with life (36:24–27; 37:14; 39:29). This is Israel’s final salvation (Rom. 11:26–33).

Ezekiel 20:39 If they persist in their stubborn idolatry, God will allow them to follow it to their doom. He would also rather have them as out-and-out idolaters rather than hypocritical patronizers of His worship like they had been (Amos 5:21–26).

Hebrews 10:5, 6 You did not desire. God was not pleased with sacrifices given by a person who did not give them out of a sincere heart (Ps. 51:17; Is.1:11; Jer. 6:20; Hos. 6:6; Amos 5:21–25). To sacrifice only as a ritual, without obedience, was a mockery and worse than no sacrifice at all (Is. 1:11–18).

Hebrews 10:10 sanctified. “Sanctify” means to “make holy,” to be set apart from sin for God (1 Thess. 4:3). When Christ fulfilled the will of God, He provided for the believer a continuing, permanent condition of holiness (Eph. 4:24; 1 Thess. 3:13). This is the believer’s positional sanctification as opposed to the progressive sanctification that results from daily walking by the will of God (Rom. 6:19; 12:1, 2; 2 Cor. 7:1). body. Refers to His atoning death, as the term “blood” has been used to do (9:7, 12, 14, 18, 22). Mention of the body of Christ in such a statement is unusual in the New Testament, but it is logically derived from the quotation from Psalm 40:6.


DAY 14: What was the problem with the Old Testament sacrificial system?

“For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image” (Heb. 10:1). The Greek term translated “shadow” refers to a pale reflection, as contrasted with a sharp, distinct one. The term behind “very image,” on the other hand, indicates an exact and distinct replica (Col. 2:17). “Can never…make those who approach perfect.” This term is used repeatedly in Hebrews to refer to salvation. As much as those living under the law desired to approach God, the Levitical system provided no way to enter His holy presence (Pss. 15:1; 16:11; 24:3, 4).

If sin had really been overpowered by that system of sacrifices, the Old Testament believers’ consciences would have been cleansed from condemning guilt (v. 2). There was not freedom of conscience under the Old Covenant. The Old Testament sacrifices not only could not remove sin, but their constant repetition was a constant reminder of that deficiency (v. 3). The promise of the New Covenant was that the sin would be removed and even God would “remember” their sins “no more” (8:12, quoting Jer. 31:34).

“For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins” (v.4). The Levitical system was not designed by God to remove or forgive sins. It was preparatory for the coming of the Messiah (Gal. 3:24) in that it made the people expectant (1 Pet. 1:10). It revealed the seriousness of their sinful condition, in that even temporary covering required the death of an animal. It revealed the reality of God’s holiness and righteousness by indicating that sin had to be covered. Finally, it revealed the necessity of full and complete forgiveness so that God could have desired fellowship with His people.


GOD BLESSES YOU!


MAXIMILIANO 


11/13/17

Obeying Faith

"By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household, by which he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith" (Heb. 11:7).

True faith works.

When James said, "Faith without works is dead" (James 2:26), he stated a principle that's consistent throughout Scripture: True faith always produces righteous works.

The people described in Hebrews 11 made their genuine faith known in the things they did. The same applies to us today. Paul said, "The grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age" (Titus 2:11-12).

Perhaps better than anyone else in history, Noah illustrates the obedience of faith. Scripture characterizes him as "a righteous man, blameless in his time . . . [who] walked with God" (Gen. 6:9).

I remember a sportscaster interviewing a professional football player and asking him what he thought of his team's chances of winning the Super Bowl. The player replied, "We believe that if we just do what the coach says, we'll win." The team had absolute confidence in their coach, but they realized they had to do their part as well.

That illustrates the quality of faith Noah had in God, whom he trusted absolutely as he pursued a task that seemed utterly foolish and useless from a human perspective. Imagine instantly surrendering all your time and effort to devote 120 years to building something you'd never seen (a vessel the size of a ocean liner or battleship) to protect you from something you'd never experienced (rain and flooding). Yet Noah did it without question.

Noah's faith is unique in the sheer magnitude and time span of the task God gave him to do. He didn't argue with God or deviate from his assignment. Is that true of you? Are you pursuing your ministry as faithfully and persistently as Noah did his? Is your faith a faith that works?

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank God for the ministry He's called you to. If you sense there's more you could be doing, ask Him for guidance. Pray for added faithfulness and tenacity in serving Him.

For Further Study

Read the account of Noah in Genesis 6:1—9:17.


PART II

The Results of False Wisdom

“Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing” (James 3:16).

False wisdom ruins lives.

Renowned eighteenth-century theologian Jonathan Edwards said the following about the effect of the Fall on man:

Sin, like some powerful astringent, contracted his soul to the very small dimensions of selfishness; and God was forsaken, and fellow-creatures forsaken, and man retired within himself, and became totally governed by narrow and selfish principles and feelings. Self-love became absolute master of his soul, and the more noble and spiritual principles of his being took wings and flew away.

Edwards’s analysis certainly agrees with what James is saying: man is self-centered (cf. James 3:14, 16). Where self-centeredness exists, there will be negative results. One such result is “disorder” (v. 16). The term refers to disorder that comes out of instability and chaos. Earthly wisdom will never produce harmony or love because it’s proud and self-indulgent. It destroys intimacy, love, unity, and fellowship, and in its place brings discord and chaos. You can see the result of earthly wisdom all over our world today. Anger, bitterness, lawsuits, and divorces are just part of the legacy.

“Every evil thing” also results from earthly wisdom (v. 16). The phrase speaks of something worthless or vile. Greek scholar R.C. Trench said it contemplates evil, “not so much that either of active or passive malignity, but rather of its good-for-nothingness, the impossibility of any true gain ever coming forth from it.” The Greek word translated “thing” implies that false wisdom produces nothing of any practical value. At its best it produces worthless things; at its worst it produces vile things.

Which kind of life do you prefer? One that is characterized by love and unity, or by instability and chaos? A life with fulfillment and meaning, or with emptiness? If you want a life that satisfies and has eternal value, choose divine wisdom!

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank God for giving you His Word so you can know how to live wisely and avoid the negative results of man’s wisdom.

For Further Study

Following human wisdom leads only to evil. Memorize Proverbs 4:27 to help you stay on the path of true wisdom.


PART III

November 13 - Unbelieving Indifference: Capernaum

“‘And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You will descend to Hades; for if the miracles had occurred in Sodom which occurred in you, it would have remained to this day’” (Matthew 11:23).

Often those who have opportunity for the greatest spiritual privileges take those most for granted and enjoy them least. Such could be said for the Galilean city of Capernaum. It was the area where Christ made His headquarters and performed more miracles and preached more messages than in any other region during His earthly ministry. Yet all of this marvelous activity apparently had little impact on the indifferent citizens.

Had all of it happened in and around Sodom, Jesus says, that infamously wicked city would have repented, turned in faith to God, and been spared destruction. Even secular people know Sodom as a synonym for moral degradation and a place where homosexuality and other perversions were rampant. On the other hand, Capernaum, like many modern cities, probably had mostly law-abiding, decent residents.

Capernaum exceeded Chorazin and Bethsaida in advantage, and Sodom exceeded Tyre and Sidon in sinfulness. By such striking contrasts, our Lord shows that people most blessed by God will be most punished if they spurn Him. Judgment against the spiritual aloofness of Capernaum will far exceed judgment against the egregious sins of Sodom. The sober truth is that the self-righteous, orthodox person is more repugnant to the Father than the externally immoral, unbelieving person.

Johann Bengel once noted, “Every hearer of the New Testament truth is either much happier or much more wretched than the men who lived before Christ’s coming.” Such people are either more secure or more condemned.

Ask Yourself

What is the basis for any feelings we have of superiority and supremacy? What are some of the best cures for this type of sin? Which remedies would you prefer to choose for yourself, rather than having some of the more extreme ones thrust upon you?


PART IV

Reading for Today:

Notes:

Ezekiel 17:22, 23 one of the highest branches. This is messianic prophecy stating that God will provide the Messiah from the royal line of David (“the high cedar”) and establish Him in His kingdom (like a mountain, Dan. 2:35, 44, 45). He will be “a high branch” reigning in the height of success. “Branch” is a name for the Messiah (34:23, 24; 37:24, 25; Is. 4:2; Jer. 23:5; 33:15; Zech. 3:8; 6:12).The Messiah will be “a tender one” (v. 22) who grows into a “majestic cedar” (v. 23). Under His kingdom rule, all nations will be blessed and Israel restored.

Ezekiel 18:4 The soul who sins shall die. God played no favorites, but was fair in holding each individual accountable for his own sin. The death is physical death which, for many, results in eternal death.

Hebrews 9:8 The Levitical system did not provide any direct access into God’s presence for His people. Rather, it kept them away. Nearness had to be provided by another way (v. 12). This is the primary lesson which the Holy Spirit taught concerning the tabernacle. It teaches how inaccessible God is apart from the death of Jesus Christ. Holy Spirit. By the Spirit-inspired instruction given for the Holiest of All, He was indicating that there was no way to God in the ceremonial system. Only Christ could open the way (John 14:6).

Hebrews 9:27 to die once. This is a general rule for all mankind. There have been very rare exceptions (e.g., Lazarus died twice, John 11:43, 44). Those, like Lazarus, who were raised from the dead by a miraculous act of our Lord were not resurrected to a glorified body and unending life. They only experienced resuscitation. Another exception will be those who don’t die even once, but who will be “caught up…to meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thess. 4:17; Enoch, Gen. 5:24; Elijah, 2 Kin. 2:11). the judgment. A general term encompassing the judgment of all people, believers (2 Cor. 5:10) and unbelievers (Rev. 20:11–15).


DAY 13: Why does Hebrews have so much about blood, including a statement such as “without shedding of blood there is no remission” (9:22)?

Beginning with 9:7, the writer examined the significance of the blood of sacrifice. This term is especially central to 9:1–10:18 where the passage identifies the deaths of Old Testament sacrifices with the death of Christ (9:12–14). Note, however, that this shedding of blood in and of itself was an insufficient sacrifice. Christ had not only to shed His blood, but He also had to die—10:10 indicates that He gave His body as a sacrificial offering. Without His death, His blood had no saving value.

The expression, then, “blood of Christ” (9:14) refers not simply to the fluid but to the whole atoning sacrificial work of Christ in His death. Blood is used as a substitute word for death (see, e.g., Matt. 23:30, 35; 27:6, 8, 24, 25; John 6:54–56; Acts 18:6; 20:26). By reviewing the significance of the blood sacrifices in the Old Testament, the writer was pointing to a pattern of lessons that prepared the world to understand the necessity of Christ’s death. The emphatic phrase “without shedding of blood there is no remission” (9:22) simply repeats the lesson that sin creates a debt that must be paid by someone. “It is the blood that makes atonement for the soul” (Lev. 17:11). The phraseology is reminiscent of Christ’s words, “For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matt. 26:28). Remission means forgiveness in these verses—forgiveness for the sinner and payment of the debt. Christ’s death (blood) provides the remission.


GOD BLESSES YOU!


MAXIMILIANO 



11/12/17

Seeking God's Reward

"He who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him" (Heb. 11:6).

All who come to God in faith will receive the reward of eternal life.

We've seen that without faith it's impossible to please God. And the first step in faith is believing that God exists. In addition, we must also believe that He answers our prayers—more specifically, that He redeems those who come to Him in faith.

Scripture repeatedly tells us that God not only can be found, but also desires to be found. David said to his son Solomon, "If you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever" (1 Chron. 28:9). The Lord says in Jeremiah 29:13, "You will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart." Jesus said, "Everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it shall be opened" (Luke 11:10).

At first glance those verses may seem to contradict Paul's teaching that "there is none who seeks for God; all have turned aside" (Rom. 3:11-12), and Jesus' statement that no one can come to Him unless the Father draws him (John 6:44). But really they're two sides of the same theological coin.

On one side you see man believing God and receiving Christ for salvation. On the other you see God enabling man to do so. Prior to salvation, a person is spiritually dead and utterly incapable of responding to the gospel. God must grant him or her saving faith. That's why the Bible contains statements like, "To you it has been granted for Christ's sake . . . to believe in Him" (Phil. 1:29); "As many as had been appointed to eternal life believed" (Acts 13:48); and "The Lord opened [Lydia's] heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul" (Acts 16:14).

God is the Great Rewarder, extending His love and grace to all who call upon Him. "Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed" (Rom. 10:11).

Suggestions for Prayer

If you've been praying for someone's salvation, don't become discouraged. Only God can grant saving faith, but He gives us the privilege of participating in His redemptive work through faithful prayer and evangelism (Rom 10:1).

For Further Study

Memorize Ephesians 2:8-9.


PART II

Identifying False Wisdom

“This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic” (James 3:15).

True wisdom is from God; false wisdom is from the Devil.

Wisdom that is bitterly jealous and self-centered is not “from above.” Such traits constitute a wisdom that doesn’t come from God, the source of true wisdom (cf. 1:5, 17). Human wisdom, rather than being from above, is “earthly” (3:15). It is limited to the sphere of time and space and marked by the curse of man’s own fallenness, which is characterized by pride and self-centeredness. Everything the world initiates in the way of supposed truth is self-centered. Unregenerate man’s finite system demands an earthly wisdom and nothing more.

Man’s wisdom is also “natural” (v. 15), which means “fleshly” and refers to man’s humanness and frailty. First Corinthians 2:14 says, “A natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God.” The natural man is sensual. All his feelings, impulses, and appetites are locked up in a fallen and corrupted system. All of man’s wisdom comes from his unsanctified heart and unredeemed spirit.

Besides being earthly and natural, human wisdom is “demonic” (James 3:15). This is the only place in the New Testament where the Greek word translated “demon” appears in its adjectival form. Human wisdom is actually generated by demons, who have been made captive to the same evil system as man. Satan and his agents disguise themselves as ministers of light when in fact they are ministers of darkness (2 Cor. 11:14-15).

The wisdom of the world is spawned by demons, reflects man’s humanness, and proceeds no further than the fallenness of mankind. Since that is so, be sure to “be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might” (Eph. 6:10). Don’t let Satan and the world beguile you with their so-called wisdom.

Suggestions for Prayer

Pray to be “filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord” (Col. 1:9-10).

For Further Study

According to 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 and Colossians 2:8, how is the believer to fight against Satan and his demonic wisdom?


PART III

November 12 - Unbelieving Indifference: Chorazin and Bethsaida

“‘Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. Nevertheless I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you’” (Matthew 11:21–22).

Indifference is a terrible form of unbelief. It so totally ignores God that He is not even considered worth arguing about. As Josiah realized after God’s people rediscovered His book, “great is the wrath of the Lord that burns against us, because our fathers have not listened to the words of this book” (2 Kings 22:13; cf. Matt. 22:5–6, 14).

Probably most citizens of Chorazin and Bethsaida had seen Christ’s miracles, and others knew about them from reports of friends and relatives. But relatively few responded in saving faith (cf. Matt. 7:13–14). Hence the Lord’s righteous wrath came down on them with exclamations of woe for their unrepentance. It is better to have never heard about Jesus than to hear and yet reject Him (cf. Heb. 10:26–27).

By contrast, Jesus tells us that pagan, corrupt cities such as Tyre and Sidon would have repented early on had they heard Jesus’ message and seen His miracles. Few statements such as this from the Messiah would have shocked the Jews more than to be unfavorably compared to sinful Gentiles. At the great white throne, God will judge unbelievers from all eras, sentencing them to eternal punishment. At that time, many from places like Tyre and Sidon will fare better than unbelieving Jews. The greater the privilege God offers people, the greater the responsibility they have. The greater the light they see, the worse the consequences for not receiving it.

Ask Yourself

Does your church bear the marks of people who have grown lackadaisical in faith and protectively focused on side issues, or people who are active and animated in their love for the Lord? How can you be part of encouraging faithful zeal in those familiar with Christian faith?


PART IV

Reading for Today:

Notes:

Ezekiel 15:1–3 Then the word…came. Israel, often symbolized by a vine (17:6–10; Gen. 49:22; Jer. 2:21), had become useful for nothing. Failing to do the very thing God set her apart to do—bear fruit—she no longer served any purpose and was useless (v. 2). Other trees can be used for construction of certain things, but a fruitless vine is useless (v. 3). It has no value. In every age, the people of God have their value in their fruitfulness.

Ezekiel 16:8 the time of love. This refers to the marriageable state. Spreading his “wing” was a custom of espousal (Ruth 3:9) and indicates that God entered into a covenant with the young nation at Mt. Sinai (Ex. 19:5–8). Making a covenant signifies marriage, the figure of God’s relation to Israel (Jer. 2:2; 3:1ff.; Hos. 2:2–23).

Ezekiel 16:60 I will remember My covenant. God is gracious and He always finds a covenant basis on which He can exercise His grace. The Lord will remember the Abrahamic Covenant (Gen. 12:1ff.) made with Israel in her youth. Restoration will be by grace, not merit. an everlasting covenant. This is the New Covenant, which is unconditional, saving, and everlasting (37:26; Is. 59:21; 61:8; Jer. 31:31–34; Heb. 8:6–13). The basis of God’s grace will not be the Mosaic Covenant, which the Jews could never fulfill, even with the best intentions (Ex. 24:1ff.). When God establishes His eternal covenant, Israel will know that God is the Lord because of His grace.

Hebrews 8:5 The quote is from Exodus 25:40. copy and shadow. This does not mean that there are actual buildings in heaven which were copied in the tabernacle, but rather that the heavenly realities were adequately symbolized and represented in the earthly tabernacle model.



DAY 12: Who was the prophet Ezekiel?

If the “thirtieth year” of Ezekiel 1:1 refers to Ezekiel’s age, he was 25 when taken captive and 30 when called into ministry. Thirty was the age when priests commenced their office, so it was a notable year for Ezekiel. His ministry began in 593/92 B.C. and extended at least 22 years until 571/70 B.C. (25:17). He was a contemporary of both Jeremiah (who was about 20 years older) and Daniel (who was the same age), whom he names in 14:14, 20; 28:3 as an already well-known prophet. Like Jeremiah (Jer. 1:1) and Zechariah (Zech. 1:1 with Neh. 12:16), Ezekiel was both a prophet and a priest (1:3). Because of his priestly background, he was particularly interested in and familiar with the temple details. So God used him to write much about them (8:1–11:25; 40:1–47:12).

Ezekiel and his wife (who is mentioned in 24:15–27) were among 10,000 Jews taken captive to Babylon in 597 B.C. (2 Kin. 24:11–18). They lived in Tel Abib (3:15) on the bank of the Chebar River, probably southeast of Babylon. Domestically, Ezekiel and the 10,000 lived more as colonists than captives, being permitted to farm tracts of land under somewhat favorable conditions (Jer. 29). Ezekiel even had his own house (3:24; 20:1). Ezekiel writes of his wife’s death in exile (Ezek. 24:18), but the book does not mention Ezekiel’s death, which rabbinical tradition suggests occurred at the hands of an Israelite prince whose idolatry he rebuked around 560 B.C.

Prophetically, false prophets deceived the exiles with assurances of a speedy return to Judah (13:3, 16; Jer. 29:1). From 593 to 585 B.C., Ezekiel warned that their beloved Jerusalem would be destroyed and their exile prolonged, so there was no hope of immediate return. In 585 B.C., an escapee from Jerusalem, who had evaded the Babylonians, reached Ezekiel with the first news that the city had fallen in 586 B.C., about 6 months earlier (33:21). That dashed the false hopes of any immediate deliverance for the exiles, so the remainder of Ezekiel’s prophecies related to Israel’s future restoration to its homeland and the final blessings of the messianic kingdom.


GOD BLESSES YOU!


MAXIMILIANO 



11/11/17

Believing in God

"Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is" (Hebrews 11:6).

Nothing you do can please God apart from faith.

Throughout history, people have tried everything imaginable to gain favor with God. Most turn to religion, but religion apart from Christ is merely a satanic counterfeit of the truth.

Many trust in their own good works, not realizing that even their best efforts are offensive to God (Isa. 64:6; Phil. 3:8). And the more we try to justify ourselves, the more we offend God, because "by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight" (Rom. 3:20).

Some trust in their family heritage or nationality. The Jewish people thought they were pleasing to God simply because they were descendants of Abraham. But John the Baptist warned them, saying, "You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bring forth fruit in keeping with repentance; and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham for our father'; for I say to you, that God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham" (Matt. 3:7-9).

Apart from faith, man cannot please God. And the first step of faith is simply believing God exists. That isn't enough to save a person—even the demons have that level of faith (James 2:19)—but it's a start, and by God's grace can blossom into full saving faith.

God has given ample evidence of His existence. Romans 1:20 says, "Since the creation of the world [God's] invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made." David said, "The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands" (Ps. 19:1).

Creation itself proclaims the existence, power, and glory of God, yet most people "suppress the truth in unrighteousness" (Rom. 1:18) by rejecting the Creator and denying their accountability to Him. Rather than bowing to the true God, they pay homage to "Mother Nature" or evolution. How foolish!

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Praise God for the beauty of His creation.
  • Worship Him as the giver of every good gift (James 1:17).

For Further Study

Read Romans 1:18-32. Is there a connection between denying God, practicing idolatry, and committing gross immoralities? Explain.


PART II

Being Honest

“If you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth” (James 3:14).

Humility is the hallmark of a wise person.

James says that if a person has a self-centered motive for life, he should stop arrogantly boasting. He should stop claiming to possess true wisdom. Why? Because he is lying “against the truth.” In verse 13 James indicates that if a person claims to have God’s wisdom, he must show it. If I see you are motivated by self-centeredness and pride, you ought to stop your arrogant boasting about having the wisdom of God. The fact is, you’re lying against what is obviously true. Stop claiming to have what you don’t have.

“The truth” refers to the saving gospel. Both James 1:18 (“In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth”) and James 5:19 (“If any among you strays from the truth, and one turns him back . . .”) link the truth with the gospel. Anyone who claims to have the wisdom of God but lives a life motivated by “bitter jealousy and selfish ambition” is obviously lying in the face of the gospel. No pretentious claims to a possession of divine wisdom are convincing when they come out of a heart totally motivated by human wisdom.

James is calling you to take an inventory of your heart. Take a look at yourself. What motivates you? Are you motivated by the things that honor God? Are you motivated by a love for others? Are you motivated by humility and unselfishness? There is no single characteristic of unredeemed man more obvious than his pride. And there is nothing more characteristically evident of a redeemed person than his humility.

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask God to help you have a humble attitude and make you more aware of how you can serve Him and others every day.

For Further Study


PART III

November 11 - Criticism of John and Jesus

“‘But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market places, who call out to the other children, and say, “We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.” For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, “He has a demon!” The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, “Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!” Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds’” (Matthew 11:16–19).

Contemporary people love to criticize whatever the church does, which is really just a convenient excuse to reject the gospel. Such was also true in Jesus’ day, and here He uses two illustrations of criticism to make that point.

First, He applies the children’s game “Funeral” to the criticism of John the Baptist. John lived in the funeral mode, and people became so resentful of his constant stress on repentance and judgment that they claimed he had a demon. He would not let his audience be neutral—he called for commitment to truth and righteousness. But instead of accepting that call, they generally rebuked John’s righteousness.

Second, Jesus applies the game of “Wedding” to Himself. In contrast to John’s austere living, Jesus participated in society’s usual activities. His ministry brought Him into contact with hundreds of ordinary people. This difference from John had not escaped his disciples (Matt. 9:14–15), but the critics exaggerated Jesus’ activities and said His appetites were out of control. It was true that Jesus befriended tax collectors and sinners, but only to offer deliverance from their sins, not to be involved with them in sin (cf. 9:12–13).

Their opponents criticized John and Jesus differently, but the lesson is the same. Like today, the enemies of truth found it easy to criticize but difficult to explain how so many lives were transformed from despair to hope, from anger to love, from enmity to Christ to fellowship with Him.

Ask Yourself

What are some of the most common criticisms against Christianity? Which ones hold water, and which are just rebellious bluster?


PART IV

Reading for Today:

Notes:

Ezekiel 13:10, 11 builds a wall. False prophets had lulled the people into false security. Phony “peace” promises, while sin continued on the brink of God’s judgment, was a way, so to speak, of erecting a defective “wall” and whitewashing it to make it look good. Such an unsafe “wall” was doomed to collapse (v. 11) when God would bring His storm, picturing the invaders’ assault (v. 11).

Ezekiel 14:14–20 Noah, Daniel, and Job. Jeremiah 7:16 and 15:1–4 provide a close parallel to this passage. According to Jeremiah, even Moses and Samuel, well known for their power in intercessory prayer, would not prevail to deliver Jerusalem and the people. The 3 Old Testament heroes mentioned in this section exhibited power in intercession on behalf of others (Gen. 6:18; Job 42:7–10; Dan. 1; 2) at strategic points in redemptive history, and even they could not deliver anyone but themselves if they were there praying earnestly. Even the presence and prayers of the godly could not stop the coming judgment. Genesis 18:22–32 and Jeremiah 5:1–4 provide rare exceptions to the principle that one man’s righteousness is no protection for others.

Hebrews 7:19 the law made nothing perfect. The law saved no one (Rom. 3:19, 20); rather it cursed everyone (Gal.3:10–13). draw near to God. This is the key phrase in this passage. Drawing near to God is the essence of Christianity as compared with the Levitical system, which kept people outside His presence. As believer priests, we are all to draw near to God—that is a characteristic of the priesthood (Ex. 19:22; Matt. 27:51).

Hebrews 7:25 uttermost. Virtually the same concept as was expressed in “perfection” (v. 11) and “make perfect” (v. 19). The Greek term is used only here and in Luke 13:11 (the woman’s body could not be straightened completely). intercession. The word means “to intercede on behalf of another.” It was used to refer the bringing of a petition to a king on behalf of someone. The High Priestly intercessory prayer of Christ in John 17 is an example. Since rabbis assigned intercessory powers to angels, perhaps the people were treating angels as intercessors. The writer makes it clear that only Christ is the intercessor (1 Tim. 2:5).



DAY 11: Who was Melchizedek, and why was he so important?

Melchizedek shows up abruptly and briefly in the Old Testament, but his special role in Abraham’s life makes him a significant figure. He is mentioned again in Psalm 110:4, the passage under consideration in Hebrews 4:14–7:28. As the king of Salem and priest of the Most High God in the time of Abraham, Melchizedek offered a historical precedent for the role of king-priest (Gen. 14:18–20), filled perfectly by Jesus Christ.

By using the two Old Testament references to Melchizedek, the writer (7:1–28) explains the superiority of Christ’s priesthood by reviewing Melchizedek’s unique role as a type of Christ and his superiority to the Levitical high priesthood. The Levitical priesthood was hereditary, but Melchizedek’s was not. Through Abraham’s honor, Melchizedek’s rightful role was established. The major ways in which the Melchizedekan priesthood was superior to the Levitical priesthood are these:

1. The receiving of tithes (7:2–10), as when Abraham the ancestor of the Levites gave Melchizedek a tithe of the spoils.

2. The giving of the blessing (7:1,6, 7), as when Abraham accepted Melchizedek’s blessing.

3. The continual replacement of the Levitical priesthood (7:11–19), which passed down from father to son.

4. The perpetuity of the Melchizedekan priesthood (7:3, 8, 16, 17, 20–28), since the record about his priesthood does not record his death.


BLESSINGS TO YOU!


MAXIMILIANO 


11/10/17

Walking with God

"Enoch walked with God" (Genesis 5:24).

Walking with God includes reconciliation, obedience from the heart, and ongoing faith.

When Scripture speaks of walking with God, it's referring to one's manner of life. For example, Paul prayed that the Colossian believers (and us) would be filled with the knowledge of God's will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so they could walk (live) in a manner worthy of the Lord (Col. 1:9-10). To the Ephesians he said, "Walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind . . . [but] be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you" (Eph. 4:17; 5:1-2).

The Old Testament describes Enoch as a man who walked with God. Though relatively little is said about this special man, we can derive implications from his life that will help us better understand what it means to walk with God.

First, Enoch's walk with God implies reconciliation. Amos 3:3 says, "Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?" (NIV). Two people can't have intimate fellowship unless they agree. Obviously Enoch wasn't rebellious toward God, but had been reconciled with Him through faith.

Second, walking with God implies loving service. Second John 6 says, "This is love, that we walk according to His commandments." We obey Christ, but our obedience is motivated by love, not legalism or fear of punishment.

Third, a godly walk implies continuing faith, "for we walk by faith, not by sight" (2 Cor. 5:7). Colossians 2:6-7 adds, "As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith." By grace Enoch believed God and pleased Him all his life.

Do those who know you best see you as one who walks with God? I trust so. After all, that's the distinguishing mark of a true believer: "The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked" (1 John 2:6).

Suggestions for Prayer

Praise God for granting the reconciliation, faith, and love that enables you to walk with Him day by day.

For Further Study

What do the following verses teach about your Christian walk: Romans 8:4; Galatians 5:16; Ephesians 2:10; 1 Thessalonians 2:12; and 1 John 1:7?


PART II

Living Unselfishly

“If you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth” (James 3:14).

A wise person lives for God and others, not for self.

Having characterized spiritual wisdom in the preceding verse, James begins to analyze worldly wisdom in verse 14. Worldly wisdom is not of God. It has no relationship to Him, is not obedient to Him, and has no knowledge of His truth.

What is the motive of someone who lives according to worldly wisdom? “Bitter jealousy and selfish ambition.” The Greek word translated “bitter” also means “harsh” and is used of bitter, undrinkable water. “Bitter jealousy” carries the idea of a harsh, bitter self-centeredness that produces a resentful attitude toward others. People with bitter jealousy live in a world that focuses on themselves. They react in a jealous manner toward anyone who threatens their territory, accomplishments, or reputation. They resent anyone who threatens to crowd their slice of this world. They consider people who differ from them as implacable enemies. And they are bitterly jealous of anyone who is successful.

The Greek term translated “selfish ambition” refers to a personal ambition that creates rivalry, antagonism, or a party spirit. That’s another way of pointing to self. The person who follows human wisdom begins with a “bitter jealousy” that creates an attitude of competition and conflict. Then “selfish ambition” generates a party spirit and bitterness toward others. James is saying that ungodly wisdom is self-centered, and its goal is personal gratification at any cost.

What about you? Are you motivated by jealousy and selfish ambition? Be honest in your evaluation. Take a serious inventory of your heart and ask yourself, Am I serving others instead of fulfilling my own desires at the expense of others?

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Ask God to convict you when you put yourself before Him and others.
  • Repent of any present situations in which you are doing that very thing.

For Further Study

Read the following verses: Genesis 37:4; 1 Samuel 18:8; Luke 15:25-30; 22:24.

  • What was the sin in each example?
  • Read and study 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 to learn how the qualities of love are opposite to human wisdom.


PART III

November 10 - John Likened to Elijah

“‘For all the prophets and the Law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to accept it, John himself is Elijah who was to come’” (Matthew 11:13–14).

All of God’s Old Testament revelation climaxed in John the Baptist. And the apostle John picked up the theme (which at times had been only implicit) that said, “The Messiah is coming!”

The Lord Jesus suggests a close likeness between John and the prophet Elijah, based on Malachi’s prophecy, which are the final words of the Old Testament: “Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord. He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse” (Mal. 4:5–6).

That Malachi referred to the future John the Baptist and not a literally reincarnated Elijah is clear when we look at Luke 1:17—“It is he [John] who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah.” John himself clearly denied that he was actually Elijah come back (John 1:21). Rather he was like Elijah—inwardly in “spirit and power” and outwardly in independence and nonconformity.

John was uniquely great, in the mold of Elijah and more so than any man but Jesus; but God’s highest bestowing of greatness is not John’s. His greatness, Jesus declared, pales beside those like us who enter God’s spiritual kingdom by trusting in the Son as Lord and Savior. Thus true greatness is to be like Jesus Christ, not like Elijah or John the Baptist.

Ask Yourself

“Spirit and power.” How could these words more readily describe you and your ministry in the kingdom? Are these characteristics the sole possession of the overly demonstrably inclined? Or does “spirit and power” even have a gentle side in the cause of Christ?


PART IV

Reading for Today:

Notes:

Ezekiel 12:3 prepare…for captivity. This dramatic object lesson by the prophet called for carrying belongings out in a stealthy way as an act that depicted baggage for exile, just the bare necessities. His countrymen carried out such baggage when they went into captivity or sought to escape during Babylon’s takeover of Jerusalem (vv. 7, 11). Some attempting to escape were caught as in a net, like King Zedekiah who was overtaken, blinded, and forced into exile. Verse 9 indicates that Ezekiel actually did what he was told.

Ezekiel 12:22 this proverb. Delay had given the people the false impression that the stroke of judgment would never come. In fact, a saying had become popular, no doubt developed by false prophets who caused the people to reject Ezekiel’s visions and prophecies (v. 27) and who gave “flattering divinations” (vv. 23, 24).

Hebrews 6:1 leaving. This “leaving” does not mean to despise or abandon the basic doctrines. They are the place to start, not stop. They are the gate of entrance on the road to salvation in Christ. elementary principles of Christ. As “the oracles of God” in 5:12 refers to the Old Testament, so does this phrase. The writer is referring to basic Old Testament teaching that prepared the way for Messiah—the beginning teaching about Christ. These Old Testament “principles” include the 6 features listed in vv. 1, 2. go on to perfection. Salvation by faith in Messiah Jesus. The verb is passive, so as to indicate “let us be carried to salvation.” That is not a matter of learners being carried by teachers, but both being carried forward by God. The writer warns his Jewish readers that there is no value in stopping with the Old Testament basics and repeating (“laying again”) what was only intended to be foundational.

Hebrews 6:4 enlightened. They had received instruction in biblical truth which was accompanied by intellectual perception. Understanding the gospel is not the equivalent of regeneration (10:26, 32). In John 1:9, it is clear that enlightening is not the equivalent of salvation. tasted the heavenly gift. Tasting in the figurative sense in the New Testament refers to consciously experiencing something (2:9). The experience might be momentary or continuing. Christ’s “tasting” of death (2:9) was obviously momentary and not continuing or permanent. All men experience the goodness of God, but that does not mean they are all saved (Matt. 5:45; Acts 17:25). Many Jews, during the Lord’s earthly ministry experienced the blessings from heaven He brought—in healings and deliverance from demons, as well as eating the food He created miraculously (John 6). Whether the gift refers to Christ (John 6:51; 2 Cor. 9:15) or to the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38; 1 Pet. 1:12), experiencing either one was not the equivalent of salvation (John 16:8; Acts 7:51).


DAY 10: To whom is Hebrews 6:4–6, and particularly the phrase “once enlightened,” directed?

The phrase “once enlightened” is often taken to refer to Christians. The accompanying warning, then, is taken to indicate the danger of losing their salvation if they “fall away” and “crucify again for themselves the Son of God.” But the immediate context has no mention of their being saved. They are not described with any terms that apply only to believers (such as holy, born again, righteous, or saints).

The interpretive problem arises from inaccurately identifying the spiritual condition of the ones being addressed. In this case, they were unbelievers who had been exposed to God’s redemptive truth and, perhaps, had made a profession of faith but had not exercised genuine saving faith. Another passage (10:26) addresses the same issue. The subject here is people who come in contact with the gospel but are spiritually unchanged by it. Apostate Christians are Christians in name only, not genuine believers who are often incorrectly thought to lose their salvation because of their sins.

There is no possibility of these verses referring to someone losing their salvation. Many Scripture passages make unmistakably clear that salvation is eternal (see, e.g., John 10:27–29; Rom. 8:35, 38, 39; Phil. 1:6; 1 Pet. 1:4, 5). Those who want to make this passage mean that believers can lose salvation will have to admit that it would then also make the point that one could never get it back again.


GOD BLESSES YOU!


MAXIMILIANO 



11/09/17

God's Unfathomable Ways


“Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8).

Christ’s humiliation displayed God’s wisdom.

Somewhere along the path of Christ’s descent, you’d think He would have said to Himself, These people really aren’t worth redeeming. This is too degrading and humiliating! But the grace and love of God toward sinners was such that Christ stooped to die for you and me. At the end of Paul’s doctrinal survey of salvation in Romans, he said, “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!” (11:33). He was in awe of God’s plan of salvation—a plan no man would have devised.

If we had planned the Incarnation, we probably would have wanted Christ to be born in a palace. His family would have been wealthy and prominent, and He would have been educated in the finest universities with elite teachers and the best tutors. We would have orchestrated events so that everyone loved, revered, honored, and respected Him. He would have been in all the prominent places and met all the prominent people.

We would not have had Him born in a stable to a poor family. He would not have spent His youth in a carpenter’s shop in an obscure town. Rather than a ragtag band of followers, we would have made sure He had only the best people as His disciples, and they would have had to pass stiff qualifying tests for the privilege.

We would not have allowed Him to be humiliated. We would have imprisoned or executed anyone who spit on Him, pulled His beard, mocked Him, or hurt Him. Our plan for the Messiah would have been very different from God’s plan, and, as a result no one could have been saved. It’s no wonder the psalmist said, “Thy judgments are like a great deep” (Ps. 36:6). God’s ways are unsearchable, His truths profound. And His plan to redeem us was accomplished by Christ’s humiliation.

Suggestions for Prayer

Daniel prayed, “Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever, for wisdom and power belong to Him” (Dan. 2:20). Like Daniel, worship the only wise God, who saved you.

For Further Study

Read 1 Peter 2:21-24. What did Christ leave you (v. 21)?


PART II


Christ Is Superior to Angels


"Having become . . . much better than the angels" (Heb. 1:4).

Through a deft use of the Old Testament, the writer proves that Christ is the mediator of a greater covenant.

Man is a wonderful and amazing creation—higher than plants, animals, and any other material creation in this world. But there are created beings even higher than man—angels.

Hebrews 2:9 shows this to be the case because when Jesus became a man, He was "made for a little while lower than the angels." After the fall of the rebellious angels under Lucifer, the angels in heaven were no longer subject to sin. These angels are holy, powerful, and wise. They are special beings created by God before He created man.

The Jewish people understood the exalted position of angels because they knew that the Old Covenant was brought to men and maintained by angelic mediation. Galatians 3:19 says, "Why the Law then? It was added because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator, until the seed should come to whom the promise had been made."

Because of this high regard for angels by his readers, the writer of Hebrews was faced with a problem. If he was to show that Christ was the mediator of a better covenant, he would have to prove that Christ is better than angels. To do so, he used seven Old Testament passages to verify his claim.

If he had tried to prove from Christian writings that Christ is a better mediator, his unbelieving Jewish readers would have said, "We don't accept these writings as being from God." So in effect he wisely replies, "Open up your own Scriptures and I'll prove my claim from them." It results in a powerful and irresistible argument.

For the next several days, we'll see in what ways Christ is superior to angels and how He could mediate a better covenant for us.

Suggestion for Prayer

Because much of our understanding of the New Testament is based on the writings of the Old Testament, thank God for how He has brought His complete Word to us intact throughout the centuries.

For Further Study

Read Galatians 3:8, Romans 9:15, and Matthew 4:4.

  • What Old Testament verses to those passages quote?
  • What truth does each of them verify?


PART III


Parable of the Sower: Superficial Hearers, Part 2


“‘The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away’” (Matthew 13:20–21).

Those who only superficially receive the gospel might be baptized, join a church, and seem for a long time to be Christians. But trials and testings will eventually expose such persons’ spiritual lifelessness. Such difficulties are not the ordinary hardships of life but the problems encountered “because of the word.” When the Christian life’s demands get too severe, the person discontinues any pretense of following the Lord.

“Falls away” is the translation of skandalizo–, the Greek verb that means to cause to stumble and can include the concept of offending someone. We get the English scandalize from it. All these ideas fit the superficial hearer because when something really tests his or her faith, they stumble, become offended, and abandon the gospel (cf. John 8:31; 1 John 2:19).

If a person’s profession of salvation doesn’t include real conviction of sin, a strong desire for the Lord, and a love for His Word, along with willingness to suffer for Him if need be, it’s only a matter of time before that one renounces any previous profession of faith.

It is encouraging, however, that the same kind of tribulation that makes the false believer wither makes the true believer stronger. “All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim. 3:12); but “after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you” (1 Peter 5:10).

Ask Yourself

Everything of real value comes with a cost. Why should Christianity be any different? Where do we get the idea that following Christ should require little effort and be met with little resistance, both from within and without?


PART IV


Reading for Today:

Notes:

Hosea 13:14 Placing the strong affirmation of deliverance so abruptly after a denunciation intensified the wonder of His unrequited love (11:8, 9; Lev. 26:44). This can apply to God’s restoration of Israel from Assyria, and in future times from all the lands of the Dispersion, preserving them and bringing them back to their land for the kingdom of Messiah (Ezek. 37). It also speaks of the time of personal resurrection as in Daniel 12:2, 3. Repentant Israelites will be restored to the land and even raised from death to glory. Paul uses this text in 1 Corinthians 15:55 to celebrate the future resurrection of the church. The Messiah’s great victory over death and the grave is the firstfruits of the full harvest to come, when all believers will likewise experience the power of His resurrection.

Revelation 1:4 seven churches which are in Asia. Asia Minor, equivalent to modern Turkey, was composed of 7 postal districts. At the center of those districts were 7 key cities which served as central points for the dissemination of information. It is to the churches in those cities that John writes. who is and who was and who is to come. God’s eternal presence is not limited by time. He has always been present and will come in the future. the seven Spirits. There are 2 possible meanings: 1) a reference to Isaiah’s prophecy concerning the 7-fold ministry of the Holy Spirit (Is. 11:2); or 2) more likely, it is a reference to the lamp stand with 7 lamps (a menorah) in Zechariah—also a description of the Holy Spirit (4:5; 5:6; Zech. 4:1–10). In either case, 7 is the number of completeness, so John is identifying the fullness of the Holy Spirit.

Revelation 1:10 in the Spirit. This was not a dream. John was supernaturally transported out of the material world awake—not sleeping—to an experience beyond the normal senses. The Holy Spirit empowered his senses to perceive revelation from God (Acts 10:11). Lord’s Day. This phrase appears in many early Christian writings and refers to Sunday, the day of the Lord’s resurrection. Some have suggested this phrase refers to “the Day of the Lord,” but the context doesn’t support that interpretation, and the grammatical form of the word “Lord” is adjectival, thus “the Lord’s day.” loud voice. Throughout Revelation, a loud sound or voice indicates the solemnity of what God is about to reveal.

Revelation 1:17 fell at His feet. A common response to seeing the awesome glory of the Lord (Gen. 17:3; Num. 16:22; Ezek. 1:28; Is. 6:1–8; Acts 9:4). First and the Last. Jesus Christ applies this Old Testament name for Yahweh (22:13; Is. 41:4; 44:6; 48:12) to Himself, clearly claiming to be God. Idols will come and go. He was before them, and He will remain after them.


What is the background for the Book of Revelation?

Revelation begins with John, the last surviving apostle and an old man, in exile on the small barren island of Patmos, located in the Aegean Sea southwest of Ephesus. The Roman authorities had banished him there because of his faithful preaching of the gospel (1:9). While on Patmos, John received a series of visions that laid out the future history of the world.

When he was arrested, John was in Ephesus, ministering to the church there and in the surrounding cities. Seeking to strengthen those congregations, he could no longer minister to them in person and, following the divine command (1:11), John addressed Revelation to them (1:4). The churches had begun to feel the effects of persecution; at least one man—probably a pastor—had already been martyred (2:13), and John himself had been exiled. But the storm of persecution was about to break in full fury upon the 7 churches so dear to the apostle’s heart (2:10). To those churches, Revelation provided a message of hope: God is in sovereign control of all the events of human history; and though evil often seems pervasive and wicked men all-powerful, their ultimate doom is certain. Christ will come in glory to judge and rule.

Unlike most books of the Bible, Revelation contains its own title: “The Revelation of Jesus Christ”(1:1). “Revelation” (Greek, apokalupsis) means “an uncovering,” “an unveiling,” or “a disclosure.” In all its uses, “revelation” refers to something or someone, once hidden, becoming visible. What this book reveals or unveils is Jesus Christ in glory. Truths about Him and His final victory, that the rest of Scripture merely allude to, become clearly visible through revelation about Jesus Christ.


LORD BLESS HIS ELECT

My Royal Family


LOVINGLY IN THE LOVE OF OUR LORD JESUS

E+1DAY


MAXIMILIANO



11/08/17

The First Disciple

"Cain brought an offering to the Lord of the fruit of the ground. And Abel . . . brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and for his offering; but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard" (Gen. 4:3-5).

True discipleship is characterized by obedience to God’s Word.

In John 8:31 Jesus issued an important statement to a group of people who were showing an interest in Him: "If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine." Sadly, they rejected His words, proving themselves to be less than true disciples. Jesus went on to explain why: "He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God" (v. 47). They listened but didn't really hear. They were interested but not truly committed. They were hearers of the Word but not doers (James 1:22).

In contrast, Abel did what God told him to do. He was, in effect, the first disciple. He was probably a better person than Cain—more friendly, moral, and dependable—but that's not why God accepted his sacrifice and rejected Cain's. Abel trusted God, and his faith was counted as righteousness. Like Abraham, whose faith was evidenced by his willingness to obey God and sacrifice his son Isaac (James 2:21-22), Abel's faith was evidenced in his obedient offering. He didn't rely on his own goodness but acknowledged his sin and made the prescribed sacrifice.

Perhaps God indicated His acceptance of Abel's sacrifice by consuming it with fire, as He did on other occasions in Scripture (Judg. 6:21; 1 Kings 18:38). But whatever means He used, God made his pleasure known to Abel.

Abel's brief life conveys a simple three-point message: we must come to God by faith; we must receive and obey God's Word; and sin brings serious consequences. If you hear and heed that message, you'll walk the path of true discipleship and be assured of God's pleasure.

Suggestions for Prayer

Make it your goal to please the Lord in everything you do today. Seek His wisdom and grace to do so faithfully.

For Further Study

Read these verses, noting what they say about pleasing God: 2 Corinthians 5:9; Ephesians 5:6-10; Philippians 2:12-13; Hebrews 11:6; and Hebrews 13:15-16, 20-21.


PART II

Submitting to Wisdom

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who do His commandments” (Psalm 111:10).

Saving faith is obedient faith.

The wisdom of God resulting from the fear of the Lord leads to obedience. When we fear the Lord, we submit to His wisdom and commit ourselves to keeping His commandments. In the New Testament Jesus said the same thing: “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15). We aren’t always as obedient as we ought to be, but the pattern of our lives turns from disobedience to a submissive heart of obedience. First John 2:3 says, “By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments.” A person’s claim to be a Christian is meaningless if he’s not obedient.

From a positive perspective, fearing the Lord involves obeying His commandments; from a negative perspective, it involves turning away from evil. Job 28:28 says, “The fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.” Equal to wisdom is understanding, and equal to fearing the Lord is departing from evil. Proverbs 8:13 says, “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil.” Obeying the Lord’s commandments and shunning evil are dynamics that work in the soul of one who truly fears God. The fear of the Lord is not some feeling you try to generate within yourself; it’s the result of believing in the true God and living a life of love and obedience to Him. What about you? Does obedience to God’s Word characterize your life?

Suggestions for Prayer

Jesus Christ paid the price for your sin and ushered you into a relationship with God. Honor His work by obeying His Word, and ask Him to help you see evil from His perspective.

For Further Study

Read the following verses: Deuteronomy 6:1-2, 13-15, 24; 8:6; 10:12-13; 13:4; 17:19; 28:58-59; 31:12. What characterizes the life of a person who fears the Lord?


PART III

November 8 - John’s Greatness: His Privileged Call

“‘But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and one who is more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written, “Behold, I send My messenger ahead of You, who will prepare Your way before You.” Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist! Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he’” (Matthew 11:9–11).

God always calls the right person to the right position in the realm of greatness. In John, the greatest man and the greatest human assignment converged—God called him as the valedictory prophet, the most dynamic, articulate, confrontational, and powerful spokesman ever.

Jesus quotes Malachi 3:1 in declaring to the people that John’s privileged call meant he was more than an ordinary prophet. We could expand the Lord’s quotation this way: “Behold, I, Yahweh, send My messenger John the Baptist to be the forerunner of You, the Messiah, and to prepare the people for Your coming.” After centuries of divine preparation and prophecy, God gave John the unequaled privilege of heralding Messiah’s coming.

Jesus’ point here in calling John the greatest is that, humanly speaking, he was the greatest person who had lived until that time. With his superior human qualities, John was unequaled until the God-Man Himself came to earth.

John the Baptist was a spiritual giant, but his privileged call mainly concerned his historic role. In spiritual inheritance, every believer is the equal of John: “The least in the kingdom of heaven [the spiritual realm] is greater than he.” Average saints are greater than anyone in the human realm, including John the Baptist, the one called to be the messianic forerunner. That’s a reality for which we should be ever thankful as Christians.

Ask Yourself

How would you define the specific calling God has placed on your life? What duties and responsibilities go into your faithful performance of it? How is God employing your natural abilities in serving Him, while also providing you spiritual gifts as vehicles of grace to others?


PART IV

Reading for Today:

Notes:

Ezekiel 8:3 in visions of God. Ezekiel 8–11 deals with details conveyed only to Ezekiel in visions. Ezekiel’s trip to Jerusalem was in spirit only, while his body physically remained in his house. In visions he went to Jerusalem and in visions he returned to Babylon (11:24). After God finished the visions, Ezekiel told his home audience what he had seen. The visions are not a description of deeds done in the past in Israel, but a survey of Israel’s current condition, as they existed at that very time. the seat…image of jealousy. God represents to Ezekiel the image of an idol (Deut. 4:16) in the entrance to the inner court of the temple. It is called “the image of jealousy” because it provoked the Lord to jealousy (5:13; 16:38; 36:6; 38:19; Ex. 20:5).

Ezekiel 8:14 weeping for Tammuz. Yet a greater abomination than the secret cult was Israel’s engaging in the Babylonian worship of Tammuz or Dumuzi (Duzu), beloved of Ishtar, the god of spring vegetation. Vegetation burned in the summer, died in the winter, and came to life in the spring. The women mourned over the god’s demise in July and longed for his revival. The fourth month of the Hebrew calendar still bears the name Tammuz. With the worship of this idol were connected the basest immoralities.

Psalm 120:4 Sharp arrows…coals. Lies and false accusations are likened to 1) the pain/injury inflicted in battle by arrows and 2) the pain of being burned with charcoal made from the wood of a broom tree (a desert bush that grows 10 to 15 feet high).

Hebrews 4:12 two-edged sword. While the Word of God is comforting and nourishing to those who believe, it is a tool of judgment and execution for those who have not committed themselves to Jesus Christ. Some of the Hebrews were merely going through the motions of belonging to Christ. Intellectually, they were at least partly persuaded, but inside they were not committed to Him. God’s Word would expose their shallow beliefs and even their false intentions (1 Sam. 16:7; 1 Pet. 4:5). division of soul and spirit. These terms do not describe two separate entities (any more than “thoughts and intents” do) but are used as one might say “heart and soul” to express fullness (Luke 10:27; Acts 4:32; 1 Thess. 5:23). Elsewhere these two terms are used interchangeably to describe man’s immaterial self, his eternal inner person.



DAY 8: What does Hebrews 4:14–16 teach about prayer?


Just as the high priest under the Old Covenant passed through 3 areas (the outer court, the Holy Place, and the Holy of Holies) to make the atoning sacrifice, Jesus passed through 3 heavens (the atmospheric heaven, the stellar heaven, and God’s abode; 2 Cor. 12:2–4) after making the perfect, final sacrifice (v. 14).Once a year on the Day of Atonement the high priest of Israel would enter the Holy of Holies to make atonement for the sins of the people (Lev. 16). That tabernacle was but a limited copy of the heavenly reality (8:1–5).When Jesus entered into the heavenly Holy of Holies, having accomplished redemption, the earthly facsimile was replaced by the reality of heaven itself. Freed from that which is earthly, the Christian faith is characterized by the heavenly (3:1; Eph. 1:3; 2:6; Phil. 3:20; Col. 1:5; 1 Pet. 1:4).

And Jesus as our High Priest was “in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin” (v. 15). Jesus became fully capable of understanding and sympathizing with His human brethren.

“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace” (v. 16). Most ancient rulers were unapproachable by anyone but their highest advisers (Esth. 4:11). In contrast, the Holy Spirit calls for all to come confidently before God’s throne to receive mercy and grace through Jesus Christ. The ark of the covenant was viewed as the place on earth where God sat enthroned between the cherubim (2 Kin. 19:15; Jer. 3:16, 17). Oriental thrones included a footstool—yet another metaphor for the ark (Ps. 132:7). It was at the throne of God that Christ made atonement for sins, and it is there that grace is dispensed to believers for all the issues of life (2 Cor. 4:15; 9:8; 12:9; Eph. 1:7; 2:7).


GOD BLESSES YOU!

DON’T WORRY, YOU WILL BE OK

THE GOOD LORD IS LOOKING AFTER YOU!


MAXIMILIANO 


11/07/17

Worshiping God His Way

"By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain" (Heb 11:4).

True worship requires coming to God on His terms.

At the heart of every false religion is the notion that man can come to God by any means he chooses—by meditating, doing good deeds, and so on. But Scripture says, "There is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). That name is Jesus Christ, and we come to Him by confessing and repenting of our sin, trusting in His atoning death on the cross, and affirming His bodily resurrection from the grave (cf. Rom. 10:9-10). There is no other way to God.

Centuries before Christ's death, God provided a means of worship and sacrifice. Genesis 4:3-5 says, "It came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the Lord of the fruit of the ground. And Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and for his offering; but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard."

Apparently God had designated a special time for sacrificing because "in the course of time" (v. 3) literally means, "at the end of days"—at the end of a certain period of time. Additionally, He initiated a particular pattern for worship and sacrifices. Otherwise Cain and Abel would have known nothing about how it was to be done.

God required a blood offering for sin. Abel came in faith, acknowledged his sin, and made the appropriate sacrifice. His offering was better than Cain's because Cain neglected the prescribed sacrifice, thereby demonstrating his unwillingness to submit to God and deal with his sin.

There was nothing intrinsically wrong with Cain's offering. Grain, fruit, or vegetable offerings were included in the Mosaic covenant. But the sin offering had to come first. Like so many today, Cain wrongly assumed he could approach God on his own terms. In doing so he became the father of all false religions, and his name became synonymous with rebellion and apostasy (cf. Jude 11).

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank God for graciously providing salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.
  • Be careful never to approach Him irreverently or presumptuously.

For Further Study

Read Jude 11. How did Jude describe the false teachers of his day?


PART II

Knowing God

“‘“The fear of the Lord, that is wisdom”’” (Job 28:28).

Being wise begins with knowing God.

The fear of the Lord is the most basic idea related to wisdom and is the key to understanding it. The Book of Proverbs especially teaches us that the fear of the Lord is inextricably linked to wisdom: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Prov. 1:7). Knowledge, wisdom, instruction, and understanding are often used as synonyms in Proverbs. The link between fear of the Lord and wisdom is also evident in Proverbs 9:10: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Since wisdom and understanding are parallel, so are the fear of the Lord and knowledge of the Holy One. To know God and to fear God are one and the same.

What does it mean to fear God? It’s a reverential trust, or simply another way of describing saving faith. We begin to be wise when we revere God and trust in Him. When an Old Testament saint wanted to evangelize, he might have said, “Fear God!”

When you read in the Bible of people fearing God or that fearing God is linked to wisdom, that means a person can’t even begin to be wise until he is first converted. Fearing God is the initiation of a life of faith. As long as a person has only human wisdom, he can’t know God or true wisdom.

The fear of the Lord is your entrance to wisdom. It will prolong your life, fulfill your life, enrich your life—it is your life (cf. Prov. 10:27; 14:27). It will open the continual flow of God’s wisdom to you. The significance of everything is tied to the wisdom of God, which alone will give you proper values, guidance, instruction, and perspective in life. Apply His wisdom to your life daily, and enjoy all the benefits that wisdom has to offer.

Suggestions for Prayer

Praise God for His wisdom by which you are so abundantly blessed.

For Further Study

God’s wisdom enriches our life and gives us proper values and instruction. Read Proverbs 10:1-12, and notice how that is so.


PART III

November 7 - John’s Greatness: His Self-Denial

“‘But what did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ palaces!’” (Matthew 11:8).

The easy way is seldom if ever the way of success. Great generals risk their lives just as their troops do. Great athletes train relentlessly, forgoing the pleasure most people take for granted. And in order to help save other lives, medical researchers sometimes risk exposure to deadly disease to find cures.

The self-indulgent person is not willing to live as John the Baptist did. He wore camel’s hair and a leather belt and ate locusts and honey (Matt. 3:4). His lifestyle was a down-to-earth protest against self-indulgence and self-centeredness. John lived completely apart from the hypocritical, corrupt political and religious systems of his day. His devotion to God’s kingdom completely superseded any personal comforts or attractions to the world’s standards.

Prior to John’s birth, the angel predicted to Zacharias, John’s father, that John would “be great in the sight of the Lord; and he will drink no wine or liquor, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit” (Luke 1:15). That was part of the Nazirite vow, along with pledging not to cut one’s hair or touch anything unclean, that many Jews took for a few months or years. But John, along with Samson (Judg. 13:7; 16:17) and Samuel (1 Sam. 1:11), took the vow for life. John the Baptist had a lifelong, voluntary commitment to self-denial as an act of devotion and service to God—one aspect of his greatness that Jesus praised.

Ask Yourself

What have you sacrificed in order to stay true to the will of God? What are some things—even good, sinless things—that others are allowed to enjoy, but which cannot be a part of your life for one reason or another?


PART IV

Reading for Today:

Notes:

Ezekiel 5:1–4 a barber’s razor. The sign in Ezekiel’s shaving his hair illustrated the severe humiliation to come at the hand of enemies, emphasizing calamities to three segments of Jerusalem due to the Babylonian conquest. Some were punished by fire, i.e., pestilence and famine (v. 12), others died by the enemy’s sword, and some were dispersed and pursued by death (v. 12). A small part of his hair clinging to his garment (v. 3) depicted a remaining remnant, some of whom were subject to further calamity (v. 4; 6:8; Jer. 41–44).

Ezekiel 6:7 you shall know that I am the LORD. This clause recurs in vv. 10, 13, 14, and 60 times elsewhere in the book. It shows that the essential reason for judgment is the violation of the character of God. This is repeatedly acknowledged in Leviticus 18–26, where the motive for all obedience to God’s law is the fact that He is the Lord God.

Hebrews 3:1 consider. The writer asks for the readers’ complete attention and diligent observation of the superiority of Jesus Christ. Apostle and High Priest. An apostle is a “sent one” who has the rights, power, and authority of the one who sends him. Jesus was sent to earth by the Father (John 3:17, 34; 5:36–38; 8:42). The topic of the High Priesthood of Christ, which was begun in 2:17,18 and is mentioned again here, will be taken up again in greater detail in 4:14–10:18.Meanwhile, the writer presents the supremacy of Christ to Moses (vv. 1–6), to Joshua (4:8), and to all other national heroes and Old Testament preachers whom Jews held in high esteem. Jesus Himself spoke of His superiority to Moses in the same context in which He spoke of His being sent by the Father (John 5:36–38, 45–47; Luke 16:29–31). Moses had been sent by God to deliver His people from historical Egypt and its bondage (Ex. 3:10). Jesus was sent by God to deliver His people from spiritual Egypt and its bondage (2:15). of our confession. Christ is the center of our confession of faith in the gospel, both in creed and public testimony. The term is used again in 4:14 and 10:23. In all 3 uses in Hebrews, there is a sense of urgency. Surely, the readers would not give up Christ, whom they had professed, and reject what He had done for them, if they could understand the superiority of His Person and work.


DAY 7: What are the central warnings for believers in the Book of Hebrews?

Beyond its value as a doctrinal treatise, this book is intensely practical in its application to everyday living. The writer himself even refers to his letter as a “word of exhortation” (13:22). Exhortations designed to stir the readers into action are found throughout the text. Those exhortations are given in the form of 6 warnings:

1. Warning against drifting from “the things we have heard” (2:1–4)

2. Warning against disbelieving the “voice” of God (3:7–14)

3. Warning against degenerating from “the elementary principles of Christ” (5:11–6:20)

4. Warning against despising “the knowledge of the truth” (10:26–39)

5. Warning against devaluing “the grace of God” (12:15–17)

6. Warning against departing from Him “who speaks” (12:25–29)

For example, when the writer warns of the danger of drifting (2:1), he uses some vivid nautical terms. The phrase “earnest heed” refers to mooring a ship by securing it to a dock. The second phrase “drift away” was often used of a ship that had been allowed to drift past the harbor. The warning is to secure oneself to the truth of the gospel in such a way as to not pass by the only harbor of salvation. The alternate tendency toward apathy points to those who make a shipwreck of their lives.


GOD BLESSES YOU!


MAXIMILIANO 


11/06/17

Leaving a Righteous Legacy

"By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous, God testifying about his gifts, and through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks" (Heb 11:4).

The character of your life will determine the legacy you leave to others.

Bible scholar James Moffatt wrote, "Death is never the last word in the life of a . . . man. When a man leaves this world, be he righteous or unrighteous, he leaves something in the world. He may leave something that will grow and spread like a cancer or a poison, or he may leave something like the fragrance of perfume or a blossom of beauty that permeates the atmosphere with blessing."

That's illustrated in the lives of Adam and Eve's first sons: Cain and Abel. Cain was an unrighteous man who sought to please God by his own efforts. God rejected him (Gen. 4:5). Abel was a righteous man who worshiped God in true faith. God accepted Him (v. 4).

In a jealous rage, Cain murdered Abel, becoming the first human being to take the life of another. He forever stands as a testimony to the utter tragedy of attempting to please God apart from true faith. For "without faith," Hebrews 11:6 says, "it is impossible to please Him." Cain tried and failed—as have millions who have followed in his footsteps.

Abel, on the other hand, was the first man of faith. Prior to the Fall, Adam and Eve had no need of faith in the same way as their descendants. They lived in the paradise of Eden and had direct contact with God. Their children were the first to have need of faith in its fullest sense.

Cain's legacy is rebellion, heartache, and judgment. Abel's is righteousness, justice, and saving faith. His life proclaims the central message of redemption: righteousness is by faith alone.

What legacy will you leave to those who follow? I pray they will see in you a pattern of righteousness and faithfulness that inspires them to follow suit.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Praise God for righteous Abel and all who have followed his example.
  • Ask Him to guard you from ever rebelling against His Word.

For Further Study

Read Genesis 4:1-16 and 1 John 3:11-12.

  • What was God's counsel to Cain after rejecting his offering?
  • Why did Cain kill Abel?
  • How did God punish Cain?


PART II

Searching for Wisdom

“‘Where can wisdom be found?’” (Job 28:12).

Wisdom is found in a Person, not a place.

In ancient days men would drill a shaft deep into a mountain or the ground, suspend themselves with a rope, and hang in the shaft while they tried to find some metal or precious stone to mine. In the Old Testament Job described the process this way: “He [man] sinks a shaft far from habitation, forgotten by the foot; they hang and swing to and fro far from men” (Job 28:4). The miner searched far below the earth’s surface for “anything precious” (v. 10).

Man goes to great efforts to search for precious metals. “But,” Job says, “where can wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding? Man does not know its value, nor is it found in the land of the living. . . . Pure gold cannot be given in exchange for it, nor can silver be weighed as its price” (vv. 12-13, 15). Nothing in the world can buy wisdom, and it can’t be found in the things of the world.

So where does wisdom come from? Job says, “It is hidden from the eyes of all living. . . . Abaddon [Destruction] and Death say, ‘With our ears we have heard a report of it.’ God understands its way; and He knows its place” (vv. 2123). If you are searching for wisdom, go to God. He knows where wisdom is because “He looks to the ends of the earth, and sees everything under the heavens. . . . And to man He said, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding’” (vv. 24, 28).

What is true wisdom? To fear God and depart from evil. Wisdom isn’t a question of how much you know, but of whether you love the Lord your God and depart from sin. Only when you pursue God will you know true wisdom.

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask God to help you adorn your life with the ornaments of His true wisdom and have a winsome testimony that attracts others to Christ.

For Further Study

Read the following verses, noting how both the Old and New Testaments tell us that God is the source of true wisdom: Job 9:4; Psalm 104:24; Proverbs 3:19-20; Romans 11:33; Ephesians 3:10; 1 Timothy 1:17 (NKJV).


PART III

November 6 - John’s Greatness: Strong Convictions

“As these men were going away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John, ‘What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind?’” (Matthew 11:7).

The world uses many standards—intellectual achievement, public service, wealth, athletic skill, and others—to measure greatness. But here Jesus begins to portray real greatness in the character qualities of John the Baptist. Strength of conviction was one of those qualities, and it was even more remarkable given his doubts about Jesus that John’s disciples had just presented. His foundational convictions were strong enough that raising some doubts was not a cause for embarrassment or shame for John.

But hearing of John’s doubt caused perplexity among the onlookers. Was the Baptist, the model of boldness and certainty, no longer trustworthy in view of his public admission of misgivings about Jesus?

To reaffirm that John’s convictions were strong, Jesus appealed to the listeners’ own experiences, asking in effect, “Was the spokesman you saw preaching and baptizing uncertain and vacillating, like ‘a reed shaken by the wind’?” The reed was common to the riverbanks of the Middle East, a light and flexible stalk that easily bent back and forth in the wind. But the people knew that if ever there had been a man of unswerving belief, it was John. In fact, his bold stand for righteousness had landed him in prison.

“A double-minded man [is] unstable in all his ways” (James 1:8; cf. Eph. 4:14). But that was not John the Baptist, who like William Penn believed that “right is right, even if everyone is against it, and wrong is wrong, even if everyone is for it.”

Ask Yourself

In what ways has your life exhibited reed-like qualities, bending to challenges that required a sturdy backbone and a steady faith? How, on the other hand, has God enabled you to mirror the boldness of John in your obedience to Christ’s call? Thank God for His provision and empowerment.


PART IV

Reading for Today:

Notes:

Ezekiel 3:8,9 I have made your face strong. What God commands (“do not be afraid”) He gives sufficiency to do (“I have made”), so God will enable the prophet to live up to his name (which means “strengthened by God”). 2:2; 3:14, 24; Is. 41:10; Jer. 1:8, 17.

Ezekiel 3:9 rebellious. It is sad to observe that the exile and affliction did not make the Jews more responsive to God; rather, they were hardened by their sufferings. God gave Ezekiel a “hardness” to surpass the people and sustain his ministry as prophet to the exiles.

Ezekiel 3:17 a watchman. This role was spiritually analogous to the role of watchmen on a city wall, vigilant to spot the approach of an enemy and warn the residents to muster a defense. The prophet gave timely warnings of approaching judgment. The work of a watchman is vividly set forth in 2 Samuel 18:24–27 and 2 Kings 9:17–20.

Hebrews 2:4 signs…wonders,…miracles…gifts. The supernatural powers demonstrated by Jesus and by His apostles were the Father’s divine confirmation of the gospel of Jesus Christ, His Son (John 10:38; Acts 2:22; Rom. 15:19; 1 Cor. 14:22; 2 Cor. 12:12). This authentication of the message was the purpose of such miraculous deeds. the Holy Spirit. The epistle’s first reference to the Holy Spirit refers in passing to His ministry of confirming the message of salvation by means of miraculous gifts. Mentioned elsewhere in the epistle are the Holy Spirit’s involvement in the revelation of Scripture (3:7; 10:15), in teaching (9:8), in pre-salvation operations (6:4, perhaps His convicting work; 10:29, common grace), and in ministry to Christ (9:14).

Hebrews 2:14 partaken…shared. The Greek word for “partaken” means fellowship, communion, or partnership. “Shared” means to take hold of something that is not related to one’s own kind. The Son of God was not by nature “flesh and blood,” but took upon Himself that nature for the sake of providing redemption for mankind. death…power of death. This is the ultimate purpose of the Incarnation: Jesus came to earth to die. By dying, He was able to conquer death in His resurrection (John 14:19). By conquering death, He rendered Satan powerless against all who are saved. Satan’s using the power of death is subject to God’s will (Job 2:6).

Hebrews 2:17 propitiation. The word means “to conciliate” or “satisfy.” Christ’s work of propitiation is related to His High Priestly ministry. By His partaking of a human nature, Christ demonstrated His mercy to mankind and His faithfulness to God by satisfying God’s requirement for sin and thus obtaining for His people full forgiveness.



DAY 6: How can we know whether Ezekiel’s language is descriptive of a literal event or symbolic of an idea or principle?


Ezekiel’s life offered his audience a sequence of experiences and actions that became teachable moments. Some of these were scenes in visions that held special significance. For example, the first three chapters of the book report extended visions in which the prophet saw a whirlwind, heavenly creatures, and an edible scroll. He also received his call to the prophetic ministry.

In addition, Ezekiel carried out certain unusual or highly symbolic actions that were intended to picture a message or convey a warning. In 4:1–3, the prophet was directed to carve on a clay tablet and then use an iron plate as a sign about the danger facing Jerusalem. Other acted-out sermons followed: symbolic sleeping postures (4:4–8), siege bread making and baking (4:9–17), and haircutting and burning (5:1–4). God instructed Ezekiel to respond even to the tragedies in his life in such a way that a message was communicated to the people. The prophet learned of his wife’s impending death but was told by God that his loss would provide an important lesson the people needed to hear. Just as Ezekiel was not allowed to mourn, the people would not be allowed to mourn when they finally faced the “death” of Jerusalem. “‘Thus Ezekiel is a sign to you; according to all that he has done you shall do; and when this comes, you shall know that I am the Lord GOD’” (Ezek. 24:24).

The unique nature of Ezekiel’s approach creates a striking contrast between the clarity of his message and the willful rejection of that message by the people. His ministry removed every excuse.


GOD BLESSES YOU!


MAXIMILIANO 


11/05/17

Knowledge Through Faith

"By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible."

God’s greatest truths are discovered by simple faith.

As a man or woman of faith, you have insights into life that unbelievers can't know. You know how the physical universe began, where it is heading, and how it will end. You know Who governs the universe and how you fit into the total scheme of things. You know why you exist and how to invest your life in matters of eternal consequence.

Unbelievers can't possibly appreciate those things because "a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised" (1 Cor. 2:14).

Some of the most basic issues of life remain a mystery to most people because they refuse God's counsel. For example, the most brilliant thinkers have never agreed on the origin of the universe. Theirs is a futile attempt to explain what is beyond the realm of scientific investigation.

But such things aren't beyond the realm of knowing—if a person is willing to be taught by God's Word. For the Bible clearly states that God spoke the physical universe into existence, creating visible matter from what was non-physical or invisible (Rom. 4:17). No humans observed that event. It cannot be measured or repeated. It must be taken by faith.

Any attempt to explain the origin of the universe or the nature of man apart from God's Word is foolhardy. The unregenerate mind, no matter how brilliant it might be, cannot fathom such things.

So never feel you have to apologize for trusting God's Word. Let the confidence of the psalmist be yours: "I have more insight than all my teachers, for Thy testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the aged, because I have observed Thy precepts" (Ps. 119:99-100).

Suggestions for Prayer

Read Genesis 1-2 as a reminder of the power and wisdom of God in creating the universe. From those chapters select specific things to praise Him for.

For Further Study

Memorize Psalm 19:1. Can you think of ways that the natural creation brings glory to God? (See also Romans 1:18-20.)


PART II

Living a Fulfilled Life

“Fear God and keep His commandments” (Ecclesiastes 12:13).

Living life apart from God is futile.

The Book of Ecclesiastes is greatly misunderstood. It is a difficult book to read simply because it is hard to understand. Everything in it appears wrong and as if it doesn’t fit with the rest of Scripture. But it is part of the Old Testament wisdom literature because it is a statement of human wisdom. Ecclesiastes tells us how man perceives his world, God, and the realities of life.

Most scholars believe Ecclesiastes was penned by Solomon. They debate whether he wrote it before he was a true believer or after. He may have written it in retrospect, or he may have penned it sometime before he had a full understanding of the life-changing truth of God.

Ecclesiastes is a fascinating book because it reveals the folly, uselessness, senselessness, and frustration of human wisdom—that which James calls “earthly, natural, demonic” (James 3:15). In Ecclesiastes 1:16 Solomon says to himself, “Behold, I have magnified and increased wisdom more than all who were over Jerusalem before me.” That verse shows me that when God initially gave Solomon wisdom, He gave it to him on a human level. He gave Solomon wisdom to make successful decisions and judgments as king. But although divine wisdom was available to him, I believe Solomon opted for human wisdom the greater portion of his life. And that wisdom was never able to answer his ultimate questions.

The sum of Solomon’s perspective on human wisdom is in Ecclesiastes 4:23: “I congratulated the dead who are already dead more than the living who are still living. But better off than both of them is the one who has never existed.” That’s a death wish and is the logical end of worldly wisdom—futility.

Fortunately, Solomon did eventually embrace true wisdom. At the end of his book, he said, “The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person” (12:13). What then can satisfy your heart and make life worth living? The wisdom of God alone.

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask God to help you follow His ways for a blessed and fulfilled life.

For Further Study

Read Proverbs 3:13-26, noting how the benefits of true wisdom are in contrast to what Solomon experienced.


PART III

November 5 - Jesus Reassures John, Part 2

A + A - RESET

“Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Go and report to John what you hear and see: the blind receive sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who does not take offense at Me’” (Matthew 11:4–6).

Jesus’ deity and His message of salvation by grace through faith have been great stumbling blocks for many unbelieving sinners, but Christ did not want such doubt and unbelief to affect John. It is likely that the Lord’s response was more than adequate to renew John’s faith and confidence, even though his circumstances, humanly speaking, went from bad to worse and he was beheaded.

After burying John’s body, his disciples reported the news to Jesus (Matt. 14:12), probably because the most important person in John’s life was now their Savior as well. At death, John likely still wondered when Jesus would judge the wicked and establish His righteous kingdom. The forerunner probably also regretted not being able to see the great events he’d faithfully preached about. But his doubts about Jesus’ identity were at an end, and he was content to leave in God’s sovereign hands the things he never fully understood. This last trait is the secret for any saint who would be blessed and not cause offense.

The Baptist would have ultimately affirmed the apostle John's later declaration, "Beloved, now we are children of God . . . we know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure" (1 John 3:2–3). Knowing this, we can always approach Jesus, even while in temporary doubt.

Ask Yourself

Have you ever thought about what your final words will be if the Lord enables you to utter some parting thoughts at your passing? How do you think you’d want to sum up your experience on earth with the Lord and your perspective on life, looking back?


PART IV

Reading for Today:

Notes:

Ezekiel 1:4 whirlwind…fire. Judgment on Judah in a further and totally devastating phase (beyond the 597 B.C. deportation) is to come out of the north, and did come from Babylon in 588–586 (as Jer. 39; 40). Its terror is depicted by a fiery whirlwind emblematic of God’s judgments and the golden brightness signifying dazzling glory.

Ezekiel 1:16 wheel in the middle of a wheel. This depicted the gigantic (v. 15, “on the earth” and “so high,” v. 18) energy of the complicated revolutions of God’s massive judgment machinery bringing about His purposes with unerring certainty.

Ezekiel 2:2 the Spirit entered me. What God commands a servant to do (v. 1), He gives power to fulfill by His Spirit (3:14; Zech. 4:6). This pictures the selective empowering by the Holy Spirit to enable an individual for special service to the Lord, which occurred frequently in the Old Testament. (For examples see 11:5; 37:1; Num. 24:2; Judg. 3:10; 6:34; 11:29; 13:25; 1 Sam.10:10; 16:13, 14; 19:20; 2 Chr. 15:1; Luke 4:18.)

Hebrews 1:2 last days. Jews understood the “last days” to mean the time when the Messiah (Christ) would come (Num. 24:14; Jer. 33:14–16; Mic. 5:1, 2; Zech. 9:9, 16). The fulfillment of the messianic prophecies commenced with the advent of the Messiah. Since He came, it has been the “last days” (1 Cor. 10:11; James 5:3; 1 Pet. 1:20; 4:7; 1 John 2:18). In the past, God gave revelation through His prophets; but in these times, beginning with the Messiah’s Advent, God spoke the message of redemption through the Son. heir. Everything that exists will ultimately come under the control of the Son of God, the Messiah. This “inheritance” is the full extension of the authority which the Father has given to the Son (Dan. 7:13, 14; Matt. 28:18), as the “firstborn.” worlds. The word can also be translated “ages.” It refers to time, space, energy, and matter—the entire universe and everything that makes it function (John 1:3).

Hebrews 1:8, 9 He says. Quoting from Psalm 45:6, 7, the writer argues for the Deity and the lordship of the Son over creation (v. 3). The text is all the more significant since the declaration of the Son’s Deity is presented as the words of the Father Himself (Is. 9:6; Jer. 23:5, 6; John 5:18; Titus 2:13; 1 John 5:20). It is clear that the writer of Hebrews had the 3 messianic offices in mind: Prophet (v. 1), Priest (v. 3), and King (vv. 3, 8). Induction into those 3 offices required anointing (v. 9). The title “Messiah” (“Christ”) means “anointed one” (Is. 61:1–3; Luke 4:16–21).



DAY 5: To which Hebrews was this book written?


Although the author and the original recipients of this letter are unknown, the title, dating as early as the second century A.D., had been “To the Hebrews.” The title certainly fits the content. The epistle exudes a Jewish mind-set. References to Hebrew history and religion abound. And since no particular Gentile or pagan practice gains any attention in the book, the church has kept the traditional title.


A proper interpretation of this epistle requires the recognition that it addresses 3 distinct groups of Hebrews:

  1. Hebrew Christians who suffered rejection and persecution by fellow Jews (10:32–34), although none as yet had been martyred (12:4). The letter was written to give them encouragement and confidence in Christ, their Messiah and High Priest. They were an immature group of believers who were tempted to hold on to the symbolic and spiritually powerless rituals and traditions of Judaism.
  2. Jewish unbelievers who were intellectually convinced of the basic truths of the gospel but who had not placed their faith in Jesus Christ as their own Savior and Lord. They were intellectually persuaded but spiritually uncommitted. These unbelievers are addressed in such passages as 2:1–3; 6:4–6; 10:26–29; and 12:15–17.
  3. Jewish unbelievers who were attracted by the gospel and the Person of Christ but who had reached no final conviction about Him. Chapter 9 is largely devoted to them.


GOD BLESSES YOU!


MAXIMILIANO



11/04/17

Gaining God's Approval

"By [faith] the men of old gained approval" (Heb. 11:2).

God makes His approval known to those who trust in Him.

The book Catch-22 tells of a squadron of World War II fliers stationed on the fictitious island of Pianos in the Mediterranean. Before a flier could transfer off the island, he had to complete 25 extremely dangerous missions over southern Europe.

One flier, Yosarian, was especially anxious to leave. After completing his twenty-fifth mission, his commanding officer began raising the number of qualifying missions. Insanity became the only justification for a transfer. But the commander decided that whomever feigned insanity to obtain a transfer simply proved his sanity by that sane act!

Realizing it was all a cruel game with no way out, Yosarian devised a plan to build a raft and float to Sweden. Even though there was a whole continent between him and Sweden and the ocean currents would take him in the opposite direction, he couldn't be dissuaded. He took a leap into the absurd with a hopeless and impossible plan to escape a hopeless and impossible situation.

In their relentless quest for meaning in life, many people become spiritual Yosarians. Rejecting God, who is the only sure and rational answer to life, they jump headlong into alcohol, drugs, witchcraft, astrology, reincarnation, or countless other absurdities.

Many acknowledge God, but try to gain His approval through self-righteous deeds apart from true faith. In either case the results are the same: no faith, no salvation, no hope, no peace, and no assurance.

But those who take God at His word and approach Him in true faith receive His approval and enjoy His blessings. Theirs isn't a blind leap into the absurd, but a living hope in the God who made man and who alone can fulfill man's deepest longings. They know the joy and satisfaction of a life spent in service to Christ, and the peace and assurance that all is well—both now and for eternity.

Suggestions for Prayer

Pray for those you know who have rejected God or are trying to gain His approval on their own. Explain to them the meaning and purpose Christ alone can bring to their lives.

For Further Study

According to 2 Timothy 2:24-26, what is the spiritual state of those who oppose the gospel, and how are we to approach them?


PART II

Being Wise in Adversity

“Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom” (James 3:13).

Wisdom teaches us how to handle adversity.

In his wonderful commentary on the book of James, Robert Johnstone wrote the following about meekness:

That “the meek” should “inherit the earth”—that they bear wrongs, and exemplify the love which “seeketh not her own”—to a world that believes in high-handedness and self-assertion, and pushing the weakest to the wall, a statement like this of the Lord from Heaven cannot but appear an utter paradox. The man of the world desires to be counted anything but “meek” or “poor in spirit,” and would deem such a description of him equivalent to a charge of unmanliness.

Ah, brethren, this is because we have taken in Satan’s conception of manliness instead of God’s. One man has been shown us by God, in whom His ideal of man was embodied; and He, when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, threatened not, but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously: He for those who nailed Him to the tree prayed, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” The world’s spirit of wrath, then, must be folly; whilst than a spirit of meekness like His, in the midst of controversy, oppositions, trials of whatever kind, there can be no surer evidence that “Jesus is made of God to His people wisdom” (The Epistle of James [Minneapolis: Klock & Klock, 1978], 272-273).

Johnstone recognized more than a hundred years ago what we need to know today—that the wisdom of man is arrogant, conceited, and self-serving, whereas the wisdom of God is humble, meek, and non-retaliatory.

The contrast between false wisdom and true wisdom is crystal-clear. Be sure you handle adversity in a Christlike way, knowing that every detail of your life is under God’s sovereign control.

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank the Lord for His example of how to respond to adversity (cf. 1 Peter 2:21-24).

For Further Study

Read Philippians 2:1-11, applying Christ’s example to your life (vv. 1-5).


PART III

November 4 - Jesus Reassures John, Part 1

“Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Go and report to John what you hear and see: the blind receive sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who does not take offense at Me’” (Matthew 11:4–6).

The Lord Jesus always has the best answer for every distinct situation. Rather than a terse yes-or-no answer to John the Baptist, Jesus reported to his disciples a reminder of the healing miracles already so well-reported and witnessed. The signs had prompted many to follow Jesus (Matt. 4:23–25), and notable healings were well publicized: the cleansing of an unclean spirit (Mark 1:28), Jairus’s daughter (Matt. 9:26), and the Galilean leper (Luke 5:15).

Jesus greatly loved John the Baptist, and because he was His faithful forerunner, our Lord purposed to give him a personal and direct report of miracle-working evidence about Himself. Concerning this time of John’s doubting, Luke writes, “At that very time He cured many people of diseases and afflictions and evil spirits; and He gave sight to many who were blind” (Luke 7:21). What He did included nothing to improve John’s difficult circumstances, but He did send him a special confirmation that He was indeed performing messianic works. Such miracles occurred in keeping with Isaiah’s prophecy (Isa. 35:5; 61:1).

In essence, Jesus’ initial reassurance to John said, “These things are just a preview of My coming kingdom. You can see by what I do now that I care, that I heal, and that I have control over all things.”

Ask Yourself

Does anything please you more than seeing God’s kingdom advanced and His name being honored? What other priorities threaten to dethrone this goal from being your top reason for satisfaction?


PART IV

Reading for Today:

Notes:

Lamentations 3:8 He shuts out my prayer. God’s non-response to Jeremiah’s prayers was not because Jeremiah was guilty of personal sin (Ps. 66:18); rather, it was due to Israel’s perpetual sin without repentance (Jer. 19:15). God’s righteousness to judge that sin must pursue its course (Jer. 7:16; 11:14). Jeremiah knew that, yet prayed, wept (vv. 48–51), and longed to see repentance.

Lamentations 3:22–24 His compassions fail not. As bleak as the situation of judgment had become, God’s covenant lovingkindness was always present (vv. 31, 32), and His incredible faithfulness always endured so that Judah would not be destroyed forever (Mal. 3:6).

Philemon 1 prisoner of Christ Jesus. At the time of writing, Paul was a prisoner in Rome. Paul was imprisoned for the sake of and by the sovereign will of Christ (Eph. 3:1; 4:1; 6:19, 20; Phil. 1:13; Col. 4:3). By beginning with his imprisonment and not his apostolic authority, Paul made this letter a gentle and singular appeal to a friend. A reminder of Paul’s severe hardships was bound to influence Philemon’s willingness to do the comparatively easy task Paul was about to request.

Philemon 16 more than a slave—a beloved brother. Paul did not call for Onesimus’s freedom (1 Cor. 7:20–22), but that Philemon would receive his slave now as a fellow believer in Christ (Eph. 6:9; Col. 4:1; 1 Tim. 6:2). Christianity never sought to abolish slavery, but rather to make the relationships within it just and kind. in the flesh. In this physical life (Phil. 1:22), as they worked together. in the Lord. The master and slave were to enjoy spiritual oneness and fellowship as they worshiped and ministered together.




DAY 4: What is the background for the Book of Philemon?



Philemon had been saved under Paul’s ministry, probably at Ephesus (v. 19), several years earlier. Wealthy enough to have a large house (v. 2), Philemon also owned at least one slave, a man named Onesimus (literally, “useful”; a common name for slaves). Onesimus was not a believer at the time he stole some money (v. 18) from Philemon and ran away. Like countless thousands of other runaway slaves, Onesimus fled to Rome, seeking to lose himself in the imperial capital’s teeming and nondescript slave population. Through circumstances not recorded in Scripture, Onesimus met Paul in Rome and became a Christian.

The apostle quickly grew to love the runaway slave (vv. 12,16) and longed to keep Onesimus in Rome (v. 13), where he was providing valuable service to Paul in his imprisonment (v. 11). But by stealing and running away from Philemon, Onesimus had both broken Roman law and defrauded his master. Paul knew those issues had to be dealt with and decided to send Onesimus back to Colosse. It was too hazardous for him to make the trip alone (because of the danger of slave-catchers), so Paul sent him back with Tychicus, who was returning to Colosse with the Epistle to the Colossians (Col. 4:7–9). Along with Onesimus, Paul sent Philemon this beautiful personal letter, urging him to forgive Onesimus and welcome him back to service as a brother in Christ (vv. 15–17).


GOD BLESSES YOU, SO YOU CAN BE A BLESSING TO OTHERS. 


MAXIMILIANO 


11/03/17

Having a Faith That Responds

"Faith is . . . the conviction of things not seen" (Heb. 11:1).

True faith goes beyond assurance to action.

When the writer said, "Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen", he used two parallel and almost identical phrases to define faith.

We've seen that faith is the assurance that all God's promises will come to pass in His time. "The conviction of things not seen" takes the same truth a step further by implying a response to what we believe and are assured of.

James addressed the issue this way: "Someone may well say, 'You have faith, and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.'. . . But are you willing to recognize . . . that faith without works is useless? . . . For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead" (James 2:18, 26). In other words, a non-responsive faith is no faith at all.

Noah had a responsive faith. He had never seen rain because rain didn't exist prior to the Flood. Perhaps he knew nothing about building a ship. Still, he followed God's instructions and endured 120 years of hard work and ridicule because he believed God was telling the truth. His work was a testimony to that belief.

Moses considered "the reproach of Christ [Messiah] greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward" (Heb. 11:26). Messiah wouldn't come to earth for another 1,400 years, but Moses forsook the wealth and benefits of Egypt to pursue the messianic hope.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, when faced with a life- threatening choice, chose to act on their faith in God, whom they couldn't see, rather than bow to Nebuchadnezzar, whom they could see all too well (Dan. 3). Even if it meant physical death, they wouldn't compromise their beliefs.

I pray that the choices you make today will show you are a person of strong faith and convictions.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Ask God to increase and strengthen your faith through the events of this day.
  • Look for specific opportunities to trust Him more fully.

For Further Study

Read Daniel 3:1-20. How was the faith of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego tested?


PART II

Manifesting a Wise Attitude

“Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom” (James 3:13).

A wise person is a gentle person.

A believer will demonstrate that he possesses the wisdom of God not only by his behavior, but also by his attitude. True wisdom is characterized by gentleness and is the opposite of self-promotion and arrogance. Gentleness is the trait that characterized our Lord. In Matthew 11:29 He says, “Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart.” It is also a trait belonging to all the members of His kingdom. In Matthew 5:5 the Lord says, “Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.” “Gentleness” is also a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:23).

The word translated “gentleness” is from the Greek word praus, which can also be translated “meek” or “tender.” Praus is often used of a gentle voice, a gentle breeze, or a gentle animal. It was also used of a horse that was broken. The Greeks characterized meekness as power under control; in the believer’s case, that means being under the control of God. It’s a freedom from malice, bitterness, or any desire for revenge. The only way to truly define meekness is in the context of relationships because it refers to how we treat others. It should characterize our relationship with both man and God.

How about your attitude? Is it characterized by meekness, humility, gentleness, and mildness, or do you tend to display an arrogant, selfish attitude toward others?

Suggestions for Prayer

Christ is the perfect example of gentleness. Thank Him for this attribute, and ask Him to help you be like Him.

For Further Study


PART III

November 3 - Unfulfilled Expectations for John

“Now when John, while imprisoned, heard of the works of Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to Him, ‘Are You the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?’” (Matthew 11:2–3).

It has often been difficult for Christians to understand why the Lord allows them to wait for Him to fulfill certain promises. It was even harder for John the Baptist, given his expectations. John had a strong devotion to righteousness as a prophetic voice divinely called to preach repentance and judgment. God had also called him to herald the coming Messiah, who would render judgment. John expected this to happen immediately or at least soon after Messiah appeared.

The second part of John’s question, “Shall we look for someone else?” would indicate he was dealing with unfulfilled expectations regarding Messiah. Under the Spirit’s direction he had preached about Christ’s ministry of judgment (see Matt. 3:11–12). John knew his preaching was true and that Jesus was that One about whom he preached, yet He had not yet done the stringent things John proclaimed.

As John sat in prison he must have recalled the psalmist’s cry, “Surely there is a God who judges on earth!” (Ps. 58:11; cf. 9:3–4; 52:1–5; Rev. 6:10).

Believers today sometimes have high expectations about the soon return of Christ, but when that doesn’t happen, their hope and dedication often fades. They don’t stop believing in the second coming, but they don’t think about that hope nearly as much as before. But, as Jesus reassured John, they can know that God’s program remains on His schedule, as Peter assured his readers, “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you” (2 Peter 3:9a; cf. vv. 3–8).

Ask Yourself

How have expectations affected your own outlook on God and the life of faith? Does this mean you should lower your expectations to make them less likely to go unmet? How do you make yourself less susceptible to being waylaid by disappointment?


PART IV

Reading for Today:

Notes:

Lamentations 1:21, 22 Bring on the day. A prayer that God will likewise bring other ungodly people into judgment, especially Babylon (2:20–22; 3:64–66; 4:21, 22). Such prayers are acceptable against the enemies of God (Ps. 109:14, 15).

Lamentations 2:20 See, O LORD, and consider! The chapter closes by placing the issue before God. women eat their offspring. Hunger became so desperate in the 18-month siege that women resorted to the unbelievable—even eating their children (4:10; Lev. 26:29; Deut. 28:53, 56, 57; Jer. 19:9).

Titus 3:1–11 In his closing remarks, Paul admonished Titus to remind believers under his care of their attitudes toward: 1) the unsaved rulers (v.1) and people in general (v. 2); 2) their previous state as unbelievers lost in sin (v. 3); 3) of their gracious salvation through Jesus Christ (vv. 4–7); 4) of their righteous testimony to the unsaved world (v. 8); 5) and of their responsibility to oppose false teachers and factious members within the church (vv.9–11). All of these matters are essential to effective evangelism.

Titus 3:3 ourselves. It is not that every believer has committed every sin listed here, but rather that before salvation every life is characterized by such sins. That sobering truth should make believers humble in dealing with the unsaved, even those who are grossly immoral and ungodly. If it weren’t for God’s grace to His own, they would all be wicked.


DAY 3: What is the Book of Lamentations about?

The prophetic seeds of Jerusalem’s destruction were sown through Joshua 800 years in advance (Josh. 3:15, 16). Now, for over 40 years, Jeremiah had prophesied of coming judgment and been scorned by the people for preaching doom (ca. 645–605 B.C.).When that judgment came on the disbelieving people from Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonian army, Jeremiah still responded with great sorrow and compassion toward his suffering and obstinate people. Lamentations relates closely to the Book of Jeremiah, describing the anguish over Jerusalem’s receiving God’s judgment for unrepentant sins. In the book that bears his name, Jeremiah had predicted the calamity in chapters 1–29. In Lamentations, he concentrates in more detail on the bitter suffering and heartbreak that was felt over Jerusalem’s devastation (Ps. 46:4, 5). So critical was Jerusalem’s destruction that the facts are recorded in 4 separate Old Testament chapters: 2 Kings 25; Jeremiah 39:1–11; 52; and 2 Chronicles 36:11–21.

All 154 verses have been recognized by the Jews as a part of their sacred canon. Along with Ruth, Esther, Song of Solomon, and Ecclesiastes, Lamentations is included among the Old Testament books of the Megilloth, or “five scrolls,” which were read in the synagogue on special occasions. Lamentations is read on the ninth of Ab (July/Aug.) to remember the date of Jerusalem’s destruction by Nebuchadnezzar. Interestingly, this same date later marked the destruction of Herod’s temple by the Romans in A.D. 70.


GOD BLESS YOU


MAXIMILIANO


11/02/17

The Hope That Assures

"Faith is the assurance of things hoped for" (Heb. 11:1).

Faith is the solid ground on which we stand as we await the fulfillment of God's promises.

An elderly man who, on his seventy-fifth birthday, received an invitation to fly over the little West Virginia town in which he had spent his entire life. Although he had never before flown, the man accepted the gracious offer.

After circling the town for about twenty minutes, the pilot safely returned his passenger to the ground. The man's grandson greeted him excitedly, asking, "Were you scared, Grandpa?" "No," he replied sheepishly, "but I never did put my full weight down."

Unlike that hesitant grandfather, true faith trusts fully in its object. For the Christian, that means resting in God and His promises. That's the primary characteristic of each faithful individual listed in Hebrews 11. They all believed God and responded accordingly.

People often confuse faith with a wistful longing that something, however unlikely, will come to pass in the future. But "assurance" in Hebrews 11:1 speaks of essence and reality— the real thing, as opposed to mere appearance. Faith, then, involves absolute certainty.

For example, the Old Testament saints had the promise of a coming Messiah who would take away sin. They believed God, even though their understanding of Messiah was incomplete and somewhat vague. They knew their hopes would be fulfilled, and that assurance dominated their lives.

It's the same for New Testament believers. Peter said, "Though you have not seen [Christ], you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls" (1 Pet. 1:8-9).

Man's natural tendency is to trust only in the things he can see, hear, touch, or taste. But our physical senses may lie, whereas God cannot (Titus 1:2). Far better to believe God and trust in His promises.

Suggestions for Prayer

Which promises of God are especially meaningful to you today? Thank Him for them and reaffirm your commitment to living on the basis of His Word.

For Further Study

Skim Hebrews 11 and note all the divine promises you find there. To gain a fuller understanding of each one, find other Scripture references that mention the same promises.


PART II

Proving You Are Wise

“Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom” (James 3:13).

Divine wisdom produces a changed life.

The one who possesses godly wisdom will show it in his life. That’s why James says, “Let him show by his good behavior his deeds” (3:13, emphasis added). The phrase “let him show” is a command to demonstrate one’s wisdom and understanding. That is the thrust of James 2:14-26, summarized in verse 26: “Faith without works is dead.” A person’s claim to have faith will be validated by his works. Similarly, James is saying that if you claim to be wise, you need to demonstrate it. From God’s perspective, wisdom is made manifest by the way a person conducts his life.

How will a person show he has true wisdom? By his “good behavior” (3:13). The Greek word translated “good” means “lovely,” “beautiful,” “attractive,” “noble,” or “excellent.” The term translated “behavior” speaks of one’s lifestyle or activity. If a person truly has divine wisdom and living faith, he will show it by his good conduct and excellent lifestyle.

James becomes specific when he says, “Let him show by his good behavior his deeds” (v. 13, emphasis added). He is focusing on the details. The wisdom of God alters not only your general conduct, but also what you do specifically. Every act within a person’s life is consistent with how he conducts his entire life. If it’s a life based on the wisdom of God, each aspect of his life will reveal that. The general pattern of his life and the specific things he does will reflect the work, the way, and the will of God. Take time to examine your life and see whether your conduct proves that you possess the true wisdom of God.

Suggestions for Prayer

A wise person will manifest good behavior. Read Psalm 119:33-40, making the prayer of the psalmist your own.

For Further Study

Your conduct will reveal whether you’re living wisely. What do the following verses say about how you should live: Philippians 1:27; 1 Timothy 4:12; 1 Peter 2:12; and 2 Peter 3:11?


November 2 - Worldly Influence on John

A + A - RESET

“Now when John, while imprisoned, heard of the works of Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to Him, ‘Are You the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?’” (Matthew 11:2–3).

Even the righteous John the Baptist was not totally freed from worldly influences that could cause him doubts about Jesus. The Lord’s ministry did not completely square with what most Jews, including John, thought Messiah would do. The Christ could not set up His own kingdom without first freeing Israel from Roman bondage and injustice. But He had done nothing to oppose Rome. And Jesus’ many miracles had still not yet banished all suffering from Israel or the world.

A common misunderstanding was that other prominent men would precede Him—perhaps Elijah, Jeremiah, and some other prophets. Thus when Jesus later asked the apostles who people thought He was, they replied, “Some say John the Baptist [who by then was dead]; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets” (Matt. 16:14).

The distorted and world-based ideas about Messiah—with Jesus not fitting their preconceived notions—almost inevitably rubbed off on John. Then some Jewish leaders challenged Jesus by asking, “How long will You keep us in suspense? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.” To this, Jesus responded, “I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father’s name, these testify of Me” (John 10:24–25).

The unbelieving world could affect even John’s confidence in Jesus because it does not grasp God’s plan, since such things “are foolishness to [them]; and [they] cannot understand them” (1 Cor. 2:14; cf. John 10:26). Worldly, unbelieving thinking will always try to sow doubts regarding the truth of Christ.

Ask Yourself

Can you identify a sliver of worldly thinking that has slipped into your way of looking at things? Why do we tend to embrace these kinds of perspectives at times? What do you do when you detect an unbiblical line of thought taking hold in your mind and attitude?


PART IV

Reading for Today:

  • Jeremiah 51:1–52:34
  • Psalm 119:129-136
  • Proverbs 28:7-8
  • Titus 2:1-15

Notes:

Jeremiah 51:8 suddenly fallen. The focus was first on Babylon’s sudden fall on one night in 539 B.C. (Dan.5:30).The far view looks at the destruction of the final Babylon near the Second Advent when it will be absolutely sudden (Rev. 18).

Jeremiah 51:15–19 He has made the earth. God’s almighty power and wisdom in creation are evidences of His superiority to all idols (vv. 17, 18), who along with their worshipers will all be destroyed by His mighty power (vv. 15, 16, 19), as in Babylon’s case.

Titus 2:4 admonish the young women. Their own examples of godliness (v. 3) give older women the right and the credibility to instruct younger women in the church. The obvious implication is that older women must exemplify the virtues (vv. 4, 5) that they “admonish.” love their husbands. Like the other virtues mentioned here, this one is unconditional. It is based on God’s will, not on a husband’s worthiness. The Greek word phileo emphasizes affection.

Titus 2:9 bondservants. The term applies generally to all employees, but direct reference is to slaves—men, women, and children who, in the Roman Empire and in much of the ancient world, were owned by their masters. They had few, if any, civil rights and often were accorded little more dignity or care than domestic animals. The New Testament nowhere condones or condemns the practice of slavery, but it everywhere teaches that freedom from the bondage of sin is infinitely more important than freedom from any human bondage a person may have to endure (see Rom. 6:22). obedient….well pleasing. Paul clearly teaches that, even in the most servile of circumstances, believers are “to be obedient” and seek to please those for whom they work, whether their “masters” are believers or unbelievers, fair or unfair, kind or cruel. How much more obligated are believers to respect and obey employers for whom they work voluntarily! As with wives’ obedience to their husbands (v. 5), the only exception would involve a believer’s being required to disobey God’s Word.

Titus 2:14 redeem…purify. Another expression (v. 12) summarizes the dual effect of salvation (regeneration and sanctification). To “redeem” is to release someone held captive on the payment of a ransom. The price was Christ’s blood paid to satisfy God’s justice. special people. People who are special by virtue of God’s decree and confirmed by the grace of salvation which they have embraced (1 Cor. 6:19, 20; 1 Pet. 2:9). zealous. Good works are the product, not the means, of salvation (Eph. 2:10).


DAY 2: How does the Book of Titus indicate that the message was intended for more than just Titus and the Christians on Crete?

Titus 2:11–13 presents the heart of Paul’s letter to Titus. The apostle had already emphasized that God’s sovereign purpose in calling out elders (1:5) and in commanding His people to live righteously (vv. 1–10) is to provide the witness that brings God’s plan and purpose of salvation to fulfillment. Paul condensed the saving plan of God into 3 realities: 1) salvation from the penalty (v. 11); 2) salvation from the power (v. 12); and 3) salvation from the presence of sin (v. 13).

As Paul described the “grace of God that brings salvation” (v. 11), he was not simply referring to the divine attribute of grace, but Jesus Christ Himself, grace incarnate, God’s supremely gracious gift to fallen mankind (John 1:14). The term “all men” does not teach universal salvation. “All men” is used as “man” in 3:4 to refer to humanity in general, as a category, not to every individual. Jesus Christ made a sufficient sacrifice to cover every sin of every one who believes (John 3:16–18; 1 Tim. 2:5, 6; 4:10; 1 John 2:2). Paul makes clear in the opening words of this letter to Titus that salvation becomes effective only through “the faith of God’s elect” (1:1). Paul was well aware that the gospel had universal implications. Out of all humanity, only those who believe will be saved (John 1:12; 3:16; 5:24, 38, 40; 6:40; 10:9; Rom. 10:9–17).


GOD BLESS YOU


MAXIMILIANO 



11/01/17

Christ's Identification with Sinners

“. . . Made in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:7).

Christ was fully God and fully man.

In his Systematic Theology theologian Charles Hodge wrote, “The Scriptures teach that Christ had a complete human nature. That is, He had a true body and a rational soul. By a true body is meant a material body which in everything essential was like the bodies of ordinary men. . . . It is no less plain that Christ had a rational soul. He thought, reasoned, and felt.”

Hodge’s assessment is correct, for Christ was given all the essential attributes of humanity. He was more than God in a body. He became the God-man, being fully God and fully man. Like a man, Jesus was born and increased in wisdom and physical maturity (Luke 2:52). Hebrews 2:14 says, “Since then the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same.” Christ had the same flesh and blood that we have. When He came into the world, He came in normal human flesh that experienced all the effects of the Fall. He knew sorrow, suffering, pain, thirst, hunger, and death. He felt all effects of the Fall without ever knowing or experiencing the sin of the Fall.

Hebrews 2:17 points out how Christ’s humanity has a direct bearing on your life: Jesus “had to be made like His brethren in all things, that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest.” For Christ to feel what you feel, He needed to be made like you. He experienced all the tests and temptations you do, but He never gave in to sin. That’s why He is such a faithful and understanding High Priest. Be encouraged, for we “do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15).

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank Christ for being your faithful High Priest.

For Further Study

What human characteristics did Christ show in the following verses: Matthew 4:2; 9:36; 23:37; John 4:6-7; 11:34-35; 19:30?


PART II

Christ's Radiance and Representation

"He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature" (Heb. 1:3).

Jesus is both God manifest and God in substance.

Just as the rays of the sun give light, warmth, life, and growth to the earth, so Jesus Christ is the glorious light of God shining into the hearts of men and women. As "the radiance of God's glory," Jesus expresses God to us. No one can see God in HIs full glory; no one ever will. The radiance of that glory that reaches us from God appears in the Person of Jesus Christ.

Just as the sun was never without and can never be separated from its brightness, so God was never without and cannot be separated from the glory of Christ. Never was God without Him or He without God, and never in any way can He be separated from God. Yet the brightness of the sun is not the sun, and neither is Jesus exactly the same as God in that sense. He is fully and absolutely God, yet as a distinct Person within the triune Godhead.

Jesus said, "I am the light of the world; he who follows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life" (John 8:12). As the radiance of God's glory, Christ can transmit that light into your life and mine so that we can radiate the glory of God to a dark world.

In using the term "exact representation" to describe Christ's relationship to God's nature, the writer employs terminology usually associated with an impression reproduced on a seal by a die or stamp. Jesus Christ is the reproduction of God—the perfect, personal imprint of God in time and space.

How wonderful to realize that Jesus Christ, who is both the full expression of God and exact reproduction of God's nature in human history, can come into our lives and give us light to see and to know God! His light is the source of our spiritual life. And His light gives us purpose, meaning, happiness, peace, joy, fellowship, everything—for all eternity.

Suggestion for Prayer

Thank God that He determined to become a man so we could know what He is like.

For Further Study

Read 2 Corinthians 4:3-6 and note who allows people to see or not see spiritually.


PART III

Parable of the Sower: Main Elements


“‘Hear then the parable of the sower . . .’” (Matthew 13:18).

The Bible is God’s written Word, but His Son is the Living Word who gives Scripture life. Christ told the Jewish leaders, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me” (John 5:39).

This parable centers on proclaiming the gospel and, perhaps more important, concerns the “heart soils” on which that truth, in seed form, falls as the sower preaches. Our Lord goes on to describe four such soils, representing four different hearts that hear the gospel.

Although every human heart is essentially hostile toward God (Rom. 8:7; Eph. 2:15–16), every one has the potential for redemption. If a heart does not respond savingly, it is because of its own sin and refusal to believe. Jesus declares, “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out” (John 6:37).

In a general sense, any of us who preaches or testifies to the gospel is a sower of God’s Word. This parable thus reminds us of the need to be faithful in truly presenting the gospel, given the wonderful results that can occur. As William Arnot wrote: “As every leaf of the forest and every ripple on the lake, which itself receives a sunbeam on its breast, may throw the sunbeam off again, and so spread the light around; in like manner, everyone, old or young, who receives Christ into his heart may and will publish with his life and lips that blessed name.”

Ask Yourself

How have you experienced one or more of the various soils’ responses to your sharing of gospel truth? What have you learned about the reasons why various people respond to Christ’s message of salvation in different ways?


PART IV

Reading for Today:

Notes:

Hosea 7:4–7 The civil leaders’ evil lust burned so passionately all night, that the prophet repeatedly described it like a consuming oven (vv. 4, 6, 7), so hot that the baker could forego stirring the fire during the entire night and still have adequate heat for baking the next morning.

Psalm 139:9 the wings of the morning. In conjunction with “the uttermost parts of the sea,” David uses this literary figure to express distance.

2 John 1 The Elder. John uses this title to emphasize his advanced age, his spiritual authority over the congregations in Asia Minor, and the strength of his own personal eyewitness testimony to the life of Jesus and all that He taught (vv. 4–6). the elect lady and her children. Some think that this phrase refers metaphorically to a particular local church, while “her children” would refer to members of the congregation. The more natural understanding in context, however, is that it refers to a particular woman and her children (i.e., offspring) who were well known to John. whom I love in truth. The basis of Christian hospitality is the truth (vv. 1–3). John accentuates the need for truth by repeating the term “truth” 5 times in the opening 4 verses. Truth refers to the basics or fundamentals of the faith that John has discussed in 1 John, as well as the truths expressed in 2 John 4–6. Truth is the necessary condition of unity and, as a result, the basis of hospitality.

2 John 10 do not receive him into your house nor greet him. John’s prohibition is not a case of entertaining people who disagree on minor matters. These false teachers were carrying on a regular campaign to destroy the basic, fundamental truths of Christianity. Complete disassociation from such heretics is the only appropriate course of action for genuine believers. No benefit or aid of any type (not even a greeting) is permissible. Believers should aid only those who proclaim the truth (vv. 5–8).


Why is it so important to John to “confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh” (2 John 7)?

John’s purpose was to strengthen Christians to resist the tide of heresy that was rising against the church. Much of this false teaching was an early form of Gnosticism.

The gnostic idea that matter was evil and only spirit was good led to the idea that either the body should be treated harshly, a form of asceticism (Col. 2:21–23), or that sin committed in the body had no connection or effect on one’s spirit. In other words, the false teaching sought to drive a wedge between body and soul. This is why it often maintained that Jesus could not have been God and man at the same time.

The result of this error in teaching was compounded when some, including John’s opponents, concluded that sins committed in the physical body did not matter. Absolute indulgence in immorality was permissible. One could deny sin even existed (1 John 1:8–10) and disregard God’s law (1 John 3:4).

As a bulwark against this heresy, John lifted the confession that “Jesus Christ [came] in the flesh” (v. 7). What Christians do in their physical life is directly connected with what they do in their spiritual life. John emphasized the need for obedience to God’s laws, for he defined the true love for God as obedience to His commandments (1 John 5:3). Jesus, in His human living, offered the perfect example of that kind of love.


LORD BLESS HIS ELECT

My Royal Family


LOVINGLY IN THE LOVE OF OUR LORD JESUS

E+1DAY


MAXIMILIANO


10/31/17

Training in Righteousness

"All Scripture is . . . profitable for . . . training in righteousness" (2 Tim. 3:16).

God’s Word nourishes your spiritual life.

We conclude our study of the character and benefits of God's Word by focusing on the benefit that ties all the others together: training in righteousness. Everything the Word accomplishes in you through teaching, reproof, and correction is aimed at increasing your righteousness so you'll "be thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Tim. 3:17, NIV).

"Training" refers to training or educating a child. The New Testament also uses the term to speak of chastening, which is another important element in both child rearing and spiritual growth (Heb. 12:5-11). The idea is that from spiritual infancy to maturity, Scripture trains and educates believers in godly living.

Scripture is your spiritual nourishment. Jesus said, "Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God" (Matt. 4:4). Peter exhorted us to be like newborn babes, longing "for the pure milk of the word, that by it [we] may grow in respect to salvation" (1 Pet. 2:2).

You should crave the Word just like a baby craves milk. But Peter prefaced that statement with an exhortation to put "aside all malice and all guile and hypocrisy and envy and all slander" (v. 1). That's the prerequisite. James taught the same principle: "Putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word" (James 1:21). Attempting to feast on Scripture without confessing your sin is like attempting to eat a meal while wearing a muzzle.

Either the Word will keep you from sin or sin will keep you from the Word. Deal with sin immediately so it doesn't spoil your appetite for God's Word. And even if you know the Bible well, be regularly refreshed by its power and reminded of its truths. That's the key to enjoying spiritual health and victory.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank God for the nourishment His Word provides.
  • Seek His wisdom and grace in dealing with personal sin. Don't ignore it, for it will diminish your desire for biblical truth.

For Further Study

Read Philippians 3:1 and 2 Peter 1:12-15.

  • What did Paul and Peter say about the importance of being reminded of biblical truths you've already learned?
  • Do you follow that advice?


PART II

Overcoming Temptation

A + A - RESET

“For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).

Jesus Christ provides us with the perfect example of how to defeat temptation.

Perhaps you’ve heard the joke, “I can resist anything but temptation!” Unfortunately, that is all too often true in our lives. Learning how to successfully resist temptation is vitally important, for we sin only when we yield to temptation.

Christians throughout history have recognized the importance of resisting temptation. One early believer wrote, “Fly from all occasions of temptation, and if still tempted, fly further still. If there is no escape possible, then have done with running and show a bold face and take the two-edged sword of the Spirit.” The desire to escape temptation has led many in the history of the church to attempt heroic but ultimately futile feats of ascetic self-denial. So desperate did one monk become that he threw himself into a thicket of thorn bushes! Unfortunately, that did not bring him the relief from temptation that he so desperately sought.

The way to successfully resist temptation was modeled by our Lord Jesus Christ when He was tempted. We must first understand our enemy’s plan of attack and, secondly, make use of our spiritual resources.

Satan made a three-pronged assault on Jesus—the same three ways he tempts us. First, he tempted Jesus to doubt God’s goodness by commanding the stones to become bread (Matt. 4:3). That implies that God didn’t care enough about Jesus to provide for His physical needs. Second, he tempted Jesus to doubt God’s love, suggesting that He test that love by leaping from the pinnacle of the temple (Matt. 4:5-6). Finally, he tempted Jesus to compromise God’s truth, promising Him the kingdom without the cross if Jesus would worship him (Matt. 4:8-9).

To each of Satan’s temptations, Jesus replied, “It is written” (Matt. 4:4, 7, 10). He thereby showed us the resource for defeating temptation: the Word of God (cf. Eph. 6:17). Do you find yourself overcome by temptation? Then follow our Lord’s example and take up the sword of the Spirit today!

Suggestions for Prayer

Pray that God would make you alert to Satan’s attacks.

For Further Study

Make a list of specific verses you can use to combat the specific temptations you face.


PART III

October 31 - Difficult Circumstances for John

A + A - RESET

“Now when John, while imprisoned, heard of the works of Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to Him, ‘Are You the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?’” (Matthew 11:2–3).

John the Baptist was a true saint and prophet of God, unreserved in His divine service. He had ministered precisely according to God’s will, but now he couldn’t help wondering why he was imprisoned and enduring other hardships.

He knew the Old Testament and maybe asked where the God of comfort (Ps. 119:50; Isa. 51:12) was at that time. Where was the promise that Messiah would “bind up the brokenhearted . . . proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners” (Isa. 61:1)?

Paul was also imprisoned, likely in Rome, when he wrote, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:4–7; cf. vv. 11–13, 19).

John knew where to find answers, even in the midst of doubt. That’s why he sent his disciples to Jesus to plead, “Lord, please help me!” And Christ was glad to respond, performing miracles for John’s sake and promising spiritual blessing if he remained steady.

Difficult circumstances can be stressful and painful, but our attitude and response should be like John’s—and Paul’s—trusting in the Lord to calm our doubts, anxieties, and fears (cf. James 1:2–12).

Ask Yourself

What causes some to be secure and steadfast no matter their circumstances, while others really struggle to keep their faith front and center? How are you preparing your heart to stay strong in the inevitable seasons of conflict to come?


PART III

Reading for Today:

Notes:

Jeremiah 48:11, 12 This wine-making imagery is vivid. In the production of sweet wine, the juice was left in a wineskin until the sediment or dregs settled onto the bottom. Then it was poured into another skin until more dregs were separated. This process continued until the dregs were all removed and a pure, sweet wine obtained. Moab was not taken from suffering to suffering so that her bitter dregs would be removed through the purging of pain. Thus the nation was settled into the thickness and bitterness of its own sin. Judgment from God was coming to smash them.

2 Timothy 4:2 the word. The entire written Word of God, His complete revealed truth as contained in the Bible (3:15, 16; Acts 20:27). Be ready. The Greek word has a broad range of meanings, including suddenness or forcefulness. Here the form of the verb suggests the complementary ideas of urgency, preparedness, and readiness. It was used of a soldier prepared to go into battle or a guard who was continually alert for any surprise attack—attitudes which are imperative for a faithful preacher. in season and out of season. The faithful preacher must proclaim the Word when it is popular and/or convenient and when it is not; when it seems suitable to do so and when it seems not. The dictates of popular culture, tradition, reputation, acceptance, or esteem in the community (or in the church) must never alter the true preacher’s commitment to proclaim God’s Word. Convince, rebuke. The negative side of preaching the Word (the “reproof” and “correction”; 3:16). The Greek word for convince” refers to correcting behavior or false doctrine by using careful biblical argument to help a person understand the error of his actions. The Greek word for “rebuke” deals more with correcting the person’s motives by convicting him of his sin and leading him to repentance.


DAY 31: Describe how Paul recaps his life in 2 Timothy 4:6–8.

“For I am already being poured out as a drink offering” (v. 6).Meaning his death was imminent. In the Old Testament sacrificial system, a drink offering was the final offering that followed the burnt and grain offerings prescribed for the people of Israel (Num. 15:1–16). Paul saw his coming death as his final offering to God in a life that had already been full of sacrifices to Him. “My departure” speaks of Paul’s death. The Greek word essentially refers to the loosening of something, such as the mooring ropes of a ship or the ropes of a tent; thus it eventually acquired the secondary meaning of “departure.”

“I have fought…have finished…have kept” (v. 7).The form of the 3 Greek verbs indicates completed action with continuing results. Paul saw his life as complete—he had been able to accomplish through the Lord’s power all that God called him to do. He was a soldier, an athlete, and a guardian. “The faith.” The truths and standards of the revealed Word of God.

“Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness” (v. 8). The Greek word for “crown” literally means “surrounding,” and it was used of the plaited wreaths or garlands placed on the heads of dignitaries and victorious military officers or athletes. Linguistically, “of righteousness” can mean either that righteousness is the source of the crown or that righteousness is the nature of the crown. The crown represents eternal righteousness received through the imputed righteousness of Christ at salvation (Rom. 4:6, 11). The Holy Spirit works practical righteousness (sanctification) in the believer throughout his lifetime of struggle with sin (Rom. 6:13, 19; 8:4). But only when the struggle is complete will the Christian receive Christ’s righteousness perfected in him (glorification) when he enters heaven (Gal. 5:5).


GOD BLESS YOU!


MAXIMILIANO 


10/30/17

Increasing Your Spiritual Strength

"All Scripture is . . . profitable for . . . correction" (2 Tim. 3:16).

God’s Word strengthens the repentant sinner.

If you're a gardening buff, you know that skillful pruning promotes the overall growth and productivity of a plant. Jesus assumed His audience knew as much when He said, "I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you" (John 15:1-3).

Jesus was comparing believers to branches, which the Father prunes for maximum productivity. The Word is His pruning shear, which He applies with skill and precision to remove our imperfections and promote godliness. He wants to eliminate anything from our lives that may restrict our spiritual growth.

The word translated "correction" in 2 Timothy 3:16 speaks of the strengthening work of God's Word. Scripture not only exposes your sin, but it also strengthens you and restores you to a proper spiritual posture. It convicts you and then gives you instruction to build you up again.

Job 17:9 says, "The righteous shall hold to his way, and he who has clean hands shall grow stronger and stronger." Paul added, "I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified" (Acts 20:32).

As the Spirit uses Scripture to expose sin in your life, forsake that sin and follow what Scripture says to do instead. You will be strengthened in your spiritual walk as a result. To aid in that process be "constantly nourished on the words of the faith and . . . sound doctrine" (1 Tim. 4:6).

I firmly believe that any weaknesses you have can become areas of great strength as you allow God's Word to do its sanctifying work within you.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank God for the strengthening and restoring power of His Word.
  • If there's an area of your life that is weak and vulnerable to temptation, confess it to the Lord and begin today to strengthen it according to the Word.

For Further Study

Read Ephesians 1:18-23 and 3:14-21.

  • What did Paul pray for?
  • How did God demonstrate His power toward believers?
  • Is God's power sufficient for all your spiritual needs? Explain.


PART II

The Solution to the Sin Dilemma

Romans 7:24-25

“Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:24-25).

Christians have been delivered from sin’s power and will one day be delivered from its presence.

The godly Puritan writer Thomas Watson once said that a sure sign of sanctification is a hatred and loathing of sin. It was his hatred of sin that caused Paul to cry out as he wrapped up his spiritual autobiography, “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?” That cry expresses the distress and frustration the apostle experienced in his spiritual battle. David expressed that same frustration in Psalm 13:1-2: “How long, O Lord? Wilt Thou forget me forever? How long wilt Thou hide Thy face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart all the day?”

When he exclaimed, “Who will set me free from the body of this death?” Paul referred to his physical body that was subject to sin and death. It is there that the battle with sin is joined. The verb translated “set me free” was used to speak of a soldier rescuing a wounded comrade in the midst of battle. Paul longed to be rescued from his sinful, unredeemed flesh.

But the story doesn’t end there, with Paul frustrated and in despair. Certain of his eventual triumph over sin, the apostle says, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” As he goes on to explain in Romans 8:18-19, 22-23 (and in 1 Cor. 15:53, 57), believers will one day receive their glorified bodies and enter Christ’s presence, never to struggle again with sin. Paul elaborates on that glorious truth in Philippians 3:20-21: “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.”

What a triumphant hope is ours!

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank God in advance for the glorified body that will one day be yours.

For Further Study

Read 1 John 3:2-3.

  • Are you fixing your hope on your glorification when Christ returns?
  • Is that hope having a purifying effect on your lifestyle now?


PART III

October 30 - John the Baptist and His Doubt, Part 2

Matthew 11:2–3

“Now when John, while imprisoned, heard of the works of Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to Him, ‘Are You the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?’” (Matthew 11:2–3).

That John the Baptist sent some of his disciples to Jesus testifies to his genuine faith. John was not seeking more information about Christ but confirmation. In essence, he asked, “Even though I firmly believed You are the Messiah, could I have been wrong?” It was the same attitude as the father of the boy the Lord had cleansed of an evil spirit—“I do believe; help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24).

After being in prison for months, unable to minister and interact with the outside world except through periodic visits by his disciples, John had many doubts and uncertainties about Jesus. Those misgivings settled on his mind even though he had announced, baptized, and declared Jesus to be the Messiah.

This prompted John’s disciples to ask Jesus directly, “Are You the Expected One?” This was a common title for the Messiah, along with Branch, Son of David, and King of kings. The name first appears in Psalms 40:7 and 118:26, and the gospel writers often use it (e.g., Matt. 3:11; Mark 1:7; Luke 3:16; John 1:27). There was no mistaking the fact that John wanted to know for sure if Jesus was indeed the promised Messiah.

Many Christians today wrestle with doubt from time to time, so it should reassure them that one with the spiritual stature of John the Baptist also doubted. And it ought to encourage us, as we’ll see in the following days, that our doubts come for the same reasons as John’s—and we, like he, can overcome them.

Ask Yourself

What (if anything) has caused you to doubt the reality of God’s existence or the veracity of His promises? How did He bring you through the maze and mist of uncertainty into a surer place of confidence? What did you learn about Him and about yourself in the process?


PART IV

October 30

Jeremiah 45:1–46:28, Psalm 119:105-112, Proverbs 28:4, 2 Timothy 3:1-17

DB1030

Reading for Today:

Notes:

Jeremiah 45:3 Woe is me now! Baruch felt anxiety as his own cherished plans of a bright future were apparently dashed; even death became a darkening peril (v. 5). Also, he was possibly pressed by human questionings about God carrying through with such calamity (v. 4). Jeremiah spoke to encourage him (v. 2).

Jeremiah 45:5 you seek great things. Baruch had his expectations far too high and that made the disasters harder to bear. It is enough that he be content just to live. Jeremiah, who once also complained, learned by his own suffering to encourage complainers.

2 Timothy 3:1 the last days. This phrase refers to this age, the time since the First Coming of the Lord Jesus. perilous times. “Perilous” is used to describe the savage nature of two demon-possessed men (Matt. 8:28). The word for “times” had to do with epochs rather than clock or calendar time. Such savage, dangerous eras or epochs will increase in frequency and severity as the return of Christ approaches (v. 13). The church age is fraught with these dangerous movements accumulating strength as the end nears.

2 Timothy 3:8 Jannes and Jambres. Although their names are not mentioned in the Old Testament, they were likely two of the Egyptian magicians that opposed Moses (Ex. 7:11, 22; 8:7, 18, 19; 9:11). According to Jewish tradition, they pretended to become Jewish proselytes, instigated the worship of the golden calf, and were killed with the rest of the idolaters (Ex. 32). Paul’s choice of them as examples may indicate the false teachers at Ephesus were practicing deceiving signs and wonders.


DAY 30: How does 2 Timothy 3:16 describe Scripture?

“All Scripture”—both Old Testament and New Testament Scripture are included (2 Pet. 3:15, 16, which identify New Testament writings as Scripture). “Is given by inspiration of God.” Literally, “breathed out by God” or “God-breathed.” Sometimes God told the Bible writers the exact words to say (Jer. 1:9), but more often He used their minds, vocabularies, and experiences to produce His own infallible, inerrant Word (1 Thess. 2:13; Heb. 1:1; 2 Pet. 1:20, 21). It is important to note that inspiration applies only to the original autographs of Scripture, not the Bible writers; there are no inspired Scripture writers, only inspired Scripture. So identified is God with His Word that when Scripture speaks, God speaks (Rom. 9:17; Gal. 3:8). Scripture is called “the oracles of God” (Rom. 3:2; 1 Pet. 4:11) and cannot be altered (John 10:35; Matt. 5:17, 18; Luke 16:17; Rev. 22:18, 19).

“And is profitable for doctrine.” The divine instruction or doctrinal content of both the Old Testament and the New Testament (2:15; Acts 20:18, 20, 21, 27; 1 Cor. 2:14–16; Col. 3:16; 1 John 2:20, 24, 27). The Scripture provides the comprehensive and complete body of divine truth necessary for life and godliness. “For reproof.” Rebuke for wrong behavior or wrong belief. The Scripture exposes sin (Heb. 4:12, 13) that can then be dealt with through confession and repentance. “For correction.” The restoration of something to its proper condition. The word appears only here in the New Testament, but was used in extrabiblical Greek of righting a fallen object or helping back to their feet those who had stumbled. Scripture not only rebukes wrong behavior but also points the way back to godly living. “For instruction in righteousness.” Scripture provides positive training (“instruction” originally referred to training a child) in godly behavior, not merely rebuke and correction of wrong behavior (Acts 20:32; 1 Tim. 4:6; 1 Pet. 2:1, 2).


HAVE A BLESSED DAY!


MAXIMILIANO 


10/29/17

Reproving Sinful Conduct

"All Scripture is . . . profitable for . . . reproof" (2 Tim. 3:16).

People who aren’t interested in holy living will avoid being exposed to sound doctrine.

Paul instructed Timothy to "preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction" (2 Tim. 4:2). He knew a time was coming when many people would reject sound doctrine, and "wanting to have their ears tickled, [would] accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; and . . . turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths" (vv. 3-4).

That's certainly true of our day. Many who profess to love Christ seem intolerant of His Word. Often they fall into spiritual complacency and surround themselves with teachers who tell them exactly what they want to hear. If they can't find a comfortable message, they drift from church to church or simply abandon it altogether.

Such people have exchanged conviction for comfort, and need to examine themselves to see if they are genuine believers (2 Cor. 13:5). Their attitude toward the Word is in stark contrast to those who truly love Christ and come to the Word with an earnest desire to learn its truths and live accordingly.

But even true believers can fall into the trap of negligence and compromise. Perhaps you've noticed how sinning Christians often try to avoid exposure to God's Word. Sometimes they'll temporarily stop attending church or Bible studies. They also try to avoid other believers—especially those who will hold them accountable to what they know to be true.

But like any loving parent, God won't allow His children to remain in sin for long without disciplining them (Heb. 12:5-11). Sooner or later they must repent and be reconciled to Him.

An important element in reconciling sinning Christians to God is the faithful prayers of other believers. God may choose to use you in that way, so always be ready to pray, and eager to restore others in a spirit of gentleness (Gal. 6:1).

Suggestions for Prayer

Do you know a Christian who is being disobedient to God's Word? If so, ask God to bring him or her to repentance. Assure the person of your prayers and concern, and be available to be further used in the restoration process if the Lord wills.

For Further Study

What does Matthew 18:15-20 say about how to confront a sinning Christian?


PART II

The Believer and Indwelling Sin

“For we know that the Law is spiritual; but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. For that which I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. But if I do the very thing I do not wish to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that it is good. So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which indwells me” (Romans 7:14-17).

Believers have been freed from sin’s power, but not from its presence.

Romans 7:14-25 is perhaps the most autobiographical passage in all of Scripture. In this poignant account Paul describes in vivid, striking language his battle with indwelling sin. So powerful is that language that some believe it refers to Paul’s life before his conversion. But the apostle describes himself as one who seeks to obey God’s law and who hates evil (vv. 15, 19, 21), who is humble and broken over his sin (v. 18), and who acknowledges Jesus Christ as Lord and serves Him with his mind (v. 25). None of those things characterize an unbeliever.

The word “for” indicates that Paul is not beginning a new subject but is continuing with the thought from the first part of Romans 7, that the law reveals our sin. The law is not the problem but reveals the problem—sin. The apostle then makes the startling statement that he is “of flesh, sold into bondage to sin.” “Flesh” is our unredeemed humanness—that part of us that is still sinful and fights against our new natures. Paul’s words do not mean that God had only partially saved him; rather, they emphasize that sin is still a powerful force in believers’ lives and is not to be trifled with.

Christians are under attack from the outside, from Satan and the evil world system. But we also have a “fifth column”—the flesh inside us, aiding and abetting those attacks. Fight the flesh today by making “no provision for [it] in regard to its lusts” (Rom. 13:14).

Suggestions for Prayer

“Keep watching and praying, that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matt. 26:41).

For Further Study

What do the following passages teach about the possibility of a believer’s being “sold into bondage to sin”—Psalm 51:1-5; Isaiah 6:5; 1 John 1:8-10?


PART III

October 29 - John the Baptist and His Doubt, Part 1

“Now when John, while imprisoned, heard of the works of Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to Him, ‘Are You the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?’” (Matthew 11:2–3).

Countless Christians since John the Baptist’s time have dealt with doubt, which might better be called perplexity or confusion. Here John did not question the truthfulness of Old Testament Scripture or the veracity of Jesus’ baptism, which he himself had seen. Rather, John was simply uncertain about his understanding of those truths. And the kind of question he asked could come only from a believer. In that transitional period between the Testaments, many things seemed unclear and called for further explanation.

Until this time, John the Baptist was the greatest man who had ever lived (Matt. 11:11); so when believers are confused, they can take comfort that even John was perplexed for a time. Also encouraging for us is that Jesus often said to His disciples, “You of little faith” and “How long will you doubt?” (e.g., Matt. 8:26; 14:31; Mark 11:23; Luke 12:28).

Although Christ understands His children’s doubts, He is never pleased with such misgivings because they reflect against Him. When messengers from the Gentile Cornelius arrived where Peter was staying, the Holy Spirit told the apostle, “Get up, go downstairs and accompany them without misgivings, for I have sent them Myself” (Acts 10:20). James warns us that “the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind” (James 1:6; cf. Eph. 4:14). But John’s doubt derived from weakness, not sin, and the only remedy for similar doubt by us is sincere inquiry, prayerful confession, and reliance on Scripture for reassurance.

Ask Yourself

How do you respond to people in crisis, especially when the trauma of their situation has left them doubting God’s goodness or shaken in their faith? How do you go about reassuring them of the Lord’s faithfulness when they will hear none of it or aren’t ready to listen?


PART IV

Reading for Today:

Notes:

Jeremiah 43:1–7 when Jeremiah…stopped speaking. The incorrigible, disobedient leaders accused him of deceit and forced Jeremiah and the remnant to go to Egypt, despite the fact that all his prophecies regarding Babylon had come to pass. In so doing, they went out of God’s protection into His judgment, as all who are disobedient to His Word do.

Proverbs 28:3 oppresses the poor. When the poor come to power and oppress their own, it is as bad as a destructive storm washing the fields clean instead of watering the crop.

2 Timothy 2:2 faithful men who will be able to teach others. Timothy was to take the divine revelation he had learned from Paul and teach it to other faithful men—men with proven spiritual character and giftedness, who would in turn pass on those truths to another generation. From Paul to Timothy to faithful men to others encompasses 4 generations of godly leaders. That process of spiritual reproduction, which began in the early church, is to continue until the Lord returns.

2 Timothy 2:8 Remember…Jesus Christ. The supreme model of a faithful teacher (v. 2), soldier (vv. 3, 4), athlete (v. 5), and farmer (v. 6). Timothy was to follow His example in teaching, suffering, pursuing the prize, and planting the seeds of truth for a spiritual harvest. of the seed of David. As David’s descendant, Jesus is the rightful heir to his throne (Luke 1:32, 33). The Lord’s humanity is stressed. raised from the dead. The resurrection of Christ is the central truth of the Christian faith (1 Cor. 15:3, 4, 17, 19). By it, God affirmed the perfect redemptive work of Jesus Christ (Rom. 1:4).


DAY 29: How is the Christian life compared to being a soldier, an athlete, and a farmer?

“Endure hardship as a good soldier” (2 Tim. 2:3). The metaphor of the Christian life as warfare (against the evil world system, the believer’s sinful human nature, and Satan) is a familiar one in the New Testament (2 Cor. 10:3–5; Eph. 6:10–20; 1 Thess. 4:8; 1 Tim. 1:18; 4:7; 6:12). Here Paul is dealing with the conflict against the hostile world and the persecution. “No one engaged in warfare entangles himself” (v. 4). Just as a soldier called to duty is completely severed from the normal affairs of civilian life, so also must the good soldier of Jesus Christ refuse to allow the things of the world to distract him (James 4:4; 1 John 2:15–17).

“If anyone competes in athletics” (v. 5). The Greek verb expresses the effort and determination needed to compete successfully in an athletic event (1 Cor. 9:24). This is a useful picture of spiritual effort and untiring pursuit of the victory to those familiar with events such as the Olympic Games and the Isthmian Games (held in Corinth). “Crowned…rules.” All an athlete’s hard work and discipline will be wasted if he or she fails to compete according to the rules. This is a call to obey the Word of God in the pursuit of spiritual victory.

“The hardworking farmer” (v. 6).“ Hardworking” is from a Greek verb meaning “to labor to the point of exhaustion.” Ancient farmers worked long hours of backbreaking labor under all kinds of conditions with the hope that their physical effort would be rewarded by a good harvest. Paul is urging Timothy not to be lazy or indolent but to labor intensely (Col. 1:28, 29) with a view to the harvest.


GOD BLESS YOU!


MAXIMILIANO


10/28/17

Avoiding Spiritual Deception

"All Scripture is . . . profitable for . . . reproof" (2 Tim. 3:16).

Scripture is the standard by which you must measure all teaching.

In November of 1978, United States Representative Leo Ryan of California visited the People's Temple (a California- based cult) in Guyana. He went to investigate reports that some of the people were being held there against their will. The world was shocked to learn that the congressman and his party had been ambushed and killed.

Even more shocking was the grim discovery that followed a few days later. Authorities who entered the compound at Jonestown, Guyana were horrified to find the bodies of 780 cult members who had been shot or had committed suicide by drinking cyanide-laced punch. Their leader, the Reverend Jim Jones, was found lying near the altar—dead from a single bullet wound to the head.

For many, it was the first time they had witnessed the deadly effect of satanic teaching. Editorials and articles for months attempted to explain how such appalling deception and genocide could occur in this day and age. But as tragic as the Jonestown deaths were, most observers missed the greatest tragedy of all: the spiritual damnation that Jim Jones and all other false teachers lead their followers into.

Spiritual deception is a very serious issue to God. That's why in Scripture He lays down the truth and reproves anything contrary to it. The Greek word translated "reproof" in 2 Timothy 3:16 means to rebuke or confront someone regarding misconduct or false teaching.

If you have a thorough grasp of Scripture, you have a standard by which to measure all teaching. Then you can easily recognize false doctrine and avoid spiritual deception. That's what John had in mind when he said, "I have written to you, [spiritual] young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one" (1 John 2:14).

False religions will always attempt to distort Scripture because they must eliminate God's truth before they can justify their own lies. Beware of their subtleties, and be strong in God's Word.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank the Lord for protecting you from spiritual deception.
  • Pray for anyone you may know who has fallen victim to false teaching. Take every opportunity to impart God's truth to them.

For Further Study

Read 2 Corinthians 11:1-4, 13-15. How did Paul describe false teachers?


PART II

The Law Devastates the Sinner

“And I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive, and I died; and this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me; for sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, deceived me, and through it killed me” (Romans 7:9-11).

The law shatters all of man’s attempts at self-righteousness.

The old saying “ignorance is bliss” is rarely true, and in the spiritual realm it is deadly. As a Pharisee, one of the rising stars of first-century Judaism (Gal. 1:14), Paul thought himself very much “alive apart from the Law.” When convicted of his utter sinfulness by the law, however, Paul “died”; that is, his false sense of security and self-satisfaction was shattered. The enormity of his guilt became evident to him, and he realized he could not save himself. He recognized he was “helpless” (Rom. 5:6) and desperately in need of the divine Physician (Matt. 9:12).

To his dismay, Paul found that the “commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death” for him. The law was given to provide blessing and joy (Prov. 3:1-2) by guiding men in the path of righteousness. That purpose, however, can’t be accomplished in the unsaved, since they lack the ability to keep the law. Shut out from its blessings by their disobedience, they face its curses. Instead of providing Paul with a rich, meaningful life, the law devastated him.

Paul further realized that he had been deceived by sin. He had thought himself “blameless” (Phil. 3:6), doing God’s work by persecuting Christians (cf. John 16:2). But instead of satisfaction, he found only misery, disillusionment, and disappointment.

Like Paul, millions today are tragically deceived. The deceitfulness of sin leads them to think they can please God and obtain His blessing by their good works or religious activity. Such trust in self-righteousness is the hallmark of all false religion. But those who trust in themselves will see no need for a Savior and will be eternally lost. What are you trusting in?

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask God to help you obey His commandments.

For Further Study

Read Hebrews 3:13. Are believers also in danger of being deceived by sin?


PART III

October 28 - Jewish Leaders Ignore Testimonies

“‘How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God? Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; the one who accuses you is Moses, in whom you have set your hope. For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?’” (John 5:44–47).

Jesus’ pensive question, “How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God?” offers a crucial reason why the Jews rejected Him. Those engaged in seeking “glory from one another” do not humble themselves to believe in Jesus.

The Lord stunned them when He said the one who would accuse them of their rejection of Christ was Moses—the very one in whom they had set their hope. Can you imagine how profoundly shocked and outraged the Jewish leaders must have been? In their minds, it was incomprehensible to think that Moses—whom they proudly affirmed as their leader and teacher (9:28; cf. Matt 23:2)—would accuse them before God. But had they truly believed Moses, they would believe Jesus, since Moses wrote about Him.

It should come as no surprise that those who did not believe Moses’ writings would not believe Christ’s words either. If they rejected the truths taught by Moses, whom they revered, they could hardly be expected to accept the teaching of Jesus, whom they reviled. The sobering reality is that those who reject Moses’ teaching about Jesus will face judgment.

Ask Yourself

Jesus was able to interact forcibly with His detractors because He knew them, understood their hearts, and was aware of what blinded them to the truth. If your witness is not as effective as it should be, have you considered that perhaps you’re proclaiming the gospel without stopping to understand the people you’re talking to?


PART IV

Reading for Today:

Notes:

Proverbs 28:2 many are its princes. Unrighteousness in a nation produces political instability with many vying for power, thus the tenure of each leader is shortened. Wisdom promotes social order and long rule.

2 Timothy 1:4 mindful of your tears. Paul perhaps remembered this occurring at their latest parting, which occurred after a short visit to Ephesus, following the writing of 1 Timothy and prior to Paul’s arrest at Troas and his second imprisonment in Rome. Years before, Paul had a similar parting with the elders at Ephesus (Acts 20:36–38).

2 Timothy 1:7 a spirit of fear. The Greek word, which can also be translated “timidity,” denotes a cowardly, shameful fear caused by a weak, selfish character. The threat of Roman persecution, which was escalating under Nero, the hostility of those in the Ephesian church who resented Timothy’s leadership, and the assaults of false teachers with their sophisticated systems of deceptions may have been overwhelming Timothy. But if he was fearful, it didn’t come from God. power. Positively, God has already given believers all the spiritual resources they need for every trial and threat (Matt. 10:19, 20). Divine power—effective, productive spiritual energy belongs to believers (Eph. 1:18–20; 3:20; Zech. 4:6). love. This kind of love centers on pleasing God and seeking others’ welfare before one’s own (Rom. 14:8; Gal. 5:22, 25; Eph.3:19; 1 Pet. 1:22; 1 John 4:18). sound mind. Refers to a disciplined, self-controlled, and properly prioritized mind. This is the opposite of fear and cowardice that causes disorder and confusion. Focusing on the sovereign nature and perfect purposes of our eternal God allows believers to control their lives with godly wisdom and confidence in every situation.

2 Timothy 1:12 I also suffer. Paul had no fear of persecution and death from preaching the gospel in a hostile setting because he was so confident God had sealed his future glory and blessing. know whom I have believed. “Know” describes the certainty of Paul’s intimate, saving knowledge—the object of which was God Himself. The form of the Greek verb translated “I have believed” refers to something that began in the past and has continuing results. This knowing is equal to “the knowledge of the truth” (3:7; 1 Tim. 2:4). He is able to keep what I have committed. Paul’s life in time and eternity had been given to his Lord. He lived with unwavering confidence and boldness because of the revealed truth about God’s power and faithfulness and his own experience of an unbreakable relationship to the Lord (Rom. 8:31–39). that Day. Also called “Day of Christ” (Phil. 1:10), when believers will stand before the judgment seat and be rewarded.


DAY 28: Why did Paul write 2 Timothy?

Paul was released from his first Roman imprisonment for a short period of ministry during which he wrote 1 Timothy and Titus. Second Timothy, however, finds Paul once again in a Roman prison (1:16; 2:9), apparently rearrested as part of Nero’s persecution of Christians. Unlike Paul’s confident hope of release during his first imprisonment (Phil. 1:19, 25, 26; 2:24; Philem. 22), this time he had no such hopes (4:6–8). In his first imprisonment in Rome (ca.A.D. 60–62), before Nero had begun the persecution of Christians (A.D. 64), he was only under house arrest and had opportunity for much interaction with people and ministry (Acts 28:16–31). At this time, 5 or 6 years later (ca. A.D. 66–67), however, he was in a cold cell (4:13), in chains (2:9), and with no hope of deliverance (4:6).

Abandoned by virtually all of those close to him for fear of persecution (1:15; 4:9–12, 16) and facing imminent execution, Paul wrote to Timothy, urging him to hasten to Rome for one last visit with the apostle (4:9, 21). Whether Timothy made it to Rome before Paul’s execution is not known. According to tradition, Paul was not released from this second Roman imprisonment but suffered the martyrdom he had foreseen (4:6).

In this letter, Paul, aware the end was near, passed the nonapostolic mantle of ministry to Timothy (2:2) and exhorted him to continue faithful in his duties (1:6), hold on to sound doctrine (1:13,14),avoid error (2:15–18), accept persecution for the gospel (2:3,4; 3:10–12), put his confidence in the Scripture, and preach it relentlessly (3:15–4:5).


HAVE A BLESSED DAY!


MAXIMILIANO 


10/27/17

The Law Arouses Sin

“But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead” (Romans 7:8).

When confronted with God’s holy law, sinful men are motivated not to obey it, but to break it.

It is a perverse fact of fallen human nature that the surest way to get people to do things is to tell them not to do them. When people see a sign reading “Keep off the grass!” or “Don’t pick the flowers!” their first impulse is often to trample the grass and take some flowers.

The same is true in the spiritual realm. God’s law reveals what is right and what is wrong—and sinful men choose to do what is wrong. In his classic allegory Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan vividly depicts the seemingly paradoxical truth that the law does not restrain sin but stirs it up. In the house of Interpreter, Christian was shown a large, dust-filled room. A man with a broom, representing the law, appeared and began to sweep. The resulting dust cloud nearly choked Christian. Bunyan’s point was that just as sweeping a dusty room does not remove the dust but only stirs it up, so the law does not restrain sin but merely aggravates it.

Does that mean the law is evil? Certainly not. “The Law is holy” (Rom. 7:12) since it derives from a holy God. And it does sinners good by exposing their sin and revealing to them their need for a Savior. The law, then, is not the culprit—sin is.

Using himself as an illustration, Paul notes that “sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind.” ”Opportunity” translates a Greek word used in military terms to speak of a base of operations from which attacks could be launched. Sin used the law—especially the knowledge of right and wrong it brought—to launch its attacks on Paul.

Don’t be afraid in your evangelism to confront sinners with the demands of God’s holy law. They must face their utter inability to meet its demands before they will recognize their need for a Savior.

Suggestions for Prayer

Pray that God would help you discern the subtlety of sin’s attacks against you.

For Further Study

Read 2 Kings 17:13-16. Did the Israelites’ knowledge of God’s law keep them from sinning?


PART II

Learning Truth

A + A - RESET

"All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness" (2 Tim. 3:16).

Scripture is a manual of divine truth.

This month we've considered many benefits of Scripture. Second Timothy 3:16 lists four more that will be the focus of our studies as we draw this month to a close: teaching truth, reproving sin and error, correcting behavior, and training in righteousness. We've touched on each of those to some extent in our past studies, but they warrant additional discussion from this verse, which is Scriptures most concise statement on its own power and purpose.

First, the Bible is profitable for teaching. The Greek word translated "teaching" refers more to content than to the process of teaching. Scripture is God's manual of divine truth for patterning your thoughts and actions.

As a believer, you have the capacity to understand and respond to Scripture. That's because the Holy Spirit indwells you and imparts spiritual discernment, wisdom, and understanding (1 John 2:27). You have "the mind of Christ" (1 Cor. 2:16).

But having the ability to understand spiritual truth doesn't guarantee you'll exercise that ability. God said to the Israelites through the prophet Hosea, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge" (4:6). His truth was available to them, but they ignored it and lived in disobedience.

I've heard many people lament that they could have avoided much grief if only they had known the Bible more thoroughly—if only they had taken the time to learn what God expected of them in a particular situation. Perhaps you've felt that way. The best way to avoid making that mistake in the future is to faithfully, prayerfully, patiently, and thoroughly saturate your mind with biblical truth, then discipline yourself to live according to its principles. Now that's the challenge of a lifetime, but it's the only way to profit from biblical teaching and avoid unnecessary heartaches.

I pray you will be encouraged today as you study God's Word and diligently apply it to your life.

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask God to use the circumstances you face today to draw you closer to Him and motivate you to dig deeper into His Word.

For Further Study

Read Exodus 24:1-8. What was the Israelites' response to God's Word? What is yours?


PART III

October 27 - Scripture Testifies to Jesus’ Deity

“‘You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life. I do not receive glory from men; but I know you, that you do not have the love of God in yourselves. I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, you will receive him’” (John 5:39–43).

Merely knowing the facts of Scripture, without hiding them in your heart and acting on them, will not bring the blessings of salvation. That was the problem of Jewish unbelievers. Jesus understood their searching of the Scriptures in a desperate and futile attempt to find the key to eternal life. But ironically, they failed to grasp that it is those very Scriptures “that testify about” Jesus.

The Bible cannot be properly understood apart from the Holy Spirit’s illumination or a transformed mind. The Jews’ zeal for the Scripture was commendable, but because they were unwilling to come to Jesus—the sole source of eternal life—their knowledge did not result in salvation. Clinging in their stubborn unbelief to a superficial system of self-righteousness by works, they became ignorant of “God’s righteousness and [sought] to establish their own” (Rom. 10:3). But self-righteousness cannot save anyone, since “all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment” (Isa. 64:6).

Please be sure you are not trusting in your own righteous works for salvation. Be sure you are clinging in utter dependence on the grace of God in Christ.

Ask Yourself

Have you ever allowed your knowledge of the Scriptures to blind you to its more excellent meaning, whether through pride or tradition or a dogmatic overconfidence in your own interpretations? How do you guard against these kinds of snares and deceptions?


PART IV

Reading for Today:

Notes:

Psalm 119:83 a wineskin in smoke. Just as smoke will dry out, stiffen, and crack a wineskin thus making it useless, so the psalmist’s affliction has debilitated him.

Proverbs 28:1 A guilty conscience imagines accusers everywhere (Num. 32:23; Ps. 53:5), while a clear conscience has boldness to face everyone.

1 Timothy 6:3 Paul identifies 3 characteristics of false teachers: 1) they “teach otherwise”—a different doctrine, or any teaching that contradicts God’s revelation in Scripture; 2) they do “not consent to wholesome words”—they do not agree with sound, healthy teaching, specifically the teaching contained in Scripture; and 3) they reject “doctrine which accords with godliness”—teaching not based on Scripture will always result in an unholy life. Instead of godliness, false teachers will be marked by sin.

1 Timothy 6:12 Fight the good fight of faith. The Greek word for “fight” gives us the English word “agonize” and was used in both military and athletic endeavors to describe the concentration, discipline, and extreme effort needed to win. The “good fight of faith” is the spiritual conflict with Satan’s kingdom of darkness in which all men of God are necessarily involved. lay hold on eternal life. Paul is here admonishing Timothy to “get a grip” on the reality of the matters associated with eternal life, so that he would live and minister with a heavenly and eternal perspective (Phil. 3:20; Col. 3:2). to which you were also called. Refers to God’s effectual, sovereign call of Timothy to salvation. good confession. Timothy’s public confession of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, which likely occurred at his baptism and again when he was ordained to the ministry (4:14; 2 Tim. 1:6).

1 Timothy 6:17–19 Paul counsels Timothy what to teach those who are rich in material possessions, those who have more than the mere essentials of food, clothing, and shelter. Paul does not condemn such people nor command them to get rid of their wealth. He does call them to be good stewards of their God-given resources (Deut. 8:18; 1 Sam. 2:7; 1 Chr. 29:12).


DAY 27: How can a believer find genuine contentment?

In 1 Timothy 6:6, the Greek word for “contentment” means “self-sufficiency” and was used by Stoic philosophers to describe a person who was unflappable and unmoved by external circumstances. Christians are to be satisfied and sufficient and not to seek for more than what God has already given them. He is the source of true contentment (2 Cor. 3:5; 9:8; Phil. 4:11–13, 19).

“Having food and clothing,…be content” (v. 8). The basic necessities of life are what ought to make Christians content. Paul does not condemn having possessions as long as God graciously provides them (v. 17). He does, however, condemn a self-indulgent desire for money, which results from discontentment.

“But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation” (v. 9). “Desire” refers to a settled wish born of reason and clearly describes those guilty of greed. The form of the Greek verb for “fall” indicates that those who have such a desire are continually falling into temptation. Greedy people are compulsive—they are continually trapped in sins by their consuming desire to acquire more. “In destruction and perdition.” Such greed may lead these people to suffer the tragic end of destruction and hell. These terms refer to the eternal punishment of the wicked.

“For the love of money” (v. 10). Literally, “affection for silver.” In the context, this sin applies to false teachers specifically, but the principle is true universally. Money itself is not evil since it is a gift from God (Deut. 8:18). Paul condemns only the love of it (Matt. 6:24), which is so characteristic of false teachers (1 Pet. 5:2; 2 Pet. 2:1–3,15). “Some have strayed from the faith.” From the body of Christian truth. Gold has replaced God for these apostates, who have turned away from pursuing the things of God in favor of money.


GOD BLESS YOU!


MAXIMILIANO 


10/26/17

Passing on a Godly Heritage

"From childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus" (2 Tim. 3:15).

Planting and nurturing the seed of God’s Word in a child’s mind can produce an abundant spiritual harvest.

Not long ago I met with a group of Christian leaders to consider several candidates for a significant ministry position. During our meeting it dawned on me that each candidate's father was a prominent pastor. Each candidate had grown up in a family that daily taught and exemplified biblical truth.

That illustrates the enormous impact a Christian heritage can have on a person—whether he pursues the pastorate or not. And by no means is it fathers only who influence their children toward righteousness. Quite the contrary: A godly mother usually has far more opportunity to do so.

Dr. G. Campbell Morgan had four sons—all of whom followed his example by becoming ministers. It's reported that at a family reunion a friend asked one of the sons, "Which Morgan is the greatest preacher?" "That's easy," the son replied, "Mother!"

Timothy knew the benefits of a spiritual heritage like that. His mother, Eunice, and grandmother, Lois (2 Tim. 1:5) taught him the sacred writings, which give the wisdom that leads to salvation (2 Tim. 3:15). Even as a child, Timothy was being equipped for the ministry God would later call him to. The spiritual training he received as a child—and the reservoir of biblical knowledge he accumulated in those early years—were crucial elements in his adult ministry.

If you are a parent, the most precious gift you can give your child is a godly upbringing that will serve as the foundation for his or her future ministries.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Praise God for those who have instructed you in the Word and encouraged you in righteousness.
  • If you are a parent, pray that your children will exceed you in the faith.
  • Be faithful to pray for the young people around you and set a godly example for them to follow.

For Further Study

Read 1 Samuel 1:1—2:10. What characteristics of a godly mother did Hannah display?



PART II

The Law Reveals Sin

“What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, ‘You shall not covet’” (Romans 7:7).

God’s holy standard exposes man’s rebellious heart.

So far in Romans, Paul has told us what the law can’t do: it can’t save us (3—5) or sanctify us (6). At this point the apostle anticipates and answers a question that naturally arises: What, then, was the purpose of the law? Was it evil? In the next few days we’re going to consider three important purposes the law served.

First, the law reveals sin. Sin is a violation of God’s righteous standard (1 John 3:4); if no such standard existed, there would be no sin. In Romans 3:20 Paul said that “through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.” Romans 4:15 adds, “Where there is no law, neither is there violation,” and Romans 5:13 reveals that “sin is not imputed when there is no law.”

To the question “Is the Law sin?” Paul replies emphatically, “May it never be!” Such a question is as absurd as it is blasphemous; an evil law could never proceed from a holy God. Paul goes on to say, “I would not have come to know sin except through the Law.” The law brought the proud Pharisee Saul of Tarsus face to face with his utter sinfulness, revealing his need for a Savior and preparing his heart for his life-changing encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus.

The specific commandment Paul cites, the injunction against coveting, is revealing. Coveting is an internal attitude, not an external act. It was the realization that God’s law applied to his attitudes, not merely his external behavior, that devastated Paul. He was forced to realize that all his external self-righteousness was worthless because his heart wasn’t right.

I pray that you too will be “obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed” (Rom. 6:17).

Suggestions for Prayer

Pray with the psalmist, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way” (Ps. 139:23-24).

For Further Study

Read Isaiah 1:14-20; Amos 5:21-27; Matthew 23:25-28. What does God think of mere outward conformity to His law?


PART III

October 26 - The Father’s Testimony to Jesus’ Deity

“‘There is another who testifies of Me, and I know that the testimony which He gives about Me is true. . . . And the Father who sent Me, He has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time nor seen His form. You do not have His word abiding in you, for you do not believe Him whom He sent’” (John 5:32, 37–38).

Of infinitely greater importance than any human testimony is that the Father who sent Jesus has testified about Him. The gospels record two specific instances in which the Father gave verbal testimony to the Son: at His baptism and at His transfiguration, when “a voice out of the heavens said, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased’” (Matt. 3:17; cf. Matt. 17:5).

Jesus’ statement, “You have neither heard His voice at any time nor seen His form,” was a further rebuke of the unbelieving Jews. No one can see God in the full glory of His infinitely holy essence (Ex. 33:20; John 1:18). However, there were times throughout Israel’s history when God audibly or visibly interacted with His people. He spoke to Moses (Ex. 33:11) and the prophets (Heb. 1:1). He also appeared in some physical manifestation of His presence to Jacob (Gen. 32:30) and others.

Yet the unbelieving Jews of Jesus’ day, who had both the Old Testament Scriptures and the full revelation of God in Jesus Christ, refused to listen to Jesus, God’s final revelation to mankind (Heb. 1:2). On the other hand, those who love the Son have the internal witness from God in their hearts as to who Jesus is.

Ask Yourself

How has the presence of His Word in your thoughts and meditations spoken God’s wisdom to you at a critical point in life? What have you noticed about the difference in your judgment and perspective when the Scriptures are a ready resource within your heart, when the Spirit has lots of biblical material inside you to work with?


PART IV

October 26

Reading for Today:

Notes:

Jeremiah 38:6 no water, but mire. The murderous princes (v. 4) would let God’s spokesman die of thirst, hunger, hypothermia, or suffocation if he sank too deeply into the bottom of the cistern.

1 Timothy 5:3 Honor. “To show respect or care,” “to support,” or “to treat graciously.” Although it includes meeting all kinds of needs, Paul had in mind here not only this broad definition but primarily financial support (Ex. 20:12; Matt. 15:1–6; 27:9). really widows. Not all widows are truly alone and without resources. Financial support from the church is mandatory only for widows who have no means to provide for their daily needs.

1 Timothy 5:17 elders. This identifies the “bishop” (3:1) or overseer, who is also called pastor (Eph. 4:11). rule well. Elders are spiritual rulers in the church. double honor. Elders who serve with greater commitment, excellence, and effort should have greater acknowledgment from their congregations. This expression does not mean such men should receive exactly twice as much remuneration as others, but because they have earned such respect they should be paid more generously. especially. Means “chiefly” or “particularly.” Implicit is the idea that some elders will work harder than others and be more prominent in ministry. labor. Literally, “work to the point of fatigue or exhaustion.” The Greek word stresses the effort behind the work more than the amount of work. word and doctrine. Or better, “preaching and teaching.” The first emphasizes proclamation along with exhortation and admonition and calls for a heart response to the Lord. The second is an essential fortification against heresy and puts more stress on instruction.

1 Timothy 5:23 No longer drink only water. “Water” in the ancient world was often polluted and carried many diseases. Therefore Paul urged Timothy not to risk illness, not even for the sake of a commitment to abstinence from wine. Apparently Timothy avoided wine so as not to place himself in harm’s way. use a little wine…infirmities. Paul wanted Timothy to use wine which, because of fermentation, acted as a disinfectant to protect his health problems due to the harmful effects of impure water.


DAY 26: Why should elders be chosen very carefully?

Paul cautions Timothy: “Do not lay hands on anyone hastily” (1 Tim. 5:22).This regards the ceremony that affirmed a man’s suitability for and acceptance into public ministry as an elder/pastor/overseer. This came from the Old Testament practice of laying hands on a sacrificial animal to identify with it (Ex. 29:10, 15, 19). “Hastily” refers to proceeding with this ceremony without a thorough investigation and preparation period to be certain of the man’s qualifications (as in 3:1–7). “Nor share in other people’s sins.” This refers to the sin of hasty ordination, which makes those responsible culpable for the man’s sin of serving as an unqualified elder and, thus, misleading people. “Keep yourself pure.” Some versions translate “pure” as “free from sin.” Paul wanted Timothy, by not participating in the recognition of unqualified elders, to remain untainted by others’ sins. The church desperately needed qualified spiritual leaders, but the selection had to be carefully executed.

In v. 24, Paul adds that “some men’s sins are clearly evident.” The sins of some men are manifest for all to see, thus disqualifying them out of hand for service as elders. “Preceding them to judgment.” The known sins of the unqualified announce those men’s guilt and unfitness before all. “Judgment” refers to the church’s process for determining men’s suitability to serve as elders. “But those of some men follow later.” The sins of other candidates for elder will come to light in time, perhaps even during the scrutiny of the evaluation process.

The same is true of good works (v. 25). Some are evident; others come to light later. Time and truth go hand in hand. The whole emphasis in this instruction regarding choosing elders, according to the qualifications of 3:1–7, is to be patient, fair, impartial, and pure (vv. 21–25). Such an approach will yield the right choices.


HAVE A BLESSED DAY!


MAXIMILIANO

10/25/17

The Heart of the Gospel

“For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law” (Romans 3:28).

Being dead in sin, man is unable to save himself.

As we’ve seen this month, the most serious problem facing the human race is not the destruction of the environment, crime, or the threat of nuclear war; it is sin. The former threaten us with physical death, the latter with spiritual death. Thus it follows that the greatest news ever known is that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Tim. 1:15). Hell may be the destiny of man, but that is not the desire of God’s heart. Peter notes that the Lord “is patient . . . not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

Because of His great love for sinners, God sent His Son “to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10). Since God’s gracious gift of salvation is appropriated by faith, it is not surprising that justification by faith is the theme of Romans (see Rom. 1:16-17). The apostle shows that all men are guilty before God and in need of justification (chaps. 1—2). He then describes justification in chapters 3—4. Then he presents the results of justification in chapters 5—6.

Two key words are associated with justification in Romans: grace and faith. In Romans 3:24 Paul declares that we are “justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus,” while in verse 28 he says, “For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.” The promise of justification to Abraham, Paul notes, was “by faith, that it might be in accordance with grace” (Rom. 4:16). Faith and grace are both linked to justification again in Romans 5:1-2: “Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand.”

In this day of doctrinal vacillation, I pray that you will stand firm in your commitment to the doctrine of justification by grace alone through faith alone.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank God for His mercy and love in saving you when you were dead in sin (Eph. 2:4-5).
  • Ask Him to help you walk worthy of your salvation (Eph. 4:1).

For Further Study

Read Romans 1—6, noting what it teaches about man’s lost state and God’s gracious provision of salvation.


PART II

Heeding God's Warnings

A +  A -  RESET

"By [Thy judgments] Thy servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward" (Ps. 19:11).

Heeding God’s warnings brings spiritual protection and great joy.

Psalm 19:11 concludes David's hymn on the sufficiency of Scripture. How appropriate that it ends noting the value of God's warning, because guarding His people against temptation, sin, error, foolishness, false teachers, and every other threat to their spiritual well-being is a major concern to God.

For example, God said to the prophet Ezekiel, "Now as for you, son of man, I have appointed you a watchman for the house of Israel; so you will hear a message from My mouth, and give them warning from Me" (Ezek. 33:7). The great tragedy of the Old Testament is that Israel rejected God's "statutes and His covenants which He made with their fathers, and His warnings with which He warned them" (2 Kings 17:15).

The apostle Paul defined his ministry as that of proclaiming Christ and warning "every man and teaching every man with all wisdom" (Col. 1:28). After exhorting the Thessalonian church to maintain sexual purity, Paul added, "The Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you" (1 Thess. 4:6).

He also warned the Ephesian church, saying, "I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish [warn] each one with tears" (Acts 20:29-32). He did that by declaring to them the whole counsel of God (v. 27).

The warnings of Scripture aren't intended to frustrate or stifle you. On the contrary, when you heed them they shelter you from spiritual harm and bring the joy of knowing you're in God's will. That's the "great reward" David speaks of in Psalm 19:11. May you earn it as he eventually did through heeding God's Word in every aspect of life.

Suggestions for Prayer

Overwhelmed with the sufficiency of God's Word, David prayed, "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer" (Ps. 19:14). Make that your prayer as well.

For Further Study

Reread Psalm 19:7-11, reviewing each characteristic and benefit of Scripture. Think carefully about how they apply to your life.


PART III

October 25 - Finished Works Testify to Jesus’ Deity

“‘But the testimony which I have is greater than the testimony of John; for the works which the Father has given Me to accomplish—the very works that I do—testify about Me, that the Father has sent Me’” (John 5:36).

John the Baptist’s testimony carried considerable weight; after all, he was the greatest man who had ever lived up to this time (Luke 7:28). But the testimony Jesus was about to introduce was far “greater than the testimony of John.” More convincing than the greatest prophet’s testimony to Christ were “the very works that” He did.

Throughout His ministry the Lord repeatedly pointed to His miraculous works as confirmation of His claim to be the Son of God and the Messiah (cf. 10:25, 37–38; 14:11; Matt. 11:3–5). The gospels record at least three dozen of His miracles, and Jesus performed countless others that Scripture does not record (20:30).

Throughout His earthly ministry, Jesus was conscious of carrying out the mission the Father had given Him in the energy of the Spirit (Luke 4:14). In John 4:34, Jesus told the disciples, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work.” In His High Priestly Prayer to the Father, Jesus declared triumphantly, “I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do” (17:4).

Because Jesus’ works were in perfect harmony with the will of His Father, they testified “that the Father sent” Him. His works were supernatural and in keeping with God’s exact wishes.

Those very miracles, as recorded in Scripture, provide you with a powerful witnessing tool today.

Ask Yourself

What elements of God’s nature are revealed when He performs a miracle in the lives of His people? What is revealed when He withholds the miracle we desire, choosing instead to work His will in another way?


PART IV

Reading for Today:

Notes:

Jeremiah 36:4 Baruch wrote. Jeremiah’s recording secretary wrote the prophet’s messages and penned them a second time after the first scroll was burned (36:32). He also read the messages in the temple (v. 10) and in the palace (v. 15). Later, Jehudi read a small part of the first scroll before King Jehoiakim (vv. 21–23).

Jeremiah 36:23 cut it. As often as Jehudi read “three or four columns,” the king cut it up, doing so all the way through the whole scroll because he rejected the message (v. 29). Jehoiakim is the king who sent men to Egypt (chap. 26) to bring back God’s faithful prophet, Urijah, so that he could execute him.

1 Timothy 4:1 the Spirit expressly says. Paul repeats to Timothy the warning he had given many years earlier to the Ephesian elders (Acts 20:29, 30). The Holy Spirit through the Scriptures has repeatedly warned of the danger of apostasy (Matt. 24:4–12; Acts 20:29, 30; 2 Thess. 2:3–12; Heb. 3:12; 5:11–6:8; 10:26–31; 2 Pet. 3:3; 1 John 2:18; Jude 18). in latter times. The period from the First Coming of Christ until His return (Acts 2:16, 17; Heb. 1:1, 2; 9:26; 1 Pet. 1:20; 1 John 2:18). Apostasy will exist throughout that period, reaching a climax shortly before Christ returns (Matt. 24:12). depart from the faith. Those who fall prey to the false teachers will abandon the Christian faith. The Greek word for “depart” is the source of the English word “apostatize” and refers to someone moving away from an original position. These are professing or nominal Christians who associate with those who truly believe the gospel but defect after believing lies and deception, thus revealing their true nature as unconverted. deceiving spirits. Those demonic spirits, either directly or through false teachers, who have wandered away from the truth and lead others to do the same. doctrines of demons. Not teaching about demons, but false teaching that originates from them. To sit under such teaching is to hear lies from the demonic realm (Eph. 6:12; James 3:15; 2 John 7–11). The influence of demons will reach its peak during the Tribulation (2 Thess. 2:9; Rev. 9:2–11; 16:14; 20:2, 3, 8, 10). Satan and demons constantly work the deceptions that corrupt and pervert God’s Word.

1 Timothy 4:6 nourished…words of faith…good doctrine. Continual feeding on the truths of Scripture is essential to the spiritual health of all Christians (2 Tim. 3:16, 17), but especially of spiritual leaders like Timothy. Only by reading the Word, studying it, meditating on it, and mastering its contents can a pastor fulfill his mandate (2 Tim. 2:15). Timothy had been doing so since childhood (2 Tim. 3:15), and Paul urged him to continue (v. 16; 2 Tim. 3:14). “Words of faith” is a general reference to Scripture, God’s revealed truth. “Good doctrine” indicates the theology Scripture teaches.


What specific instructions did Paul give Timothy that would apply to a young person?

A young person seeking to live as a disciple of Jesus Christ can find essential guidelines in 4:12–16,where Paul listed five areas (verse 12) in which Timothy was to be an example to the church:

  1. In “word” or speech—see also Matthew 12:34–37; Ephesians 4:25, 29, 31.
  2. In “conduct” or righteous living—see also Titus 2:10; 1 Peter 1:15; 2:12; 3:16.
  3. In “love” or self-sacrificial service for others—see also John 15:13.
  4. In “faith” or faithfulness or commitment, not belief—see also 1 Corinthians 4:2.
  5. In “purity” and particularly sexual purity—see also 4:2.

The verses that follow hold several other building blocks to a life of discipleship:

  1. Timothy was to be involved in the public reading, study, and application of Scripture (v. 13).
  2. Timothy was to diligently use his spiritual gift that others had confirmed and affirmed in a public way (v. 14).
  3. Timothy was to be committed to a process of progress in his walk with Christ (v. 15).
  4. Timothy was to “take heed” to pay careful attention to “yourself and to the doctrine” (v. 16).

The priorities of a godly leader should be summed up in Timothy’s personal holiness and public teaching. All of Paul’s exhortations in vv. 6–16 fit into one or the other of those two categories. By careful attention to his own godly life and faithful preaching of the Word, Timothy would continue to be the human instrument God would use to bring the gospel and to save some who heard him. Though salvation is God’s work, it is His pleasure to do it through human instruments.


HAVE A BLESSED DAY!


MAXIMILIANO 


10/24/17

Desiring God's Word

"The judgments of the Lord are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb" (Ps. 19:10).

You should value Scripture more than all earthly treasures.

I have a friend who has a beautiful collection of rare Bibles. My favorite is one of the earliest printed copies, dating back to sixteenth-century England. The first time I held it in my hands I noticed that the top third of every page was covered with a dark stain. Tears filled my eyes when I realized it was from the blood of its original owner.

My friend explained that when Bloody Mary ruled England, she delighted in terrorizing Protestants and murdering as many as she could. Her soldiers would execute their victims through some bloody means, then take his or her Bible and dip it into the blood. Some of those Bibles have been preserved and are known as Martyrs' Bibles. Scientists have confirmed that the dark stains on every page of my friend's Bible are, indeed, human blood.

That same Bible is well worn from being studied. And many of its pages have water stains on them—perhaps from tears. Obviously it was someone's most precious possession, and his or her blood is there to prove it.

Psalm 19:10 captures the heart of such people, extolling the preciousness of God's Word. To David, Scripture was more valuable than the best gold and purest honey. Meditating on it meant more to him than the richest and sweetest things in life. He knew its ability to satisfy every spiritual appetite.

As precious as God's Word is, many Christians take it for granted and become complacent in their studies. Some go for long periods without gaining fresh insights from its pages.

Perhaps you know someone who is in that situation. If so, ask the Lord for wisdom as you gently encourage him or her toward greater faithfulness in the Word. At the same time be careful not to become negligent yourself.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank God for the example of those who have loved His Word to the cost of their lives.
  • Ask Him to give you the desire to feed on His truth daily and the drive to satisfy that desire.

For Further Study

Read 1 Peter 2:1-2 as a reminder to keep your heart sensitive to the precious gift of God's Word.


PART II

The Fearsome Foursome

“For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death” (Romans 7:5).

Four key terms characterize those who are not in Christ.

In our fallen, cursed world, disasters are commonplace. Fires, floods, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes, tornadoes, and other natural disasters happen somewhere every day. Added to those natural disasters are the man-made ones, such as war, acts of terrorism, plane crashes, train wrecks, etc.

But far greater than any of those disasters, and the one from which they all stem, was the entrance of sin into the human race. Sin renders fallen men spiritually dead, cuts them off from fellowship with God, and consigns them to eternal punishment in Hell.

In today’s verse Paul introduces four words that describe man’s unregenerate state: flesh, sin, law, and death. Those four words are interconnected: the flesh produces sin, which is stimulated by the law, resulting in death. Let’s consider each one individually.

The term flesh is used two ways in Scripture. It is sometimes used in a physical sense to speak of human existence. John used it to describe Christ’s incarnation in John 1:14 and 1 John 4:2. But in its moral sense, “flesh” represents the believer’s unredeemed body (Gal. 5:13; Eph. 2:3). While believers are no longer “in the flesh” (Rom. 8:9) as are unbelievers, the flesh is still in us. It is the seat of temptation, the beachhead from which Satan launches his attacks.

Sin (or “sinful passions”) energizes the flesh, which in turn produces further sin. Those “sinful passions,” Paul says, “were aroused by the Law”; they are exposed by the law because fallen man’s rebellious nature makes him desire to do what is forbidden. The end result of this downward spiral is “death”—both physical and spiritual.

What a merciful God we serve, who “even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ” (Eph. 2:5).

Suggestions for Prayer

Pray for the unbelievers in your life, that God would open their hearts to respond to the gospel (Acts 16:14).

For Further Study


PART III

October 24 - John the Baptist’s Testimony to Jesus’ Deity

“‘You have sent to John, and he has testified to the truth. But the testimony which I receive is not from man, but I say these things so that you may be saved. He was the lamp that was burning and was shining and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light’” (John 5:33–35).

The purpose of John the Baptist’s ministry was to prepare the nation for the Messiah (1:23), and to point Him out when He came (1:31).

John’s testimony supported Jesus’ claims to be the Messiah. Since he was generally regarded as a prophet (Matt. 21:26; Luke 20:6)—the first one in four centuries—his testimony carried considerable weight.

Jesus, of course, did not depend on human testimony to establish His claim to deity. He cited the testimony of John the Baptist to confirm by the mouth of one already recognized as God’s true prophet that same truth concerning Himself. He did so for the sake of His hearers—that they might be saved on account of John’s faithful witness.

Having mentioned John’s testimony to Him, Jesus in turn gave both a tribute to the Baptist and a rebuke to the Jewish leaders for rejecting his witness. John was “the lamp that was burning and was shining.” His “burning” inner zeal made him a “shining” light in the dark world. Unlike Jesus, who is the Light of the world (8:12), John was a lamp—he was a reflector of the Light. Just as a lamp lights the way for people, so John lit the way to Jesus (1:31).

Ask Yourself

We are never just standing still. We’re either increasing our resemblance to Christ’s character, or we’re looking more like ourselves—more controlled by our own desires and appetites. What traits would make you a better reflection of the presence of Christ in your life?


PART IV

Reading for Today:

Notes:

Jeremiah 33:15 A Branch. This is the Messiah King in David’s lineage. He is the King whose reign immediately follows the Second Coming when He appears in power (Dan. 2:35, 45; 7:13, 14, 27; Matt. 16:27–28; 24:30; 26:64).

Jeremiah 34:18, 21 cut the calf in two. God will give the guilty over to death before the conqueror, for they denied the covenant ratified by blood (v. 21). In this custom, as in Genesis 15:8–17, two parties laid out parts of a sacrifice on two sides, then walked between the parts. By that symbolic action, each pledged to fulfill his promise, agreeing in effect, “May my life (represented by the blood) be poured out if I fail to honor my part.”

1 Timothy 3:1 desires…desires. Two different Greek words are used. The first means “to reach out after.” It describes external action not internal motive. The second means “a strong passion” and refers to an inward desire. Taken together, these two words aptly describe the type of man who belongs in the ministry—one who outwardly pursues it because he is driven by a strong internal desire. bishop. The word means “overseer” and identifies the men who are responsible to lead the church (5:17; 1 Thess. 5:12; Heb. 13:7). In the New Testament the words “bishop,” “elder,” “overseer,” and “pastor” are used interchangeably to describe the same men (Acts 20:17, 28; Titus 1:5–9; 1 Pet. 5:1, 2). Bishops (pastors, overseers, elders) are responsible to lead (5:17), preach and teach (5:17), help the spiritually weak (1 Thess. 5:12–14), care for the church (1 Pet. 5:1, 2), and ordain other leaders (4:14).

1 Timothy 3:6 not a novice, lest…puffed up with pride. Putting a new convert into a leadership role would tempt him to pride. Elders, therefore, are to be drawn from the spiritually mature men of the congregation. fall into the same condemnation as the devil. Satan’s condemnation was due to pride over his position. It resulted in his fall from honor and authority. The same kind of fall and judgment could easily happen to a new and weak believer put in a position of spiritual leadership.

1 Timothy 3:8 deacons. From a word group meaning “to serve.” Originally referring to menial tasks such as waiting on tables (Acts 6:1–4), “deacon” came to denote any service in the church. Deacons serve under the leadership of elders, helping them exercise oversight in the practical matters of church life. Scripture defines no official or specific responsibilities for deacons. They are to do whatever the elders assign them or whatever spiritual ministry is necessary.


DAY 24: What does it mean for an elder to be “the husband of one wife”?

In 1 Timothy 3:2, the Greek is literally a “one-woman man.” This says nothing about marriage or divorce (v. 4). The issue is not the elder’s marital status but his moral and sexual purity. This qualification heads the list, because it is in this area that leaders are most prone to fail. Various interpretations of this qualification have been offered. Some see it as a prohibition against polygamy—an unnecessary injunction since polygamy was not common in Roman society and clearly forbidden by Scripture (Gen. 2:24), the teaching of Jesus (Matt. 19:5, 6; Mark 10:6–9), and Paul (Eph. 5:31). A polygamist could not even have been a church member, let alone a church leader. Others see this requirement as barring those who remarried after the death of their wives. But, as already noted, the issue is sexual purity, not marital status. Further, the Bible encourages remarriage after widowhood (5:14; 1 Cor. 7:39). Some believe that Paul here excludes divorced men from church leadership. That again ignores the fact that this qualification does not deal with marital status. Nor does the Bible prohibit all remarriage after divorce (Matt. 5:31, 32; 19:9; 1 Cor. 7:15). Finally, some think that this requirement excludes single men from church leadership. But if that were Paul’s intent, he would have disqualified himself (1 Cor. 7:8).

A “one-woman man” is one totally devoted to his wife, maintaining singular devotion, affection, and sexual purity in both thought and deed. To violate this is to forfeit blamelessness and no longer be “above reproach” (Titus 1:6,7).


PRAISE GOD, AND MAY BE BLESS!


MAXIMILIANO 


10/23/17

Joined to Christ

“. . . That you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, that we might bear fruit for God” (Romans 7:4).

No longer married to the law, the believer is now married to Jesus Christ.

Of the many New Testament metaphors used to describe the church, the most intimate is that of the bride of Christ. Paul describes that relationship in Ephesians 5:24-27: “But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her; that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless.”

By describing Christ as “Him who was raised from the dead,” Paul stresses the believer’s union with Jesus not only in His death but also in His resurrection (Rom. 6:4-5). Thus, our marriage bond with the living Savior will last forever.

The result of our union with Christ is “that we might bear fruit for God.” It is the goal of every believer’s life to glorify God by bearing fruit. There is no such thing as a Christian who bears no fruit, because the inevitable result of salvation is a transformed life. Jesus continues that process of transformation throughout our lives, continually pruning us so that we may produce even more fruit to His glory (John 15:1-2).

Spiritual fruit may be defined as any righteous act that glorifies God. It may consist of godly, Spirit-produced attitudes (Gal. 5:22-23), praise to God (Heb. 13:15), others led to Christ (Rom. 1:13), giving to those in need (Rom. 15:26-28), and righteous living (Phil. 1:11).What a great privilege is ours, to be eternally “one spirit” (1 Cor. 6:17) with the Lord of Glory!

Suggestions for Prayer

Pray that God would enable you to do all things for His glory (1 Cor. 10:31).

For Further Study

Read the list of the fruit of the Spirit Paul gives in Galatians 5:22-23.

  • Using a concordance, Bible dictionary, or other reference tools, study each aspect of fruit listed.
  • Look for ways to implement into your daily life what you learn.


PART II

The Source of Righteousness

"The judgments of the Lord are true; they are righteous altogether" (Ps. 19:9).

God’s Word is true and produces righteousness in the believer’s life.

The inability of human wisdom to produce right living was reaffirmed in my thinking as I read a contemporary psychiatrist's book on how to overcome depression. The doctor's first suggestion was to shout "Cancel!" every time you have a negative thought. She also recommended playing a tape recording of positive messages while you sleep at night, and listening to positive music during the day.

Cultivating a meaningful spiritual philosophy was another of her suggestions. She said any will do—as long as it works for you—but cautioned against those that speak of sin and guilt. Her final point was to find the spiritual light within yourself.

That kind of advice is foolish because it has no basis in truth. The best it can do is mask a few symptoms. It cannot cure the illness.

Jesus illustrated the hopelessness of searching for truth through such means when He said to a group of unbelievers, "Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word. You are of your father the devil . . . [who] does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature; for he is a liar, and the father of lies. But because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me. . . . He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God" (John 8:43-47).

Unbelievers don't see the truth of God's Word for what it is. But believers hear the truth and receive it. Like David, they acknowledge that "the judgments of the Lord are true; they are righteous altogether" (Ps. 19:9).

"Judgments" in that context speaks of ordinances or divine verdicts from the Supreme Judge. "Righteous altogether" implies that Scripture produces comprehensive righteousness in all who receive it. Together they emphasize that true righteousness originates from God's Word and flows through His people.

Suggestions for Prayer

Praise God for giving you the truth that produces righteousness.

For Further Study

What do the following verses say about God's righteous Word: Psalm 119:89, 128, 137-38, and 142?


PART III

October 23 - Physical Resurrection

“‘Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment’” (John 5:28–29).

The unbelieving Jews were astonished and outraged at Jesus’ bold claim to be the giver of spiritual life and the ultimate judge of all men. But then Jesus revealed another truth that astounded them: He would one day raise the dead from their graves. As He did with the spiritual resurrection (v. 25), Jesus said that the hour of physical resurrection is coming. The resurrection of “all who are in the tombs” is still future. At that time, the souls of the righteous dead, now in heaven with the Lord (2 Cor. 5:6–8), and of the wicked dead, now in torment in Hades (Luke 16:22–23), will be given resurrected bodies fit for eternity.

The final resurrection will usher believers into the glories of eternal life, and bring unbelievers to the endless suffering of eternal judgment. By characterizing believers as “those who did the good deeds” and unbelievers as “those who committed the evil deeds,” Jesus was not teaching that salvation is by works. Throughout His ministry, Jesus clearly taught that salvation “is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent” (6:29). Good works are simply the evidence of salvation. Those who believe in the Son will as a result do “good deeds” (3:21; Eph. 2:10; James 2:14–20), while those who reject the Son will be characterized by “evil deeds.”

Ask Yourself

How does the reality of a physical resurrection help deflect the disappointment you feel when you notice those tell tale signs of aging and bodily decay? How do you balance the biblical stewardship of healthy living with the assurance that these temporary dwellings are destined for replacement?


PART IV

Reading for Today:

Notes:

Jeremiah 32:14 Take these deeds. Title deeds to the land, kept for security reasons in a pottery jar, would attest in a future day to one’s claim of possession. Men of Anathoth did return to Jerusalem from Babylon (Ezra 2:23). Also, some of the poor of the land, left by the Babylonians (chap. 39), could have included certain inhabitants of Anathoth. In a still future day, God will be able (vv. 17, 27) to make this land good to a resurrected Jeremiah and confirm to the right people that they are the prophet/priest’s descendants.

Proverbs 27:20 Hell and Destruction. Man’s desires are never filled up. They are as insatiable as the place of eternal punishment which never overfills.

1 Timothy 2:1 supplications. The Greek word is from a root that means “to lack,” “to be deprived,” or “to be without.” Thus this kind of prayer occurs because of a need. The lost have a great need for salvation, and believers should always be asking God to meet that need. intercessions. This word comes from a root meaning “to fall in with someone” or “to draw near so as to speak intimately.” The verb from which this word derives is used of Christ’s and the Spirit’s intercession for believers (Rom. 8:26; Heb. 7:25). Paul’s desire is for the Ephesian Christians to have compassion for the lost, to understand the depths of their pain and misery, and to come intimately to God pleading for their salvation.

1 Timothy 2:9 adorn…modest apparel. The Greek word for “adorn” means “to arrange,” “to put in order,” or “to make ready.” A woman is to arrange herself appropriately for the worship service, which includes wearing decent clothing which reflects a properly adorned chaste heart. propriety and moderation. The Greek word for “propriety” refers to modesty mixed with humility, which carries the underlying idea of shame. It can also refer to a rejection of anything dishonorable to God or to grief over sin. “Moderation” basically refers to self-control over sexual passions. Godly women hate sin and control their passions so as not to lead another into sin.


What is the “New Covenant” in Jeremiah 31:31–34?

God announced here the coming establishment of a New Covenant with His people. This covenant will be different from the one “I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke. ”The New Covenant is given in these terms: “I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”

The fulfillment of this New Covenant was to individuals, as well as to Israel as a nation (v. 36; Rom. 11:16–27). It is set 1) in the framework of a reestablishment in their land (vv. 38–40 and chaps. 30–33) and 2) in the time after the ultimate difficulty (30:7).

In principle, this covenant, also announced by Jesus Christ (Luke 22:20), began to be exercised with spiritual aspects realized for Jewish and Gentile believers in the church era (1 Cor. 11:25; Heb. 8:7–13; 9:15; 10:14–17; 12:24; 13:20). It has already begun to take effect with “a remnant according to the election of grace” (Rom. 11:5). The New Covenant will be also realized by the people of Israel in the last days, including the regathering to their ancient land, Palestine (chaps. 30–33). The streams of the Abrahamic, Davidic, and New Covenants find their confluence in the millennial kingdom ruled over by the Messiah.

HAVE A BLESSED DAY!

MAXIMILIANO


10/23/17

Knowing God's Will

“Do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:17).

God’s will is revealed in His Word.

How can a Christian walk wisely and know the will of God for his life? The will of God is explicitly revealed to us in the pages of Scripture. God’s will is that we be:

Saved—“This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:3-4; compare 2 Peter 3:9).

Spirit-filled—“Do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:17-18).

Sanctified—“This is the will of God, your sanctification” (1 Thess. 4:3). Submissive—“Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. For such is the will of God” (1 Peter 2:13-15).

Suffering for His sake—“It is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong” (1 Peter 3:17).

Saying thanks—“In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess. 5:18).

You may say, “Those are good principles, but they don’t tell me where I ought to go to school or whom I should marry.” But if you’re saved, sanctified, submissive, suffering, and saying thanks, you can do whatever you want! That’s what the psalmist meant when he said, “Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart” (Ps. 37:4). Does that mean He fulfills the desire? Yes, but before He fulfills it, He puts it in your heart. If you are living a godly life, He will give you the right desires and then fulfill them.

Suggestions for Prayer

Give thanks to God for revealing His will in His Word so that you can live wisely, not foolishly.

For Further Study

Christ acted only in accordance with His Father’s will. Read the following verses, and note how that was so: Matthew 26:42; John 4:34; 5:30; 6:38.

PART II

An Unlikely Heroine

"By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace" (Heb. 11:31).

Rahab illustrates the depth and breadth of God’s amazing grace.

Our final Old Testament hero of faith is an unlikely addition to the list. Not only was she a prostitute, she also was a Gentile—and a Canaanite at that.

The Canaanites were an idolatrous, barbaric, debauched people, infamous even among pagans for their immorality and cruelty. Yet in the midst of that exceedingly wicked society, Rahab came to faith in the God of Israel.

Joshua 2:9-11 records her confession of faith to the two men Joshua had sent into Jericho as spies: "I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land have melted away before you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. And when we heard it, our hearts melted and no courage remained in any man any longer because of you; for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath" (emphasis added).

Rahab demonstrated the genuineness of that profession by risking her life to hide the spies from the king of Jericho, who sought to capture them.

Because Rahab lied to protect the spies (vv. 4-5), some people question the validity of her faith. Surely genuine believers wouldn't lie like that—or would they? Abraham did. Sarah did. Isaac did. Jacob did. But the important thing to understand is that God honored their faith, not their deception.

As with all the heroes of faith before her, Rahab's faith wasn't perfect, nor was her knowledge of God's moral law. But because she trusted God, she was spared during Jericho's conquest, then given an even greater honor. She became the mother of Boaz, who married Ruth, the great-great-grandmother of David, thereby becoming an ancestor of the Lord Jesus Christ (Matt. 1:5).

Suggestions for Prayer

Praise God for receiving even the vilest sinner who turns to Him in faith.

For Further Study

Read all about Rahab in Joshua 2:1-24, 6:22-25, and James 2:25.

PART III

Jesus Commissioned by the Holy Spirit

“‘I will put My Spirit upon Him’” (Matthew 12:18).

The prophet promised that God would put His Holy Spirit upon Messiah in a special way, and the Spirit did descend on Jesus at His baptism (Matt. 3:16). But that was not when the Spirit first indwelt Him, because the Holy Spirit conceived Him (Matt. 1:20).

Yet, if Jesus was the preexistent Son, eternally a member of the Godhead, why would the Spirit need to come upon Him during His incarnation? First, the Spirit needed to empower Jesus’ human nature. Our Lord was fully human, even to the extent of being tempted, yet He did not sin (Heb. 4:15). When He was a child, He grew and matured in favor with God and humanity (Luke 2:52). As an adult, He experienced the full range of human feelings and emotions. Therefore as a human being He needed the indwelling power of the Spirit (Acts 10:38) so He could function in concert with His deity.

Second, the Spirit commissioned Jesus in order to attest to His messianic service. Early in His ministry, Jesus applied Isaiah’s prophecy to Himself: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:18–19). This passage was not only fulfilled for Jesus’ audience but for us as well—we can know He ministered fully empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Ask Yourself

When was the last time you saw love or wisdom or some other valuable trait come forth from your life, and you knew it had to be the Spirit of Christ at work in you? Respond to such instances with true praise, and with a desire for more and more of His nature to be implanted in you.

PART IV

Reading for Today:

Notes:

Daniel 3:1 image of gold. The statue, which the king arrogantly made, represented himself as an expression of his greatness and glory and reflected the dream where he was the head of gold (2:38). It was not necessarily made of solid gold, but more likely would have been overlaid with gold, like many objects found in the ruins of Babylon. The word for “image” usually means a human form. The height of the figure was about 90 feet and the width 9 feet; it would have been comparable in height to date palms found in that area. The self-deifying statue of the king need not have been grotesquely thin in proportion to the height since a massive base could have contributed to the height. This established the worship of Nebuchadnezzar and the nation under his power, in addition to the other gods.

Daniel 3:15 who is the god…? The king’s challenge would return to embarrass him. The true God was able to deliver, just as He was able to reveal a dream and its meaning. Nebuchadnezzar had earlier called him “the God of gods” (2:47); but having let that fade from his attention, he soon would be shocked and humiliated when God took up his challenge (3:28, 29).

2 Peter 1:4 partakers of the divine nature. This expression is not different from the concepts of being born again, born from above (John 3:3; James 1:18; 1 Pet. 1:23), being in Christ (Rom. 8:1), or being the home of the Trinity (John 14:17–23).The precious promises of salvation result in becoming God’s children in the present age (John 1:12; Rom. 8:9; Gal. 2:20; Col. 1:27), and thereby sharing in God’s nature by the possession of His eternal life.

2 Peter 1:21 by the will of man. As Scripture is not of human origin, neither is it the result of human will. The emphasis in the phrase is that no part of Scripture was ever at any time produced because men wanted it so. The Bible is not the product of human effort. The prophets, in fact, sometimes wrote what they could not fully understand (1 Pet. 1:10, 11), but were nonetheless faithful to write what God revealed to them. moved by the Holy Spirit. Grammatically, this means that they were continually carried or borne along by the Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit thus is the divine author and originator, the producer of the Scriptures. In the Old Testament alone, the human writers refer to their writings as the words of God over 3,800 times (e.g., Jer. 1:4; 3:2; Rom. 3:2; 1 Cor. 2:10). Though the human writers of Scripture were active rather than passive in the process of writing Scripture, God the Holy Spirit superintended them so that, using their own individual personalities, thought processes, and vocabulary, they composed and recorded without error the exact words God wanted written. The original copies of Scripture are therefore inspired, i.e., God-breathed (2 Tim. 3:16) and inerrant, i.e., without error (John 10:34, 35; 17:17; Titus 1:2). Peter defined the process of inspiration which created an inerrant original text (Prov. 30:5; 1 Cor. 14:36; 1 Thess. 2:13).


DAY 30: Who was the fourth person in the fiery furnace of Daniel 3:19–25?

The delivery of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego from the flames was an astonishing, miraculous event. The furnace was real, and the flames were hot. The guards who carried the young men close enough to cast them in the furnace were killed. Why complicate this miracle with a fourth person in the furnace? Because the king himself noticed the discrepancy between the number he had thrown into the flames and the number he saw strolling about. The truth usually includes unexpected complications.

The king concluded the fourth person was a heavenly being. He identified the visitor in two different ways: 1) “like the Son of God” (3:25); 2) “Angel” (3:28). When he commanded the three friends to exit the furnace, the king did not extend an invitation to God’s special servant.

Viewed from the context of all of Scripture, the fourth person could possibly have been the Second Person of the Godhead (Jesus Christ) in a preincarnate appearance. For other similar Old Testament instances, see Exodus 3:2, Joshua 5:13–15, and Judges 6:11ff. While the term “Angel” is used in these reports, the person had a special connection with the Lord. He wasn’t an angel, but the Angel of the Lord. His presence may be startling but He does not have the stunning and awe-inspiring appearance of an angel. The king saw four men in the furnace. The one who appeared miraculously he identified as the Son of God. It may well have been an inspired exclamation.

LORD BLESS HIS ELECT

My Royal Family


LOVINGLY IN THE LOVE OF OUR LORD JESUS

E+1DAY


MAXIMILIANO



10/22/17

Dead to the Law

“Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ” (Romans 7:4).

The law can no longer punish those who have died with Christ.

It’s an axiomatic truth that laws don’t apply to dead people. No policeman would issue a ticket to a drunk driver who was killed in an accident. Nor was Lee Harvey Oswald tried for killing President Kennedy, since he himself was killed by Jack Ruby. In Romans 7:2-3 Paul uses marriage to illustrate that truth: “For the married woman is bound by law to her husband while he is living; but if her husband dies, she is released from the law concerning the husband. So then if, while her husband is living, she is joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from the law, so that she is not an adulteress, though she is joined to another man.” Paul’s point is simple: death ends a marriage because the laws regarding marriage don’t apply to the dead.

The same principle holds true in the spiritual realm. Since believers have died with Christ (Rom. 6:3-7), the law can no longer condemn them; it no longer has authority over them. Paul’s use of a passive verb (“were made to die”) indicates that believers don’t make themselves dead to the law; they were made dead to the law through a divine act.

The only provision for paying the penalty the law demands is the Lord Jesus Christ’s death on the cross. To the Corinthians Paul wrote, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21). The apostle repeated that truth in Galatians 2:19-20: “For through the Law I died to the Law, that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me.”

Suggestions for Prayer

Thank God that you are no longer under the law’s condemnation (Rom. 8:1).

For Further Study

Read Romans 3:20; 7:12; Galatians 3:24-25. Since the law can’t save anyone, what is its purpose?


PART II

Fearing God

"The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever" (Ps. 19:9).

Fearing God leads to reverential attitudes and actions.

In the Old Testament, to fear God was to view Him with reverential awe and bow to His sovereign authority. In Psalm 34 David wrote, "Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord. Who is the man who desires life, and loves length of days that he may see good? Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking deceit. Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it" (vv. 11- 14). His son Solomon added, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. . . . Fear the Lord and turn away from evil" (Prov. 1:7; 3:7).

The concept of fearing God isn't limited to the Old Testament. Paul said, "Work out your salvation with fear and trembling" (Phil. 2:12), "Let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God" (2 Cor. 7:1) and, "Be subject to one another in the fear of Christ" (Eph. 5:21).

Our fear of God compels us to worship Him and conform our lives to His will. If you fear Him, pleasing Him will be your greatest delight and displeasing Him, your greatest disappointment.

In Psalm 19:9 David uses "fear" as a synonym for God's Word, implying that Scripture is God's manual on how to worship Him. "Clean" (v. 9) is a comprehensive term that speaks of the absence of sin, corruption, filthiness, defilement, imperfection, and error. The message Scripture conveys is always "flawless, like silver refined in a furnace of clay, purified seven times" (Ps. 12:6, NIV).

Because it is so perfect, Scripture endures forever (Ps. 19:9). That's why Jesus said, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away" (Mark 13:31). It never needs to be updated to accommodate contemporary thinking. It stands forever as authoritative and unyielding. Those who judge it, slander it, or ignore it are in grave peril. Far better to fear God and bow to His revealed will.

Suggestions for Prayer

Read Psalm 33 as a prayer of praise to the Lord.

For Further Study

Memorize Proverbs 3:5-7 as a reminder always to seek God's will and approval.


PART III

October 22 - Spiritual Resurrection: Purpose and Power

“‘Those who hear will live. For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself’” (John 5:25–26).

Those who experience spiritual resurrection will receive abundant (10:10), everlasting life. But the only ones who “will live” are “those who hear” in the sense of true faith and obedience to the gospel. “My sheep hear My voice,” Jesus declared, “and I know them, and they follow Me” (10:27). Believers are those who have both the spiritual faculty and duty to respond to divine revelation. In contrast, the lost do not hear Christ’s voice; they are not saved and thus do not understand or obey it (8:43, 47; 12:47; 14:24), and hence will not live spiritually.

The Son can give life (v. 21) because, like the Father, He “has life in Himself.” No one can give to others what he himself lacks; thus no sinful human being can generate for himself eternal life. God alone possesses it, and He grants it through His Son to whomever He wills.

Those who deny His deity twist Jesus’ statement about the Father giving life to the Son into a claim that He was created and thus inferior to the Father. Such is not the case, however. John has already stated in the prologue to his gospel that the Son possessed life in Himself from all eternity (1:4). When He became a man, our Lord voluntarily gave up the independent use of His divine attributes (Phil. 2:6–7). But the Father granted Him the authority to give life (both physical and spiritual) even during the self-limiting condescension of His earthly ministry.

Ask Yourself

What’s the motivation behind those who try to downplay Jesus’ divinity? What are they trying to avoid admitting or dealing with? What would you say to those who claim that doctrines like these are unimportant and nonessential?


PART IV

Reading for Today:

Notes:

Jeremiah 29:14 I will be found by you. The Lord would answer their prayer by returning the Jews to their land, Daniel’s example and God’s response (Dan. 9:4–27). Fulfillment would occur in the era of Ezra and Nehemiah, and beyond this in even fuller measure after the Second Advent of their Messiah (Dan. 2:35, 45; 7:13, 14, 27; 12:1–3, 13).

Jeremiah 30:7 time of Jacob’s trouble. This period of unprecedented difficulty for Israel, as the verse defines, is set in a context of Israel’s final restoration. It is best equated with the time of tribulation (vv. 8, 9) just before Christ’s Second Advent mentioned elsewhere (Dan. 12:1; Matt. 24:21, 22) and described in detail by Revelation 6–19.

1 Timothy 1:4 fables and endless genealogies. Legends and fanciful stories manufactured from elements of Judaism (v. 7; Titus 1:14), which probably dealt with allegorical or fictitious interpretations of Old Testament genealogical lists. In reality, they were “doctrines of demons” (4:1), posing as God’s truth (4:7).

1 Timothy 1:8 the law is good. The Greek word for “good” can be translated “useful.” The law is good or useful because it reflects God’s holy will and righteous standard (Ps. 19:7; Rom. 7:12) which accomplishes its purpose in showing sinners their sin (Rom. 3:19) and their need for a Savior (Gal. 3:24).The law forces people to recognize that they are guilty of disobeying God’s commands, and it thereby condemns every person and sentences them to hell.

1 Timothy 1:13 because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. Paul was neither a Jewish apostate nor a Pharisee who clearly understood Jesus’ teaching and still rejected Him. He was a zealous, fastidious Jew trying to earn his salvation, thus lost and damned. His plea of ignorance was not a claim to innocence nor an excuse denying his guilt. It was simply a statement indicating that he did not understand the truth of Christ’s gospel and was honestly trying to protect his religion. His willing repentance when confronted by Christ is evidence that he had not understood the ramifications of his actions—he truly thought he was doing God a service (Acts 26:9).


DAY 22: Who is Timothy?

Timothy received his name, which means “one who honors God,” from his mother (Eunice) and grandmother (Lois), devout Jews who became believers in the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Tim. 1:5) and taught Timothy the Old Testament Scriptures from his childhood (2 Tim. 3:15). His father was a Greek (Acts 16:1) who may have died before Timothy met Paul.

Timothy was from Lystra (Acts 16:1–3), a city in the Roman province of Galatia (part of modern Turkey). Paul led Timothy to Christ (1:2, 18; 1 Cor. 4:17; 2 Tim. 1:2), undoubtedly during his ministry in Lystra on his first missionary journey (Acts 14:6–23). When he revisited Lystra on his second missionary journey, Paul chose Timothy to accompany him (Acts 16:1–3). Although Timothy was very young (probably in his late teens or early twenties, since about 15 years later Paul referred to him as a young man; 4:12), he had a reputation for godliness (Acts 16:2). Timothy was to be Paul’s disciple, friend, and co-laborer for the rest of the apostle’s life, ministering with him in Berea (Acts 17:14), Athens (Acts 17:15), Corinth (Acts 18:5; 2 Cor. 1:19), and accompanying him on his trip to Jerusalem (Acts 20:4). He was with Paul in his first Roman imprisonment and went to Philippi (2:19–23) after Paul’s release. In addition, Paul frequently mentions Timothy in his epistles. Paul often sent Timothy to churches as his representative (1 Cor. 4:17; 16:10; Phil. 2:19; 1 Thess. 3:2), and 1 Timothy finds him on another assignment, serving as pastor of the church at Ephesus (1:3).


HAVE A BLESSED DAY!


MAXIMILIANO 


10/21/17

Obeying God's Commands

"The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes" (Ps. 19:8).

Obedience to the Word is the hallmark of a true believer.

It isn't popular these days to speak of God's Word as a book of commandments. Commands imply law and we're accustomed to grace. But the fact is, both the Old and New Testaments contain many commandments that all God's people are to obey.

The apostle John said, "By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, 'I have come to know Him,' and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected" (1 John 2:3-5). John equated the commandments of God with the Word of God.

Jesus Himself said, "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments" (John 14:15) and "He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me; and he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father" (v. 21). If you truly love Christ, your life will be characterized by a pattern of obedience to His Word.

Every commandment of God is "pure", the psalmist said (Ps. 19:8). Its effect is "enlightening the eyes." God's Word brings spiritual truth into clear focus. Not every passage of Scripture is easy to understand, but taken as a whole, the message of the Bible is clear to the regenerate mind.

But as clear as the Bible is to believers, unredeemed people can't understand it. To them it's foolishness because their minds are unenlightened (1 Cor. 2:14). In their spiritual blindness they choose humanistic philosophical speculations over God's Word. But as a believer, you are continually being enlightened by the truths of God's Word as the Holy Spirit enables you to understand and apply them to your life.

Your ability to understand the Word is a priceless gift. Take advantage of it daily by expanding your Bible knowledge and increasing your obedience.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank the Lord for opening your mind to the truths of His Word.
  • Commit yourself to discovering at least one additional truth from Scripture each day.

For Further Study

Read 1 Corinthians 2:14-16. What comparison did Paul make between the natural (unregenerate) man and the spiritual (regenerate) man?


PART II

Paying Sin's Price

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

Christ paid a debt He did not owe to free us from a debt we could not pay.

In the scientific realm there are universal laws, such as the law of gravity. These laws are built into the creation by its all-wise Creator and keep it functioning normally.

Just as God has made inexorable laws to govern the physical dimension, so also has He decreed universal spiritual principles. The most significant of those spiritual laws is that sin demands death; death is the wages sin pays. The Greek word translated “wages” was commonly used to speak of giving compensation for service rendered. When God sentences sinners to Hell, He is merely giving them the compensation that they have earned and that His justice demands.

In sharp contrast to the inexorable law of sin and death is the gracious “free gift of God”—“eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Eternal life is not a wage but a gift, and hence it can’t be earned. Good works, church attendance, or religious rituals will not entitle anyone to it. After recounting his religious credentials—credentials unsurpassed in first-century Judaism (Gal. 1:14)—Paul dismissed them as “loss for the sake of Christ” (Phil. 3:7).

The free gift of eternal life comes only through “Christ Jesus our Lord.” In Acts 4:12 Peter declared that “there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved.” And in John 14:6 Jesus said simply, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.”

“Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift” (2 Cor. 9:15)!

Suggestions for Prayer

Have you lost touch with the reality that “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death” (Rom. 8:2)? If so, spend some time in prayer today, thanking God for giving you eternal life.

For Further Study

What do the following passages teach about the possibility of earning eternal life: Romans 3:28; Galatians 2:16; 3:11; Philippians 3:9; Titus 3:5?


PART III

October 21 - Who Receives Spiritual Resurrection?

“‘Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live’” (John 5:25).

Jesus begins this emphatic, unarguable declaration with the seemingly paradoxical statement “an hour is coming and now is.” The hour of the believers’ resurrection “now is” in the sense that when they “were dead in [their] trespasses and sins . . . [God] made [them] alive together with Christ, and raised [them] up with Him” (Eph. 2:1, 5–6). Yet the hour is still “coming” in the sense that the resurrection of their physical bodies is yet future (1 Cor. 15:35–54; Phil. 3:20–21).

This “already/not yet” sense of the phrase may be understood in another way. When Christ was present, He offered spiritual life to all who would heed His Word (6:37; Matt. 7:24–27). Yet the full expression of the new era He inaugurated would not come until the day of Pentecost (14:17). Both during Christ’s earthly ministry and in the fullness of the Spirit’s ministry after Pentecost, the spiritually dead who heard “the voice of the Son of God” would live.

Scripture frequently describes unbelievers as spiritually dead. To be spiritually dead is to be insensitive to the things of God and totally unable to respond to Him. Paul vividly described it as living “in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and [being] by nature children of wrath” (Eph. 2:3).

Rejoice in the amazing grace of God for making you alive together with Christ.

Ask Yourself

Try to define the ways you’re experiencing the first rays of eternal life even while bound in this time and place. How would your life be different if you were still spiritually dead, removed from the grace of God?


PART IV

Reading for Today:

Notes:

Jeremiah 27:8 yoke of…Babylon. The point of the object lesson is simple. Any nation that will serve Babylon willingly may stay in their own land, but nations that will not submit voluntarily to Babylon will suffer destruction. Consequently, Judah should submit and not be removed from the land (vv. 9–18).

Jeremiah 28:2, 3 I have broken the yoke. The false prophet, of the kind Jeremiah warned of in 27:14–16, boldly predicted victory over Babylon and the return of the temple vessels within two years. In actuality, Babylon achieved its third and final step in conquering Judah 11 years later (586 B.C.) as in chapters 39, 40, and 52.

Psalm 119:39 good. The very attributes of God (v. 68) become the characteristics of Scripture: 1) trustworthy (v. 42); 2) true (vv. 43, 142, 151, 160); 3) faithful (v. 86); 4) unchangeable (v. 89); 5) eternal (vv. 90, 152); 6) light (v. 105); and 7) pure (v. 140).

2 Thessalonians 3:1 pray for us. Paul frequently enlisted prayer support from the churches for his ministry (Rom. 15:30–32; Eph. 6:18, 19; Col. 4:2, 3; 1 Thess. 5:25; Philem.22). In particular, he asked them to pray that the word of God would continue to spread rapidly as it had been already (Acts 6:7; 12:24; 13:44–49) and be received with the honor it deserved.


DAY 21: How does Paul’s teaching on church discipline in 2 Thessalonians 3:6–15 fit with other major biblical passages on this subject?

Paul addressed a particular issue of church discipline with the Thessalonians in 3:6–15. Helpful parallel passages that should be consulted in studying this one include Matthew 18:15–20, 1 Corinthians 5:1–13, Galatians 6:1–5, and 1 Timothy 5:19, 20.

This passage (3:6–15) gives specific direction on the nature of the church’s response to someone who deliberately refuses to follow God’s Word, expecting to benefit from fellowship with God’s people while being unwilling to participate in a meaningful way. Paul’s directions were not mere suggestions, but rather they carried the weight and authority of a judge’s court order which the apostle delivered and enforced (vv. 4, 6, 10, 12). In Paul’s words, “If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat” (3:10). These were fellow believers acting in a parasitic way, sapping the generosity of other believers. Paul had already addressed this pattern in his first letter (1 Thess. 4:11). If there were any questions, Paul called them to imitate him (v. 7; 1 Thess. 1:6) because he imitated Christ (1 Cor. 4:16; 11:1; Eph. 5:1).

This passage offers an emphatic command, a personal confrontation, and a compassionate caution. First, vv. 6 and 14 instruct the rest of the church to “withdraw” and “not keep company” with such a person. In other words, Paul was commanding the church to disfellowship blatantly disobedient Christians in order to produce shame (v. 14) and, hopefully, repentance. Second, Paul was giving the sluggards a direct command to “work in quietness and eat their own bread” (v. 12), removing any excuse that they had not been warned about discipline. Third, Paul added two crucial words of caution. He reminded the believers that genuinely needy people deserved help. He urged them, “Do not grow weary in doing good” (v. 13). He also cautioned them to limit their disciplinary withdrawal. “Yet do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother” (v. 15).While an unrepentant pattern of sin should be handled decisively, they should continually remember that the person being disciplined is a brother or sister in the Lord. All further warnings to this person about his or her sin should be done with love and concern, praying for this fellow believer’s restoration.

The goal for any prescription for church discipline must be the restoration of the sinning person. If successful, Jesus said that “you have gained your brother” (Matt. 18:15). The idea is not merely to punish the offender or to shun him completely, but to remove him as a detrimental influence from the fellowship of the church, and henceforth to regard him as an evangelistic prospect rather than a brother. Ultimately, the sin for which he is excommunicated is a hardhearted impenitence.


HAVE A BLESSED DAY!


MAXIMILIANO 


10/20/17

Living a Joyous Life

"The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart" (Ps. 19:8).

Knowing your life is on the right track is a source of great joy.

What brings you joy? Your answer will reveal much about your priorities and the direction your life is heading spiritually.

The psalmist wrote, "How blessed [happy] is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. And he will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers" (Ps. 1:1-3).

That psalmist knew that true joy and happiness come from knowing God and abiding in His Word. That was David's confidence when he wrote, "The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart" (Ps. 19:8).

"Precepts" in that verse speaks of divine principles and guidelines for character and conduct. God created you and knows how you must live to give glory to Him. And He revealed in His Word every precept you must know to do so.

Every divine precept is "right." It shows you the path that is right and true. What a wonderful confidence that is! While many around you may be discouraged or despondent because of their lack of direction and purpose, God's Word is a lamp to your feet and a light to your path (Ps. 119:105). It guides you through the difficult mazes of life and gives your life eternal significance. Don't live simply for your own pleasures. Your life has a high and holy purpose, and each day can be filled with joy as you see that purpose unfold.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Ask God to help you be mindful of your eternal purpose today and every day.
  • Ask Him to direct you to someone who needs Christ and is sensing a lack of purpose in his or her life.

For Further Study

Read Colossians 3:1-4.

  • How did Paul describe Christ?
  • What should be the focus of your thinking?
  • Are you heeding Paul's exhortation?


PART II

Serving a New Master

“I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification” (Romans 6:19).

You must live consistent with your new nature.

It is a truism that in the spiritual realm, no one stands still. Sin leads to more sin, while holy living leads to further righteousness. All unbelievers are slaves of sin and have no choice but to sin; yielding to sin comes naturally to them. They are inwardly full of “impurity” and hence outwardly given to “lawlessness.” They continually spiral downward; sin leads to more sin, which leads in turn to still more sin. Ultimately, sin will drag a person into the depths of Hell.

For Christians, however, the spiral is an upward one. Having become new creatures at salvation (2 Cor. 5:17), believers are no longer servants of sin. The Christian life is the process of bringing one’s lifestyle into line with one’s nature. As believers “present their members as slaves to righteousness,” the inevitable result is further “sanctification.” Decreasing frequency of sin, therefore, is a sure sign of a mature believer.

Paul knew all too well from his own experience that the believer’s body is a battleground. In his spiritual autobiography he wrote, “I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wishes to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind, and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?” (Rom. 7:21-24).

How are you faring in the daily battle with sin? If victories are few and far between, perhaps you have forgotten Paul’s exhortation to “present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship” (Rom. 12:1).

Suggestions for Prayer

Pray with the psalmist, “Establish my footsteps in Thy word, and do not let any iniquity have dominion over me” (Ps. 119:133).

For Further Study

Identify one area in which you lack self-control. Use a concordance to see what Proverbs teaches about your problem.


PART III

October 20 - Jesus’ Deity in His Honor

“‘. . . so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life’” (John 5:23–24).

The Father’s purpose in entrusting all judgment to Jesus is “so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father.” It is only fitting that those equal in nature (vv. 17–18), works (vv. 19–20), power and sovereignty (v. 21), and judgment (v. 22) would be accorded equal honor. The Father’s honor is not diminished by the honor paid to Christ; on the contrary, it is enhanced.

Although the unbelieving Jews thought they were truly worshiping God while rejecting His Son (cf. 16:2), instead the opposite was true: “he who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.” “He who hates Me,” Jesus warned, “hates My Father also” (John 15:23). Those who refuse to honor the Son while claiming to honor the Father are actually self-deceived.

That the Father and the Son are to be afforded equal honor forcefully asserts Christ’s deity and equality with God, who declared through the prophet Isaiah, “I will not give My glory to another” (Isa. 42:8; cf. 48:11). Yet the Father has commanded that “all will honor the Son.” Willingly or unwillingly, everyone will eventually obey the Father’s command to honor Jesus Christ. The blessed promise to those who believe is that they “do not come into judgment, but [have] passed out of death into life.”

Ask Yourself

Many in our culture today still don’t have a lot of trouble believing in God, but Jesus is quite another matter. Are you sometimes convinced that a person is spiritually sound because he talks favorably of God and exhibits some good qualities? How do you speak to an individual like this about his or her need for Jesus?


PART IV

Reading for Today:

Notes:

Jeremiah 25:11 seventy years. Here is the first specific statement on the length of the exile. This period probably began in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, when Jerusalem was first captured and the temple treasures were taken. It ends with the decree of Cyrus to let the Jews return, spanning from ca. 605/04 B.C. to 536/35 B.C. The exact number of Sabbath years is 490 years, the period from Saul to the Babylonian captivity. This was retribution for their violation of the Sabbath law (Lev. 26:34, 35; 2 Chr. 36:21).

Jeremiah 26:12 Jeremiah spoke. Leaders and people threatened to kill him (v. 8). The prophet defended himself while in extreme danger. He did not compromise but displayed tremendous spiritual courage. He was ready to die (v. 14), yet warned the crowd that God would hold the guilty accountable (v. 15).

Proverbs 27:17 iron sharpens iron. The benefits of intellectual and theological discussion encourage joy through a keener mind and the improvement of good character which the face will reveal.

2 Thessalonians 2:7 the mystery of lawlessness. This is the spirit of lawlessness already prevalent in society (1 John 3:4; 5:17), but still a mystery in that it is not fully revealed as it will be in the one who so blatantly opposes God that he blasphemously assumes the place of God on earth which God has reserved for Jesus Christ. The spirit of such a man is already in operation (1 John 2:18; 4:3), but the man who fully embodies that spirit has not come. taken out of the way. This refers not to spatial removal (therefore it could not be the Rapture of the church) but rather “a stepping aside.” The idea is “out of the way,” not gone. This restraint will be in place until the Antichrist is revealed, at the midpoint of the Tribulation, leaving him 42 months to reign (Dan. 7:25; Rev. 13:5).

2 Thessalonians 2:9, 10 the lawless one. He will do mighty acts pointing to himself as supernaturally empowered. His whole operation will be deceptive, luring the world to worship him and be damned. The career of the coming lawless one is more fully described in Revelation 13:1–18.


DAY 20: What is the “falling away” that Paul speaks of in 2 Thessalonians 2:3, 4?

The Day of the Lord cannot occur until a deliberate abandonment of a formerly professed position, allegiance, or commitment occurs (the term was used to refer to military, political, or religious rebellion). Some have suggested, on questionable linguistic evidence, that this refers to a “departure” in the sense of the Rapture. Context, however, points to a religious defection, which is further described in v. 4.The language indicates a specific event, not general apostasy which exists now and always will. Rather, Paul has in mind the apostasy. This is an event which is clearly and specifically identifiable and unique, the consummate act of rebellion, an event of final magnitude. The key to identifying the event is to identify the main person, which Paul does, calling him the “man of sin.” Some texts have “man of lawlessness,” but there is no real difference in meaning since sin equals lawlessness (1 John 3:4). This is the one who is called “the prince who is to come” (Dan. 9:26) and “the little horn” (Dan. 7:8), whom John calls “the beast” (Rev. 13:2–10, 18) and most know as the Antichrist. The context and language clearly identify a real person in future times who actually does the things prophesied of him in Scripture. He is also called “the son of perdition” or destruction, a term used of Judas Iscariot (John 17:12).

“The falling away” is the abomination of desolation that takes place at the midpoint of the Tribulation spoken of in Daniel 9:27; 11:31 and Matthew 24:15. This man is not Satan, although Satan is the force behind him (v. 9) and he has motives like the desires of the devil (Is. 14:13, 14). Paul is referring to the very act of ultimate apostasy which reveals the final Antichrist and sets the course for the events that usher in the Day of the Lord. Apparently, he will be seen as supportive of religion so that God and Christ will not appear as his enemies until the apostasy. He exalts himself and opposes God by moving into the temple, the place for worship of God, declaring himself to be God and demanding the worship of the world. In this act of satanic self-deification, he commits the great apostasy in defiance of God.


HAVE A BLESSED DAY!


MAXIMILIANO 


10/19/17

Living in Evil Days

“Making the most of your time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16).

Evil days call for good behavior.

The days we live in are certainly full of evil. Read any newspaper, and you’ll know what I mean. Can you imagine how it breaks God’s heart to create a perfect world, filled with every good thing, and then see it become as corrupt, debauched, and vile as it is today? Can you imagine how it must be for God to watch Christians who, in the midst of this evil world, are given opportunities to do good, yet bypass them without notice? The days are evil, and God gives us these opportunities to make things happen that matter—to fill up at least one moment of every day with something good, something righteous, something for Him.

“Because the days are evil,” the apostle Paul says in Ephesians 5:16, it’s important to walk wisely and make the most of our time. When opportunities for goodness do come, we should seize them. When God gives us an occasion to glorify Him (which in turn will bring a blessing on us), we must take the opportunity for His name’s sake. We must seize it in the midst of an evil day.

When I think of how God’s heart is broken over the evil of a world that He made for His own glory, I say to myself, If God gives me one small opportunity in the midst of an evil day to do something good, something to honor Him, or something to glorify Him, I’m going to grab that opportunity. Since the days are evil and it seems as though goodness is so scarce, you and I need to take every opportunity we can for manifesting goodness.

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask the Lord to help you be aware of more opportunities that you can seize for manifesting goodness.

For Further Study

  • According to Genesis 6:5, what did the Lord see in the days of Noah?
  • What effect did that have on God (v. 6)?
  • According to Hebrews 11:7, what did Noah do?
  • What effect did Noah have on the world?


PART II

Bearing the Reproach of Christ

Moses considered "the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward. By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen" (Heb. 11:26-27).

When you suffer for Christ, you bear His reproach.

How could Moses, who lived 1,500 years before Christ, bear His reproach? Christ is the Greek form of the Hebrew title Messiah, the Anointed One. Many Old Testament personalities were spoken of as being anointed for special service to the Lord. Some have suggested that Moses was thinking of himself as a type of messiah, for he delivered his people from the Egyptian bondage. They would translate verse 26 as, "Considering the reproach of his own messiahship as God's deliverer."

However, it seems best to see this verse as a reference to Jesus Himself, the future great Deliverer. We don't know how much knowledge Moses had of Jesus, but certainly it was more than Abraham, of whom Jesus said, "Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad" (John 8:56).

The Messiah has always been identified with His people. When they suffer for righteousness' sake, they suffer in His place. That's why David said, "The reproaches of those who reproach Thee have fallen on me" (Ps. 69:9). Speaking from a New Testament perspective, Paul made a similar statement: "I bear on my body the brand-marks of Jesus" (Gal. 6:17).

There's also a sense in which Christ suffers with His people. When Jesus confronted Paul, who was heavily persecuting the church, He said, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? . . . I am Jesus whom you are persecuting" (Acts 9:4-5).

Moses chose to turn his back on Pharaoh's household and identify with God's people because he knew that suffering for Christ was far better than enjoying the riches of Egypt. At some point in time you too will be persecuted for Christ's sake (2 Tim. 3:12), so be prepared. When that time comes, follow Moses' example of faith and courage, knowing that God will be your shield and your reward (cf. Gen. 15:1).

Suggestions for Prayer

Follow the examples of the apostles by thanking God for the privilege of bearing a small portion of the reproach that the world aims at Christ (Acts 5:27-41).

For Further Study

Memorize Psalm 27:1 as a source of encouragement when facing difficulty.


PART III

The Sabbath in Perspective: An Illustration

“He said to them, ‘What man is there among you who has a sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will he not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable then is a man than a sheep! So then, it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.’ Then He said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand!’ He stretched it out, and it was restored to normal, like the other” (Matthew 12:11–13).

One of the tragedies of Hinduism in India is its distorted disregard for human welfare. You should not give food to a beggar because that might interfere with his karma and keep him from suffering on a higher level of existence. You should not kill a fly because it could be the reincarnation of a person. For the same reason, you must allow rats to live and eat whatever they want. Hindus consider cows sacred and feed them whatever food is available. At the same time, they let certain people starve.

Similarly, the Jewish leaders in Jesus’ time despised other people and showed more compassion for their sheep than for the handicapped man here. Mark’s account says Jesus asked, “‘Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save a life or to kill?’ But they kept silent” (Mark 3:4). The Pharisees couldn’t say anything because they would have been forced either to contradict their tradition or advocate murder. Their only external response was to remain silent, but undoubtedly they “were filled with rage” (Luke 6:11).

Our Lord answered His own question with the clear declaration, “So then, it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” He then healed the man’s deformed hand as the Pharisees’ resentment no doubt rose to new heights. Christ not only approved of doing good on the Sabbath, He went ahead and actually performed good on behalf of another. If anything, this set forth the Sabbath as the supreme day for doing good.

Ask Yourself

What teachings of Scripture do you still mainly follow out of dutiful habit, not with an eye toward honoring God or being used as a blessing to others? What has your legalistic adherence gained for you, and what has it cost you?


PART IV

Reading for Today:

Notes:

Ezekiel 45:9–12 The leaders of the land are urged to be thoroughly honest in their commercial dealings. This warning shows that there will be sin in the Millennium. The believing Jews who entered the 1,000-year reign of Christ on earth and inherited the promised kingdom will be fully human and capable of such sins. There also will be children who do not necessarily believe, as the final rebellion against King Messiah and His temple proves (Rev. 20:7–9).

1 Peter 3:1 likewise. In chapter 2, Peter taught that living successfully as a Christian in a hostile world would require relating properly in two places: the civil society (2:13–17) and the workplace (2:18–25). At the start of this chapter, he added two more places: the family (vv. 1–7) and the local church (vv. 8, 9). be submissive. Peter insisted that if Christians are to be a witness for their Lord, they must submit not only to the civil, but also to the social order which God has designed. own husbands. Women are not inferior to men in any way, any more than submissive Christians are inferior to pagan rulers or non-Christian bosses (Gal. 3:28). But wives have been given a role which puts them in submission to the headship which resides in their own husbands (1 Cor. 11:1–9; Eph. 5:22; Col. 3:18; Titus 2:4, 5).

1 Peter 3:7 Husbands, likewise. Submission is the responsibility of a Christian husband, as well (Eph. 5:21). Though not submitting to his wife as a leader, a believing husband must submit to the loving duty of being sensitive to the needs, fears, and feelings of his wife. In other words, a Christian husband needs to subordinate his needs to hers, whether she is a Christian or not. Peter specifically notes consideration, chivalry, and companionship. weaker vessel. While she is fully equal in Christ and not inferior spiritually because she is a woman (Gal. 3:28), she is physically weaker and in need of protection, provision, and strength from her husband. heirs together of the grace of life. Here the “grace of life” is not salvation, but marriage—the best relationship earthly life has to offer. The husband must cultivate companionship and fellowship with his wife, Christian or not (Eccl. 9:9).

1 Peter 3:15 sanctify the Lord God in your hearts. “Christ” is to be preferred here, so the reading is “set apart in your hearts Christ as Lord.” The heart is the sanctuary in which He prefers to be worshiped. Live in submissive communion with the Lord Jesus, loving and obeying Him—and you have nothing to fear. always be ready to give a defense. The English word “apologetics” comes from the Greek word here translated “defense.” Peter is using the word in an informal sense (Phil. 1:16, 17) and is insisting that the believer must understand what he believes and why one is a Christian, and then be able to articulate one’s beliefs humbly, thoughtfully, reasonably, and biblically. the hope that is in you. Salvation with its anticipation of eternal glory.


How does Peter use familiar terms such as “spirit,” “abyss,” “flood,” and “baptism” in 1 Peter 3:18–22?


This passage proves to be one of the most difficult texts in the New Testament to translate and interpret. The line between Old Testament allusions and New Testament applications gets blurred. Peter’s overall purpose of this passage, which was to encourage his readers in their suffering, must be kept in mind during interpretation. The apostle repeatedly reminded them that even Christ suffered unjustly because it was God’s will (vv. 17, 18) and accomplished God’s purposes.

Therefore, although Jesus experienced a violent physical execution that terminated His earthly life when He was “put to death in the flesh” (v. 18; Heb. 5:7), nevertheless He was “made alive by the Spirit” (v. 18). This is not a reference to the Holy Spirit, but to Jesus’ true inner life, His own spirit. Contrasted with His flesh (humanness) which was dead for three days, His spirit (Deity) remained alive, literally “in spirit” (Luke 23:46).

Part of God’s purpose in Christ’s death involved His activities between His death and resurrection. His living spirit went to the demon spirits bound in the Abyss and proclaimed victory in spite of death. Peter further explained that the Abyss is inhabited by bound demons that have been there since the time of Noah. They were sent there because they overstepped the limits of God’s tolerance with their wickedness. Not even 120 years of Noah’s example and preaching had stemmed the tide of wickedness in his time (Gen. 6:1–8). Thus God bound these demons permanently in the Abyss until their final sentencing.

Peter’s analogy spotlights the ministry of Jesus Christ in saving us as surely as the ark saved Noah’s family. He is not referring to water baptism here but to a figurative immersion in Christ that keeps us safe from the flood of God’s sure judgment. The resurrection of Christ demonstrates God’s acceptance of Christ’s substitutionary death for the sins of those who believe (Acts 2:30, 31; Rom. 1:4). God’s judgment fell on Christ just as the judgment of the floodwaters fell on the ark. The believer who is in Christ is thus in the ark of safety that will sail over the waters of judgment into eternal glory (Rom. 6:1–4).

LORD BLESS HIS ELECT

My Royal Family


LOVINGLY IN THE LOVE OF OUR LORD JESUS

E+1DAY


MAXIMILIANO


10/18/17

Living Unselfishly

“Making the most of your time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16).

Time will tell whether you’re unselfish or selfish.

In 1842 Robert Murray M’Cheyne, pastor of St. Peter’s Church in Dundee, Scotland, wrote a pastoral letter to an individual who was an unbeliever. The following is an excerpt from his letter:

I was reading this morning (Luke ii. 29), what old Simeon said when he got the child Jesus into his arms: “Now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace, according to Thy word: for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation.” If you get a firm hold of the Lord Jesus, you will be able to say the same. . . . God is leading you to the very spot where the Redeemer is,—a lowly, despised, spit-upon, crucified Saviour. Can this be the Saviour of the world? Yes, dear soul; kneel down and call Him your Redeemer. He died for such as you and me.

M’Cheyne lived unselfishly, caring for the spiritual welfare of both believers and unbelievers. Because of poor health, he died at age twenty-nine after ministering but a short seven and a half years. His spiritual legacy of passionate love for the Lord and pastoral love for people continues to serve as an inspiring example for believers today.

M’Cheyne’s life illustrates what the apostle Paul was saying to the Ephesian believers: make the most of your time. In Ephesians 5:16 the Greek term translated “making the most of” means “buy up for yourself.” That doesn’t mean you’re to hoard your time for your own use; rather, you’re to buy up for yourself time that will give God glory. Every day brings new opportunities to be seized for God—opportunities for good, for righteousness, for holiness.

Like M’Cheyne, buy up opportunities daily for God’s glory and the good of others. Be committed to minister to the spiritual needs of believers and unbelievers. By doing so, you will make your time count for eternity.

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask God to help you be unselfish and serve others effectively by His grace.

For Further Study

Read the following verses: Galatians 6:10; 1 Corinthians 10:24; Philippians 2:3-4. How do they say you are to live?


PART II

Conquering in Conflict

"By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they had been encircled for seven days" (Heb. 11:30).

Faith is the key to spiritual conquest.

Forty years had lapsed since the Israelites refused to enter the Promised Land. That unbelieving generation had perished in the wilderness. Now Joshua was leading a new generation into the land. The first obstacle they faced was Jericho—a well- fortified city that was near the mouth of the Jordan River.

Some city walls of that day were wide enough at the top to allow two chariots to ride side-by-side. That was probably true of Jericho because of its strategic location. That, coupled with the caliber of its army, made the city virtually impregnable— especially to unsophisticated Israelites, who lacked military training.

But what is impossible for man is easy for God. And the stage was set for Him to demonstrate His power and for the Israelites to demonstrate their faith and humility.

One can only imagine how embarrassed the Hebrew people felt as they marched around Jericho once a day for six days. That certainly is not your typical military strategy. But on the seventh day, after marching around the city seven times with the priests blowing their rams' horns, the priests gave one final blast, the people all shouted out loud, and the walls of the city collapsed (Josh. 6:20). Faith had reduced a formidable obstacle to a crumbled ruin.

Can you identify some spiritual obstacles you've faced recently? How did you handle them? You'll always have them to deal with in your Christian walk, but don't fret. See them as opportunities to exercise faith and see God's power on display in your life. Continue to trust the Lord and demonstrate your faith by courageously doing what He has called you to do.

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask God to help you humbly trust in God's power when you face spiritual conflicts.

For Further Study

Read about the conquest of Jericho in Joshua 6:1-21. Note each occasion where the people obeyed one of Joshua's commands without hesitation.


PART III

Jesus Commended by His Father

“‘Behold, My Servant whom I have chosen; My Beloved in whom My soul is well-pleased’” (Matthew 12:18).

Jesus Christ is God’s ultimate Servant, the one and only Son chosen by the Father to die for fallen sinners. The divine commendation here is a modified quotation of Isaiah 42:1–4, one of the most beautiful descriptions of our Lord anywhere in the Bible. The Father’s choice of Jesus to be His Servant was decisive and irrevocable—Christ was the one and only person perfectly qualified for the work of redemption.

As the perfect choice of God, Jesus is also completely pleasing in His Father’s eyes. Although the world hated and rejected Him, Christ is God’s Beloved—and in that role He brings us salvation by divine grace (Eph. 1:6–7).

This is not the only mention in the gospels of God’s approval of His Son. The Father used similar words at Jesus’ baptism (Matt. 3:17) and at His transfiguration (Matt. 17:5). Jesus Himself elaborates further: “If I alone testify about Myself, My testimony is not true. There is another who testifies of Me, and I know that the testimony which He gives about Me is true. . . . And the Father who sent Me, He has testified of Me” (John 5:31–32, 37).

If we want to be well-pleasing to God as Jesus is, we must come to the Father through His Son, drawn by the Holy Spirit. “Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you” (Rom. 8:8–9).

Ask Yourself

Have you grown “weary and heavy-laden” trying to please God with your best efforts? Will your heart ever find peace and satisfaction in knowing that your faith has been counted as righteousness, that the Father is already satisfied with the Son’s sacrifice in your place?


PART IV

Reading for Today:

Notes:

Daniel 1:8 Daniel purposed. The pagan food and drink was devoted to idols. To indulge was to be understood as honoring these deities. Daniel “purposed in his heart” (Prov. 4:23) not to engage in compromise by being untrue to God’s call of commitment (Ex. 34:14, 15). Also, foods that God’s law prohibited (Lev. 1:1) were items that pagans consumed; to partake entailed direct compromise (Dan. 1:12). Moses took this stand (Heb. 11:24–26), as did the psalmist (Ps. 119:115) and Jesus (Heb. 7:26).

Daniel 2:36–45 we will tell the interpretation. Five empires in succession would rule over Israel, here pictured by parts of a statue (body). In Daniel 7, the same empires are represented by 4 great beasts. These empires are Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome, and the later revived Rome, each one differentiated from the previous as indicated by the declining quality of the metal. A stone picturing Christ (Luke 20:18) at His Second Coming (as the Son of Man also does in Dan. 7:13, 14) will destroy the fourth empire in its final phase with catastrophic suddenness (2:34, 35, 44, 45). Christ’s total shattering of Gentile power will result in the establishment of His millennial kingdom, the ultimate empire, and then continuing on eternally (2:44; 7:27).

1 Peter 5:6 under the mighty hand of God. This is an Old Testament symbol of the power of God working in the experience of men, always accomplishing His sovereign purpose (Ex. 3:19, 20; Job 30:20, 21; Ezek. 20:33, 37; Mic. 6:8). The readers of Peter’s letter were not to fight the sovereign hand of God, even when it brought them through testings. One of the evidences of lack of submission and humility is impatience with God in His work of humbling believers. exalt you in due time. God will lift up the suffering, submissive believers in His wisely appointed time. See Job 42.


How are pastors to care for their congregations?

First Peter 5:2 gives this exhortation to the elders: “Shepherd the flock of God.” After the motivation (v. 1) comes the exhortation (vv. 2–4). Since the primary objective of shepherding is feeding, or teaching, every elder must be able to teach (John 21:15–17; 1 Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:9). Involved with the feeding of the flock is also protecting the flock (Acts 20:28–30). In both duties, it must be remembered that the flock belongs to God, not to the pastor. God entrusts some of His flock to the pastor of a church to lead, care for, and feed (v. 3).


“Not by compulsion but willingly.” Specifically, Peter may be warning the elders against a first danger—laziness. The divine calling (1 Cor. 9:16), along with the urgency of the task (Rom. 1:15), should prevent laziness and indifference. “Not for dishonest gain.” False teachers are always motivated by a second danger, money, and use their power and position to rob people of their own wealth (2 Pet. 2:1–3). Scripture is clear that churches should pay their shepherds well (1 Cor. 9:7–14; 1 Tim. 5:17, 18); but a desire for undeserved money must never be a motive for ministers to serve (1 Tim. 3:3; 6:9–11; 2 Tim. 2:4; Titus 1:7; 2 Pet. 2:3; see also Jer. 6:13; 8:10; Mic. 3:11; Mal. 1:10).

“Nor as being lords” (v. 3). This is the third major temptation for a pastor: demagoguery. In this context, “lords” means to dominate someone or some situation. It implies leadership by manipulation and intimidation. Rather, true spiritual leadership is by example (1 Tim. 4:12).

LORD BLESS HIS ELECT

My Royal Family


LOVINGLY IN THE LOVE OF OUR LORD JESUS

E+1DAY


MAXIMILIANO


10/17/17

Knowing God's Will

“Do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:17).

God’s will is revealed in His Word.

How can a Christian walk wisely and know the will of God for his life? The will of God is explicitly revealed to us in the pages of Scripture. God’s will is that we be:

Saved—“This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:3-4; compare 2 Peter 3:9).

Spirit-filled—“Do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:17-18).

Sanctified—“This is the will of God, your sanctification” (1 Thess. 4:3). Submissive—“Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. For such is the will of God” (1 Peter 2:13-15).

Suffering for His sake—“It is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong” (1 Peter 3:17).

Saying thanks—“In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess. 5:18).

You may say, “Those are good principles, but they don’t tell me where I ought to go to school or whom I should marry.” But if you’re saved, sanctified, submissive, suffering, and saying thanks, you can do whatever you want! That’s what the psalmist meant when he said, “Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart” (Ps. 37:4). Does that mean He fulfills the desire? Yes, but before He fulfills it, He puts it in your heart. If you are living a godly life, He will give you the right desires and then fulfill them.

Suggestions for Prayer

Give thanks to God for revealing His will in His Word so that you can live wisely, not foolishly.

For Further Study

Christ acted only in accordance with His Father’s will. Read the following verses, and note how that was so: Matthew 26:42; John 4:34; 5:30; 6:38.


PART II

An Unlikely Heroine

"By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace" (Heb. 11:31).

Rahab illustrates the depth and breadth of God’s amazing grace.

Our final Old Testament hero of faith is an unlikely addition to the list. Not only was she a prostitute, she also was a Gentile—and a Canaanite at that.

The Canaanites were an idolatrous, barbaric, debauched people, infamous even among pagans for their immorality and cruelty. Yet in the midst of that exceedingly wicked society, Rahab came to faith in the God of Israel.

Joshua 2:9-11 records her confession of faith to the two men Joshua had sent into Jericho as spies: "I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land have melted away before you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. And when we heard it, our hearts melted and no courage remained in any man any longer because of you; for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath" (emphasis added).

Rahab demonstrated the genuineness of that profession by risking her life to hide the spies from the king of Jericho, who sought to capture them.

Because Rahab lied to protect the spies (vv. 4-5), some people question the validity of her faith. Surely genuine believers wouldn't lie like that—or would they? Abraham did. Sarah did. Isaac did. Jacob did. But the important thing to understand is that God honored their faith, not their deception.

As with all the heroes of faith before her, Rahab's faith wasn't perfect, nor was her knowledge of God's moral law. But because she trusted God, she was spared during Jericho's conquest, then given an even greater honor. She became the mother of Boaz, who married Ruth, the great-great-grandmother of David, thereby becoming an ancestor of the Lord Jesus Christ (Matt. 1:5).

Suggestions for Prayer

Praise God for receiving even the vilest sinner who turns to Him in faith.

For Further Study

Read all about Rahab in Joshua 2:1-24, 6:22-25, and James 2:25.


PART III

Jesus Commissioned by the Holy Spirit

“‘I will put My Spirit upon Him’” (Matthew 12:18).

The prophet promised that God would put His Holy Spirit upon Messiah in a special way, and the Spirit did descend on Jesus at His baptism (Matt. 3:16). But that was not when the Spirit first indwelt Him, because the Holy Spirit conceived Him (Matt. 1:20).

Yet, if Jesus was the preexistent Son, eternally a member of the Godhead, why would the Spirit need to come upon Him during His incarnation? First, the Spirit needed to empower Jesus’ human nature. Our Lord was fully human, even to the extent of being tempted, yet He did not sin