HE IS RISEN!

"For at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord."
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The Key to Enduring Hardship

Published by InTouch Ministries for reading on June 21st.

Genesis 50:15-21 15 And when Joseph's brethren saw that their father was dead, they said, It may be that Joseph will hate us, and will fully requite us all the evil which we did unto him. 16 And they sent a message unto Joseph, saying, Thy father did command before he died, saying, 17 So shall ye say unto Joseph, Forgive, I pray thee now, the transgression of thy brethren, and their sin, for that they did unto thee evil. And now, we pray thee, forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of thy father. And Joseph wept when they spake unto him. 18 And his brethren also went and fell down before his face; and they said, Behold, we are thy servants. 19 And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God? 20 And as for you, ye meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive. 21 Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them.

God has given us many amazing promises in His Word. Yet, though we are assured of His steadfast love (Rom. 8:38-39), provision ( 2 Corinthians 9:8 8 And God is able to make all grace abound unto you; that ye, having always all sufficiency in everything, may abound unto every good work: ), and guidance (Prov. 16:9), He has not promised us an easy, trouble-free life. What we can count on, however, is that the Lord will work everything—including adversity—for our good (Rom. 8:28). 

Long before Paul wrote this word of encouragement to the church at Rome, Joseph learned the same principle by experiencing its truth. His affirmation of it, however, came several years after his unfair suffering had ended. In the midst of his difficulties, it’s doubtful that he understood what God was doing in his life.

The same is true for us. When our hearts and minds are agitated because of turbulent events, it’s hard not to stare at circumstances in horror or confusion. But we must decide to believe what the Bible says about God’s character, activity, and purposes. That choice forces our attention off the storm and onto the One responsible for ushering us safely through.

In His presence, fears dwindle and doubts dissolve; peace and a sense of oneness with the Lord will take their place. Our responsibility is to keep our eyes on God and trust His Holy Spirit to provide strength, wisdom, and courage.

Turning to the Lord will not necessarily bring an end to the hardship, but He will help us see that we are exactly where He wants us. He has a reason for the discomfort and desires that we grow in Christ through it. Whatever the situation, the safest place in the world is the center of His will.

Bible in One Year: Psalms 55-59 Chapter 55 1 Give ear to my prayer, O God; And hide not thyself from my supplication. 2 Attend unto me, and answer me: I am restless in my complaint, and moan, 3 Because of the voice of the enemy, Because of the oppression of the wicked; For they cast iniquity upon me, And in anger they persecute me. 4 My heart is sore pained within me: And the terrors of death are fallen upon me. 5 Fearfulness and trembling are come upon me, And horror hath overwhelmed me. 6 And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! Then would I fly away, and be at rest. 7 Lo, then would I wander far off, I would lodge in the wilderness. Selah 8 I would haste me to a shelter From the stormy wind and tempest. 9 Destroy, O Lord, `and' divide their tongue; For I have seen violence and strife in the city. 10 Day and night they go about it upon the walls thereof: Iniquity also and mischief are in the midst of it. 11 Wickedness is in the midst thereof: Oppression and guile depart not from its streets. 12 For it was not an enemy that reproached me; Then I could have borne it: Neither was it he that hated me that did magnify himself against me; Then I would have hid myself from him: 13 But it was thou, a man mine equal, My companion, and my familiar friend. 14 We took sweet counsel together; We walked in the house of God with the throng. 15 Let death come suddenly upon them, Let them go down alive into Sheol; For wickedness is in their dwelling, in the midst of them. 16 As for me, I will call upon God; And Jehovah will save me. 17 Evening, and morning, and at noonday, will I complain, and moan; And he will hear my voice. 18 He hath redeemed my soul in peace from the battle that was against me; For they were many `that strove' with me. 19 God will hear, and answer them, Even he that abideth of old, Selah `The men' who have no changes, And who fear not God. 20 He hath put forth his hands against such as were at peace with him: He hath profaned his covenant. 21 His mouth was smooth as butter, But his heart was war: His words were softer than oil, Yet were they drawn swords. 22 Cast thy burden upon Jehovah, and he will sustain thee: He will never suffer the righteous to be moved. 23 But thou, O God, wilt bring them down into the pit of destruction: Bloodthirsty and deceitful men shall not live out half their days; But I will trust in thee. Psalm 56 For the Chief Musician; set to Jonath elem rehokim. `A Psalm' of David. Michtam: when the Philistines took him in Gath. Chapter 56 1 Be merciful unto me, O God; for man would swallow me up: All the day long he fighting oppresseth me. 2 Mine enemies would swallow me up all the day long; For they are many that fight proudly against me. 3 What time I am afraid, I will put my trust in thee. 4 In God (I will praise his word), In God have I put my trust, I will not be afraid; What can flesh do unto me? 5 All the day long they wrest my words: All their thoughts are against me for evil. 6 They gather themselves together, they hide themselves, They mark my steps, Even as they have waited for my soul. 7 Shall they escape by iniquity? In anger cast down the peoples, O God. 8 Thou numberest my wanderings: Put thou my tears into thy bottle; Are they not in thy book? 9 Then shall mine enemies turn back in the day that I call: This I know, that God is for me. 10 In God (I will praise `his' word), In Jehovah (I will praise `his' word), 11 In God have I put my trust, I will not be afraid; What can man do unto me? 12 Thy vows are upon me, O God: I will render thank-offerings unto thee. 13 For thou hast delivered my soul from death: `Hast thou' not `delivered' my feet from falling, That I may walk before God In the light of the living? Psalm 57 For the Chief Musician; `set to' Al-tash-heth. `A Psalm' of David. Michtam; when he fled from Saul, in the cave. Chapter 57 1 Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me; For my soul taketh refuge in thee: Yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I take refuge, Until `these' calamities be overpast. 2 I will cry unto God Most High, Unto God that performeth `all things' for me. 3 He will send from heaven, and save me, `When' he that would swallow me up reproacheth; Selah God will send forth his lovingkindness and his truth. 4 My soul is among lions; I lie among them that are set on fire, Even the sons of men, whose teeth are spears and arrows, And their tongue a sharp sword. 5 Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens; `Let' thy glory `be' above all the earth. 6 They have prepared a net for my steps; My soul is bowed down: They have digged a pit before me; They are fallen into the midst thereof themselves. Selah 7 My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing, yea, I will sing praises. 8 Awake up, my glory; awake, psaltery and harp: I myself will awake right early. 9 I will give thanks unto thee, O Lord, among the peoples: I will sing praises unto thee among the nations. 10 For thy lovingkindness is great unto the heavens, And thy truth unto the skies. 11 Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens; `Let' thy glory `be' above all the earth. Psalm 58 For the Chief Musician; `set to' Al-tashheth. `A Psalm' of David Michtam. Chapter 58 1 Do ye indeed in silence speak righteousness? Do ye judge uprightly, O ye sons of men? 2 Nay, in heart ye work wickedness; Ye weigh out the violence of your hands in the earth. 3 The wicked are estranged from the womb: They go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies. 4 Their poison is like the poison of a serpent: `They are' like the deaf adder that stoppeth her ear, 5 Which hearkeneth not to the voice of charmers, Charming never so wisely. 6 Break their teeth, O God, in their mouth: Break out the great teeth of the young lions, O Jehovah. 7 Let them melt away as water that runneth apace: When he aimeth his arrows, let them be as though they were cut off. 8 `Let them be' as a snail which melteth and passeth away, `Like' the untimely birth of a woman, that hath not seen the sun. 9 Before your pots can feel the thorns, He will take them away with a whirlwind, the green and the burning alike. 10 The righteous shall rejoice when he seeth the vengeance: He shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked; 11 So that men shall say, Verily there is a reward for the righteous: Verily there is a God that judgeth in the earth. Psalm 59 For the Chief Musician; `set to' Al-tashheth. `A Psalm' of David. Michtam; when Saul sent, and they watched the house to kill him. Chapter 59 1 Deliver me from mine enemies, O my God: Set me on high from them that rise up against me. 2 Deliver me from the workers of iniquity, And save me from the bloodthirsty men. 3 For, lo, they lie in wait for my soul; The mighty gather themselves together against me: Not for my transgression, nor for my sin, O Jehovah. 4 They run and prepare themselves without `my' fault: Awake thou to help me, and behold. 5 Even thou, O Jehovah God of hosts, the God of Israel, Arise to visit all the nations: Be not merciful to any wicked transgressors. Selah 6 They return at evening, they howl like a dog, And go round about the city. 7 Behold, they belch out with their mouth; Swords are in their lips: For who, `say they', doth hear? 8 But thou, O Jehovah, wilt laugh at them; Thou wilt have all the nations in derision. 9 `Because of' his strength I will give heed unto thee; For God is my high tower. 10 My God with his lovingkindness will meet me: God will let me see `my desire' upon mine enemies. 11 Slay them not, lest my people forget: Scatter them by thy power, and bring them down, O Lord our shield. 12 `For' the sin of their mouth, `and' the words of their lips, Let them even be taken in their pride, And for cursing and lying which they speak. 13 Consume them in wrath, consume them, so that they shall be no more: And let them know that God ruleth in Jacob, Unto the ends of the earth. Selah 14 And at evening let them return, let them howl like a dog, And go round about the city. 15 They shall wander up and down for food, And tarry all night if they be not satisfied. 16 But I will sing of thy strength; Yea, I will sing aloud of thy lovingkindness in the morning: For thou hast been my high tower, And a refuge in the day of my distress. 17 Unto thee, O my strength, will I sing praises: For God is my high tower, the God of my mercy. Psalm 60 For the Chief Musician; `set to' Shushan Eduth. Michtam of David, to teach; and when he strove with Aram-naharaim and with Aram-zobah, and Joab returned, and smote of Edom in the Valley of Salt twelve thousand.




The Keys to Success

Published by InTouch Ministries for reading on June 21st.

1 Thessalonians 5:24 24 Faithful is he that calleth you, who will also do it.

Have you ever felt discouraged about trying to live the Christian life? If your efforts to make a difference in the world seem fruitless, following the Lord’s example could change your outlook.

Christ served others in love, and His actions had tremendous impact in the world. How was He so effective? Scripture tells us that Jesus did not speak or act on His own initiative but instead depended upon His Father abiding in Him to do the work ( John 14:10 10 Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I say unto you I speak not from myself: but the Father abiding in me doeth his works. ). And we are to do likewise.

Yet we often attempt to serve out of our own skills, intelligence, and ability to reason. Even though we may pour great effort and long hours into ministry, these alone won’t produce fruitfulness. It’s far more important to minister as the Lord intended.

True service is commissioned, empowered, and blessed by God alone. It may be our hands that are laboring, but our Father is the One at work. And the glory belongs to Him, not us.

What comfort this should give us! The Lord is not looking just for people who are extremely talented. He will use all who are willing to let His Spirit work through them. And we can be confident that He will provide everything we need in order to do whatever He asks.

Who among us can serve the living God? Truthfully, no one can. Genuine service occurs only when we allow the Almighty to pour Himself through us; we are mere vessels. Even if the impact is not obvious to us, we know that God always achieves His purpose—and what’s more, He is glorified.

Bible in One Year: Psalms 55-59 Chapter 55 1 Give ear to my prayer, O God; And hide not thyself from my supplication. 2 Attend unto me, and answer me: I am restless in my complaint, and moan, 3 Because of the voice of the enemy, Because of the oppression of the wicked; For they cast iniquity upon me, And in anger they persecute me. 4 My heart is sore pained within me: And the terrors of death are fallen upon me. 5 Fearfulness and trembling are come upon me, And horror hath overwhelmed me. 6 And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! Then would I fly away, and be at rest. 7 Lo, then would I wander far off, I would lodge in the wilderness. Selah 8 I would haste me to a shelter From the stormy wind and tempest. 9 Destroy, O Lord, `and' divide their tongue; For I have seen violence and strife in the city. 10 Day and night they go about it upon the walls thereof: Iniquity also and mischief are in the midst of it. 11 Wickedness is in the midst thereof: Oppression and guile depart not from its streets. 12 For it was not an enemy that reproached me; Then I could have borne it: Neither was it he that hated me that did magnify himself against me; Then I would have hid myself from him: 13 But it was thou, a man mine equal, My companion, and my familiar friend. 14 We took sweet counsel together; We walked in the house of God with the throng. 15 Let death come suddenly upon them, Let them go down alive into Sheol; For wickedness is in their dwelling, in the midst of them. 16 As for me, I will call upon God; And Jehovah will save me. 17 Evening, and morning, and at noonday, will I complain, and moan; And he will hear my voice. 18 He hath redeemed my soul in peace from the battle that was against me; For they were many `that strove' with me. 19 God will hear, and answer them, Even he that abideth of old, Selah `The men' who have no changes, And who fear not God. 20 He hath put forth his hands against such as were at peace with him: He hath profaned his covenant. 21 His mouth was smooth as butter, But his heart was war: His words were softer than oil, Yet were they drawn swords. 22 Cast thy burden upon Jehovah, and he will sustain thee: He will never suffer the righteous to be moved. 23 But thou, O God, wilt bring them down into the pit of destruction: Bloodthirsty and deceitful men shall not live out half their days; But I will trust in thee. Psalm 56 For the Chief Musician; set to Jonath elem rehokim. `A Psalm' of David. Michtam: when the Philistines took him in Gath. Chapter 56 1 Be merciful unto me, O God; for man would swallow me up: All the day long he fighting oppresseth me. 2 Mine enemies would swallow me up all the day long; For they are many that fight proudly against me. 3 What time I am afraid, I will put my trust in thee. 4 In God (I will praise his word), In God have I put my trust, I will not be afraid; What can flesh do unto me? 5 All the day long they wrest my words: All their thoughts are against me for evil. 6 They gather themselves together, they hide themselves, They mark my steps, Even as they have waited for my soul. 7 Shall they escape by iniquity? In anger cast down the peoples, O God. 8 Thou numberest my wanderings: Put thou my tears into thy bottle; Are they not in thy book? 9 Then shall mine enemies turn back in the day that I call: This I know, that God is for me. 10 In God (I will praise `his' word), In Jehovah (I will praise `his' word), 11 In God have I put my trust, I will not be afraid; What can man do unto me? 12 Thy vows are upon me, O God: I will render thank-offerings unto thee. 13 For thou hast delivered my soul from death: `Hast thou' not `delivered' my feet from falling, That I may walk before God In the light of the living? Psalm 57 For the Chief Musician; `set to' Al-tash-heth. `A Psalm' of David. Michtam; when he fled from Saul, in the cave. Chapter 57 1 Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me; For my soul taketh refuge in thee: Yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I take refuge, Until `these' calamities be overpast. 2 I will cry unto God Most High, Unto God that performeth `all things' for me. 3 He will send from heaven, and save me, `When' he that would swallow me up reproacheth; Selah God will send forth his lovingkindness and his truth. 4 My soul is among lions; I lie among them that are set on fire, Even the sons of men, whose teeth are spears and arrows, And their tongue a sharp sword. 5 Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens; `Let' thy glory `be' above all the earth. 6 They have prepared a net for my steps; My soul is bowed down: They have digged a pit before me; They are fallen into the midst thereof themselves. Selah 7 My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing, yea, I will sing praises. 8 Awake up, my glory; awake, psaltery and harp: I myself will awake right early. 9 I will give thanks unto thee, O Lord, among the peoples: I will sing praises unto thee among the nations. 10 For thy lovingkindness is great unto the heavens, And thy truth unto the skies. 11 Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens; `Let' thy glory `be' above all the earth. Psalm 58 For the Chief Musician; `set to' Al-tashheth. `A Psalm' of David Michtam. Chapter 58 1 Do ye indeed in silence speak righteousness? Do ye judge uprightly, O ye sons of men? 2 Nay, in heart ye work wickedness; Ye weigh out the violence of your hands in the earth. 3 The wicked are estranged from the womb: They go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies. 4 Their poison is like the poison of a serpent: `They are' like the deaf adder that stoppeth her ear, 5 Which hearkeneth not to the voice of charmers, Charming never so wisely. 6 Break their teeth, O God, in their mouth: Break out the great teeth of the young lions, O Jehovah. 7 Let them melt away as water that runneth apace: When he aimeth his arrows, let them be as though they were cut off. 8 `Let them be' as a snail which melteth and passeth away, `Like' the untimely birth of a woman, that hath not seen the sun. 9 Before your pots can feel the thorns, He will take them away with a whirlwind, the green and the burning alike. 10 The righteous shall rejoice when he seeth the vengeance: He shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked; 11 So that men shall say, Verily there is a reward for the righteous: Verily there is a God that judgeth in the earth. Psalm 59 For the Chief Musician; `set to' Al-tashheth. `A Psalm' of David. Michtam; when Saul sent, and they watched the house to kill him. Chapter 59 1 Deliver me from mine enemies, O my God: Set me on high from them that rise up against me. 2 Deliver me from the workers of iniquity, And save me from the bloodthirsty men. 3 For, lo, they lie in wait for my soul; The mighty gather themselves together against me: Not for my transgression, nor for my sin, O Jehovah. 4 They run and prepare themselves without `my' fault: Awake thou to help me, and behold. 5 Even thou, O Jehovah God of hosts, the God of Israel, Arise to visit all the nations: Be not merciful to any wicked transgressors. Selah 6 They return at evening, they howl like a dog, And go round about the city. 7 Behold, they belch out with their mouth; Swords are in their lips: For who, `say they', doth hear? 8 But thou, O Jehovah, wilt laugh at them; Thou wilt have all the nations in derision. 9 `Because of' his strength I will give heed unto thee; For God is my high tower. 10 My God with his lovingkindness will meet me: God will let me see `my desire' upon mine enemies. 11 Slay them not, lest my people forget: Scatter them by thy power, and bring them down, O Lord our shield. 12 `For' the sin of their mouth, `and' the words of their lips, Let them even be taken in their pride, And for cursing and lying which they speak. 13 Consume them in wrath, consume them, so that they shall be no more: And let them know that God ruleth in Jacob, Unto the ends of the earth. Selah 14 And at evening let them return, let them howl like a dog, And go round about the city. 15 They shall wander up and down for food, And tarry all night if they be not satisfied. 16 But I will sing of thy strength; Yea, I will sing aloud of thy lovingkindness in the morning: For thou hast been my high tower, And a refuge in the day of my distress. 17 Unto thee, O my strength, will I sing praises: For God is my high tower, the God of my mercy. Psalm 60 For the Chief Musician; `set to' Shushan Eduth. Michtam of David, to teach; and when he strove with Aram-naharaim and with Aram-zobah, and Joab returned, and smote of Edom in the Valley of Salt twelve thousand.




Integrity Glorifies God

Published by Grace To You for reading on June 21st.

“Nebuchadnezzar responded and said, ‘Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent His angel and delivered His servants who put their trust in Him, violating the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies so as not to serve or worship any god except their own God. Therefore, I make a decree that any people, nation or tongue that speaks anything offensive against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego shall be torn limb from limb and their houses reduced to a rubbish heap, inasmuch as there is no other god who is able to deliver in this way.’ Then the king caused Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego to prosper in the province of Babylon” ( Daniel 3:28-30 28 Nebuchadnezzar spake and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king's word, and have yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God. 29 Therefore I make a decree, that every people, nation, and language, which speak anything amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill; because there is no other god that is able to deliver after this sort. 30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego in the province of Babylon. ).

God is honored when you are faithful.

When a well-known National Football League coach was asked why he always had a Christian minister on the sideline with his team, he explained, “I’m not even sure if I believe in God, but in case there is one, I want Him on my side.” King Nebuchadnezzar seems to have had a similar attitude when he blessed the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and decreed that anyone speaking an offense against Him would be torn to pieces and have their homes reduced to rubbish.

Nebuchadnezzar believed that certain peoples or nations had their own gods, and even though he didn’t believe that the God of the Hebrews was the one true God, he had just witnessed dramatic proof that He was more powerful than the gods of Babylon. Therefore, he acknowledged Him as the supreme God and took steps to ensure that no one would offend Him. No doubt he also reasoned that having a God like that on his side would be a definite advantage.

Regardless of Nebuchadnezzar’s motives, his decree glorified God by exalting Him over Babylon’s false gods. More important, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s integrity glorified God by demonstrating the power and influence of an uncompromising life. When the king caused them to prosper in Babylon, the name of the Lord prospered with them.

Suggestions for Prayer

Pray daily to live as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego lived and to be used as they were used.

For Further Study

According to Ephesians 3:20 20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, , what is God able to accomplish through you when you live with integrity? Are you trusting Him to do so?

From Strength for Today by John MacArthur Copyright © 1997. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.com.

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God's Choice of the Poor

Published by Grace To You for reading on June 21st.
"Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? But you have dishonored the poor man" ( James 2:5-6 5 Hearken, my beloved brethren; did not God choose them that are poor as to the world `to be' rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he promised to them that love him? 6 But ye have dishonored the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you, and themselves drag you before the judgment-seats? ).

Showing favoritism to the rich is inconsistent with God’s choice of the poor.

Wealth and poverty are not necessarily spiritual issues. Many wealthy people are godly Christians and many poor people are unbelievers. But generally speaking, God has chosen poor people to populate His kingdom. Jesus said, "It is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. And again I say to you, it is easer for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God" (Matt. 19:23-24). That's because rich people tend to be bound to this world and have a false sense of security. Many of them not only reject Christ, but also persecute believers (cf. James 2:6-7 6 But ye have dishonored the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you, and themselves drag you before the judgment-seats? 7 Do not they blaspheme the honorable name by which ye are called? ).

Regardless of your financial status, if you love God, you are rich in faith and an heir of His kingdom ( James 2:5 5 Hearken, my beloved brethren; did not God choose them that are poor as to the world `to be' rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he promised to them that love him? ). That means you're saved and will inherit the fullness of your salvation and the richness of God's eternal blessing. That's a marvelous truth!

Don't let riches cloud your good judgment. God expects Christians to honor and care for their poorer brothers and sisters in Christ. You can't do that if you're showing partiality to the rich.

Suggestions for Prayer

If God has blessed you with more resources than you need, be grateful and ready always to share with those in need (1 Tim. 6:19). If you struggle to get by, thank Him for what He does provide and for teaching you greater dependence on Him.

For Further Study

Read 1 Timothy 6:6-19 6 But godliness with contentment is great gain: 7 for we brought nothing into the world, for neither can we carry anything out; 8 but having food and covering we shall be therewith content. 9 But they that are minded to be rich fall into a temptation and a snare and many foolish and hurtful lusts, such as drown men in destruction and perdition. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil: which some reaching after have been led astray from the faith, and have pierced themselves through with many sorrows. 11 But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith, lay hold on the life eternal, whereunto thou wast called, and didst confess the good confession in the sight of many witnesses. 13 I charge thee in the sight of God, who giveth life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed the good confession; 14 that thou keep the commandment, without spot, without reproach, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ: 15 which in its own times he shall show, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; 16 who only hath immortality, dwelling in light unapproachable; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom `be' honor and power eternal. Amen. 17 Charge them that are rich in this present world, that they be not highminded, nor have their hope set on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; 18 that they do good, that they be rich in good works, that they be ready to distribute, willing to communicate; 19 laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on the life which is `life' indeed. .

  • What is God's standard of contentment?
  • What pitfalls await those who desire wealth?
  • What constitutes true riches?

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.com.

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Daily Bible - June 21

Published by Grace To You for reading on June 21st.

Reading for Today:

  • 1 Chronicles 5:1 Chapter 5 1 And the sons of Reuben the first-born of Israel (for he was the first-born; but, forasmuch as he defiled his father's couch, his birthright was given unto the sons of Joseph the son of Israel; and the genealogy is not to be reckoned after the birthright. –6:81
  • Psalms 77:1-3 Chapter 77 1 I will cry unto God with my voice, Even unto God with my voice; and he will give ear unto me. 2 In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord: My hand was stretched out in the night, and slacked not; My soul refused to be comforted. 3 I remember God, and am disquieted: I complain, and my spirit is overwhelmed. Selah
  • Proverbs 19:10-12 10 Delicate living is not seemly for a fool; Much less for a servant to have rule over princes. 11 The discretion of a man maketh him slow to anger; And it is his glory to pass over a transgression. 12 The king's wrath is as the roaring of a lion; But his favor is as dew upon the grass.
  • Acts 5:1-21 Chapter 5 1 But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, 2 and kept back `part' of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' feet. 3 But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thy heart to lie to the Holy Spirit, and to keep back `part' of the price of the land? 4 While it remained, did it not remain thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thy power? How is it that thou hast conceived this thing in thy heart? thou has not lied unto men, but unto God. 5 And Ananias hearing these words fell down and gave up the ghost: and great fear came upon all that heard it. 6 And the young men arose and wrapped him round, and they carried him out and buried him. 7 And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in. 8 And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much. And she said, Yea, for so much. 9 But Peter `said' unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to try the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them that have buried thy husband are at the door, and they shall carry thee out. 10 And she fell down immediately at his feet, and gave up the ghost: and the young men came in and found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her by her husband. 11 And great fear came upon the whole church, and upon all that heard these things. 12 And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; and they were all with one accord in Solomon's porch. 13 But of the rest durst no man join himself to them: howbeit the people magnified them; 14 and believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of them and women; 15 insomuch that they even carried out the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that, as Peter came by, at the least his shadow might overshadow some one of them. 16 And there also came together the multitudes from the cities round about Jerusalem, bring sick folk, and them that were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one. 17 But the high priest rose up, and all they that were with him (which is the sect of the Sadducees), and they were filled with jealousy, 18 and laid hands on the apostles, and put them in public ward. 19 But an angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them out, and said, 20 Go ye, and stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this Life. 21 And when they heard `this', they entered into the temple about daybreak, and taught. But the high priest came, and they that were with him, and called the council together, and all the senate of the children of Israel, and sent to the prison-house to have them brought.

Notes:

1 Chronicles 6:8 8 and Ahitub begat Zadok, and Zadok begat Ahimaaz, Zadok. By the time of David’s reign, the high priestly line had wrongly been shifted to the sons of Ithamar as represented by Abiathar. When Abiathar sided with Adonijah rather than Solomon, Zadok became the ruling high priest (1 Kin. 2:26,27) and restored the high priesthood to the Levitical line through Phinehas (Num. 25:10–13).

1 Chronicles 6:27 27 Eliab his son, Jeroham his son, Elkanah his son. , 28 Samuel’s name in this Levitical lineage validates his acceptance into the priesthood (1 Sam. 1:24–28; 2:24–3:1). The fact that Elkanah was from Ephraim (1 Sam. 1:1) indicates where he lived, not his family history (Num. 35:6–8).

Acts 5:11 church. This is the first use of “church” in Acts, although it is the most common word used to describe the assembly of those who had believed (cf. 4:32).

Acts 5:15 shadow of Peter. The people truly believed he had divine healing power and that it might even extend to them through his shadow. But Scripture does not say Peter’s shadow ever healed anyone; in fact, the healing power of God through him seemed to go far beyond his shadow (v. 16, “multitude…were all healed”). This outpouring of healing was an answer to the prayer in 4:29, 30.

Acts 5:16 unclean spirits. They are demons, fallen angels (Rev. 12:3) who are so designated because of their vile wickedness. They frequently live inside unbelievers, particularly those who vent their wicked nature.

Acts 5:20 20 Go ye, and stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this Life. the words of this life. The gospel (Phil. 2:16; 1 John 1:1 Chapter 1 1 That which was from the beginning, that which we have heard, that which we have seen with our eyes, that which we beheld, and our hands handled, concerning the Word of life –4). Jesus Christ came into this world to provide abundant and eternal life to spiritually dead people ( John 1:4 4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men. ; 11:25; 1 John 5:20 20 And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, `even' in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life. ).

DAY 21: Why the severity of judgment upon Ananias and Sapphira?

The account of Ananias and Sapphira as shown in Acts 5 Chapter 5 1 But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, 2 and kept back `part' of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' feet. 3 But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thy heart to lie to the Holy Spirit, and to keep back `part' of the price of the land? 4 While it remained, did it not remain thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thy power? How is it that thou hast conceived this thing in thy heart? thou has not lied unto men, but unto God. 5 And Ananias hearing these words fell down and gave up the ghost: and great fear came upon all that heard it. 6 And the young men arose and wrapped him round, and they carried him out and buried him. 7 And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in. 8 And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much. And she said, Yea, for so much. 9 But Peter `said' unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to try the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them that have buried thy husband are at the door, and they shall carry thee out. 10 And she fell down immediately at his feet, and gave up the ghost: and the young men came in and found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her by her husband. 11 And great fear came upon the whole church, and upon all that heard these things. 12 And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; and they were all with one accord in Solomon's porch. 13 But of the rest durst no man join himself to them: howbeit the people magnified them; 14 and believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of them and women; 15 insomuch that they even carried out the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that, as Peter came by, at the least his shadow might overshadow some one of them. 16 And there also came together the multitudes from the cities round about Jerusalem, bring sick folk, and them that were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one. 17 But the high priest rose up, and all they that were with him (which is the sect of the Sadducees), and they were filled with jealousy, 18 and laid hands on the apostles, and put them in public ward. 19 But an angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them out, and said, 20 Go ye, and stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this Life. 21 And when they heard `this', they entered into the temple about daybreak, and taught. But the high priest came, and they that were with him, and called the council together, and all the senate of the children of Israel, and sent to the prison-house to have them brought. 22 But the officers that came found them not in the prison; and they returned, and told, 23 saying, The prison-house we found shut in all safety, and the keepers standing at the doors: but when we had opened, we found no man within. 24 Now when the captain of the temple and the chief priests heard these words, they were much perplexed concerning them whereunto this would grow. 25 And there came one and told them, Behold, the men whom ye put in the prison are in the temple standing and teaching the people. 26 Then went the captain with the officers, and brought them, `but' without violence; for they feared the people, lest they should be stoned. 27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest asked them, 28 saying, We strictly charged you not to teach in this name: and behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us. 29 But Peter and the apostles answered and said, We must obey God rather than men. 30 The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew, hanging him on a tree. 31 Him did God exalt with his right hand `to be' a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance to Israel, and remission of sins. 32 And we are witnesses of these things; and `so is' the Holy Spirit, whom God hath given to them that obey him. 33 But they, when they heard this, were cut to the heart, and minded to slay them. 34 But there stood up one in the council, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, had in honor of all the people, and commanded to put the men forth a little while. 35 And he said unto them, Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves as touching these men, what ye are about to do. 36 For before these days rose up Theudas, giving himself out to be somebody; to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves: who was slain; and all, as many as obeyed him, were dispersed, and came to nought. 37 After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the enrolment, and drew away `some of the' people after him: he also perished; and all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered abroad. 38 And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will be overthrown: 39 but if it is of God, ye will not be able to overthrow them; lest haply ye be found even to be fighting against God. 40 And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles unto them, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. 41 They therefore departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the Name. 42 And every day, in the temple and at home, they ceased not to teach and to preach Jesus `as' the Christ. represents the classic example of hypocrisy among Christians who faked their spirituality to impress others (Matt. 6:1–6,16–18; 15:7; 23:13–36). They were in the “multitude of those who believed” (4:32) and were involved with the Holy Spirit (v. 3), but remained hypocrites. They sold a possession and “kept back part of the proceeds” (v. 2). This was not a sin in and of itself. However, they had promised, perhaps publicly, that they were giving the full amount received to the Lord. Their outward sin was lying about how much they were giving to the church, but the deeper, more devastating sin was their spiritual hypocrisy based on selfishness.

Peter addressed Ananias with the words: “Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit” (v. 3). Ananias and Sapphira were satanically inspired in contrast to Barnabas’s Spirit-filled gesture (4:37). Ananias must have promised the Lord he would give the whole amount. He lied to the ever-present Holy Spirit in him (1 Cor. 6:19, 20) and in the church (Eph. 2:21, 22). And hearing Peter’s words, Ananias fell down and died. The Jews did not embalm, but customarily buried the dead the same day, especially someone who died by divine judgment (see Deut. 21:22, 23).

“So great fear came upon all those who heard these things” (v. 5). They were afraid about the seriousness of hypocrisy and sin in the church. The people learned that death can be the consequence of sin (1 Cor. 11:30–32; 1 John 5:16 16 If any man see his brother sinning a sin not unto death, he shall ask, and `God' will give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: not concerning this do I say that he should make request. ). That fear extended beyond those present to all who heard about the divine judgment (v. 11).

Then the same judgment fell upon Sapphira. Peter said that they had “agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord” (v. 9). Sapphira had gone too far in presuming upon God’s forbearance. The folly of such blatant human resumption had to be shown as a sin, hence the ultimate divine chastening that followed.

From The MacArthur Daily Bible Copyright © 2003. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson Bibles, a division of Thomas Nelson, Inc, Nashville, TN 37214, www.thomasnelson.com.

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June 21 - Asking for Wisdom

Published by Grace To You for reading on June 21st.

“‘Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened’” ( Matthew 7:7 7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: –8).

Our heavenly Father is generous to us and promises we have access to His eternal and unlimited treasure to meet our own needs as well as the needs of others. Even when we have been cleansed of our own sin, we need divine wisdom to know how to help a brother remove the speck from his eye.

God’s wisdom is one of our greatest needs. We can’t be discerning and discriminating without divine counsel from our heavenly Father; and the primary means for achieving that wisdom is prayer: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him” ( James 1:5 5 But if any of you lacketh wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all liberally and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. ).

Along with God’s perfect and infallible Word, we need His Spirit to interpret and illumine, to encourage and to strengthen. He does not want us to have all the answers; He wants us to be students who search the Scriptures. The Bible is a limitless store of divine truth. But apart from God Himself we can’t begin to fathom its depths or mine its riches. God gives enough truth for us to be responsible, but enough mystery for us to be dependent. He gives us His Word not only to direct our lives but to draw our lives to Him.

So when you need God’s wisdom to make spiritual decisions, ask God for it.

Ask Yourself

Part of feeling as though God isn’t providing us wisdom is that we don’t know how to receive it or what’s required in listening for it. How has God most often supplied you with the wisdom you need to handle a certain situation?

From Daily Readings from the Life of Christ, Vol. 1, John MacArthur. Copyright © 2008. Used by permission of Moody Publishers, Chicago, IL 60610, www.moodypublishers.com.

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The Satisfaction That Defeats Sin

Published by John Piper for reading on June 21st.

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” ( John 6:35 35 Jesus said unto them. I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall not hunger, and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. )

What we need to see here is that the essence of faith is being satisfied with all that God is for us in Christ.

This statement emphasizes two things. One is the God-centeredness of faith. It is not merely the promises of God that satisfy us. It is all that God himself is for us. Faith embraces God — not just his promised gifts — as our treasure.

Faith banks its hope not just on the real estate of the age to come, but on the fact that God will be there ( Revelation 21:3 3 And I heard a great voice out of the throne saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he shall dwell with them, and they shall be his peoples, and God himself shall be with them, `and be' their God: ). And even now what faith embraces most earnestly is not just the reality of sins forgiven (as precious as that is) but the presence of the living Christ in our hearts and the fullness of God himself ( Ephesians 3:17 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; to the end that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, –19).

The other thing emphasized in defining faith as being satisfied with all that God is for us is the term “satisfaction.” Faith is the quenching of the soul’s thirst at the fountain of God. In John 6:35 35 Jesus said unto them. I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall not hunger, and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. we see that “believing” means “coming” to Jesus to eat and drink the “bread of life” and the “living water” ( John 4:10 10 Jesus answered and said unto unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. , 14) which are nothing other than Jesus himself.

Here is the secret of the power of faith to break the enslaving force of sinful attractions. If the heart is satisfied with all that God is for us in Jesus, the power of sin to lure us away from the wisdom of Christ is broken.



Morning Devotional by C.H. Spurgeon for June 21st

Published by C.H. Spurgeon for reading on June 21st.

Psalms 45:2 2 Thou art fairer than the children of men; Grace is poured into thy lips: Therefore God hath blessed thee for ever.

THE entire person of Jesus is but as one gem, and His life is all along but one impression of the seal. He is altogether complete; not only in His several parts, but as a gracious all-glorious whole. His character is not a mass of fair colours mixed confusedly, nor a heap of precious stones laid carelessly one upon another; He is a picture of beauty and a breastplate of glory. In Him, all the "things of good repute" are in their proper places, and assist in adorning each other. Not one feature in His glorious person attracts attention at the expense of others; but He is perfectly and altogether lovely.

Oh, Jesus! Thy power, Thy grace, Thy justice, Thy tenderness, Thy truth, Thy majesty, and Thine immutability make up such a man, or rather such a God-man, as neither heaven nor earth hath seen elsewhere. Thy infancy, Thy eternity, Thy sufferings, Thy triumphs, Thy death, and Thine immortality, are all woven in one gorgeous tapestry, without seam or rent. Thou art music without discord; Thou art many, and yet not divided; Thou art all things, and yet not diverse. As all the colours blend into one resplendent rainbow, so all the glories of heaven and earth meet in Thee, and unite so wondrously, that there is none like Thee in all things; nay, if all the virtues of the most excellent were bound in one bundle, they could not rival Thee, Thou mirror of all perfection. Thou hast been anointed with the holy oil of myrrh and cassia, which Thy God hath reserved for Thee alone; and as for Thy fragrance, it is as the holy perfume, the like of which none other can ever mingle, even with the art of the apothecary; each spice is fragrant, but the compound is divine.

"Oh, sacred symmetry! oh, rare connection Of many perfects, to make one perfection! Oh, heavenly music, where all parts do meet In one sweet strain, to make one perfect sweet!"

Evening Devotional by C.H. Spurgeon for June 21st

Published by C.H. Spurgeon for reading on June 21st.

2 Timothy 2:19 19 Howbeit the firm foundation of God standeth, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his: and, Let every one that nameth the name of the Lord depart from unrighteousness.

THE foundation upon which our faith rests is this, that "God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them." The great fact on which genuine faith relies is, that "the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us," and that "Christ also hath suffered for sin, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God"; "Who Himself bare our sins in His own body on the tree"; "For the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed." In one word, the great pillar of the Christian's hope is substitution. The vicarious sacrifice of Christ for the guilty, Christ being made sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him, Christ offering up a true and proper expiatory and substitutionary sacrifice in the room, place, and stead of as many as the Father gave Him, who are known to God by name, and are recognized in their own hearts by their trusting in Jesus—this is the cardinal fact of the gospel. If this foundation were removed, what could we do? But it standeth firm as the throne of God. We know it; we rest on it; we rejoice in it; and our delight is to hold it, to meditate upon it, and to proclaim it, while we desire to be actuated and moved by gratitude for it in every part of our life and conversation. In these days a direct attack is made upon the doctrine of the atonement. Men cannot bear substitution. They gnash their teeth at the thought of the Lamb of God bearing the sin of man. But we, who know by experience the preciousness of this truth, will proclaim it in defiance of them confidently and unceasingly. We will neither dilute it nor change it, nor fritter it away in any shape or fashion. It shall still be Christ, a positive substitute, bearing human guilt and suffering in the stead of men. We cannot, dare not, give it up, for it is our life, and despite every controversy we feel that "Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure."

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